Canon 100m Macro Shoot Out EF VS RF

Canon 100m Macro Shoot Out EF VS RF

Canon EF 100mm vs RF 100mm Macro Lens Comparison

Do you have the old EF mounted to your new Canon mirrorless? What are the differences and is it worth the upgrade? Let's take a look. 

Within this article, we aim to answer these questions and uncover the key distinctions, focusing on aspects such as the mount design, optical excellence, stabilisation capabilities, autofocus efficiency, and overall compatibility. Before we begin, though, let's understand the main difference between the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens and the Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens.

EF Versus RF Mount Lenses

The EF and RF mounts represent Canon's evolution in lens mount design, catering to different generations of camera systems. The EF Mount is the older of the two lenses; the mount, introduced in 1987, has been a staple for 35mm film and more recent DSLR bodies. This current EF version was released in 2009 and whilst is a great option the RF mount caters to newer mirrorless cameras. It features a shorter flange distance than the EF mount, allowing for the development of lenses that are sharper, faster, and lighter. The RF mount also facilitates more rapid data transfer between the lens and camera body, enabling advanced features such as enhanced image stabilisation and autofocus.

Pros of the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens

Benefit: Versatility Across Camera Bodies

The EF 100mm f/2.8L can be used on both full-frame and crop-sensor DSLR cameras, making it a flexible option for various shooting conditions and needs.

Benefit: Optical Image Stabilisation

With up to four stops of shake correction, it enhances handheld shooting capabilities, especially in macro photography, where stability is crucial.

Benefit: Exceptional Image Quality

Delivers sharp images with minimal aberrations, thanks to its L-series optics, making it ideal for both macro and portrait photography.

Drawback: Compatibility Limitations with Mirrorless Systems

Requires an adapter to be used with Canon's new RF mount mirrorless cameras, which may slightly compromise performance and handling.

Pros of the Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens

Benefit: Advanced Image Stabilisation

Offers up to five stops of shake correction, improving low-light performance and stability in handheld macro photography.

Benefit: Innovative Spherical Aberration Control

Allows photographers to fine-tune the bokeh effect and soft focus for creative and artistic imagery.

Benefit: Optimised for Mirrorless Systems

Designed specifically for RF mount cameras, ensuring seamless integration and maximised performance (stabilisation and data transfer) with Canon's mirrorless lineup.

Drawback: Higher Cost

Reflecting its advanced features and mirrorless optimisation, the RF 100mm f/2.8L tends to be more expensive than the EF version.

Lens Physical Design and Build Quality

Both lenses fall in Canon's prestigious L-series lineup, renowned for their rugged construction, resistance to dust and moisture, and ability to deliver outstanding image quality. The L-series badge signifies lenses that are built to endure the rigours of professional use, featuring enhanced optical elements and coatings for superior performance. Whether mounted on DSLR or mirrorless bodies, these lenses offer a cohesive blend of durability, comfort, and optical excellence, enabling photographers to capture high-quality images with confidence, irrespective of the shooting environment.

Aside from L-Series status, there are some notable differences between the lenses. The first is the weight. The newer lens weighs 105g more than the older lens, which is mainly due to the additional two elements found in the RF version.

Optical Performance

Users of both lenses can anticipate exceptional clarity and precision in an array of lighting scenarios. In terms of the overall look, the bokeh produced by these lenses is beautifully smooth and aesthetically pleasing, making each lens ideal for macro or portraiture use. In terms of image sharpness, consistent output is meticulously maintained across the entire frame, from the centre to the edges, ensuring that every detail is captured with remarkable definition.

In terms of lens coatings, there are some differences that alter the optical performance of each lens. For example, the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM lens features Canon's Super Spectra Coating that is designed to reduce flare and ghosting, which can occur when shooting in challenging lighting conditions. By minimising these aberrations, the Super Spectra Coating ensures that images have high contrast and colour fidelity, enhancing overall image quality.

On the other hand, the Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens benefits from Canon's more advanced lens coating technologies tailored for the RF lens lineup. This includes Air Sphere Coating (ASC) in addition to Super Spectra Coating. ASC is an innovative technology that reduces lens flare and ghosting even further, especially in backlit conditions. It works by creating a layer of air spheres on the lens surface that minimises reflections.

Magnification and Macro Capabilities

Both lenses excel in magnification and macro capabilities, providing life-size 1:1 magnification that renders minute details with stunning clarity. This level of magnification ensures that even the smallest subjects can be photographed in great detail, making these lenses ideal for close-up shots of insects, plants, and small objects.

Autofocus and Image Stabilisation

Both lenses feature Canon's advanced autofocus technology, with the EF 100mm utilising an Ultrasonic Motor (USM) and the RF 100mm employing a newer, optimised version for the RF system. These motors ensure fast, accurate, and virtually silent autofocus performance, critical for both macro and portrait photography, where even the slightest noise can be disruptive.

Image stabilisation (IS) is another standout feature, with the EF lens offering up to four stops and the RF lens up to five stops of shake correction. For macro photographers, this additional stop of image stabilisation offered by the RF lens means they can shoot at slower shutter speeds while still maintaining sharpness in their photos. This is invaluable in challenging lighting conditions or when using natural light, where increasing ISO to achieve faster shutter speeds might not be desirable due to the potential for increased noise in the final image. Canon’s stabilisation technology significantly reduces camera shake, enabling handheld shooting in a variety of lighting conditions and enhancing the overall sharpness and quality of the images.

Bokeh and Creative Controls

The bokeh rendered is exceptionally smooth and visually appealing, particularly on the RF, which has more creative control thanks to a unique Spherical Aberration (SA) control ring. This innovative feature allows photographers to adjust the bokeh quality and the overall soft-focus effect, providing an additional layer of artistic expression in their images. This capability grants users unparalleled control over the aesthetic and mood of their photographs, from dreamy portraits to detailed macro shots with beautifully isolated subjects.

EF & RF Lens Compatibility

The compatibility and usability of both 100mm lenses are key considerations, especially when transitioning between DSLR and mirrorless bodies. The EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM, designed for Canon's EF mount DSLRs, offers seamless integration with a wide range of full-frame and APS-C sensor DSLR cameras, ensuring users benefit from its full capabilities without the need for additional accessories.

However, for photographers looking to use this lens with Canon's newer mirrorless systems, Canon provides the EF-EOS R Mount Adapter, as well as a variety of mounts that include the control ring for extra functionality, variable ND or polarising filters. This adapter facilitates full compatibility with the EOS R series mirrorless cameras, allowing EF and EF-S lenses to operate as if they were native RF mount lenses, complete with autofocus and image stabilisation functionalities. 

Conversely, the Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens is engineered specifically for the RF mount, which is intrinsic to Canon's mirrorless EOS R series. This direct compatibility maximises the lens's performance, leveraging the shorter flange distance and high-speed communication between the lens and camera body to enhance features such as autofocus speed and image stabilisation effectiveness due to the newer technology.

Final Thoughts

When deciding on which lens to get, it will ultimately come down to the camera body you plan on using. Whether through the EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM's tried-and-true excellence for DSLR users or the RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM's innovative features, photographers equipped with either lens can expect to capture the close-up world in breathtaking detail and clarity. To learn more about these lenses, we encourage you to speak to the team via live chat, in-store or over the phone.