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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 06 Oct 2019 (Sunday) 13:46
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Please Recommend A Macro Lens

 
tuttifrutti
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Oct 06, 2019 13:46 |  #1

Good evening all,

I'm seriously considering buying a macro lens and trying to get in to macro photography shooting flowers, bugs, flies etc etc.

I have absolutely no experience of this since i've got my 5DmkIII and 6DmkII, generally taking landscapes, architecture and anything else that comes my way.

So, I have no clue on what lens to buy and i'm looking for advice from experienced macro photographers.

I know of the Canon 100mm f/2.8 mkII which may be an option, I know there are also some Canon-fit Sigma lens which i've seen some good results on. I also know of the Canon MPE-65 but that's not quite where I want to go, maybe just sticking to a 1/1 lens for now.

Thanks in advance for any info


Hello...
My name's Ian and i'm a photography junkie :rolleyes:

  
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John ­ from ­ PA
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Post edited 2 months ago by John from PA.
     
Oct 06, 2019 14:58 |  #2

Have you considered trying some extension tubes before moving to the more expensive option of glass.




  
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tuttifrutti
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Oct 06, 2019 15:58 as a reply to  @ John from PA's post |  #3

Hi John,

No I haven't to be honest.

I know next to zero about macro photography so really just trying to get advice.

Would extension tubes on my lenses (16-35, 24-70 & 70-200) achieve the same results as something like a Canon 100mm macro lens?


Hello...
My name's Ian and i'm a photography junkie :rolleyes:

  
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artyH
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Oct 08, 2019 09:18 |  #4

I have tubes and macro lenses. I don’t use the tubes. It is easier to get good results with dedicated macro lenses. I have the Sigma 50 and 70mm macro lenses and the Canon 100 non L. All macro lenses are sharp, but the 70 and 100 seem sharper than the Sigma 50.

The 100 is better for very small stuff where you need more working distance, like bugs or rings. However, I really like the 70 mm Sigma and prefer shorter focal length macro lenses for flowers. I wouldn’t say the Sigma is a better lens, but both have advantages and disadvantages depending on what you are looking at. The Lenses all have accurate AF, but the Canon has faster AF, if this matters to you. A shorter focal length is more useful for photographing flat art work, etc. The Canon doesn’t change length as you focus, but the Sigma 70 does. The 65 is a specialist lens without the ability to focus at infinity, if I recall correctly.

What works “better” depends on your general use and needs. The very long focal length macro lenses (180mm) are tripod use lenses because of their size and weight. I have used my macro lenses on crop and full frame, and they work fine on both formats. The 100 gives you a very narrow view on crop.




  
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ejenner
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Post edited 2 months ago by ejenner.
     
Oct 14, 2019 22:46 |  #5

I would get extension tubes first. Get cheap ones, but with electric contacts for AF. If you rreally get into macro, you will likely want these as well. Try them on your 24-70 (70-200 are really bad close, although they can be acceptable stopped down, so if you have a non moving subject, the 70-200 is an option @ f8-f11)

There are no soft macro lenses (well anything more then ~$200). So don't worry about sharpness. Autofocus, stabilization, focal length and the things to look for. 3rd party lenses can have less accurate AF. If you are using a tripod, the older Canon 100mm f2.8 is probably the best back for the buck.

macro, like fish-eye lenses are some of the cheapest to pick up used because many people by one thinking they will use it and then get bored with it.

if you are shooting a crop, definitely consider the 60mm macro. 100mm is a bit long for general close-up use on a crop.


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Spencerphoto
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Post edited 2 months ago by Spencerphoto.
     
Oct 14, 2019 22:55 |  #6

Personally, I don't find AF very useful on my Sigma 150mm macro because DOF being so shallow, I find it easier to focus manually, then ease the camera to and fro to get the subject sharp.

My shakey hands and torso also force me to essentially anticipate when the subject's eye (for instance) will 'pass through' the plane of focus as the camera moves, and hit the shutter in hope!


