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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 06 Oct 2014 (Monday) 17:16
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Macro lenses for a £500 budget?

 
jacobds
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Oct 06, 2014 17:16 |  #1

Hey all,
After much deliberation within my heart and my soul, I have come to the conclusion that, to shoot crazily sharp close-up images of insects and bugs, I should buy myself a dedicated 1:1 macro lens. I am aware of diopters/extenders etc, but (please tell me if I'm wrong) I feel that it could be a lot simpler just to get a lens that's built to deal with this kind of thing. So, my question is this: what is the best dedicated macro lens I can get for a maximum budget of £500?

and one more thing: when it comes to flashes, what is going to be more effective - a ring flash, or speedlite?

Cheers,
Jacob


Equipment: Canon T3i/Canon 10-18mm f4.5-5.6 IS STM/Canon 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS II/Canon 28mm f1.8 USM

  
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jimeuph1
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Oct 06, 2014 17:19 |  #2

Sigma 105mm its sharper than the canon L and only £379.




  
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LV ­ Moose
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Oct 06, 2014 17:28 as a reply to  @ jimeuph1's post |  #3

Don't know what the exchange rate is, but I put this list together for a friend of mine several months back. Any of these should be decent, but for bugs, my personal preference would be something in the 90-105mm range. (I also like stabilization: IS/VC/OS)

Edit: Looks like £500 is about $800. The Tamron 90 f/2.8 VC would be nice. If you don't want stabilization... Canon 100mm would be my choice. Looks like there's a $300 rebate on the Sigmas; as Jim stated, the 105 is good. Lots of folks like it.

Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS $1,000
Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro $600
Canon 60mm f/2.8 Macro $470
Tamron SP 60mm f/2.8 $525
Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 VC $750
Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 $500
Tokina 100mm f/2.8 $500
Sigma 70mm f/2.8 $500
Sigma 105mm f/2.8 OS $1,000
Sigma 150mm f/2.8 OS $1,100

There are probably others.


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Oct 06, 2014 23:07 |  #4

Zeis s planar 1:1 is about $700


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Reservoir ­ Dog
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Oct 07, 2014 00:22 |  #5

jimeuph1 wrote in post #17197619 (external link)
Sigma 105mm its sharper than the canon L and only £379.

Hum ... Strange ... here it's not sharper ... >> http://www.the-digital-picture.com …omp=0&FLIComp=0​&APIComp=0 (external link)

Macro lenses are all sharp, whatever brand sharpness on macro lenses is not an issue at all ;)
So depend of your needs and price, you buy a macro lens with "option" like weather sealed, Stabilization, switch for multi-mode for faster focus, etc ..


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Mowglee
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Oct 07, 2014 11:05 |  #6

I have the Tamron 90mm 2.8 VC version and I'm nothing but pleased with it. 5 year warranty, 3 AF modes and unlike the Canon non-L it has stabilization and weather sealing.



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gnome ­ chompski
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Oct 07, 2014 13:03 |  #7

Mowglee wrote in post #17199099 (external link)
I have the Tamron 90mm 2.8 VC version and I'm nothing but pleased with it. 5 year warranty, 3 AF modes and unlike the Canon non-L it has stabilization and weather sealing.

co-sign. Chalk me up as a fan as well.


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Oct 07, 2014 13:47 |  #8

jacobds wrote in post #17197615 (external link)
Hey all,
After much deliberation within my heart and my soul, I have come to the conclusion that, to shoot crazily sharp close-up images of insects and bugs, I should buy myself a dedicated 1:1 macro lens. I am aware of diopters/extenders etc, but (please tell me if I'm wrong) I feel that it could be a lot simpler just to get a lens that's built to deal with this kind of thing. So, my question is this: what is the best dedicated macro lens I can get for a maximum budget of £500?

and one more thing: when it comes to flashes, what is going to be more effective - a ring flash, or speedlite?

Cheers,
Jacob

Heya,

Ebay up yourself a Tamron 180mm F3.5 Macro for Canon.

Speedlite with a big diffuser is ideal. Ring lights have weird flash coverage and don't look as natural for bugs.

Very best,


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amfoto1
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Oct 07, 2014 16:02 |  #9

As a first macro lens I'd recommend you get something in the 90mm to 105mm focal length range, especially since you will be using it on a crop sensor camera. This will give you reasonably good working distance from shy/stinging/biting subjects, better than shorter focal length lenses. It's also more easily steadied than longer focal lengths, which compound the problem because they render shallower depth of field, requiring you to use smaller apertures and slower shutter speeds.

Next, decide if it's worth spending the extra for stabilization. At higher magnifications, stabilization is of pretty limited help. The Hybrid-IS Canon created specially for the 100L is probably the best available, but even with that you likely would only see about one stop's worth of assistance at full 1:1 magnification. It will be more effective at lower magnifications, until it gives three or four stop's worth at non-macro distances. I wouldn't expect much help at all, from other than Canon's IS... Nikon had to admit that the VR on their 105mm (the first macro lens to use stabilization) was of almost no help at 1:1. I doubt VC or OS from third party manufacturers would be any better. However, for non-macro shooting with the lens, you might like having stabilization (I love it on several lenses... just don't need it on my macro lenses).

Besides, if using the lens primarily for macro, a tripod or at least a monopod is an important accessory. Sure, some handheld shooting is possible (flash can help with that), but a lot of macro work is done using some sort of support.

