Canon's New Macro Lens Might Have a First-of-Its-Kind Feature

Canon's New Macro Lens Might Have a First-of-Its-Kind Feature

Canon's new mirrorless macro lens, the RF 100mm f/2.8 L Macro IS USM, is likely on its way soon, and the first images of it show a bizarre control we haven't seen on a lens before.

On the surface, the RF 100mm f/2.8 L Macro IS USM looks pretty similar to the EF version, but upon a closer examination, you will see it has a second ring with a strange scale next to it with a label that says "SA CONTROL." It is not clear what this is. If I had to guess, this might be a "Stacking Adjustment Control" that could obviate the need for macro rails and instead allow you to focus stack using just a tripod. It is hard to see given the low resolution of the images, but it looks like the left end of the scale (bottom in the picture above) is a minus sign and the right side is a plus sign. Of course, I'm squinting at a low-resolution image and could be totally wrong, but it certainly would a very useful innovation for macro shooters. Another possibility is some sort of control over spherical aberration rendering — the technique used in "soft focus" lenses in the past. Either way, we will likely see the lens and have our questions answered soon! 

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Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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This seems really cool and amazing to me if your theory is correct. That said if so, it makes me wonder why they didn't go with a more precise scale on it. Those markings seem awfully far apart. For a super shallow DoF macro shot, I imagine you'd want more precision.

Side note, how cool would it be if they included a motor so that the camera can do it automatically for you? That would be the most amazing feature. Do something like just specify how big you want the DoF, then when you hit the shutter the camera determines how many images are needed at the given aperture then just automatically takes each one and stitches it all into a single raw image file.

"you hit the shutter the camera determines how many images are needed at the given aperture then just automatically takes each one and stitches it all into a single raw image file" I need this.

Olympus cameras had in-camera focus stacking that was similar to this (though not quite as feature smooth as you described. However it would not build the raw file in camera, but it did make things a lot more streamlined.

Actually the E-M1X and E-M1 Mark III can do in-camera raw stacking up to 15 photos

Like a D850. It doesn't stack them in camera but that's what Light room is for.

Yeah, though the LR method requires you go home and upload the images to your computer before you realize you made tiny mistake. In-camera would mean you can review the stitched image on location and re-take if necessary.

I'm gonna be an outlier and guess that the new control is similar to the old Minolta 24mm f2.8 VFC:

It's a lens that allows you to change the shape of your plane of focus, so if your subject isn't perfectly flat then you can manipulate the plane to be concave or convex to "wrap" around the subject and get more in focus with a single shot (for example: think of a photo of a ball and having the entire surface in-focus without needing to stop down like crazy or focus stack).

Oh this sounds like a way better idea!

Well this is more to the point of tilt function which we also have in modern Canon TS-E lenses.

Tilt-shift lenses can't turn a flat plane into a concave/convex shape, which is what the old Minolta did. True, they manipulate the plane of focus but in a different fashion.

Hmmm interesting, not sure you could get crazy 300 shot stacks with the length of that lens barrel.

It's a spherical aberration control. Nikon introduced this in 1993.

If you're referencing the 105mm DC lens, it actually was predated in 1990 by the 135mm f2 DC!

Why on earth would they put that on a lens when you can do micro focus adjustments in capture software?

It’s entertaining to read comments of people being critical of what MIGHT be a lens feature. The internet has brought us the joy of Speculative Criticism. 😂😂😂

Might be something like the „floating elements“ Mamiya used to build in its RZ medium format lenses years ago. Depending on the distance to the subject, you could change the position of some individual lenses inside to achieve the maximum sharpness and quality for a special distance.

Spherical Aberration Control?

See: the Nikon 135mm f/2 DC

Called it.

"Spherical aberration (SA) control ring for changing the character of the bokeh and introducing a softer focus effect."

Looks like they may have taken away the tripod collar. If so it will make it harder to position the camera for macro shots.