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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Macro Talk
Thread started 20 Jul 2017 (Thursday) 07:36
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upgrade from Tamron SP 90

 
wayne9999
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120 posts
Joined Jun 2011
Jul 20, 2017 07:36 |  #1

I'm poor. I've been using a manual Tamron SP 90 with 2x teleconverter on a T1i for insect macro shots. I learned pretty quick that handheld shots were a waste of time with the 2x, so I went with the straight 90 and had better luck. But its still less than perfect. Most of the time I'm too lazy and carrying too much other crap already (binos, insect net) and I hate bulky gear so I'm only using available light too. Although I still have aspirations to do pro quality work on occasion and I'll need to use a tripod and or flash for that, for the moment I just want to improve my good/not good ratio and illustrate a blog and website with sharp images that don't suck.

I know I wont want to use autofocus as a general rule for macro, but wonder if it wouldnt help me rattle off a bunch of shots as I'm moving in for a close manual shot. Although I'm a pretty good insect stalker sometimes as soon as I'm in the perfect position for a manual shot the insect is gone. I've long wanted to get the Canon 100mm F/2.8 Macro USM EF (the L is out of the question) and eventually I will, but since budget is very limited I'm also wondering if the 60mm might be the better choice for me right now. I can save at least $100 on a used lens going with the 60, but more importantly is it the better choice for what I want?

Thoughts?




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Temma
Senior Member
Joined Sep 2009
Rocky River, Ohio
Jul 20, 2017 08:20 |  #2


  1. You really ought to consider using flash, even in daylight. It'll make hand holding a LOT easier.
  2. I'd look at the Tokina 100mm macro. It's very reasonably priced and gives excellent results.



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wayne9999
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Member
120 posts
Joined Jun 2011
Post has been edited 4 months ago by wayne9999.
Jul 20, 2017 09:27 as a reply to Temma's post |  #3

I do consider flash, and I have used it and will use it again. But I don't want this to turn into a discussion of flash.

I can get a used Canon 100 for the price of a new Tokina. Is the Tokina still a better deal?




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CheleA
Senior Member
Joined Jul 2014
Jul 20, 2017 12:56 |  #4

wayne9999 wrote in post #18406681 (external link)
I do consider flash, and I have used it and will use it again. But I don't want this to turn into a discussion of flash.

I can get a used Canon 100 for the price of a new Tokina. Is the Tokina still a better deal?

OK,
We'll discuss flash as you requested:) Personally, I can't stand flash in macro -- more than likely because I have never taken the time to learn how to do it right and don't care for photos where it's obvious flash has been used. However, how about using flash and upgrading to a longer macro lens? I use a 180mm Tamron that I bought in this forum for $350 in exceptionally good condition! You are interested in insect photography and you do need the working distance with bugs, it seems a 180 will be better for this purpose. I do quite a bit of macro, it's 100% available light, which means 100% tripod. I personally like the tripod as it does make me slow down and pay more attention to composition and settings(I shoot 99% manual mode/focus)




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Temma
Senior Member
Joined Sep 2009
Rocky River, Ohio
Jul 20, 2017 13:18 |  #5

CheleA wrote in post #18406853 (external link)
OK,
We'll discuss flash as you requested:) Personally, I can't stand flash in macro -- more than likely because I have never taken the time to learn how to do it right and don't care for photos where it's obvious flash has been used. However, how about using flash and upgrading to a longer macro lens? I use a 180mm Tamron that I bought in this forum for $350 in exceptionally good condition! You are interested in insect photography and you do need the working distance with bugs, it seems a 180 will be better for this purpose. I do quite a bit of macro, it's 100% available light, which means 100% tripod. I personally like the tripod as it does make me slow down and pay more attention to composition and settings(I shoot 99% manual mode/focus)

I was having a similar discussion in email earlier today with a friend who's never done macrophotography.

He expressed a desire to see much more closeup photos of spiders than I was taking. I explained to him that since ALL of my pictures were done at night (nothing around her comes out a SECOND before the sun goes COMPLETELY down), and virtually all on or in front of garage doors, it would be difficult to get closer with my 8"x12" Neewer flash diffuser without interfering with the subjects (hitting webs, etc.). I told him that the only alternatives were a 180mm macro lens or aggressive cropping which affects image quality.

For me, it's either flash or NOTHING. I wouldn't get ANY images without flash. I can't even achieve focus without using an LED headlamp bolted onto a flash bracket.




