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I currently have a Canon EOS 400D and when i take macro shots i use the standard kit lens that came with the camera. The lens is an older one so doesnt have IS built in. Is there a cheap way of getting a better result from my camera to get closer to the subject for better macro shots? Or do i need to invest in a good macro lens and if so which would you recommend?
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You can buy a set of 3 extension tubes for anything from £20 to £120 - these move the lens further away from the sensor and so magnify the image. The more expensive ones maintain the autofocus and metering functions of the lens which can be very useful. The tubes do not give a loss of quality because there is no glass in them, but the greater distance to the sensor means you do lose light and so need longer shutter speeds.
I presume you have the 18-55 lens which is decent enough but you can get the 50mm f1.8 for under £100 and combining that with the extension tubes will easily give you 1:1 images of a very good quality.
As for specialist macro lenses there are the Canon EF-S 60mm macro (about £350) which I believe goes up to 5-times life size. Or the 100mm f2.8 macro (without IS) which is an absolutely stunning lens but cost goes up to £450.
Many thanks for that.
I do have a Canon EF 50mm lens which i got for christmas but found that i couldn't get in close enough to use it as a macro but with the extension tubes this may be possible.
If I remember correctly, a 50mm lens with 50mm extension will give you 1:1 images - but the working distance is only a few cm between the front of the lens and the object. This is where the longer focal lengths have their advantages for things like insects.
At these focus distances the depth of field can get very thin and one way round that is focus stacking plus a free download such as CombineZM/Combine ZP (just google those terms for lots of useful info on this site)
I made an error in my post: the 60mm macro will give 1:1, it is the 65mm MP E that gives up to 5x life size (and costs £700!).
Extension tubes don't always work well with zoom lenses. Borrow some tubes and do a test before you part with your hard-earned money.
Longer focal-length lenses gives a more comfortable working distance.
An alternative is to get close-up filters that screw onto the front of the std lens. These act like magnifying glasses & come in a range of different strengths, or dioptres. Although there is a very slight possibility of image degradation inherent with all filters, their big advantage is that they don't affect the exposure so aperture & shutterspeeds don't need altering.
i agree with Adrian, get some close up filters, they are pretty handy to have at times and what I started with. You can pick up some non-AF extension tubes without any electrical contacts on ebay for £10 or so if you are happy to manually focus your camera.
I have some AF extension tubes which as pretty handy but I would only recommend those if you are serious enough and not serious enough to buy a dedicated macro lens
Quote: An alternative is to get close-up filters that screw onto the front of the std lens. These act like magnifying glasses & come in a range of different strengths, or dioptres. Although there is a very slight possibility of image degradation inherent with all filters, their big advantage is that they don't affect the exposure so aperture & shutterspeeds don't need altering.
I forgot about close-up filters even though I have one (d'oh!) I slip it into my pocket when I do not know what I am going to photograph. Adrian is right in that they do not affect exposure settings, but the big disadvantage (to me) is that they can only be used on lenses of one filter diameter and I may be carrying any of a variety of lenses when walking around. The cheaper lenses do cause significant degradation at the edges but given the shallow depth of field, if you image is central in the picture it may not be an issue to you. However, given that the better close-up lenses are in excess of £100 (such as Canon's 250D or 500D) they are a good cheap way to see how serious you are about macro.
If your lens has a 67mm front thread, I have a +2D close-up lens on the flogboard. This will focus at infinity when the subject is 500mm from the lens.
Correction, it isn't on the flog-board because all my credit is used up!
I've got a set of those filters and they do work, albeit nowhere as well as I imagine a dedicated lens would.
They're OK if you want to try some close up stuff on the cheap though.
I find that it's necessary to get really close to the subject though to get it in focus and at such close proximity, the Dof is incredibly thin but if you can keep the camera still enough and use a wireless release, you can get some pretty good results.
I do a little from time to time.
With my lensbaby`s a close up filter does the job.
But I recently converted a x2 converter to an extension tube simply by removing the glass elements giving it a new ease of life
I bought a close-up filter because it weighs and cost practically nothing.
Then I purchased a couple of proper macro lenses, 55mm and 100mm so the filter doesn't get any use. For me, the 100mm macro is the more useful of the two.
Close up filters work well as do extension tubes, you could even go for a lens reversal ring, providing your happy using full manual control. But none of these options work as well as a dedicated macro lens, they usually start at around the £300 mark for something like a Tamron 90mm Sp Di Macro or a Sigma 105mm. IS whilst handy isn't really necessary, especially if your used to using a tripod.....
I can't disagree with Mr Osman, because some/most of his macro stuff is excellent (Brown nosing at it's best)
However, I took the plunge last year and purchased the Canon 100mm I.S - never looked back.
My butterfly chasing became fun - no worries about setting a tripod up and by which time the subject had flown.
Even a monopod can be irksome at times, plus the fact, I can never really get on with one
Low light - no worries - make the IS work for it's living - if the SS goes above 1/100 I keep upping the f number
Just you wait matey I've just invested in a Canon MP-E 65mm, as well as some other trinkets to go with it. If I ever get my head around it and it's steep learning curve, I intend kicking some arse this year, me competitive......Never
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