5D3, 7D2, EF 16-35 f/2.8L, EF 24-70 f/2.8L II, EF 24-105 f/4L, EF 70-200 f/2.8L II, EF 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L II, EF 1.4x III, Sigma 150mm macro, Lumix LX100 plus a cupboard full of bags, tripods, flashes & stuff.

  
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nero_design
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Post edited 2 months ago by nero_design.
     
Oct 15, 2019 03:55 |  #7

tuttifrutti wrote in post #18939495 (external link)
Good evening all,

I'm seriously considering buying a macro lens and trying to get in to macro photography shooting flowers, bugs, flies etc etc.

I have absolutely no experience of this since i've got my 5DmkIII and 6DmkII, generally taking landscapes, architecture and anything else that comes my way.

So, I have no clue on what lens to buy and i'm looking for advice from experienced macro photographers.

I know of the Canon 100mm f/2.8 mkII which may be an option, I know there are also some Canon-fit Sigma lens which i've seen some good results on. I also know of the Canon MPE-65 but that's not quite where I want to go, maybe just sticking to a 1/1 lens for now.

Thanks in advance for any info

Hi there Tuttifrutti.
Since you're already shooting with Canon cameras, I'll take an opportunity to answer since I do too. In fact I spent several hours this morning shooting Macros of insects. There's a few options for shooting Macro. Macro photography can be easy or it can be challenging. It depends how critical you are with your gear and lighting. There's a few different Macro lenses out there but the longer focal lengths (eg 100mm+) mean that you don't need to get too close to your subject since many insects and other small critters frighten easily and will avoid your lens as you get too near. Wider macro lenses are a little less common but they tend to require that you shoot quite a bit closer. Another alternative if you don't already have a Macro lens is to use a normal lens but with a "tele-extender" tube between the lens and the body of the camera. This will enable you to capture Macro shots but you will need to remove the tele-extender before you can focus on things further away again. I would suggest several options for you:


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Some people thing a Macro lens is only capable of closeup photography. That's only the case with perhaps the MP-E 65 lens. With the EF 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro USM lens, you can carry it anywhere for solid all-purpose performance. This shot of my Cat "Zima" was taken on a whim. I had a remote trigger (Canon ST-E3-RT Remote Flash Control Transmitter) on my EOS 6D camera and my flash was behind me on my bedside table... enabling the flash to bounce off the ceiling. It captured her eyes in low light, before they could expand in reaction to the bright Flash (Canon 580EX II). The benefit of the Canon ST-E3-RT Remote Flash Control Transmitter is that it does not require a line of sight from the transmitter to the flash. This image also demonstrates the shallow DOF from this lens when shooting object quite a distance from the lens.

EF 100m f/2.8L IS Macro USM lens
You'll probably consider purchasing the EF 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro USM lens. This will work well on both of your full frame DSLRs and you'll find the bokeh delightful. It's a true 1:1 Macro lens and it handles nicely. It's one of the best value Canon L-series lenses out there as the price has dropped considerably in recent years. Don't be tempted to buy the version without the Image Stabilizer because a 100mm focal length needs it unless you want to bolt it to a table with a tripod. This is the staple macro lens for many, many DSLR photographers. It works just as well on an APS-C camera and this includes mirrorless. The pictures from this lens are beautiful and as a 100mm lens it doesn't produce distortion due to proximity. I live in Australia so I find it beneficial to shoot with the 100mmL lens since closeups without our venomous wildlife with wider macro lenses have resulted in those lenses being stung and bitten by more than a few lethal critters. With 100mm I can safely shoot with as much distance as I might need. This lens has a focus-limiter switch to cut down on focus travel (if required) and a dedicated AF/MF switch plus an external Image Stabilizer On/Off switch. This lens has a rubber environmental seal at the rear and can be further sealed for dust etc by adding a filter to the front. It is internally focusing so there's no shift or rotation on the front end. The samples below are NOT cropped.


