One could consider a:
Contax N Carl Zeiss Makro-Sonnar T 100mm F1.2 modified by http://en.conurus.com/ to work in AF with Canon EF Mount. You have the best of both worlds: AF and 1:1 Macro and some might say a more recent technology.
I am still getting use to it. The colors are more life like and not oversaturated. Did I mention sharpness far and beyond what I was expecting?
The results are better than the Canon 180mm and the 100mm and surpasses the Nikon 105mm. Yes, I did own these lens. In Macro, I use the Canon Angle Viewer since the DOF is razor thin.
You can find one on eBay and have it converted or purchase one for about 1500$. You can still have it serviced by Contax Japan.
You can read a review here: http://www.pebbleplace.com/Personal/Contax_100N_Makro.html
Sorry, my intentions are not to divert the conversation but rather attract your attention to an alternative...
Thanks for this information. It seems like Bernard has already found his own personal Heaven and received the info he was looking for, so your diversion of topic is a welcome adjunct to the main topic. I think, as always, it boils down to the right tool for the right job. It sounds like Bernard found the perfect lens for his purposes. I did not mean to hijack this thread either, but to point out some useful information whereby some might come to realize that the Zeiss 100 macro, while considered the absolute cream of the crop in many ways, was not
the perfect macro lens for certain macro functions.
As you mentioned, and I mentioned previously, the older Contax version is actually the all-around better lens, but what you just taught me was that it was AF too (I did not know this!), and that it might still be available second-hand. For documentation purposes, an AF lens on a 100 mm macro is as essential as true 1:1 magnification. One of my interests is obtaining photographic documentation of butterfly species in my area, and reporting my findings to www.ButterfliesAndMoths.org
, who base much of there "range map" knowledge of butterfly geography on the submissions of registered contributors, who keep an eye (and a camera) out to record any new species they see. So while a manual focus lens of the rare quality of the Zeiss may be great for a photographer with a tripod, who has all the time in the world to compose the perfect shot, such manual efforts not only can mean a rare opportunity can be lost in the field, but that the very manual rotation of the lens creates extra movement that itself can scare-away specimens. In fact, renowned lepidopterist (butterfly expert) Dr. Jeffrey Glassberg has this to say about the perfect equipment for butterfly photography:"(Dr. Glassberg) strongly recommends chosing a camera body that has automatic focusing and automatic shutter speed and aperture setting programs ... with manual focus/settings the requirement that your other hand must turn the barrel of the lens to focus it increases the chances of the butterfly detecting the movement and flying off ... to get consistently good shots you should use a 100mm macro lens. Make sure that you are getting a true macro lens, one that at closest range results in a life-size (1:1) image. Many lenses listed as 'macro' lenses ... do not have this feature. Without a true macro lens the butterflies will generally look small in your pictures; with such a lens the butterflies will fill the frame."
Dr. Glassberg is author to the well-known "Butterflies Through Binoculars"
3-book series, where he has photographed every species of butterfly in North America, and probably has more field experience doing so than any photographer on earth. The point of this digression is, although the Zeiss' stellar optics may be perfect for the photographer who has all the time in the world to sit there and tinker with his camera to get it perfect, it's fully-manual requirements cause a time-robbing delay in getting crucial nature shots at all, on top of which the very action of moving and rotating the lens is itself a threat to scaring-off the subject.
Thus while the Zeiss may be an unsurpassed tool for one man's job, it is a cumbersome and and inappropriate tool for another's job (both in its lack of AF as well as in its not offering true 1:1). What good is the extra resolution of a lens if you miss the shot altogether—or, even if you get the shot, if it's not a truly close 1:1 capture?
Many of the readers may not care about these matters, for 'their' purposes, and that is great. But I know when I
was researching 100mm macros for my
purposes, that these lacking features in the Zeiss were MAJOR drawbacks to its usefulness in the field, and so for those viewers who also might not have been aware of these particular limitations to the Zeiss, I posted these limitations on this thread, that were also considered major limitations by SLRLensReview.
So thank you for posting that link, Pratic. I did not really take the idea of getting an older lens all that seriously, but the fact that not only is the elder Contax version a true 1:1—but that it is also an AF—is wonderful to hear. I think somewhere down the road I will try to acquire this lens for myself, as it truly does appear to be the best of all possible worlds: resolution, AF, and true 1:1 macro.