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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Macro Talk
Thread started 26 Feb 2016 (Friday) 07:15
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Canon MP-E 65mm Durability

 
Dalantech
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Feb 26, 2016 07:15 |  #1

Just a public service announcement: Canon's MP-E 65mm macro lens has a ribbon cable that connects the aperture assembly to the contacts on the lens. With repeated use that cable will break causing the following symptoms:

  • You'll hear a "crunching" noise, kinda like metal scraping against metal (probably the aperture blades not moving in unison and binding up).
  • "Error 01 , communication between camera and lens faulty. Clean lens contact" will be displayed on the LCD.
  • Changing the magnification ring may temporarily "fix" the problem. At some magnifications the lens might work, and at others it might not. Or the lens will just fail hard with the Error 01 message on the LCD.


I have had to send my MP-E 65mm in to a Canon service center twice in the roughly eight years I've owned it, with the cable breaking once every four years (almost exactly four years apart between the first and second repair). Keep in mind that I'm a pretty heavy user of the lens, so I don't think that it's inherently faulty.

Both times the MPE-65mm broke I used an EF-S 60mm macro lens + extension tubes while waiting for it to be repaired. I have since labeled that combo the Poor Man's MPE-65mm (external link). A full set of tubes will only get you to about 3x, but it's probably one of the easiest ways to shoot above life size if you don't have the MP-E 65mm (or don't want to pay for one). You can also use the lens on any Canon camera as long as you have an extension tube attached. You'll lose infinity focus, but that's not what a macro lens is for anyway ;)

Personal note: I absolutely loathe macro lens reviews when the reviewer justifies buying the glass because you can also use it to take portraits... of people. I also think it's pretty darn short sighted to gauge the sharpness of a macro lens when it's focused at infinity. Just stop... ;)

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davholla
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Feb 26, 2016 10:07 |  #2

Dalantech wrote in post #17913596 (external link)
Personal note: I absolutely loathe macro lens reviews when the reviewer justifies buying the glass because you can also use it to take portraits... of people. I also think it's pretty darn short sighted to gauge the sharpness of a macro lens when it's focused at infinity. Just stop... ;)

I suppose if you had young kids and a big garden where you were taking lots of photos of insects and the kids were playing in the garden it would be a great feature, I don't so it is not that useful for me. However I was taking photos of insects when my wife was horse riding and I got a good photo of her so it can be useful sometimes.




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Dalantech
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Feb 26, 2016 12:00 |  #3

davholla wrote in post #17913772 (external link)
I suppose if you had young kids and a big garden where you were taking lots of photos of insects and the kids were playing in the garden it would be a great feature, I don't so it is not that useful for me. However I was taking photos of insects when my wife was horse riding and I got a good photo of her so it can be useful sometimes.

I understand and agree. But you could have taken that shot with just about any lens. For every macro lens reviewer to say "...and you can use it to shoot portraits..." tells me that the majority of them do not shoot macro...


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DreDaze
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Feb 26, 2016 13:07 |  #4

how much does the repair cost? i wonder also how big of an issue it really is...yeah, you've sent yours in twice...but has every owner had to send theirs in?


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davholla
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Feb 26, 2016 13:24 |  #5

Dalantech wrote in post #17913899 (external link)
I understand and agree. But you could have taken that shot with just about any lens. For every macro lens reviewer to say "...and you can use it to shoot portraits..." tells me that the majority of them do not shoot macro...

I agree, the flexibility is useful but it should be secondary. Saying that for portraits my macro lens is better than my kit lens I do have a 70-300 mm which might be as good, I will have to try.




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gjl711
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Feb 26, 2016 13:49 |  #6

Dalantech wrote in post #17913899 (external link)
I understand and agree. But you could have taken that shot with just about any lens. For every macro lens reviewer to say "...and you can use it to shoot portraits..." tells me that the majority of them do not shoot macro...

I completely agree with you. When I look for a macro lens all I care about is it's macro performance and nothing else. If it does other things, that's a bonus but does not impact my decision on it's macro performance.


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gjl711
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Feb 26, 2016 13:50 |  #7

DreDaze wrote in post #17913958 (external link)
how much does the repair cost? i wonder also how big of an issue it really is...yeah, you've sent yours in twice...but has every owner had to send theirs in?

My MPE-65 is almost 7 years old and I have not had an issue yet. *knocks on wood*


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Dalantech
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Post has been last edited over 1 year ago by Dalantech. 2 edits done in total.
Feb 26, 2016 15:05 |  #8

DreDaze wrote in post #17913958 (external link)
how much does the repair cost? i wonder also how big of an issue it really is...yeah, you've sent yours in twice...but has every owner had to send theirs in?

The first time it was 300 USD, and the second time about 400 USD.

Like I said in my OP: I'm a heavy user of the lens. Truth be told I probably take well over 5,000 frames a year, and I use magnification as a composition tool. So I change the magnification a lot. Last year when I found a Wool Carder bee sleeping in my Lavender I when from this:

IMAGE: https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5346/17796463889_4df0c666ce_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/t7Bw​Gi] (external link)Wool Carder Bee Series 1-1 (external link) by John Kimbler (external link), on Flickr

To carefully transferring it to another flower when it woke up:

IMAGE: https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8758/17975402108_6fc8f0cf41_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/toqC​N1] (external link)Wool Carder Bee Series 1-5 (external link) by John Kimbler (external link), on Flickr

Probably took well over 800 images during an hour + session. So again, like I said in the OP, I don't think that the lens is defective. Just be aware of the fact that the ribbon cable between the aperture and the lens contacts can wear out and what the symptoms are.

