Canon EF 100mm f2/8 Macro IS USM Lens Underwater Photos

Photos and insight from three underwater photographers
By Brent Durand, Amr A. Abdul-Majeed and Kadir Suat AKCA

Canon DSLR shooters have two main choices when it comes to macro lenses - 60 or 100mm. But those that shoot with full-frame Canon bodies like the 5D Mark III, 5DS / 5DS R, or 6D are limited to just one lens. Luckily, it's the reknowned Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro lens.

The Canon 100mm macro lens sports a red ring and stands with the best of Canon's pro-level "L" lenses. Fast autofocus, sharp detail, beautiful contrast, stunning color and wide versatility make this lens the go-to for divers who shoot Canon underwater.

In this article we'll see what a few different photographers have to say about the lens. We've even included a macro video on Mantis Shrimp shot entirely with the Canon 100mm.


Canon 100mm Macro Lens Specs

  • Focal Length:  100mm

  • Maximum Aperture:  1:2.8

  • Construction:  15 elements in 12 groups

  • Features:  Canon IS and USM

  • Minimum Focus Distance:  0.99ft / 0.3m

  • Filter Size:  67mm

  • Weight:  22oz / 25g


Amr A. Abdul-Majeed

The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens is an excellent lens to be used and a must for macro shooters. It has an excellent image quality with a fast AF 

The lens is great for capturing lots of macro subjects and even some fish portraits, and because of its focal length (100mm) it provides a good working distance for shy subjects. When it is combined with a diopter such as the Subsee +10 or Nauticam SMC, it is perfect for super macro shots.

What I like about this lens that when I use it without diopter I can work with some shy subjects like shrimps, crabs and squids from a fair distance. Without a diopter you may need to crop your picture, but once you combine it with a diopter cropping will not be needed because your subject will fill the frame. You will be impressed with the sharpness of the lens, and it is excellent for shooting super macro subjects such as nudibranchs, shrimps, coral patterns, frogfishes, etc.


My recommended settings using the lens without diopter:

  • Aperture : F11-F13

  • ISO : 160-250

  • Shutter speed: 1/100s-1/160s

  • Strobes are on manual power 


My recommended settings using the lens with diopter:

  • Aperture : F13-F25

  • ISO : 100

  • Shutter speed: 1/100s-1/200s

  • Strobes are on manual power


I use the Canon EF 100mm f2.8L IS USM with the Canon 5DMKIII and the gear below:


Amr A. Abdul-Majeed is a Telecom Engineer, avid diver and an underwater photography instructor, living in Jeddah Saudi Arabia.











Kadir Suat AKCA

The Canon 100mm macro is an optically superb lens. Canon 5D Mark III and EF 100mm f/2.8 mm combination gives very fast and reliable focusing in all conditions, even in the low light environment underwater. It provides very sharp images and very high image quality. One of the important advantages of the EF 100mm Macro Lens is Hybrid IS. This compensates for minor camera shake even at low shutter speeds.

The Canon 5D Mark III, EF 100 mm f/2.8 mm lens and dual Ikelite DS-161 strobes with Ikelite housing give a perfect and fast response underwater. Subsee +10 and +5 wet lenses are also good choices for close up photos. The SubSee adapter, however, for the Ikelite glass port is not trustable and the build quality is very low. It can fall off underwater at any time.


Kadir Suat AKCA was born and grew up in Ankara which is the Capital City of TURKIYE. He received a BS degree of Geological Engineering from Middle East Technical University/ Ankara. Kadir took the PADI OW course in Jeddah/Saudi Arabia than became a dive addict. He took first underwater photos with a Sealife camera. Than meet with amazing Canon G10 small and versatile monster. After all more than 10.000 pics, decided to take photos with DSLR camera... New era strated in his underwater photography with Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Ikelite housing and EF 100mm, f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens in 2014.









Brent Durand

The Canon 100 is an excellent lens and I have used it with a Canon 5D Mark III underwater. It's not only a great underwater macro lens, but a very nice topside portrait lens on a full-frame body.

Shooting the Canon 100mm on full-frame is roughly equivalent to a 60mm on a 1.6 crop sensor. This means that you don't have the same reach as using the 100 on crop, but you can create more depth, negative space and bokeh in your underwater macro work. Add a diopter and you enter the supermacro realm with magnification greater than the lens' native 1:1 reproduction ratio.

I don't have a camera rig or shoot underwater much anymore, but can offer the photos below, shot with the 100, Canon 5D Mk III and the gear below during the Bluewater Photo Anilao workshop in May 2015.







Bonus Video!

Here's a video of some mantis shrimp shot entirely with the Canon 100mm Macro lens and 5D Mark III.

Video by Brent Durand, filmed with I-Torch Venom38 video lights.


Additional Reading:


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