Introduction

Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM, first introduced in mid-2005, currently remains the only fixed focal lens in Canon's arsenal that was designed specifically for the APS-C type cameras. The lens has a protruding rear element that interferes with mirror box if a traditional full-frame camera and has a smaller imaging circle, thus making it unsuitable for use on full-frame bodies like Canon 5D or Canon 1Ds. The lens is priced quite aggressively - at ~US$350 (as of November 2007) it remains affordable for mainstream photographers looking for a standard angle prime or a macro lens.

The build quality of Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM, while not as good as that of an L class lens, is still pretty decent - outer barrel is made of hardened plastic and is actually sturdier then it looks. The lens sports true inner focusing system, meaning that the inner cams do not extend during focusing, leaving the total length of the lens constant. The focusing ring is fully rubberized and is very smooth. Like most modern EF lenses in Canon's arsenal, EF-S 60mm f/2.8 macro USM sports a fast and near-silent ring-type USM AF along withe a full-time manual focusing system. Users can switch from manual to AF using a AF/MF switch on the side of the barrel. The lens does not have a dedicated aperture control ring, since all aperture settings are set electronically from the camera.

The optical construction consists of 12 elements with a floating optical system designed to improve image quality at close (macro) distances. Speaking of macro distances, the lens offers a 1:1 life-size macro at its closest focusing distance of 20cm (0.65ft). Compare this to EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro that offers a 1:2 magnification and requires an optional Life-Size Converter to go to 1:1. The minimum supported aperture is f/32 and the lens supports 52mm screw-in type filters. Like most standard angle prime lenses, EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM is pretty compact and light, measuring 73 x 70mm (2.9 x 2.8in) and weighing 335g (11.8oz).

Image

 

As mentioned earlier, EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM is designed for APS-C type sensors and on a full frame body it will have a field of view equivalent to a 96mm lens. The factory box includes Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens, manual and registration card. The lens is compatible with Canon's Gelatin Filter Holder Adapters III & IV, Extension Tubes EF 12 II and EF 25 II and can accept optional ET-67B lens hood.

 

Summary
Lens Composition 12 elements in 8 groups
Angular Field 25 degrees
Minimum Focus 20cm/0.65ft
Focusing Action AF/MF, USM
f-stop Scale f/2.8-f/32, camera-controlled
Filter Size 52mm
Lens Hood ET-67B (optional)
Weight 335g/11.8oz
Dimensions 73x70mm/2.9x2.8"
Lens Case LP1016 (optional)

 

Field Tests

Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM showed excellent performance in the field with tack sharp images in the center as well as around borders. Majority of lenses suffer at wide apertures, especially around borders - this was not the case with EF-S 60mm f/2.8 and the lens excelled throughout the aperture range with no visible softness whatsoever. Images carried very good detail and had excellent contrast throughout the tested apertures. Color reproduction was quite accurate and unlike most of Canon's other lenses, EF-S 60/2.8 did not show typical to Canon warmness in colors.

 

Vignetting @ f/2.8 - 1.6x crop
Vignetting @ f/2.8 - 1.6x crop

 

The lens did not produce any major vignetting throughout the aperture range. Ditto for barrel distortion, which is not surprising for a standard lens. The lens also showed basically no color fringing across the frame, which is obviously another positive capability.

 

ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/1600, 60mm (100% crop)
ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/1600, 60mm (100% crop)

 

Lab Tests

Please note that MTF50 results for APS-C and Full-Frame cameras are not cross-comparable despite the same normalized [0:1] range used to report results for both types of cameras.

 

Canon APS-C: The lens showcased simply outstanding performance in the lab. Image quality in the center as well as around borders was excellent throughout the tested aperture range, with very evenly distributed results. At its peak, which is basically almost entire aperture range, the lens is capable of producing outstanding 19in prints, putting into the top quartile of all lenses. Conclusion? There are not that many fixed focal lenses that were designed from grounds up for APS-C type sensors, which makes Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM especially noteworthy - so far this is the crown king of all APS-C primes (at least among the ones I tested to date).

 

MTF50 (Line Width/Inch on the Print) @ 60mm
MTF50 (Line Width/Inch on the Print) @ 60mm

 

Normalized raw MTF50 @ 60mm
Normalized raw MTF50 @ 60mm

 

The lens produced negligible amount of chromatic aberration across the frame and all aperture settings. CA did not exceed ~0.28px in the center throughout the aperture range and averaged ~0.6px around borders (also throughout the aperture range). Nothing to worry about here.

 

Image borders @ 60mm (100% crop): f/2.8 vs f/8
Image borders @ 60mm (100% crop): f/2.8 vs f/8

 

Alternatives

While Canon offers four other macro lenses in its lineup (here I assume that you're interested in a macro lens, not a standard angle prime). most users would probably be interested in only two models - Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM (review) which packs excellent image quality and decent build quality into a quite affordable lens, and Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM, which while produces excellent image quality is also ~3x more expensive then its shorter brethren. Outside of the Canon camp, take a look at Tokina AT-X AF PRO D 100mm f/2.8 Macro, assuming you have an APS-C type camera, or Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro.

 

Recommendation

Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM is one impressive lens - image quality is simply outstanding and the lens showcases low level of artifacts. Additionally, the lens packs a 1:1 life-size macro and all that at a very affordable price level. The only limitation that I can think of is the fact that this is not a full-frame lens - if you're shooting with an APS-C camera, you're in luck and this is one lens you should seriously consider adding to your collection, otherwise you'd have to look somewhere else.