The reality of camera ownership is that a large proportion of the market consists of crop sensor camera bodies. Therefore, it makes sense for each camera maker to have a wealth of lenses specifically for the APS-C format.
In this case, we are looking more closely at the Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM. This is a typical crop sensor lens that has a good bunch of features, including a macro mode.
This lens has a wide f/2.8 aperture and an equivalent focal length of 96mm. This means that it’s long enough for portrait work and acts as a medium telephoto prime. In this post, we’ll check out how the Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM performs in the real world and how it measures up to the rest.
The lens barrel may not have the bullet-proof build of an L-series offering, but the tough plastic outer shell on the Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM still feels very robust. At the front of the lens is a 52mm filter thread which is nonrotating, which means accessories like filters and lens hoods can be easily fitted.
Next along on the lens barrel is a rubberized focus ring which is ridged and wide enough for an easy grip. A traditional distance scale has been included, plus the usual AF/MF switch.
Inside the lens, the optics are comprised of 12 elements in eight groups, with a Super Spectra coating to reduce things like ghosting and flaring, as well as increasing contrast and color rendition. An Ultrasonic Motor (USM) handles the workings of autofocusing, with manual override, while the seven-blade rounded diaphragm results in the f/2.8 aperture. The lens focuses internally without a change in its overall length.
The macro side of things provides a 1:1 reproduction with a close focusing distance of 20cm. This alone should provide a life-size view of small subjects and the f/2.8 aperture should be wide enough to provide a good degree of shallow focus.
The lens weighs in at a total of 335g and has not too bulky dimensions of 72.9 x 69.85mm. Overall, this is a straightforward lens with a solid build quality and enough basic features to gain some good-looking images.
The Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM in Use
It’s usually the case that with a mid-price lens there will be some evidence of lens anomalies. However, in the case of the Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM, these are kept to a minimum.
Being a macro lens, barrel distortion should be kept low, which is definitely the case here. At 0.1 percent throughout the aperture range, distortion isn’t an issue with this lens.
Chromatic aberration is very low, especially at f/2.8. The only signs cropping up are small amounts of blue and purple fringing when the aperture is fully wide-open on high contrast areas. Small amounts displayed can be easily rectified in post-processing software.
Vignetting can be seen with the aperture wide open, with obvious levels of light falloff in the corners. This factor is mostly alleviated by f/4, but the lens needs to be stopped down to f/8 to completely eradicate this effect. Although vignetting is apparent, it’s not overwhelmingly distracting to be annoying. Fortunately, the amounts that are visible can be largely removed during post-editing.
Overall sharpness levels in the center and corners are very good at f/2.8. Sharpness on this lens hits its zenith at f/5.6, with levels starting to trail off after f/11. From f/16 and above, diffraction impacts image quality, but at least in the most usable aperture zones, image sharpness is very good.
Background blur or bokeh quality is a needed feature with a macro lens. When shooting extremely small subjects, bokeh is a given and while the background blur is reasonable from this lens, it is also quite average. Colors transition well from foreground to background, but light balls can have a cat’s eye look, which is also affected by the vignetting. At the aperture of f/4, light balls look far more rounded with the overall nicest rendition of blur.
Using this lens in macro mode is when things start to shine, providing lots of resolution and detail for small subject matter. Small subjects can easily fill the frame and while the transition to bokeh may not be the most superior out there, it’s still very usable.
How Does It Compare?
If you need a 60mm focal length and macro workings, a third-party alternative comes in the form of the Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2.0 Di II LD [IF] Macro 1:1. The Tamron comes in slightly more expensive than the Canon, but also features a wider aperture of f/2 and also has a pair of low dispersion elements for good measure.
The focal length on this lens comes out at an equivalent focal length 96mm, a minimum focusing distance of 23cm and the macro reproduction ratio of 1:1. Overall, the Tamron has better optics, but it really has to be pushed to get noticeably sharper images than the Canon. The Tamron also doesn’t display as much vignetting when the aperture is wide open.
|Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2.0 Di II LD [IF] Macro 1:1||Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM|
|Optics||14 elements / 10 groups||12 elements / 8 groups|
|Close Focusing Distance||23cm||20cm|
On the whole, the Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM is a very sharp lens, with loads of resolution power. The lens is very sharp even when the aperture is wide open, with the most usable apertures coming in with sharp focus.
Lens anomalies are kept minimal, apart from noticeable levels of vignetting. Bokeh doesn’t match up to the levels of higher-priced lenses, but it’s still very usable and attractive in the right circumstances. Build quality is good for the price point.
In total, the Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM is worth every bit the asking price. There may be more expensive and more capable macro lenses on the market, but you cannot fault the EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM for sharpness levels and the ability to double up as a macro lens.