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Dalantech
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Feb 26, 2016 15:07 |  #9

gjl711 wrote in post #17913987 (external link)
I completely agree with you. When I look for a macro lens all I care about is it's macro performance and nothing else. If it does other things, that's a bonus but does not impact my decision on it's macro performance.

There's a lot to be said for choosing the right tool for the right job...


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Dalantech
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Feb 26, 2016 15:08 |  #10

gjl711 wrote in post #17913988 (external link)
My MPE-65 is almost 7 years old and I have not had an issue yet. *knocks on wood*

Your MP-E might be just fine. I use mine a lot, so it accumulates a lot of wear and tear.


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Alveric
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Post has been edited over 1 year ago by Alveric.
Feb 27, 2016 12:24 |  #11

Dalantech wrote in post #17914060 (external link)
There's a lot to be said for choosing the right tool for the right job...

Precisely. That's why the EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM is my go-to lens for portraits of people: the macro optimisations, the prime focal length, the lens being sharp wide open, the hybrid IS, the manual focus override, &c, &c, make it the right tool for the job of portraiture.

Yes, I also bought it for macro (replaced a so-so 100mm Tokina), but macro has never made really made me any $$, and the lens being one of those rare items that are masters of more than one trade it has made me quite a bit of cash in a more demanded field.

That being said, I have tried using the lens with three extension tubes (Kenko's 12mm, 20mm, 36mm) but the images weren't particularly sharp. Either I was shooting at too small an aperture, or the 5DII* doesn't have the resolution required for this (I kinda doubt that), or the snowflakes don't have very sharp edges to begin with..., dunno. I've been itching for an MP-E 65mm but I wonder if the EF 100mm L + Kenko extension tubes would be good enough for higher than 1:1.

_______________
*Using the combination on an EOS XSi rendered images that were so blurry as to be utterly unusable.


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racketman
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Feb 27, 2016 16:38 |  #12

Ive had that same repair and no doubt will have it again soon given its my main lens. Equally annoying has been the MT-24EX which is not particularly robust but again i'm a heavy user.


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Swiftlet
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Feb 27, 2016 18:03 |  #13

Either I was shooting at too small an aperture,

Possibly. Diffraction starts to matter on a 15MP APS camera at about effective aperture f/16 if you look very hard, becoming easily seen at about Effective aperture f/30 or so.
The 5D2 has bigger pixels so it happens at about a stop smaller aperture.
Effective aperture = Marked aperture times (magnification +1)
With 68mm extension on 1:1, you're only at about 1.68x, so it means that after say a marked f/8 on the 5D2, big D is only just starting to hurt.
(ie 2.68 x 8 =~eff f/21)

(If the focal length shortens when it's at 1:1, which is quite likely, then the magnification would be higher and effective aperture therefore smaller. Image a ruler to test.)

I'd be surprised if that macro lens is particularly bad. I don't have that one but have used 3+ others with tubes. They go off a bit, but are still good for many purposes. One pro bug recorder I know does it all the time, with an MF micro Nikkor which only goes to 1:2 normally.

My MPE is still going after a few years, but Paul Bertner - itinerant bug hunter - has had to scrap at least one as beyond repair, and has reported cracking on multiple MT-24s. His travels probably give them all a hard time thougjh.



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Alveric
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Post has been last edited over 1 year ago by Alveric. 2 edits done in total.
Feb 27, 2016 18:07 |  #14

I see. Thanks.

Regarding the MP-E 65mm, I'm still kinda on the fence about it (and out of funds at the time being, too): about four years ago, if I remember correctly, some other macro master here was mentioning that Canon had already discontinued it (turned out not to be true in the end), and now with this report of the data cable tending to go south after a few years, well, it's not particularly encouraging!

Not encouraging either is what some of you are mentioning about the MT-24. I was also in the market for a ring/dual flash unit –as a matter of fact I've read Danlantech's blog posts on the comparison of these two flashes–, and now I wonder whether the MT-24 is a good investment (in terms of quality, craftsmanship, and durability I mean –I don't want to get into the old 'ring flash sux/no it doesn't' argument). For the time being I just purchased a Manfrotto 244 to use my 430EX-II and a home-made diffuser for macro shots.


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Dalantech
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Feb 28, 2016 00:47 |  #15

Alveric wrote in post #17915100 (external link)
Precisely. That's why the EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM is my go-to lens for portraits of people: the macro optimisations, the prime focal length, the lens being sharp wide open, the hybrid IS, the manual focus override, &c, &c, make it the right tool for the job of portraiture.

Like I said before, you can use any lens to take a portrait. Saying that a macro lens can be used for portraits in a review is like saying that you can attach the lens to a camera. It doesn't mean anything...


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Canon MP-E 65mm Durability
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