I have a Canon 40D and like taking macro shots sometimes, so I'm thinking of buying a macro lens. I'd also like the lens to double up as a portrait lens. I'm not a super serious photographer, so my budget is not huge, but I'm considering the Canon EF-S 60mm f2.8 USM Macro Lens and the Canon EF 100mm f2.8 USM Macro Lens. I also note that Sigma and Tamron have lenses in that focal range and price range.

So reasons I can think of to go for the 60mm would be:

  • smaller and lighter
  • probably a better focal length for portraits
  • bit cheaper

While the 100mm would be better for:

  • insect photography, as I could keep my distance a little better.

Are there other key factors to consider? Would you recommend one of the third party lenses as particularly good? Are there any of these lenses to avoid?

8 Answers 8


To throw in another opinion, I have EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro and it worked really great for me, both for macro and snapshot portraits of people around me (size also helps here). Review at photozone is also rather positive. I guess you'll be happy with whichever of those two you choose.

  • I've got it too, full ack!
    – eWolf
    Jan 8, 2011 at 16:55

When it comes to macro lenses, two of the things you need to take into account is Depth of Field and Field of View. With a 60mm lens, you are going to have a greater FOV and less flexibility in terms of DOF. You'll need to get pretty close with a 60mm to do either macro photography of insects, or for portraits (unless you want the wider field for your portraits, and are not interested in getting close-up facial shots.)

On the other hand, with a 100mm macro lens, you are going to have a narrower FOV, and greater flexibility in terms of DOF due to the longer focal length. You won't need to get as close to snap shots of either insects or close up portraits.

In terms of build and construction, hands down the Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens is one of their best-built lenses. It is solid, and has some of the smoothest focus I've ever encountered. Its clarity and quality are second to none. One thing you should be aware of, however, is the difference in these two lenses mounts. The 100mm is an EF lens, designed for full-frame sensors. It will work on an APS-C, however it will effectively be a 160mm lens. The 60mm is an EF-S lens, and is designed to work only on APS-C sensors. It'll effectively behave as a 96mm on a full-frame, but if you ever upgrade your camera body to an APS-H or FF, you won't be able to use it.

  • When you say you need to get pretty close with a 60mm lens, are you taking into account that it will be on an APS-C body, so it will effectively be a 96mm lens? Or are you talking about a 60mm lens on a full frame? Your answer is slightly confusing ... Jul 20, 2010 at 22:25
  • Are you sure about that?!? I am under the impression that a focal length of 60mm is a focal length of 60mm, whatever sensor it is intended to be used for. This question also backs that up. So the EF-S 60mm lens on an APS-C body will give a field of view equivalent to a 96mm lens on a full frame body. If this is not the case can you point me to a source that states that? Aug 8, 2010 at 16:41
  • Actually, you are correct, the 60mm EF-S provides effectively the same field of view as a 96mm lens on a full-frame body. The EF-S 60mm Macro on APS-C would basically be like the 100mm Macro on FF.
    – jrista
    Aug 8, 2010 at 19:41
  • Hamish - theoretically, what is the difference between a 100mm (say) EF lens, and a 100 mm EF-S lens, when used on an APS-C camera ? Reason for asking is that some EF lenses seem to be much cheaper.
    – Abhinav
    Sep 2, 2010 at 6:59
  • 1
    @Abhinav: Outside of the cost, they are still the same focal length. The cheaper EF-S one will have lower quality build, probably lower quality glass, which might mean more problems with CA and other distortion.
    – jrista
    Sep 6, 2010 at 18:35

I use the 100mm f/2.8 with my 20D, and find it works quite well for portraiture - don't forget Canon's 50mm f/1.8 is also their cheapest (and most under-rated) lens (about £90 in the UK) if you don't need true Macro, and that is brilliant for portraiture, especially with APS-C sensors.

  • 2
    Wow. It's like $70 (35 gbp) in the states. UK/EU photographers has my respect for getting screwed over in prices. The downside for the f1.8 for portraits is the bokeh is not as nice, due to the 5 element aperture (iirc).
    – Alan
    Jul 20, 2010 at 17:42
  • @Alan I tend not to use avoid point light sources in the background, so the bokeh issue is less noticeable. As always, individual taste comes into it though. Jul 20, 2010 at 18:04
  • 1
    For anyone interested, from tdp: With a minimum focus distance of 1.5' (.45m), the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Lens delivers a rather low native maximum magnification of .15x. Adding extension tubes take maximum magnification to .39x and .68x for 12mm and 25mm tubes respectively.
    – fmark
    Feb 15, 2011 at 0:25

I have both the 100 Macro and the 40D, and the 100mm doesn't give you that much option to stay away from the bugs. You still need to get upclose. The 100mm is pretty light to begin with, so it really boils down to:

Do you want more reach? (100mm) Do you want shorter reach (60mm) Will you move to a fullframe body? (100mm)

I knew I was going to move to a fullframe/non-efs body, so I went with the 100mm. I love it.


I used to have the Tamron 90mm f2.8 macro and have switched to the Canon 100mm f2.8 for two reasons:

  • better build quality
  • faster (and silent) focus due to USM
  • no extension/rotation of the lens while focusing.

Especially the last point is very important if you don't want to scare little animals away. As far as image quality is concerned, both are excellent lenses.


I've just bought the Sigma 18-50mm f2.8 EX DC Macro and can highly recommend it (not to be confused with the non-macro version). Note that it has a max aperture f/2.8 throughout the zoom range.

For portraits it is optically almost as good as my excellent Canon 50mm f/1.4 but better in many other ways because of the zoom range and macro capability.

Definitely one to consider.


  • 1
    Despite its name it is not a true macro lens. Its max magnification is 1:3, where a true macro lens should be able to do 1:1.
    – Pete
    Mar 24, 2012 at 16:36

I have used the older Canon EF 100mm Macro (the non-USM version). Absolutely wonderful lens. However, I found the working distance to be a bit on the short side for insects. I am currently using a Sigma EX 180mm f/3.5 which I find very good for this use. Not the smallest of lenses though...


I have the Canon EF 100mm f2.8 USM Macro Lens and a Canon Xsi and absolutely love it. The 60mm might be better for portaits, but if you have room to back up a little the 100mm does just fine. As far as Macro shots go, I think the 100mm is a great fit for a cropped sensor. It gives you a little more working space than the 60mm would and it's not terribly heavy.

I was worried about the price when I was researching, but I am really glad I took the hit and went for the 100mm, it's certainly the best lens I own.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.