This is the Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro (Canon's first true EOS R macro lens)

Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
(Image credit: Nokishita)

UPDATE: The first images of the Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens have been leaked online, indicating that earlier reports about Canon's first dedicated macro lens for the EOS R system were correct. 

While the images of the Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM are very low resolution, we can make out that it has the same three switch controls as its DSLR counterpart, the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM: focus limiter, AF / MF and Stabilizer on / off. In addition to the standard issue Canon RF control ring, however, there is one big difference on the new optic: "SA control". 

• Read more: Best macro lenses

There aren't any obvious terms that this could relate to (spherical aberration isn't something we'd expect to have its own control dial!), though a possibility is that SA could relate to soft focus – as earlier this month a Canon patent for a macro lens with variable soft focus was spotted. 

"SA" may not mean anything right now, but nor did "DS" until Canon chose "Defocus Smoothing" as its term for the creative effect of its Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L USM DS lens. Could we be seeing a new name ("Soft Artistic"?) applied to soft focus, or could this be something else entirely? Camera tipster Nokishita didn't reveal any further details when it leaked these images, so we'll just have to wait to see what it actually stands for.

ORIGINAL STORY (26 Mar): Two new 100mm macro lenses could be on the way for Canon's mirrorless bodies sporting the RF mount.

While the best Canon RF lenses is increasingly diverse, something it's still missing is a dedicated macro lens. Sure we have the Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM and Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM, but these only have a 1:2 reproduction ratio. That could all be set to change, though.  

Back in October we reported on the rumored 2021 roadmap for Canon's RF lenses. According to the list we should see a whole raft of telephoto lenses coming this year, including a Canon RF 100-400mm f/5.6-7.1 IS USM and Canon RF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM lenses.

A Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM was also on the list and it appears we now have a few more details about the optic, as well as a Canon RF 100mm f/1.4L IS USM Macro too as two new patents recently came to light via Canon News.

The details are for a Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro 1:1.4x and it would seem a Canon RF 100mm f/1.4L IS USM Macro too. If the rumor holds water, we're due to see two top flight L-series optics featuring image stabilization and an Ultrasonic Motor autofocus system as soon as this year.

L-series quality

Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro lens

The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM (Image credit: Canon)

The two new optics are said to belong to Canon's elite L-series lineup. So comparing them to the long-established Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM should give us some ideas of what to expect. We already know that the older DSLR EF mount optic has brilliant image quality and a rock-solid build with weather sealing to boot.

The EF 100mm is 123mm long, but both of the new mirrorless optics are said to be a little longer, with the RF 100mm f/2.8L measuring 162.37mm and the RF 100mm f/1.4L measuring 141.34mm. 

This could potentially be due to physics; generally putting the lens' front element (or front group of lens elements) further away from the sensor makes it easier to achieve the higher magnifications sought after in a macro lens. This will inherently be more of a problem with mirrorless cameras that already have a shorter flange distance, due to the omission of a mirror.

Maximum magnification

(Image credit: Future)

A 'true' macro lens has a reproduction ratio of 1:1, which at this magnification would render the subject at the same size as if it was placed on the image sensor – this is what we refer to as a 'life-size'.

However, the new Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro 1:1.4x is rumored to be a little more zoomed out with a maximum reproduction ratio of just 1:1.4. This means you would need to get closer to your subject to get the same frame-filling shots as with a 1:1 macro lens.

For context and comparison, Canon's MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro lens has a reproduction ratio of 5:1, meaning at its maximum magnification you can capture subjects five times larger than lifesize! But also goes without saying it's a tad more unwieldy to use.

As ever, Canon's patents don't necessarily mean that a design is going to make it to market, so it's possible that only one (or neither) lens will ever see release. However, with it being such an obvious gap in the RF lineup and the existing EF lens as a template, where there's smoke there's almost certainly fire. 

The Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro (Image credit: Canon)

Read more:

Best Canon RF lenses
Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM review
Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM review
Should I buy a Canon PowerShot?

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Dan Mold
Deputy Editor

Deputy Editor on PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine, Dan also brings his technical wizardry and editing skills to Digital Camera World. He has been writing about all aspects of photography for over 10 years, having previously served as technical writer and technical editor for Practical Photography magazine, as well as Photoshop editor on Digital Photo

Dan is an Adobe-certified Photoshop guru, making him officially a beast at post-processing – so he’s the perfect person to share tips and tricks both in-camera and in post. Able to shoot all genres, Dan provides news, techniques and tutorials on everything from portraits and landscapes to macro and wildlife, helping photographers get the most out of their cameras, lenses, filters, lighting, tripods, and, of course, editing software.