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I am very interested and maco photos and have a canon eos 600d, anyone got any advice of which lense to look at for decent macro as a starter, budget is a few hundred pounds
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Buy the best macro lens you can. I have a Nikon 105mm which means you can get closer to the 'subject', which means getting more 'subject' filling the screen/ image. As a Canon user you have an awesome option for a lens.............the Canon MP-E Macro lens. It may be out your price range but you may be able to pick one up second hand. As a Nikon user, I am really green with envy over this lens!
You have a fair choice with several hundred pounds. The obvious one is the Canon 100mm f2.8 macro - about £350 without IS or £800 with IS. Or the Tamron 90mm macro is very well respected. I preferred the Canon only because it is internal focussing but there is not much in it image-wise. But these lenses are so superbly sharp that they have other uses as well.
If you are just starting out with macro, a cheap alternative is to get the 50mm f1.8 (about £90) plus some extension tubes (anything from £20 to £100, the higher price being for tubes that communicate with the camera to keep AF and metering). The disadvantage of this is that the working distance is much smaller so if you are photographing bugs it is harder to get close to them - but if you check out Thomas Shahan, even that is not a problem if you don't want it to be: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqRn3at0H60
The lower cost of the 50mm f1.8 is that you can also get a flash to supplement the light.
Ohh, I forgot about this! I wrote a review on extension tubes! It can be read here!
Thanks a lot guys, a good starter to get me going.
There are a few macro lenses in the EPZ classfields (one Sigma might suit your budget ).
In general there are no bad performing macro lenses on the market and all perform to a very similar high optical standard. Even newer editions make little improvement (optically) over previous versions. As such you're far more free to choose a lens based upon focal length, budget and features present (eg internal focusing, IS, etc...).
Focal lengths don't mean quite the same in macro as they do for normal shooting. A 35mm macro and a 180mm macro lens at their closest focusing point will show the exact same frame content; because the magnification of the photos is identical (1:1). What focal length changes is:
1) working distance - that is the distance from the front of the lens to the subject, where longer focal lengths give you more working distance.
2) Background blurring - more visible when you compare the extremes of focal lengths; but in general the longer the focal length the more blurred the background areas will become. Depth of field itself remains the same - however some mistake the less blurred background of the shorter focal length macro lenses to be increased depth of field - when it is not the case.
For macro work generally a lens of 90mm or more is the recommended starting point for insect work; shorter is possible, but harder to work with and anything shorter than around 60mm starts to become very hard to light.
You've really got an open market to choose from; Canon 100mm f2.8, Canon 100mm f2.8 IS L, Canon 180mm L, Canon EFS 60mm, Sigma 70mm, Sigma 105mm, Sigma 150mm, Sigma 180mm, (note the last 3 sigmas have been removed from sale now and are upgraded with new OS editions - however optically they perform very similarly to their original versions), Tamron 90mm, Tokina 60mm and there are a few others as well in the range.
Avoid any zoom lens with "macro" in the title as these are not true macro lenses, but instead simply feature a close focusing element - at best they can only get to half life size and in many cases are even weaker. There are also a few primes that are not true macro lenses:
Canon 50mm macro - this is only capable of being a true macro lens when combined with its dedicated lifesize adaptor - however for the combined cost you could more easily get a complete lens (eg a sigma 50mm macro) or even a longer focal length.
Sigma 28mm macro - is only close focusing, not true macro
Canon MPE 65mm macro - this is kind of a specialist lens, its capable of 1:1 through to 5:1 (five times life size) magnification and is the only lens on the market that does this. However it is incapable of focusing on anything further than a few inches infront of the lens; it only focuses from 1:1 to 5:1. As such its a very specialist lens and further more high magnification macro is one of the most challenging subjects to shoot - difficult to hold, frame, compose and lighting is that much more difficult. It is a lens not recommended to beginners in macro photography.
Great, a big help, thanks very much
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