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TIP 1: Buy the optional MA67 Macro Ring Light mount. It's just a metal ring that threads straight onto the front of the lens but the forward portion has 58mm threads which will accept the cheaper 58mm filters. Don't bother buying the MR-14EX Speedlight Ring Light for this lens. It's awkward to handle and limited in use... and I've not been impressed with the results from that flash. The more expensive Twin Macro Light would be more effective but a top-mounted External Flash with a reflector is even better for most application. The MA67 also serves as a defensive buffer when the lens is rested against surfaces. One of the methods of shooting super close involves sliding your lens a few millimeters towards or away from the subject so this is where the MA67 can act to protect the lens.

Tip 2: If you get this lens, Canon doesn't supply it with a "Lens Collar Foot". This is a foot that connects to the lens via a collar mechanism which enables the lens to be mounted to a tripod with your camera hanging off the end at the back. Without using a Lens Collar Foot, your lens needs to be supported with two hands to prevent too much weight from bearing down on the lens mount of the camera. It's not essential but if you're doing Macro photography it is handy and reduces stress on the mount. Canon's own collar is moderately expensive. You can either source the Canon one or you can obtain a cheaper non-Canon alternative on Ebay etc. The earlier non-Canon versions were known for breaking occasionally and you don't want that to happen. The Gen III version that I bought was supposed to be a lot better and I've had no problems with it in over 6 years.

This lens comes with a lens hood. The optics are well recessed so the hood can be left behind if not desired. A lot of Wedding Photographers seem to like this lens. The Image Stabilizer is very useful and the bokeh has just enough strength to appeal to the brides and produce subject separation in the photographs. The advantage of the 100mmL Macro lens is that you don't need to get so close to the subject that you end up eclipsing it with your shadow from the lens. This can be a problem with other types of Macro lenses that are designed for closeup work. The Minimum Focus Distance from this lens is 11.8 inches (300mm) so this means you can't bring the lens any close than about 1 foot from the subject or the image will not be in focus range.


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EOS M + EF-M 28mm f/3.5 IS Macro STM lens
Another alternative is the buy an EOS M camera and buy the EF-M 28mm f/3.5 IS Macro STM lens. Most DSLR users know to keep a backup body around for either travel or as a backup. The newer EOS M models with the recent Dual Pixel Auto Focus (DPAF) sensors are incredible with the EF-M 28mm lens. The models that use DPAF include the M100, M200 (just announced), M5, M6, M6 II and M50. The EF-M 28mm f/3.5 IS Macro STM was the lightest, smallest and cheapest Macro lens on the market when it was announced. It contains a unique LED "ring light" that is controllable and is more like two half-moon illuminatiors built into the lens that is powered by the camera battery. It's not a flash but it does carry just enough power to be useful for reflections on surfaces (eg bugs eyes), dim-light illumination, Auto Focus assistance etc.


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The dragonfly above is around 2.5 inches long and is one of the smallest of the local species. Only the FIRST shot above was taken with Super Macro and that insect (a female juvenile Harlequin Bug was about 12mm long). The lens itself offers both 1:1 (1.00x) and 1.20x magnification (aka: Super Macro). Uniquely, it has a polymer mount rather than a metal one and this does cut down on weight - which is surprisingly useful. The lens ships with a unique filter mount/lens hood for a 43mm filter - which is both common and inexpensive. It's a wide-angle Macro so it produces some distortion to the subject up super-close. But the results are unique and are visually appealing. In Super Macro mode this lens acts like an extender tube has been added - so it can't focus beyond a few centimeters at best until the setting is changed back to 1:1. But it's quite powerful magnification and Canon have added a bevel to the front part of the lens to help reduce the chances of the lens from casting a shadow over the subject. It's such a sharp lens that it performs well for Landscapes (see example above). Buying an EOS M100 + EF-M 28mm Macro lens is cheaper than some Macro lenses alone and the body can accept EF lenses with an optional adapter if needed. Minimum Focus Distance from this lens is 3.7 inches with 1:1 normal Macro engaged. This lens is also internally focusing with no movement from the front element.

