The Canon EF 100mm f2.8L IS may be labelled as a macro lens, but it is much, much more.
It's coming up on one year since I purchased this lens and it may not be one that I use daily or even weekly, but it is one I will keep and won't replace. I originally purchased this lens with the intention of using it for still life, product and the occasional macro photography. Since then, I have used it for everything from street to portraits and even landscapes. I had always been more of a fan of the wide, environmental portraits so I generally used the Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM as my portrait lens (the Canon 35mm f2 IS became my walk around lens). After trying out some portraits on the 100L and seeing what an amazing job it does, I found no use for my 50 and the 100L became my main portrait lens. Here are my general impressions of the 100L for the past year.
Like the 35mm IS, it has a plastic construction but is still very solid and doesn't feel the slightest bit cheap in its build. Considering its size and all the optical elements it's made up of, it is a very reasonable weight and I actually feel more tired carrying my 17-40 than I do this lens.
This lens is without a doubt the sharpest lens I own and have ever used. Most macro lenses are the sharpest in any brands lineup and the 100L certainly isn't an exception. The amount of detail this lens shows in the images you take is amazing, often highlighting imperfections in the subject I can't even see or never previously noticed. Distortion is minimal and non existent in most situations, although there can be a very slight vignette wide open which is nothing compared to my 35 IS.
Bokeh is really nice and smooth, especially at closer distances. For full body portraits, you can still get a slight background separation, but it won't be as prominent as the 135L or something longer.
This is probably the only area this lens doesn't really shine, although macro lenses aren't typically known for lightning fast AF. Focus can be very slow at macro distances although I don't really have any issues shooting at portrait lengths, I also tend to use Live View and manual focus when doing macro so it isn't too much of a bother for me.
This lens is an underrated telephoto that can deliver beautiful results in almost every application. Its macro label deters many people from using it for other styles such as portraits, although its extraordinary optics produce images that make you wish you use it more.
The IS may seem unnecessary but that's only if you view this lens for macro only. For portraits and other uses, the IS can be really helpful (I have horribly shaky hands yet I've gotten tack sharp images at 1/50th and slower). If you want a lens that's for portraits only, you certainly have many other options. Although if you want a lens that will excel at everything you throw at it, look no further. Here's some of my personal favourites that I took with the 100L.
Staring Out Into The World by Daniel E Lee
IMAGE LINK: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dlee13/14157116418/
Drops by Daniel E Lee
IMAGE LINK: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dlee13/14842714175/
Malcom by Daniel E Lee
IMAGE LINK: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dlee13/15355402540/
Heading Towards The Bokeh by Daniel E Lee
IMAGE LINK: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dlee13/12495703854/
Pain Is Love by Daniel E Lee