Canon 100mm f2 USM review


Canon 100mm f2

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Canon 100mm f2

canon 100mm 2

Introduction – Canon 100mm f2

The Canon 100mm f2 (f/2) lens is an interesting portrait lens from Canon. This lens is quite similar to the Canon 85mm f/1.8 lens. The Canon lenses are much cheaper than the Nikkor counterparts. The Canon 100mm f2 lens can be used on Canon full frame and Aps-C Dslr cameras as well. On Aps-c we have a tighter view which is better for head shots, while on Full frame we have a wider field of view for full body or group shots. The Canon 85mm is a little better in this regard, which is a little wider. The general opinion, if such a thing exists that a 85mm is a little better, more useful for portraits than the 100mm. The difference is small. On the other hand the 100mm is better for concerts for example where more focal length is preferred.

100, 85 or 50mm ?

I prefer to make a photograph of a face in portrait than anything else, for this the longer lenses are better. With a 50mm lens on a crop camera for this I need to be approximately 1m from the subject which is quite close and can be disturbing.

For group shots on a crop sensor cameras the 50mm is better, because we can go closer to the people.

Other big difference between the 85,100mm lenses and the 50mm, 35mm lenses is the quality of the out-of-focus blur or bokeh. The longer lenses are simply much better in this regard. For portraits blurred background is preferred.

With the 50mm lenses the background is not so smooth than with longer lenses. The 50mm f/1.8 II has 5 blade diaphragm which makes not so nice pentagonal highlights, instead of circular shape highlights.

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Official name – Canon 100mm f2 USM

The official name of the lens is Canon 100mm f/2 USM

Compatibility – Canon 100mm f2

The lens is compatible with Canon Full frame and Aps-C cameras as well.

Specifications – Canon 100mm f2

Focal length range: 100mm
Optical formula: 8 lens elements in 6 groups
Brightness: f/2
Angle of view: / degree (Fx / Dx)
Aperture range: f/2-22
Minimum focusing distance: 0.9m (2.95′)
Weight: 460g (16.22 oz.)
Dimensions: App. 75 x 71.5mm (2.95 x 2.81 “)
Aperture diaphragm blades: 8
Magnification: 1: 8
Filter thread: 58 mm (non-rotating)


The 100mm focal length is mostly useful as a portrait range. On Aps-C cameras, like Digital rebels, or Canon 60,70d or 7d you can make tight head shots from 2-2.5 m. For full body shots needs to go little farer. The field of view is around 2.25 m from 10 meters. The view on the Full frame camera is not so tight, little longer than 50mm on crop camera.

Optical qualities – Canon 100mm f2 review

The Canon 100mm f2 is a very nice, high quality lens. Some purple fringing appear with this lens as well, as with the 85mm. The lens is sharp from f/2, sharper than the 85mm at f/1.8. At f/2 the two lens is similar, perhaps the 100mm is a hair better. The lens has good contrast, nice colors and absolutely usable wide open at f/2.

Bokeh – Canon 100mm f2

Canon 100mm f2 1
Canon 100mm f/2 USM ISO 800 f/2 1/500s Canon 30D camera
The bokeh is very nice, similar like a bokeh of the 85mm 1.8. You cannot make the same bokeh with the 50mm or 35mm wider lenses. I see no significant difference between the bokeh of the 85 and 100mm lenses.

Autofocus – Canon 100mm f2

The Autofocus of the Canon 100mm is a real quick and near silent ring-type ultrasonic auto-focus. The closest focusing distance is 90cm. In some low contrast situations the af can hunt, at least on my Canon 30D.

Price/performance – Canon 100mm f2

The Canon 100mm lens is a very good price/performance lens. You can get an excellent, bright, full performance, high specs lens without breaking the bank.


I won’t list Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 zooms as alternatives, but in reality this is the alternative for many photographers. The zoom is much bigger, heavier, slower in terms of brightness, but undeniably much more versatile. I am much more of a prime lens guy. The Canon 200mm f/2.8 USM II is very sharp even at f/2.8, but the 85mm is f/1.8. This is a huge difference. Even if we use the prime at f/2 it is a full stop difference.
There are many prime alternatives as well.
The Canon 100mm f/2 is a very similar lens, soon I will write a comparison between the two lens. In short they are very similar. The 100mm is noticably longer, little bigger and heavier, sharper at f/2 than the 85mm at f/1.8 but at f/2 quite similar.
The Canon 135mm f/2 is a little different lens with two ED elements, but the difference is not huge. If you are on a budget the 85mm is much cheaper, smaller and lighter, and also very good even wide open, with excellent fast autofocus and very nice bokeh.
The only more serious drawback is the 85mm is purple fringing, if you want to avoid that the Canon 100m Macro is also an alterantive, without fringing, but not so nice bokeh, but with very good Macro performance, even with teleconverters.
The Canon 200mm is a little longer, not so useful for portraits than the 85mm, but has stellar quality, one of the best lens Canon has ever manufactured.


-Excellent image quality,
-nice contrast,
-silent and quick USM drive,
-relatively light and small


-little purple fringing in high contrast situations like snow

Verdict – Canon 100mm f2 review

The Canon 100mm lens is a very nice, desirable lens. The optical quality is very nice right from the wide open f/2 aperture. Compare to the 85mm the lens is a little bigger and heavier. Other than that the two lens is more similar than different.

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