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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 a magnification of 1:1, which means that you can fill the final RAW or JPEG file with a subject the same size as the APS-C sensor inside a Canon Digital Rebel, i.e., 15x22mm. A Popular Photography lab test resulted in higher scores for the Canon 60 Macro than for any previously tested macro lens, presumably due to the fact that this lens only illuminates an image circle large enough to cover a small digital sensor. If you have a small-sensor EF-S-mount camera, such as the Canon Digital Rebel, and don't plan on moving to a full-frame Canon digital SLR, buy one right now from amazon.com, (compare prices).

Autofocus

The Canon 60 macro includes a ring-type ultrasonic motor (USM), which allows full-time manual focus, even when the camera/lens are set to autofocus. Autofocus is slower and more cumbersome than with a non-macro lens, due to the large range of distances available. The lens has an internal/rear focusing system, so the length of the lens and therefore distance of the front element from the subject does not change 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 floating element ensures high optical quality at all distances from 1:1 to infinity. For connoisseurs of soft bokeh, Canon has equipped the lens with a circular aperture. Remember that this is an EF-S lens and therefore has an interlock to prevent mounting on a full-frame sensor camera, such as the Canon EOS 5D (review).

The barrel is all-plastic, but durable, with weight and length slightly larger 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 beyond 1:1 magnification with some loss of image quality and brightness, the Canon 60 macro lens can be used with the Canon EF 12 II Extension Tube and Canon EF 25 II Extension Tube.

Flash

For uniform lighting at high magnifications when the front of the lens is very close to the subject, the Canon lens-mounted macro flash systems are ideal: the Canon MR-14EX Macro Ring Lite, (compare prices) (review) and the Canon MT-24EX Macro Twin Lite Flash, (compare prices) (review) both fit this lens.

Other options include a standard flash, such the Canon Speedlite 580EX II Flash, (compare prices) (review), held off-camera and controlled via Canon STE2 Speedlite Transmitter, (compare prices) or Canon Off Camera Shoe Cord, (compare prices) (review). You will probably want to diffuse 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 is almost surely the best lens for most macro projects. If you need more working distance from the subject, the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM, (compare prices) (review) may make sense, or even Canon EF 180mm f3.5L Macro USM, (compare prices) (review) for photographing skittish insects. Keep in mind that with these full-frame lenses, you are paying for and lugging around extra glass that you don't need with a small sensor.

If you don't mind extra weight or are thinking of upgrading to a full-frame camera in the future, the strongest alternative is the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro Lens for Canon, (compare prices). This is a full-frame coverage lens that Popular Photography tested right after the Canon EF-S 60 and the image quality results were even better. The main drawback of the Sigma is increased weight: 525g (18.5 oz) versus the 335 g (11.8 oz) for the Canon.

Pop. Photo's lab tests:

Where to buy?

If you want to use the lens for a project tomorrow, buy it from amazon.com, (compare prices).

More

Field Test: the Watchmaker

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

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



The price tag photo at the bottom right is at the maximum magnification afforded by the lens without an extension, i.e., 1:1 or life size.

It would have been nice to have the Canon ring lights since we had difficulty leaving enough room between the lens and the subject to admit 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 sensor into shutting down the flash prematurely and resulting in underexposed images. We ended up setting both the flash and the camera on manual.


Text by Hannah Thiem. Photos copyright 2007 Philip Greenspun.

Article created April 2007

Readers' Comments


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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.


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