This is how Canon’s Spherical Aberration dial works on the new RF 100mm f/2.8 macro
Last week, Canon rehoused a couple of its old EF lenses into RF cases, but also released something brand new. A macro lens that wasn’t just an old design with an EF to RF adapter bolted on the end, but a whole new design. That lens is the Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM and it brings with it a new and very unique feature – Spherical Aberration Control.
It’s a ring just behind the focus ring that lets you adjust how the out of focus areas of the scene are rendered within your shot. But what does that mean in the real world? How does it make them look? Well, this video from Canon Europe answers that with some examples from pro macro photographer, Oliver Wright, who’s been using it with the Canon EOS R5.
The Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM also holders another big feature over its EF predecessor. It has a significantly larger magnification. 1.4x doesn’t sound like a lot, but it means your subjects are 40% larger in the frame, making them even bigger than life to your camera’s sensor. As demonstrated in the video, this can lead to some very impressive results with the high resolution of the EOS R5, even when going handheld.
I’m not sure if the Spherical Aberration Control ring is anything more than a gimmick yet, but it is definitely interesting. It doesn’t make a lot of sense on a macro lens to me, though. If anything, I think this would be better suited to something like an 85mm. Something portraity. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from using the new RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM as a portrait lens if you want, too.
Do bear in mind this video is published by Canon, so they’re going to show off the lens the way they want it to be seen. I’m curious to see what sort of effect it offers people in the real world for a variety of different subject matter. Guess we’ll have to wait for those reviews a little while longer, though.
What do you think about the new Spherical Aberration Control? Is it useful or just a gimmick?
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.