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Macro Lens Choice

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Merlin_k
Merlin_k e2 Member 5Merlin_k vcard Netherlands2 Constructive Critique Points
18 Feb 2009 - 11:07 PM

Hopefully my next lens will be a macro. But the question is which one. I am using a 40D, and trying to decide between the 100mm EF and the 60mm EF-S.
Both go down to 2.8, both get good reviews.

Any comments, thoughts or experience to help me decide?

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18 Feb 2009 - 11:07 PM

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spaceman
spaceman  105166 forum posts Wales3 Constructive Critique Points
18 Feb 2009 - 11:19 PM

Popular opinion suggests that photographing insects and suchlike is best done with a longer lens. If you're photographing inanimate objects (me for instance) you could save a few quid by getting a shorter lens.

spaceman
spaceman  105166 forum posts Wales3 Constructive Critique Points
18 Feb 2009 - 11:21 PM

Quite soon some people will suggest that you disregard both options and go for a 150/180mm lens instead.

Slippery_Jim
18 Feb 2009 - 11:44 PM


Quote: Quite soon some people will suggest that you disregard both options and go for a 150/180mm lens instead.

And I shall oblige by suggesting the awesome Sigma 150 mm F2.8

strawman
strawman  1022006 forum posts United Kingdom16 Constructive Critique Points
18 Feb 2009 - 11:55 PM

Of the two you pick I would take the Canon 100mm macro lens, as the 60mm is a crop sensor only lens so if you ever go full frame it will be of no use to you.

Overread
Overread  63746 forum posts England18 Constructive Critique Points
19 Feb 2009 - 1:23 AM

If your looking to photograph insects then you want at least 90mm worth of focal length or more in a macro lens to get a good working distance (distance from camera sensor to subject) - going shorter makes things harder since you are closer to the insect and thus have a greater chance of spooking it.

After that one has to decide if your going to shoot handheld or from a tripod, tripod macro shooting is best for static and slow subjects where you have time to get into position, for insects early in the morning or late evening are decent times, though during the middle of the day most are too active for tripod shooting. One can use a lure to attract some bugs (like honey on a tree or rotting fruit) and then shoot from a tripod.
Handheld shooting definatly needs a flash nearly all the time (certainly for full magnification) and for moving insects one often has to keep a fast shutter speed, so even on a tripod flash is important - though one can take measure to reduce the glare from a flash.

For canon the macro lens options are:
Canon EFS 60mm macro - good solid lens, its down side is that its only EFS compatable (crop sensor cameras only) and its short focal length.
Canon 100mm macro - very popular choice and a solid performer, it is sold without hood or tripod collar, both of which are important additions. The collar is very important for stable tripod shooting, whilst the hood is - well its a lens hood you should never be without one - though I have read that the hood is not usable when working in macro
Sigma 70mm macro - good solid choice from sigma and one of their sharpest lenses
Sigma 105mm macro - again a good solid choice of lens
Sigma 150mm macro - this and the 180mm macro are sigmas top range macro lenses, both are better builds than the other sigma options; offer HSM focusing motors; teleconverter compatability and are solid performers. The 150mm is light enough to handhold for macro work, whilst the 180mm is generally considered a bit heavy for prolonged macro work
Sigma 180mm macro - often chosen instead of the canon 180mm macro as its optical quality is the same, but its price is much more affordable
Tamron 90mm macro - shortest recomended macro lens for insect shooting. A cheaper but good option

Generally I avoid the 50mm macro options as they are weaker builds than the others - also the canon is not a true 1:1 macro lens unless you combine it with the canon 500D macro filter (its a filter not a camera)

In general all the macro lenses listed are sharp and well built and one would be hardpressed to impossible to tell which was used for a macro shot. Generally macro lenses are poorer AF than nonmacro lenses because of the fact that AF is not used in macro photography (one will set the AF to manual, set the focus to the desired level - often full magnification or 1:2 for larger insects like butterflies - and then focus by moving the camera and lens closer and further away from the subject.

For lighting idealy a ringflash is used, but one can also use speedlites to good effect - even a popup flash on a rebel camera can give usable lighting. For the flash light though I do recomend diffusing the light, I use a 580M2 flash with a lumiquest softbox and I find the softbox to be fantastic at softening the light from the flash. One can also use folds of toiletpaper (white) held infront of the flash (elastic band) as a makeshift diffuser. As your starting out I would say go for a speedlite (430 or 580) since it will be usable in all walks of photography, whilst ringflashes are much more specific to macro only (they don't have the power of a speedlite - though ringflashes can make for good portrate flashes).


I think that covers mostly everything.
Overall from the two you suggest the 100mm is the more practical and diverse - the 60mm is a great lens, don't get me wrong, but its hampered by its shorter focal range (limiting if you want to shoot bugs) and its EFS only compatabilty. If you want a shorter focal range lens the sigma 70mm or Tamron 90mm are good chioces

Last Modified By Overread at 19 Feb 2009 - 1:24 AM
magnus
magnus  9661 forum posts United Arab Emirates5 Constructive Critique Points
19 Feb 2009 - 6:37 AM

!!!!! Probably the most comprehensive answer to a question I've seen in a long time!

IanA
IanA  103048 forum posts England12 Constructive Critique Points
19 Feb 2009 - 8:05 AM

And only slightly flawed!! Wink

(Pop-up flashes are virtually useless with most maco work as they don't pop up far enough and cast a shadow from the lens on the subject)

MeanGreeny
19 Feb 2009 - 9:30 AM


Quote: And only slightly flawed!!

(Pop-up flashes are virtually useless with most maco work as they don't pop up far enough and cast a shadow from the lens on the subject)

*puzzled*

He never mentioned pop-up flashes

IanA
IanA  103048 forum posts England12 Constructive Critique Points
19 Feb 2009 - 9:49 AM


Quote: even a popup flash on a rebel camera can give usable lighting.

He did! Wink

magnus
magnus  9661 forum posts United Arab Emirates5 Constructive Critique Points
19 Feb 2009 - 9:59 AM

Though to be fair he only said "useable".

Which it could be with an appropriately placed reflector!

sgamble
sgamble  639 forum posts England4 Constructive Critique Points
19 Feb 2009 - 10:38 AM

No mention of the Tamron 180 macro though! It might be a bit long for a 40D with its crop factor added in. I hate the term but it is tack sharp. So sharp it is actually hard to focus - thank goodness for digital and the lcd screen! It weighs a ton too so you must use a tripod.

The canon 100 mm macro looks like a very good lens (so says slrgear.com) and perhaps a bit more versatile than a 180mm.

Overread
Overread  63746 forum posts England18 Constructive Critique Points
19 Feb 2009 - 1:49 PM

I have seen the macro lens question so many times that I sort of made a master post (and keep altering it). And I think I copied the older version - I am sure I edited in that popup is only really usable at 1:2 macro not at 1:1 (well I edited in on at least one reply somewhere Wink)
and the tramon 180mm - I always forget about that lens as I see it used so rarely - and have had little interaction with its users to get an idea for the lens - though you saying that its a tripod lens does fit in with the other 180mm options from sigma and canon.

sgamble
sgamble  639 forum posts England4 Constructive Critique Points
19 Feb 2009 - 2:01 PM

@Overread: I quite liked imaging all that knowledge just ran straight out of your head to the keyboard. I was dead impressed!

I've never seen a soul using the tamron 180 either.

sgamble
sgamble  639 forum posts England4 Constructive Critique Points
19 Feb 2009 - 2:08 PM

by imaging obviously I mean imagining.

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