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joe | profile | all galleries >> Lens Tests / Galleries >> Lens Tests >> EF-S 60 / 2.8 Macro on a 20D tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

EF-S 60 / 2.8 Macro on a 20D

   I'll state the conclusion first:  for a good-light "walkaround" lens, this has come to be my favorite lens in the short time I've owned it -- usurping the Sigma 18-50 / 2.8 for now (that may change when the novelty wears off, though!).  I have since purchased the 85 / 1.8 to complement this lens for low light situations since it's usability under low light is marginal at best.  Nonetheless, I have no qualms about going right to ISO 3200 with this lens to get the shot.

   However, for macro I would prefer a longer lens like the Canon 100 / 2.8 macro, or, even better, the Sigma 150 / 2.8 macro.  The reason is that when shooting macro, the to-and-fro motion of not being perfectly still has far greater consequences than the camera shake.  Obviously, this applies mainly to hand-held shots but also can affect tripod shots as well since your subject may move slightly (a flower in a gentle breeze, for example).  If you or your subject is wavering back an forth a few millimeters, this will be much less of a problem at 150mm than at 60mm and will even outweigh camera shake in terms of getting a sharp pic.

   The EF-S 60mm / 2.8 macro is "wicked sharp" across the entire frame from f / 2.8 to f / 11 and gradually goes downhill until a horrible performance at f  / 32 (albeit f / 16 and f / 22 are still fairly good). There is no PF (purple fringing), or color fringing of any type, at any aperture, and flare is extremely well controlled. However, vignetting is an issue below f / 4. Nonetheless, if you're shooting that wide open, I imagine that vignetting will rarely be an issue for the type of pictures you are taking since the DOF is more shallow.  Interestingly, the Sigma 18-50 / 2.8 (reviewed here) shows the same pattern.

   The AF is quick and accurate except at macro distances and low light where sometimes it just plain sucks (it can hunt a lot under this circumstances).  Honestly, and I know this sounds weird for this FL (focal length), but an AF limiter would have been useful. Anyway, the minimum focus distance is reported as 7.9 inches (from the sensor), which has translated to about two inches from the end of the hood.  The lens is 1:1 IF (internal focusing -- in other words, the lens does not extend).  The 1:1 magnification has nothing to do with EF-S.  1:1 is 1:1 no matter the sensor size.

   All shots are unsupported hand-held on a Canon 20D except for the "aperture" test where all the shots were on a tripod. For most pics here, that is not an issue, but for some it is. For example, due to my inability to remain perfectly still, that the macro shots are most likely not as good as they could be. In fact, I learned that IS would help little as the to and fro motion caused way, way, way more problems than the side to side motion (not that IS wouldn't be great for non-macro!). Even the smallest motion produces from soft to OOF shots. Obviously, the macro shots were selected as the best of several similar shots. The non-macro shots, however, were just a single quick point and shoot (which should be obvious due to the lack of care I took to make them level!).

   Additionally, it should be noted that all pics are at ISO 100 unless otherwise specified. The images were converted from RAW to 90% jpg with BreezeBrowser Pro using combined conversion method, +0 saturation, -2 contrast, -2 sharpening, and HQ style sharpening in the RAW PP (post-processing) stage. No other processing on the images has been performed. All pics (except for the vignetting pics) begin with the full size image, followed by the same image resized for web, followed by one or two unedited 100% crops. The focus point is always the first crop, with, on occasion, another area crop to demonstrate a weakness or strength of the lens. Often, due to DOF, it didn't make sense to post more than the AF point crop. Regardless, the full size image is available for inspection. However, only 1024 x 682 resized pics were posted for the vignetting examples, as that size is more than sufficient to see what is being tested.

   Incidentally, I'm not a macro photographer (I got this lens to have a ring-USM close focusing -- not macro -- lens in the 50-80mm range). The 50 / 1.4 I owned had occasional problems at f / 2 and below (inconsistent AF), the 85 / 1.8 has PF wide open and a long minimum AF distance. If I can deal with the f / 2.8 limitation, and this lens is at least as good as the aforementioned lenses with macro to boot, then it's served its purpose.  Nonetheless, it would be interesting to do a shoot-off between the three lenses and compare them from f / 2.8 onward.  Perhaps the 50 and 85, stopped down to this extent, would do as well, and perhaps even better, than the 60.  But I'm just being open minded here -- I would be shocked if they did better, but would not be surprised that they were so close that any differences were meaningless.  Still, those lenses wouldn't give you macro, but they would give you speed for the times you need it.  That's the painful trade-off as I'm a shallow DOF speed freak.  Can I say again how much I regret this lens not being f / 2?  :  )

   Anyway, hopefully these images are useful for those thinking about purchasing this lens.

:: Macro ::
Close (not quite macro)
:: Close (not quite macro) ::
Detail (Sharpness)
:: Detail (Sharpness) ::
Compared to 35mm f / 1.4L
:: Compared to 35mm f / 1.4L ::
:: Fringing ::
:: Flare ::
:: Vignetting ::
:: Aperture ::