"Extender Tubes" for Macro
It can get a little confusing with Tele-extender (AKA: Extender tubes) because Canon also market a device called an 'Extender' (which is applied in the the same way and even looks similar but is WHITE and contains lens elements and an electronics module inside). The Extension Tubes made by Canon are BLACK and are called the EF-12 II and EF-25 II. The number relates to how many millimeters thick the tube is. These tubes are EMPTY inside. This is why they are not as expensive as the White Extenders. The Canon Extender Tubes for Macro are still a little expensive but they are very well made. Better than any alternatives in terms of construction. However, since these tubes are hollow and contain no optical elements, you can always use a non-Canon brand since image quality won't be affected.

Using Extender Tubes puts a gap between the lens and the camera, forcing the lens to become an instant "macro" lens. It essentially turns a wide angle lens into a "wide angle macro" etc. It can convert any lens into being a super-closeup lens.

The benefit of buying a dedicated Macro lens is that it was designed especially to perform well as a Macro lens. This means that the final product is well designed for this purpose and has been designed that way from the moment of its inception. A lens not to use with Extender Tubes is any ultra wide-aperture lens with f/1.2. The DOF becomes so thin with these lenses that when an extension tube is added, the lens struggles to produce anything noteworthy since the shallow DOF can be as thin as half a millimeter. So for Pseudo Macro work, use the Black tubes. The White tubes are for adding zoom to certain lenses (only specific lenses) and they won't magnify closeup subject like the black ones will. (*An exception to this rule may apply to the EF 180mm Macro lens).

Reverse Lens Macro method:
Another method used is to reverse an existing "normal lens" to convert it into a Macro lens. I've not done this myself but many others have had success. There's ways to flip your lens around so that the front of the lens ends up facing your sensor and that smaller real element of the lens then becomes the front optic. Again, this probably requires a special mounting device and I've not pursued it. But it was VERY popular back in the days of film cameras before digital models.

"Closeup Filters"
Closeup Filters (sometimes called Closeup Lenses) made by Canon include the 250D and the 500D. These each have a different thickness and they allow you to shoot closer to the subject than the native lens normally allows. These filters force a normal lens to become a Super Closeup lens and they often allow the lens to produce a really nice bokeh in the background. If you buy a common size like 58mm, you can thread these onto most lenses (or get a step ring) and convert them into a pseudo Macro lens. There are two different sizes because they are for use on different types of lenses. They can also be stacked together for an even stronger effect. Canon's are made from their finest optical glass so there's no risk of image degradation. They're also fairly expensive though Hoya and other brands make their own versions for a lesser price. But comparing them side-by-side, I found the Canon Closeup Filters produces hardly any Chromatic Aberration yet the Hoya and other brand filters most certainly did. You get what you pay for. But carrying a single THICK filter around in your pocket is a lot easier than wandering around with a larger Macro lens like the 100mmL Macro. Still, you can actually place these on the front of the 100mmL Macro lens to enable you to get closer to the subject, thereby increasing the size of the subject in the frame slightly.

Dedicated Canon Macro lenses
There's a few out there but not too many. There's an EF-S lens but that won't safely mount to a Full Frame EF mount. Some standard lenses like the EF 135mm f/2 USM lens can produce very good closeups. As does the amazing EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens. But a dedicated Macro lens ought to present a 1:1 ratio on the sensor with the subject. Most Closeup photography isn't true Macro. Canon have an RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM lens for the new EOS R camera series but that lens is technically an excellent Closeup Lens and probably shouldn't be referred to as a Macro lens because the magnification is 0.5x. Other Macro lenses to come out recently include the Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM Lens - which is VERY similar to the EF-M 28mm macro lens. But again, that's not designed to fit on your Full Frame cameras.

Canon's Macro Lens list (from the Canon brand alone) include:
* Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM
* Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM
* Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM
* Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro USM
* Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM
* Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM
* Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM
* Canon MP-E 65mm Macro Lens


Full Time Macro specialist lens - eg Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro
The Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro lens is Canon's most powerful Macro lens but it is not an EF lens though it mounts to any EF mount. This lens has a POWERFUL magnification but it is only useful for Macro and nothing else. You cannot use it to take non-Macro shots like portraits or landscapes. But with a 1x to 5x magnification, it's capable of some amazing photography. It's extremely popular for photographing insects. I've personally thought of buying one several times but have not done so because it would be something of a luxury item for me since I own several other dedicated "normal" Macro lenses. This lens is somewhat expensive though it's great value if Macro is your bread and butter. It's also Manual Focus ONLY.

