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Canon EF-S 60/2.8 Macro Lens Review

by Hannah Thiem, April 2007


The Canon EF-S 60/2.8 Macro lens enables photography down to amagnification of 1:1, which means that you can fill the final RAW orJPEG file with a subject the same size as the APS-C sensor inside aCanon Digital Rebel, i.e., 15x22mm. A PopularPhotography lab test resulted in higher scores for the Canon 60Macro than for any previously tested macro lens, presumably due to the fact thatthis lens only illuminates an image circle large enough to cover a small digitalsensor.If you have a small-sensor EF-S-mount camera, such as the CanonDigital Rebel, and dont plan on moving to a full-frame Canon digitalSLR, buy one right now fromamazon.com, (buy from Amazon).

Autofocus

The Canon 60 macro includes a ring-type ultrasonic motor (USM), whichallows full-time manual focus, even when the camera/lens are set toautofocus. Autofocus is slower and more cumbersome than with anon-macro lens, due to the large range of distances available. Thelens has an internal/rear focusing system, so the length of the lensand therefore distance of the front element from the subject does notchange as the focus ring is moved. The lens is a flat-field design,optimized for edge-to-edge sharpness of flat subjects.

Construction

This lens is constructed of 12 elements in 8 groups. A floatingelement ensures high optical quality at all distances from 1:1 toinfinity. For connoisseurs of soft bokeh, Canon has equipped the lenswith a circular aperture. Remember that this is an EF-S lensand therefore has an interlock to prevent mounting on a full-frame sensor camera, suchas theCanon EOS 5D (review).

The barrel is all-plastic, but durable, with weight and length slightlylarger than the Canon 50/1.4.

Accessories

To reduce the scattering of non-image-forming light within the lens,order the Canon ET-67B hood (sadly, not included). For getting beyond1:1 magnification with some loss of image quality and brightness, theCanon 60 macro lens can be used with theCanon EF 12 II Extension Tube and Canon EF 25 II Extension Tube.

Flash

For uniform lighting at high magnifications when the front of the lensis very close to the subject, the Canon lens-mountedmacro flash systems are ideal: the Canon MR-14EX Macro Ring Lite, (buy from Amazon) (review) andthe Canon MT-24EX Macro Twin Lite Flash, (buy from Amazon) (review) both fit this lens.

Other options include a standard flash, such theCanon Speedlite 580EX II Flash, (buy from Amazon) (review), held off-camera and controlled viaCanon ST-E2 Speedlite Transmitter, (buy from Amazon) orCanon Off Camera Shoe Cord, (buy from Amazon) (review). You will probably want todiffuse the light from the flash with a softbox or a light tent.

Specifications

35 mm equiv. FOV approx. 96 mm
Angle of view • Horiz: 20° 40
• Vert: 14° 10
• Diagonal: 24° 30
Lens construction 12 elements in 8 groups
Diaphragm blades 7
Minimum aperture F32
Closest focus distance 20 cm (7.9 in)
Maximum magnification 1
Distance information Yes
Image stabilizer No
AF actuator ring-type USM
Filter diameter 52 mm
Dimensions (dia x len) 73 x 69.8 mm (2.9 x 2.8 mm)
Weight 335 g (11.8 oz)
Magnification with EF12 II 1.28 - 0.20
Magnification with EF 25 II 1.61 - 0.44
Lens hood ET-67B

Alternatives

If you are going to stay with small-sensor Canon cameras, this isalmost surely the best lens for most macro projects. If you need moreworking distance from the subject, theCanon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM, (buy from Amazon) (review) may make sense, or evenCanon EF 180mm f3.5L Macro USM, (buy from Amazon) (review) for photographing skittish insects.Keep in mind that with these full-frame lenses, you are paying for andlugging around extra glass that you dont need with a small sensor.

If you dont mind extra weight or are thinking of upgrading to afull-frame camera in the future, the strongest alternative is theSigma 70mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro Lens for Canon, (buy from Amazon). This is a full-framecoverage lens that Popular Photography tested right afterthe Canon EF-S 60 and the image quality results were even better. Themain drawback of the Sigma is increased weight: 525g (18.5 oz) versusthe 335 g (11.8 oz) for the Canon.

Pop. Photos lab tests:

  • Canon
  • Sigma

Where to buy?

If you want to use the lens for a project tomorrow, buyit from amazon.com, (buy from Amazon).

More

  • Fundamentals: photo.net Macro photography tutorial
  • More Questions: Canon EOS discussion forum
  • Canon USA product page, includes a modulation transfer function chart

Field Test: the Watchmaker

We tested the Canon 60 macro lens at The Watchmaker in Stoneham,Massachusetts, using the following equipment:

  • Canon Digital Rebel XTi, (buy from Amazon) (review)
  • Photoflex LiteDome XS, (buy from Amazon)
  • Canon 550EX flash (obsolete; replaced by theCanon Speedlite 580EX II Flash)
  • Canon Off Camera Shoe Cord, (buy from Amazon) (review)
  • 8.5x11" sheet of white paper as a fill reflector

[Photo at right taken with Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM, (buy from Amazon) (review); no flash.]



The price tag photo at the bottom right is at the maximummagnification afforded by the lens without an extension, i.e., 1:1 orlife size.

It would have been nice to have the Canon ring lights since we haddifficulty leaving enough room between the lens and the subject toadmit light from the softbox.

We were unable to use ETTL exposure for most of these images.Specular reflections from the watch case would fool the in-body sensorinto shutting down the flash prematurely and resulting in underexposedimages. We ended up setting both the flash and the camera on manual.


Text by Hannah Thiem. Photos copyright 2007 PhilipGreenspun.

Article created April 2007

Readers Comments




Alvin Hear , May 17, 2007; 03:46 P.M.


bokeh example

I thought I would see a huge difference between this and my 50/1.4, but I havent. What IS wonderful about this lens is the bokeh - up close shots have a liquidy background that I, personally, love.