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CheleA
Senior Member
Joined Jul 2014
Jul 20, 2017 16:33 as a reply to Temma's post |  #6

Some people are able to get extremely nice shots with flash, I have never taken the time, or bought the equipment, to do it so it looks natural. Most flash macro shots are not to my liking as the light is just too harsh




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Temma
Senior Member
Joined Sep 2009
Rocky River, Ohio
Jul 20, 2017 19:06 |  #7

CheleA wrote in post #18407042 (external link)
Some people are able to get extremely nice shots with flash, I have never taken the time, or bought the equipment, to do it so it looks natural. Most flash macro shots are not to my liking as the light is just too harsh

It's absolutely ESSENTIAL that you use a proper diffuser. I use an 8"x12" Neewer diffuser.




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wayne9999
THREAD ­ STARTER
Member
120 posts
Joined Jun 2011
Jul 20, 2017 20:14 |  #8

I neither want or need flash for my immediate purposes. I can always use it when I need or want to.

Can we go back to my lens question please? :-)




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Mike ­ Deep
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Joined Apr 2008
Tampa, FL
Jul 21, 2017 10:38 |  #9

Going from 90 to 100 isn't really a meaningful upgrade. All 90/100mm macros are great lenses. It's unclear what the 60mm is going to do for you either, besides increase the probability you'll accidentally throw shade on your subject.

Real upgrades would be:
-Going longer (180L, Sigma 150)
-Getting stabilization (100L)
-The best IQ imaginable (Apo-Lanthar)
-Going extreme (MP-E, bellows, etc)

None of which are cheap, and all of which would still be better served with a flash.


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wayne9999
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Joined Jun 2011
Post has been edited 4 months ago by wayne9999.
Jul 21, 2017 11:22 as a reply to Mike Deep's post |  #10

My Tamron SP is the OLD uncoated (or single coated, I forget) manual version. Its a great lens for the $60 I paid for it. But I do want to have autofocus ability even if I only use it now and then, and I think the newer optics are at least something of an "upgrade". It would also be nice if my body knew which aperture my lens was set at.

I'm not sure the 60 will be an improvement/upgrade either




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MalVeauX
"Looks rough and well used"
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Joined Feb 2013
Florida
Post has been last edited 4 months ago by MalVeauX. 2 edits done in total.
Jul 21, 2017 11:46 |  #11

wayne9999 wrote in post #18406585 (external link)
I'm poor. I've been using a manual Tamron SP 90 with 2x teleconverter on a T1i for insect macro shots. I learned pretty quick that handheld shots were a waste of time with the 2x, so I went with the straight 90 and had better luck. But its still less than perfect. Most of the time I'm too lazy and carrying too much other crap already (binos, insect net) and I hate bulky gear so I'm only using available light too. Although I still have aspirations to do pro quality work on occasion and I'll need to use a tripod and or flash for that, for the moment I just want to improve my good/not good ratio and illustrate a blog and website with sharp images that don't suck.

I know I wont want to use autofocus as a general rule for macro, but wonder if it wouldnt help me rattle off a bunch of shots as I'm moving in for a close manual shot. Although I'm a pretty good insect stalker sometimes as soon as I'm in the perfect position for a manual shot the insect is gone. I've long wanted to get the Canon 100mm F/2.8 Macro USM EF (the L is out of the question) and eventually I will, but since budget is very limited I'm also wondering if the 60mm might be the better choice for me right now. I can save at least $100 on a used lens going with the 60, but more importantly is it the better choice for what I want?

Thoughts?

Heya,

Autofocus works great. I use autofocus on 99% of my macro shots of insects. Even on ancient cameras. I use one-shot focus drive (not servo) and flash. I think you should incorporate flash and move to blends of ambient & flash or 100% flash with a basic diffuser. You'll get a focus locked sharp shot with great lighting that really brings out the micro-contrast on features. Diffuser is essential though, even if its a paper plate, it works wonders.

+++++++++++

Example, run of the mill rebel APS-C, Tamron's 90mm F2.8 VC Macro lens (used autofocus, one-shot drive), and flash (manual flash). I just blend ambient to flash by eye. Camera settings are ambient. Flash is subject exposure (fill). I diffuse it with a foam dinner tray, taped to the hood, and some paper napkins to soften the hot spot, tin foil hat to bounce stray light down to keep most of it hitting that foam tray to diffuse it. Really trashy rig. But cheap, easy to do, and great, great light, and I do it handheld:

Rebel T4i (not much different than a T1i at F8+ and with flash!)
Tamron 90mm F2.8 VC (autofocus and image stabilization; weather sealed; awesome awesome lens; you can get this used for like $350!)
Yongnuo 560 III manual flash (cheap!)