Macro - Lighting
Most macro photographers will tell you that light is important. It is. In order to get more than a few millimeters into focus on a small insect, you'll have to reduce the aperture on the lens. In many instances you may need to stop it down so much that you'll either need to have the camera on a tripod to allow for a longer exposure (not ideal if the critter is moving) or you will have to introduce more light to the scene with a flash.

There's quite a few alternatives for lighting. Some of the newer LED light sources are designed for camera applications and will not produce a flicker. Some photographers like to create their own special flashes for Macro use (see Pringles Can method). I made one out of cardboard and lined it with foil on the inside and secured it with tape. It's ugly but it works. You can use a Lightbox at home and put your subject inside it. But for shooting in the field, even the slightest breeze will prove to be problematic. A method some people use is to tie down the waving plants and branches with a strand of cotton to keep it from moving. My own method is the rest the lens on my thumb and hold the plant that the critter is on... this way, the subject isn't moving towards or away from the lens.

You can attach a wireless transmitter to your camera and use it to fire external flashes. This technique can be useful indoors or outdoors. You can place the flash on the ground (see ladybug picture above) so that it generates light from below while the sunlight can offer illumination from above. There are MANY alternatives for lighting but a dedicated flash is usually very practical. Macro Flashes like the Ring-Light or the Twin-Light Speedlites are available and they tend to be very specialized and tend not to be useful outside the realm of Macro Photography.

Tripods, Monopods and Slider Rails
A tripod is helpful and for anyone using very small apertures it's probably essential. A tripod is very practical if you intend to stack images together (see Image Stacking below). But even the use of a cheap monopod is all you need to increase your "keepers" since it prevents the camera from drifting as you take your shots. A mini-tripod is fine for desktop work with a lightbox etc but outdoors you'll probably need a full sized tripod. A Slider Rail for macro use is another tool. These are best used for Image Stacking and I've not needed to buy one myself. But set one of these on top of your tripod and use it to crank your lens back and forth towards or away from the subject. It's useful for capturing successive pictures of the subject in minute increments with the focus shifting on each shot. This makes image stacking easier.

Image Stacking
This is easy to do but you need to have software available to do this. You take multiple shallow DOF images with various parts of the subject in focus and then use the software (eg Helicon Focus) to stack the images together and produce a final image with much greater depth. This is often used with extreme magnifications using certain lenses. Another method is to use software like Photoshop to stack a few images and just reveal the areas from each image to generate a little more detail in the final image... giving it just a little more depth than a single image. For example, you might have a great picture of a critter but the body is in focus in one shot and the eyes are in focus in another. You can combine them to form a final image that looks great. You don't have to Focus Stack though. The two lenses I'm using above (EF 100mmL Macro + EF-M 28mm Macro) can take single shots that look decent with a single exposure.

The best lens for the dollar value is still the EF 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro USM lens. The other alternative is to buy an EOS M (with DPAF) and use it with the very affordable EF-M 28mm f/3.5 IS Macro STM lens. But the EF 100mmL Macro lens can be used immediately with your existing DSLR cameras and works beautifully with a Full Frame camera. It can also work smoothly on an APS-C camera and the resale value is usually there since this lens has always been popular and in demand. It's also considered one of Canon's finer portrait lenses. On an APS-C camera this lens becomes a 160mm lens due to the crop factor associated with the sensors. But the image quality is lovely from either sensor size. Some of my samples above were shot with an EOS M Mk1 using an APS-C sensor. I only shoot JPEG so these images were all shot in JPEG instead of RAW.



  
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wimg
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Oct 15, 2019 11:32 as a reply to  @ nero_design's post |  #8

Great post!

BTW, to add a couple more Canon macro lenses, even though they “only” do 1:2:

TS-E 50L F/2.8 Macro
TS-E 90L F/2.8 Macro
TS-E 135L F/4 Macro

You may add the older TS-E 45 and TS-E 90 here as well :). And I have also used the TS-E 24L Mk I as a semi-macro lens in the past, on APS-C however.

