Canon EF 180mm f/3.5 Macro USM ‘L’ lens review with samples (Full-frame and APS-C)

Here’s a venerable Canon ‘L’ lens which doesn’t seem to have been reviewed very often. It has a major reputation for being sharp, though – is it another ‘L’ classic? And the coin used for testing is an old threepence, not a sixpence, as I accidentally claimed on the soundtrack.

Special thanks to Sean Swanepoel for lending me this lens for review – check out his website at

As always, this is a totally independent review.

This video includes my new test chart, as I’ve moved to a new place far away from all my old shooting locations. I’ve tried to make it a colourful one.

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My Canon 70D had to be sold as I was saving up for my wedding/ honeymoon, so I’m still using my old Canon 60D. It’s kind of falling to pieces by now! All pictures and footage shot by me on Canon 6D and 60D cameras.

Be sure to follow my Photostream on Flickr, to see sample pictures of lenses I’ve reviewed and to see previews of upcoming lenses, too!

‘Opportunity Walks’, Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0…


Julie Miller says:

That was a threepence.

Aurimas Andrijauskas says:

Hei Christopher, i am looking ultrawide angle zoom for Canon 5D. I found Canon 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5 USM lens. What do you think, is this is good alternative for expensive ultrawide canon L lenses?

Robin Polarstern says:

It’s the sharpes lens of the world … 2. Zeiss Otus 55mm

paulbalegend says:

great review! love watching your lens reviews

Ashley Nadin says:

Thanks Chris

Alexander Rex Evensen says:

Most macro lenses are very good, and it’s always fun to test 🙂 Have you tried the Tamron 180mm? It’s amazing. It also has a ring outside and behind the mount for the lens hood which lets you rotate the filter you have on so you can rotate a polarizing filter if you have one on, pretty neat, but the image quality is amazing as well, even if it’s getting old now.

Chris Carson says:

Hello Christopher.

I would like to thank you for your informative vids that are short and too the point and highly enjoyable. Can I please request a subject?

Can you give us your considered opinion on the Weather Resistance of lenses in general. I use Nikon and Fujifilm cameras with Nikon and Fuji lenses, but it’s only Fuji who offer dedicated WR lenses, although at a premium price. Also the range of WR lenses always seem to be limited, no matter which manufacturer they come from. Without wanting to pay the excessive premium for dedicated WR lenses, can you please do a vid on the Weather Resistance of lenses in general. Obviously there’s a huge difference between Waterproof and Weather Resistant, but in general use, just how Weather Resistant are lenses? Do they really need to be wrapped in rain jackets in a slight drizzle or can we use them without worrying too much as long as a little common sense is used.

Starow 21 says:

Like the sharpest macro lens or like the best budget macro lens

Armen Pogosyan says:

This is a great lens. I am selling mine for $950 + Shipping. If anyone is interested message me please. I used to shoot jewelry with it but got out of that business and therefor selling the lens.

Dave's Nature Productions says:

I prefer a bit longer focal length for macro lenses at times, not just because of what you said about not getting as close to the subject, but also because of the shadow you sometimes cause by being close to the subject. Not ireally important but at 4:10 I think that is actually a three pence coin, not a sixpence.

On the subject of older macro lenses and Sigma, at some point would you be able to review the original Sigma APO 180mm F3.5 EX DG macro lens? (not the newer f/2.8 one), Maybe compare it to this Canon lens since they both don’t have stabilisation, are the same focal length, both macro lenses and start at f/3.5? I know a couple of people who used one years ago and said it produced quite good quality but have since moved to the newer Sigma 150mm macro or Canon 100mm L macro.

weegeekelvin says:

I see stamps from Hong Kong in your clip! Did you visit HK before?

Starow 21 says:

+christopher frost photography , can u do a best macro lens video ? it’s been hard to look fo a good one , i usualy look for your advice for best camera lens .

feetsfotos says:


cardiacade says:

Surprised you mentioned the Sigma 150mm instead of the 180mm ex dg.

L says:

Any chance you could review a Magic Drainpipe please

Ömer Özen‎‏‏ says:

hi chris can yow review the tamron 70-200mm f2.8 macro with your style of review . and thank you

Jeryes Ghantous says:

hi. once again, a great review. thanks. in this review you mentioned the stabilized sigma 150mm f/2.8 macro lens. is there any chance to have a review on thus lens? or at least what can you say about it?

goollink says:

hey chris, any plan for getting the 80d? it would be interesting if you could review it

Spinning says:

Have you tried the samyang 10mm f2.8? id love to see your thoughts on the lens

Westy says:

great video!

Starow 21 says:

Thx man if u can

Karthik D says:

@Chris – Still waiting for your review of Tokina 100mm F2.8 macro lens. Any chance you can do it ?

Chaitanya Shukla says:

Could you review Sigma 150mm and 180mm OS macros? they both seem like alternatives to this lens at around similar prices.

Ery Alves says:

Hello Cris, I love your channel, I’m from Portugal and I have a request for you, I who’d love to se a review from you of the Sigma 50 100 f1.8 and from what I now from your Chanel you want to review her to lol I hope you can review in April wend the lens comes out 🙂

Leslie Dellow says:

It’s an old thrupence; not an old sixpence. I suppose it is only us oldies who can remember it now.

Denis Guerra says:

Have you experienced some decrease in sharpness when you use a full frame lens on a crop body?

Blockbuster2033 says:

Any chance that you will make a review about the Samsung 24mm 3.5 tilt-shift?

Barry Carr says:


Pauline Follett says:

Another great review. A very interesting lens is the 180mm.

msmartinigirl1 says:

I bought this lens used a few years ago, it was my first macro lens. I really liked it, but extremely hard to get 1:1 hand held. Also I didn’t have a really good tripod or slider which made taking my photo’s with it a lot of work and difficult, that being said I think I got some really nice photo’s even though I only have a APS-C. Last year I bought the Canon 100mm 2.8 with is and I like it because I can use it without my clunky tripod and have gotten some really nice photo’s with it too.

ERA 23 says:

This is crazy, I just discovered 10 minutes ago that this lens existed before i even came on youtube and saw this.

Zack Choy says:

Thanks Christopher for the review and thanks Sean for the glass!

Heron Myer says:

Why don’t you sound very british??

XEP says:

How about to do review for Samyang 10mm for crop cameras?

ColonelRuiz says:

Hi Chris have you come across the sigma 12-24 v1 or v2 ? They seem to be really cheap options for ultra wide full frame. I was just wondering what the image quality would be like on modern bodies

jean lapalme says:

hi i appreciate your vids and like them very well . could you do a review of a tokina 28-80 atx pro 280 ef it would be nice

noname says:

hey guys i have a question
i am doing street photography and i also take a lot of pictures of spring flowers.
i want to know which 35mm and 50mm lens i should buy. i also want to get into wildlife photography, therefore a great zoom lens would be greatly appreciated.

Daniel Han says:

IS mostly deducts IQ from a macro lens, have a look at the new 100mm Canon with IS VS the old ones, IS is not needed for macro. Same story with Nikon’s 105vr vs 105D, the older ones tend to do better.

For other non-macro things, IS would certainly be a plus.

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