IMAGE: https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5791/20521291916_6b07d8e46f_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/xgoZ​8S] (external link)IMG_8174 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

IMAGE: https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5763/21166572301_03835d60b9_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/yfqd​vK] (external link)IMG_8702 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

IMAGE: https://farm1.staticflickr.com/678/20069391554_8e9ccdc540_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/wzsS​Uj] (external link)IMG_8393 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Very best,

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Mike ­ Deep
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Joined Apr 2008
Tampa, FL
Jul 21, 2017 12:34 |  #12

wayne9999 wrote in post #18407649 (external link)
My Tamron SP is the OLD uncoated (or single coated, I forget) manual version. Its a great lens for the $60 I paid for it. But I do want to have autofocus ability even if I only use it now and then, and I think the newer optics are at least something of an "upgrade". It would also be nice if my body knew which aperture my lens was set at.

I'm not sure the 60 will be an improvement/upgrade either

I went from the old manual focus Vivitar Series 1 90mm to the Canon 100L. I did so for IS and electronic aperture, not AF. In two years I have not used autofocus even once for macro.

It's doubtful the newer optics are an upgrade. If there's a 90/100/105 macro out there that isn't critically sharp, I haven't seen or heard of it yet. The coatings might be better, sure, but that Series 1 lens has terrible coatings and wasn't an issue in macro settings (and didn't stop me from keeping three of them despite the 100L taking over).


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wayne9999
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Member
120 posts
Joined Jun 2011
Jul 22, 2017 00:39 |  #13

Thanks for reply and the ideas, and confirmation that autofocus can be useful at times. I have made and used several Pringleator flashes, and appreciate what flash brings to the game, especially when publication quality insect "portraits" is the goal . But that isn't my #1 goal at the moment. I'm looking to "upgrade" mainly for the purpose of "show and tell" documentation for a blog while carrying a lot of other crap including insect net and binoculars. I'm not going to be swinging a net at fast moving dragonflies very effectively while toting a Pringleator or other flash diffusor around my neck. :lol: So I'll have to compromise for that. But it will be nice to have a top notch lens around for those times when I am going for top notch quality, at which point I may use flash.

I could undoubtedly do a lot of what I want with a new P&S, but as I said I'm (very) poor and don't want to buy both.

MalVeauX wrote in post #18407676 (external link)
Heya,

Autofocus works great. I use autofocus on 99% of my macro shots of insects. Even on ancient cameras. I use one-shot focus drive (not servo) and flash. I think you should incorporate flash and move to blends of ambient & flash or 100% flash with a basic diffuser. You'll get a focus locked sharp shot with great lighting that really brings out the micro-contrast on features. Diffuser is essential though, even if its a paper plate, it works wonders.




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tdlavigne
Senior Member
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304 posts
Joined Mar 2015
Los Angeles, CA
Jul 22, 2017 03:44 |  #14

The Tokina is really nice, but the AF is rather slow even with the focus limiter. Great budget lens though, and one of the few I have ever regretted selling even though I didn't use it that often. I haven't had the chance to use any of the SWM/USM variety macro lenses but I'd imagine they're likely to be faster (albeit more expensive). If you can, I'd suggest heading down to a local shop with your camera body and try a couple, including the Tokina, just to get an idea of the performance AF-wise. Pretty much every macro lens is going to be razor sharp, so it's really down to focal length, AF, and if you need VC/IS.




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Chris.R
Goldmember
1,311 posts
Joined Jul 2016
Post has been last edited 4 months ago by Chris.R. 2 edits done in total.
Jul 22, 2017 04:35 |  #15

You haven't said what's wrong with your images, but if you aren't using flash, I'd bet that you're struggling for light/fast shutter speeds.
Using a $2000 macro lens won't make a jot of difference. I have a lot of macro lenses. I can only tell the difference under perfect conditions, pixel-peeping a multi-MP image. AF can help sometimes, but only sometimes. Usually I set the lens and rock to focus, unless on a tripod where you would't use AF.

Blog images only need to be something like 1200 pixels wide - that's not going to show up ANY differences between decent lenses, and the one you have is decent. If you want to go closer, use a Raynox close-up like the DCR-250, or tubes/converter. The Raynox won't lose you light the way that tubes/converters do. If you combine any two of those you may lose too much quality.

Bottom line, your problems are almost certainly not the lens.
Natural light is almost never good enough, and things move too much to use a tripod.

If you stop down below about f/11-16 on your camera at around 1:1, diffraction will soften things regardless of the lens.
Depth of field is probably killing you too. Remember moving back and cropping is like using a smaller aperture.

Try a dead moth, indoors, well supported. If you can't get a sharp image then, it's the lens, otherwise it's not.

By the way - shoot RAW. Recording JPEG will slow the camera down. More flames improves your chances!




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