As to using “normal” (i.e., non-macro) lenses for macro type work, apart from the 135L I’d also recommend the EF 50L F/1.2, which does really well with extension tubes (unlike the 85L :)). I also found the 70-200 F/4L (non-IS) to work quite well with extension tubes, unlike the IS versions.

The 100-400L, either version, is used a lot for macro by people shooting skittish insects and animals in the field, normally with a Canon (or other decent) close-up lens. The 100-400L manages 1:4 to 1:1 with the 500D Canon achromatic close-up lens, and because it focuses closer, the 100-400L II should get even slightly larger magnifications. The big advantage of these lenses is that they give you a lot of room between lens and object :).

Generally speaking, for optimal results with non-macro lenses it is best to use extension tubes with shorter lenses (say, up to 200 mm FF equivalent), and good closeup lenses with longer FLs. It is best to try and see what the results are with non-macro lenses. Generally, lenses with smaller maximum apertures and without IF tend to do better.

Kind regards, Wim


EOS R & EOS 5 (analog) with a gaggle of primes & 2 zooms, OM-D E-M1 Mk II & Pen-F with 10 primes, 6 zooms, 3 Metabones adapters/speedboosters​, and an accessory plague

  
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Post edited 1 month ago by nero_design.
     
Oct 15, 2019 12:28 |  #9

wimg wrote in post #18944747 (external link)
The 100-400L, either version, is used a lot for macro by people shooting skittish insects and animals in the field, normally with a Canon (or other decent) close-up lens. The 100-400L manages 1:4 to 1:1 with the 500D Canon achromatic close-up lens, and because it focuses closer, the 100-400L II should get even slightly larger magnifications. The big advantage of these lenses is that they give you a lot of room between lens and object :).

I took a picture of a small insect floating on a container of water with the EF 100-400mmL II lens this year that surprised me. I know some folks gave up their EF 100mmL Macro lens when the 100-400mmL II came out but it still surprised me as to how effective it is. I even had it mounted to an EOS M6 Mirrorless APS-C camera at the time (see first image below). I don't think these would be considered Macro shots but here's a few from this lens that I took that seem half decent. The small mantis was shot with the sun rising on the horizon behind it.


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These were probably all shot at Minimum Focus Distance so I wasn't able to get any closer than this. The other lenses you mentioned didn't even dawn on me... are they still available or are they discontinued? I can't see them listed locally.



  
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Archibald
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Oct 15, 2019 14:22 |  #10

Hi, Tutti. Fascinating thread.

As you can see, there are many ways to do macro photography. It's also worth noting that macro is a bit complicated, and there is a lot more to it than lens selection. And also, it can be very rewarding!

If you are a novice at macro as you say, I would suggest starting simple. Why spend big bucks and tons of time only to discover it's not for you?

For years I shot macro using Canon's 500D closeup lens. That is a simple but effective way to start. The 500D looks like a filter and screws on to the end of your lens, but it is not a filter (filters remove things, and that's not what a closeup lens does). It works best with telephoto lenses. At 200mm, you might get a magnification of around 1:2. Working distance will be around one and a half foot = around 500mm. It will be great for butterflies, dragonflies, bees and wasps, many beetles, and of course flowers. You can shoot all these in available light, so you don't have to worry about flash. The results will be great.

As already mentioned, you can also use extension tubes on your existing lenses to get closer. They work great but reduce the light, so you will need to shoot at a higher ISO. That is usually not a problem with modern cameras.

For getting closer, it becomes more challenging. Of course you want to get closer, that is what makes macro fun. But usually you have to consider lighting when you venture closer than around 1:2. Most of us use diffused flash for this. There are lots of ideas on the web for making your own diffuser. Focusing and depth of field also become issues. It is challenging, and that is what makes it fun for many of us.

You might also consider getting a crop-frame camera for macro. They have a higher pixel density on the sensor and that means a higher effective magnification with the same lenses.


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Wilt
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Post edited 1 month ago by Wilt. (5 edits in all)
     
Oct 15, 2019 18:25 |  #11

Some 'basics'...