Here's where the two Canon 100mm lenses are especially outstanding. They are the only macro lenses in the 90mm to 105mm range that can optionally be fitted with tripod mounting rings. The 100mm f2.8 USM (non-L/IS) uses Tripod Ring B (b), while the 100L IS USM uses Tripod Ring D. Personally I consider these more useful than stabilization, allowing for quick changes from horizontal/landscape format to vertical/portrait. And, the help balance the lens better than mounting lenses without a tripod ring. However, these rings do add cost ($140 for the 100/2.8 USM and $172 for the 100L IS, last time I looked... there are cheaper third party tripod rings, usually about $50, but I haven't used them).

Other key features of the two Canon 100mm:
- Both use USM focus drive, which helps make them reasonably fast.
- Both have Focus Limiters, which also can help with focus speed. The 100L's is slightly more sophisticated, with three zones, while the 100/2.8 USM offers two zones.
- Both are "IF" or Internal Focusing, which means they don't increase in length when focused closer. This makes them bigger to start, and actually causes the true focal length to change when focused closer (you don't notice this in real world use), but it makes for better balancing and limits loss of working distance to the lens extension.
- Both are well built and sealed. The 100L is, after all, an L. But the non-L 100/2.8 USM actually is identical in design and build quality to the Canon 180/3.5L... so it's certainly "L-like", too.
- Both have top image quality. I have never before seen claims the Sigma 105mm is sharper... but in fairness all macro lenses are pretty darned sharp. The Canon are both "Flat Field" design, which basically means they are optimized for edge-to-edge sharpness at close focusing distances, but so are most macro lenses.
- The 100L comes with a lens hood and use a 67mm filter.
- The 100/2.8 USM uses a 58mm filter, but it's hood is sold separately for about $35.
- Both are designed to accommodate the Canon MT-24EX Macro Twinlite, MR-14EX and MR-14EX II Macro Ringlites. The 100L requires an Macrolite 67 adapter to fit these specialty flashes, which costs about $32. There is no adapter required to clip these flash units onto the 100/2.8 USM lens.

It's hard to beat the Canon 100mm Macro lenses. They cost a little more, but are among the most full featured. None of the third party lenses have all the above features or offer anything the Canon lenses don't.

As to flashes, I would not recommend a ring light, Canon or any other brand, for use with 1:1 or even slightly higher magnification. To me, they just look too "clinical", with just too flat lighting for my tastes. I do like and use one on an ultra-high magnification lens (Canon MP-E 65mm).

The Canon MT-24EX Macro Twinlite is excellent, but rather pricey. You can accomplish a lot with a standard Speedlite. Just get an off-camera shoe cord to use with it (about $60 for a Canon cord, half that for third party), and either hand hold or mount it on some sort of flexible flash bracket. Because a big flash might be too powerful up close, I put a couple layers of white gauze bandage over the head, held in place with a rubber band, to diffuse and reduce the flash's output. This makes it act like a giant softbox, with very small macro subjects.

These are: MT-24EX on EF 100/2.8 USM lens (left)... MR-14EX on MP-E 65mm lens (center)... and a 580EX II with off-camera cord, 100/2.8 lens(right)

IMAGE: https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7004/6772190839_db977e77d8.jpg
IMAGE: https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3672/9972065076_9f6b0f4080.jpg
IMAGE: https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7033/6772540431_47da554ceb.jpg

This was shot with a single standard Speedlite handheld and on off-camera cord, diffused as shown above...
IMAGE: https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8223/8304735606_ccaa8d309a_z.jpg

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Sibil
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Oct 07, 2014 16:35 |  #10

Mowglee wrote in post #17199099 (external link)
I have the Tamron 90mm 2.8 VC version and I'm nothing but pleased with it.

Do you know how it compares with the non-VC version?




  
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gnome ­ chompski
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Oct 07, 2014 16:54 |  #11

Sibil wrote in post #17199876 (external link)
Do you know how it compares with the non-VC version?

This indicates they are close in IQ, the VC version having a slight edge to my eyes. However, I only have real world experience with the VC version and it performed flawlessly.
http://www.the-digital-picture.com …omp=0&FLIComp=0​&APIComp=4 (external link)

The main difference is the internal focusing, weather sealing and VC


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Sibil
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Oct 07, 2014 17:05 as a reply to  @ gnome chompski's post |  #12

^^^^
Thank you.




  
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jacobds
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Oct 08, 2014 14:37 |  #13

Ok, so based on all of your advice (for which I am really grateful for), I went to the London Camera Exchange in Plymouth (England) and asked to try out a few of these options. Although I had no way to test them seriously, I found that I much preferred the feel of the sigma 105 OS, followed extremely closely by the Tamron 90 VC but, suprisingly, I wasn't massively impressed with the canon 100 non-L. So, my question is this: to those who have relatively extensive experience, the tammy or the sigma?


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tkbslc
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Oct 08, 2014 14:47 |  #14

Going from photozone reviews, the 90mm is very slightly sharper at f2.8-4 and has less vignetting at wide apertures. The Sigma has a bit less CA and smoother bokeh.

Both have 5.5" (140mm) working distance. Size and weight is similar. I'd honestly probably pick based on price or warranty, or something like that, because both are stellar.


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gnome ­ chompski
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Oct 08, 2014 15:04 |  #15

One user here was complaining about how loud the Sigma's focus motor was. Not sure if his was a dud or not. Optics-wise (in real world usage), they are so close its kind of a toss up. I prefer the Tamron, because its weather sealed and its actually quite lightweight compared to the others, and that helps at 1:1.


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