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Thinking of changing my 50mm Sigma Macro to either Sigma 105mm or Canon100mm Macro.

21 Nov 2014 7:34PM
I use a 50 mm Sigma EX DG f2.8 Macro on my Canon 60D. I think it's a great lens producing tack sharp images but the only problem i have with it is the focusing distance is very small. When i tried to take pictures of bees or other insects, they usually fly away because i'm guessing the proximity of the lens front scares them away.

I'm thinking of changing to a Sigma 105mm or Canon EF 100mm Macro. The Canon 100mm L Macro is too expensive for me. My main questions are is the extra focusing distance significant and does it help with more even lighting and less shadows? Also, has anyone compared the Sigma 50mm to the 105mm or the Canon EF 100mm Macro?

I'm not a pixel peeper and i don't require a weather sealed lens like the L.

Thank you.

LenShepherd 13 4.4k United Kingdom
21 Nov 2014 7:53PM
Ideally it helps to find out the working distance (front element to subject) at minimum focus for the 3 lens options.The differences are not always exactly proportional to the change in focal length.
As a guide the working distance for the Nikon D series macros is 90mm, 136 mm and 260 mm for the 60 mm, 105 mm and 200mm
For bees and butterflies some use 180-200 mm focal length so the front of the lens is further from the subject, some use a 1.4x TC for more working distance for the same viewfinder magnification and some use a 300 mm prime on extension tubes. Many use a crop sensor body for the extra working distance for the same magnification with extra depth of field compared to 24x36 format.
21 Nov 2014 8:08PM
Thanks Len. That's very helpful. I have a Sigma 1,4x TC and I'm wondering if i could use that in conjunction with the 105mm Sigma Macro. It would probably be second hand and OS is not necessary as i usually use a tripod. Can't afford a 300mm. Not sure about a 180 though.
glsammy 15 209 1 United Kingdom
21 Nov 2014 8:44PM
What about the Sigma 150mm? I've got the earlier version and I wouldn't be without it. It works very well with a 1.4X TC. It's got a minimum focus distance of 15".
LenShepherd 13 4.4k United Kingdom
22 Nov 2014 1:18PM

Quote: I have a Sigma 1,4x TC and I'm wondering if i could use that in conjunction with the 105mm Sigma Macro. It would probably be second hand and OS is not necessary as i usually use a tripod..

Sigma should be able to tell you if the converter and lens are reasonably compatible.
As you use a tripod AF is far from essential.
What you should get is approximately 147mm angle of view for not much money with a 1 stop loss in viewfinder image brightness (though not using LiveView) and a small loss of image quality.
On a budget this is often preferable to getting no picture because your front element is too close to subject. Even so some butterflies can react so quickly to a rising mirror that they have started to take off before the shutter fully opens.
20 Jan 2015 2:42PM
Bit the bullet and purchased a second hand Canon 100mm f2.8 L macro lens. Hoping to get some decent shots soon.
Chris_L 7 5.5k United Kingdom
20 Jan 2015 3:05PM
The Sigma is a fine lens but you've done the right thing, that Canon lens will keep its value and is capable of outstanding photography. Grin
20 Jan 2015 3:09PM

Quote:The Sigma is a fine lens but you've done the right thing, that Canon lens will keep its value and is capable of outstanding photography. Grin

That's what i was thinking. Probably won't be getting rid of it any time soon though.

Thinking of using off-camera flash with it if necessary. Good idea or a no-go? Ring flash better?

pink Plus
18 6.8k 9 United Kingdom
20 Jan 2015 3:36PM
I bought one of those Yongnuo Ring Flashes off ebay, cost about 60, it works really well, you can vary the output left to right to create some shadows. I would recommend it.
thewilliam 13 6.1k
20 Jan 2015 5:15PM
Check whether your proposed lens is "internal focusing". If so, be aware that they reduce the focal-length as they focus closer.

Our 105mm Nikon VR is IF and when really close the focal-length is only slightly longer than our 55mm AIS which isn't IF. This defeats the object of getting a longer lens to get greater working distance!

We needed to buy a 200mm Nikon Micro, also IF, to give a enough room for lighting.

Bear in mind that marque lenses tend to hold their value well, even when they become ancient, unless Canon changes its lens mount again. The EOS mount is Canon's third!
Overread 13 4.1k 19 England
20 Jan 2015 9:38PM
A few thoughts:

1) Most macro lenses today get shorter in focal length as they get closer and closer. Even the MPE is something like only 40mm when at its closest focusing point (and it hasn't even got a focusing system just increasing magnification).
So whilst this is part of lenses I would not worry about it overly much in general.

2) Sometimes bees and insects will fly off because you got close - but a lot of the time its because

a) you shadowed them, sometimes all-but impossible to avoid doing even with a longer lens.

b) They are awake and active and its warm. If its warm and later in the day chances are they are doing what insects do and being active. So they'll be up and off fairly quick, esp if there is any local disturbance (footfalls - breathing - shadowing - flash). This is why a great many insect shots are oft done very early in the day or in the evening when insects are cooler and warming up; or getting ready to rest for the night.
Short showers also cause some bigger insects like bees, to crash down fast because the sudden cool catches them off-guard. So heading out after/during rainfall can help.

3) You made the right choice, 50mm is really getting very short for macro; making not only avoiding overshadowing hard, but also lighting because of the tiny amount of space between lens and subject. I'd typically say 60mm is the bottom limit for practical macro photography for most people - ideally with 70 or 90mm as a sane lowest limit for starting out.

4) Lighting wise ring-flashes work; but they've limitations. Because of their design they give a very even, very smooth, very flat light. Whilst higher end models can let you set one side brighter than the other and thus introduce some shadowing, its still a very flat light. Great for some shots, but not others.
The other problem is that because of their shape and position you can't increase the surface area of the light source relative to the subject very easily, if at all. So you can't soften the light very easily.

I'd suggest looking into a speedlite flash and a small softbox (lumiquest regular softbox is a good start). This lets you have a flash you can use in nearly any field of photography; along with a source you can control and soften.
An off-camera flash cable would be next so you can get the flash off the camera. From there you can look into a flash bracket. I'd personally suggest looking at RAM-Mount - they make sockets and ball-heads for bikes, which means they really do work well and they've screw-thread balls which match tripod screw threads - so you just screw the assembly into your tripod collar/camera tripod plate and then another into the base of the flash and link them up with a few double balls and double sockets.

tonyb73 Plus
11 3 1 United Kingdom
20 Jan 2015 10:02PM
Like Pink, I also bought the Yongnuo twin ringflash off eBay, it is a fantastic piece of kit for the price, both flashes adjust output and you will not regret it. I use it on my Sigma 105mm. I never use a tripod either as I find by the time you set it all up, the bugs have usually gone.

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