  1. Classically, 'macro' means to image an object so that its image is captured at 1:2 (0.5x) or 1:1 (lifesize) on the film or sensor.
  2. Classically, non-'macro' lenses had a minimum focus distance (MFD) of about 9*FL
  3. Along the way, lenses started having 'close focus' capability, and lens manufacturers started to advertise their lens as 'macro' although the lens might not be able to achieve 1:2 with without a supplemental extension ring.
  4. In modern times the term 'macro' degraded so that now it tends to mean 'to shoot at a closer distance than is normally allowed with a non-macro lens of same FL'...if the 50mm lens focuses to 18", most folks mean 'allow me to focus closer than 18" somehow', and the actual magnification of the object does not matter at all!
  5. True macro lenses are corrected optically so they perform well even focused at very close distances (even at 5 * FL distances, for example) whereas non-macro lenses might work reasonable they are not optimized for very close subject distance
  6. The true macro lens is also optimized to have a flat field of focus, so that reproduction of postage stamps can be achieved with everything 'in focus', which might not happen with a lens that has a 'curved field'.
  7. A longer FL allows you to achieve the same reproduction magnification from a longer distance away from your subject. That can greatly help when shooting skittish bugs, since being to close might scare them away. A 100mm lens gives you about twice the 'working distance' from the bug as you would have with a 50mm lens.


As someone getting their feet wet, you don't truly need to buy a 'macro lens'...simply using an extension tube with a non-macro lens might well satisfy what you wish to achieve, if you do not plan on optimally portraying 10mm x 10mm 2D flat objects at 1:1, you do not need a flat field.

Generally speaking, you need a 100mm extension tube with 100mm lens (focused at infinity) to achieve 1:1, while you need only 50mm extension tube with 50mm lens to also achieve 1:1, so there are other considerations to FL choice in addition to simply 'working distance'. You cannot find 100mm extension tube...you would need to 'stack' tubes (which may not be possible with AF lenses that need electrical contacts in the extension tubes).
Most AF 'macro' lenses actually change FL, so a Canon 100mm macro is actually about 75mm when it is set to achieve 1:1.

Certain techniques USED TO work fine, like the use of a 'reversed' lens, because the lens f/stop could easily be controlled in size, and easily stopped down from focus aperture to shooting aperture. The modern AF lens does this very very clumsily because the lens itself has NO CONTROLS, and the reversed AF lens cannot at all be controlled by the body while it is reversed.

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Post edited 1 month ago by MalVeauX.
     
Oct 15, 2019 19:11 |  #12

Heya,

To add to a very well made post in this thread above by Nero, I will say that it's not so important to worry about what lens to get vs extensions, etc. There are lots of ways to get to macro level or near macro level magnification. Anything will likely be a good choice to get started. A dedicated lens is going to be a nice way to do it. Extensions can do a good job too for cheap. But one thing that I suggest is paramount over all this, is lighting. A flash is essential. A diffuser, etc, you will make something. But lighting is essential. Doesn't matter what lens you get. Or how you do it. Having a flash and a diffuser will be the other side of the equation that is in my opinion a must.

A good lens that is inexpensive is a Tamron 90mm F2.8 VC for Canon. Typically cheap, very good, compares to Canon's 100L.

But again, beyond the lens, is lighting! Flash!

+++++++++++++
+++++++++++++

I've had several macro lenses. I've also used extensions. I've done the 180mm macro lens approach, even with a 2x TC, back to the 90~100 macro lenses, back to extensionss on various primes, etc. There's no perfect "magic bullet" on these. The one thing that matters the most is light. Flash is my real macro weapon of choice. So from various systems from dSLR to mirrorless, I've done several lenses, etc, but again, nothing is as important to me as flash for macro.

Lately, I've been using a 50mm prime lens with a set of extensions. No AF. I just set focal-ratio manually and focus at minimum focus distance and I focus by looking at my LCD with focus peaking to see when something comes into focus. Very easy. More important is the lighting. So I have a janky styrofoam tray and a flash setup so that I have diffuse lighting no matter what is going on. At F8~F11, you need light.

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Again, I've done the whole 180mm macro lens to stabilized 90~100mm lens, etc. It doesn't matter much. Light matters more. So get whatever and use extensions if needed. What will make the real difference is lighting. Flash + diffuser will make all the difference.

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Post edited 1 month ago by Spencerphoto. (2 edits in all)
     
Oct 15, 2019 19:39 |  #13

MalVeauX wrote in post #18944924 (external link)
Heya,

... I suggest is paramount over all this, is lighting. A flash is essential ...

Yeah, nah.

A flash will indeed make the difference when lighting isn't great, but it's by no means essential. I have plenty of good macro shots (insects) taken simply in sunlight. In fact, I would go so far as to say I prefer natural light to flash, though I do own a macro flash and have used it from time to time.

All taken using available light:

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Oct 15, 2019 21:05 as a reply to  @ nero_design's post |  #14

Wow ! Excellent post nero. Lots of good information in there.

I picked up the 100L myself a year ago and have been experimenting with it. Working on some projects that require the close focus distance that the lens provides. As you mentioned, lighting can be a challenge and is currently a work in progress situation for me.

Here lately I've been bringing two cameras: one rigged for wildlife and one rigged for macro. Having to look up, down and everywhere makes for a slow but interesting walk. :-)

Thanks for your post.

Rod


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Oct 16, 2019 08:15 |  #15

nero_design wrote in post #18944773 (external link)
I took a picture of a small insect floating on a container of water with the EF 100-400mmL II lens this year that surprised me. I know some folks gave up their EF 100mmL Macro lens when the 100-400mmL II came out but it still surprised me as to how effective it is. I even had it mounted to an EOS M6 Mirrorless APS-C camera at the time (see first image below). I don't think these would be considered Macro shots but here's a few from this lens that I took that seem half decent. The small mantis was shot with the sun rising on the horizon behind it.


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forum: Canon EF and EF-S Lenses



These were probably all shot at Minimum Focus Distance so I wasn't able to get any closer than this. The other lenses you mentioned didn't even dawn on me... are they still available or are they discontinued? I can't see them listed locally.

Great shots, and yes, the 100-400L, both I and II, are remarkable for macro- and semi-macro photography :).

I do sincerely advise the use of a Canon 500D achromat close-up lens with this zoom, works really, really well for true macro even. I think it is no longer in production, so you need to look around to find one. Essentially, 500 in 500D stands for 500 mm, which means it is a 2 diopter lens. Any good quality specimen, preferably achromat or so with decent multi-coating, will do the trick, BTW. The 250D is a 250 mm closeup lens, hence 4 diopters, but that is too much for the 100-400, both from IQ PoV as from controllability PoV. Besides, it is not available in the larger filter sizes, as it is really meant for shorter lenses.

There are currently 5 TS-Es available, the TS-E 17L, TS-E 24L II, the TS-E 50L F/2.8 Macro, the TS-E 90L F/2.8 Macro, and the TS-E 135L F/4 Macro. Effectively, the TS-E 50L F/2.8 Macro replaces the older TS-E 45 F/2.8, and what is new is that it focuses to 1:2, the TS-E 90L F/2.8 Macro replaces the older TS-E 90 F/2.8 and also focuses to 1:2, as does the new TS-E 135L F/4 Macro, which happens to be one of the sharpest lenses Canon has ever produced (one of the reasons I traded in my older 45 and 90 :)). The TS-E 45s I would only use as (semi-)macro lens for APS-C, you can’t get close enough on FF :).
You nay not have been able to find these locally because they are considered specialized lenses, which are not sold a lot. They are MF only as well :).
A big advantage of TS-E lenses for macro and product photography is that you can tilt the plane of focus, thereby making it possible to position plane of focus much more precisely where you’d want it.

The EF 50L F/1.2 and EF 135L obviously are still available, I guess you did find those. The older EF 70-200 F/4L (non-IS) is also still available, but a bit harder to find.

Currently I do not have access to my photo library, but I hope to have a little time available this weekend to show some results.

Kind regards, Wim


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