Macro Lens Preferences?

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Macro Lens Preference

30mm (f/xxx)
0
No votes
50mm (f/xxx)
1
13%
<50mm (greater than 50mm, f/xxx)
6
75%
>30mm (less than 30mm, f/xxx)
0
No votes
Zoom macro (f/xxx - fixed f/stop, no ranges)
1
13%
 
Total votes : 8

Macro Lens Preferences?

Postposted on Wed Mar 31, 2010 11:51 am

In conjunction with my other thread, I will be in the market in about a month for a macro lens to complete my photography getup. I just purchased the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.

Here is my question - What sort of macro lens do you prefer? Is there a reason for your preference? I understand that there are some lenses specific to the subject you concentrate on most, but for a person in my situation that shoots whatever I lay my eyes on, I am wondering if that kind of lens is for me really and the differences on some of them is lost on a newbie like me.

I am really interested in something like this 17-50mm f/2.8 lens since I don't think I'll be missing much between the 50mm and 70mm. Here is the Sigma version and the Sony version . . just for comparison sake.

The f/xxx in the poll is a fixed number f-stop, no ranges.
Last edited by lex-ington on Wed Mar 31, 2010 12:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Macro Lens Preferences?

Postposted on Wed Mar 31, 2010 12:00 pm

needs more options.
you have >30 and <50. You need a >50

I started with the EF-S 60mm macro from Canon. It is a nice lens. However, I recently just picked up the EF 100mm L 8)
Longer reach is nice so you dont have to put your lens up in the face of bees. They get less angry if you're a bit further away.

I would never buy a zoom for real macro work. Primes only.
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Re: Macro Lens Preferences?

Postposted on Wed Mar 31, 2010 12:08 pm

Sorry. I fixed the poll to show what I really meant.
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Re: Macro Lens Preferences?

Postposted on Wed Mar 31, 2010 12:26 pm

More important than the focal length is the magnification ability of the macro. Getting one that does 1:1 is no easy task.

The most common macro focal lengths are 50mm and 100mm (give or take a few mm). The 100mm can be situated further from the subject to achieve the same magnification than the 50mm - this may be useful for flash use, composition, etc. However, on APS-C (and smaller) bodies, the 50mm focal length may be more versatile - making a good secondary portrait lens (not all macro lenses make good portrait lenses though - some are too sharp for flattering portraits, some have too small an aperture, and some have bad/busy bokeh at portrait distances).

For me, the characteristics of a lens and its suitability for macro and other uses are more important to me than just the focal length, so I left my vote blank. If I were to choose between two equally performing lenses at 50mm and 100mm though, I'd probably go for the 50mm. The Sigma 50mm f/2 macro lens is quite well regarded, and is available in a variety of mounts. It is MF only, though, IIRC, and that can be a deal breaker for some. Canon's 50/2 macro lens is also pretty good - as a rule, the macro is/should be the sharpest lens in a manufacturer's lineup.

PS Primes only also for me. You'll usually find that "macro" zooms either aren't very "macro", or not very good (or both). The Tamron 17-50/2.8 is an excellent walkaround lens, though. But its 1:4.5 magnification is pathetic for a "macro".
Last edited by Voldenuit on Wed Mar 31, 2010 12:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Macro Lens Preferences?

Postposted on Wed Mar 31, 2010 12:29 pm

lex-ington wrote:Sorry. I fixed the poll to show what I really meant.


The > & < characters always point the lesser value. Fix the poll, please.
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Re: Macro Lens Preferences?

Postposted on Wed Mar 31, 2010 12:55 pm

The Tamron Di-II 17-50mm f/2.8 lens that you linked is a great fast zoom lens for general photography. It can replace your kit lens with better quality, but its maximum magnification is only 1:4.5, which isn't very much at all. A true 1:1 macro lens will let you get much closer.

If you're shooting flowers, you can get away with a shorter focal length and the extremely close woking distance that comes with it. If you're shooting bugs, you can't get that close without scaring them off. You'll want a longer (90+ mm) macro lens.

The $680 Sony 100mm f/2.8 macro, $460 Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Macro or $480 Sigma 105mm f/2.8 macro seem like the most obvious choices for true 1:1 macro lenses.

If you want a shorter focal length to also use it as a high-quality prime lens for other photography, the $475 Tamron Di-II 60mm f/2 macro or $500 Sigma 70mm f/2.8 macro might be good choices.

For serious bug-shooting, the best macro lenses are longer, like the $640 Tamron 180mm f/3.5 macro.
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Re: Macro Lens Preferences?

Postposted on Wed Mar 31, 2010 8:45 pm

What JAE said.

Also, just wanted to remind you how important a tripod is for macro shooting. It's very easy to shift focus with forwards/backwards swaying hand-held, and the depth of field at macro distances is usually very shallow.

I don't shoot much macro myself, but I have heard that some people catch bugs and put them in the fridge for a few minutes, then take them out and arrange them for the shot. They're still sluggish from the cold, so are easier to photograph. Not sure how cruel this is, just thought I'd flash this by you.
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Re: Macro Lens Preferences?

Postposted on Tue Apr 13, 2010 7:04 pm

You need to find a lens that has 1:1 magnification. I would get a lens that's as long as possible, probably 100mm, so that I could stay further from the subject. Helps with not scaring things off, or using flash, or not interfering with a light source, etc.

Also, I did not vote in the poll because you seem to be confused about what < and > means. <50 means 'less than 50', not 'greater than 50'.
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Re: Macro Lens Preferences?

Postposted on Tue Apr 13, 2010 10:01 pm

To some extent I think there's some confusion here. The 17-50 isn't a macro lens. Most alphabet-soup lenses that throw macro into their name aren't, either. With most there has been at best a halfassed attempt to make them focus a bit closer than some other comparable lens. Maybe passable for flower shots, but not suitable for real macro. The only "real" zoom macro I know of is nikon's old 70-180. Macro lenses focus close enough to give "life size", 1:1 or 1x magnification. If you're feeling generous that often gets pushed to 2:1, especially with lenses that can easily be brought to 1:1 magnification using accessories and are optimized for close-in work.

You'd normally choose your focal length based on a few parameters:
  • Perspective. Shorter focal lengths will give you more pronounced perspective and longer focal lengths will render the subject with a flatter perspective (the same effect as with wide angles and telephotos) This is a matter of taste and preference
  • Background Field of View. This a manifestation of the same thing, but one that's often very important for macro. A wider-angle lens includes a larger slice of background in the image while a longer one lets you be more selective about what you include (and don't include) in the background of the photo. A lot of people favor longer lenses for their ability to eliminate distracting backgrounds when used carefully.
  • Working distance. If you're shooting critters you want to keep some distance to them. Using something like a 20mm lens at 1x magnification (the focal plane tends to be pretty much ON the lens surface...) to shoot bugs isn't really practical. Longer focal lengths let you stay further from the target.
    Price. It's always a relevant concern. Longer macros normally cost more.
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Re: Macro Lens Preferences?

Postposted on Wed May 19, 2010 11:57 pm

I've just about completed my collection of high-priority zooms and primes, and am starting to poke at macro lenses. I still have my Rebel XS body (APS-C) and probably will for a while, unless it breaks, so I'm torn between these three options:

Canon EF 50mm f/2.5
Pros: Low-cost, and also usable as a conventional 50mm, so it offers the possibility of being a good walk-around lens while searching for macro opportunities.
Cons: 1:2 magnification, and the 1:1 adapter can cost about as much as the lens.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8
Pros: USM system with full-time manual focus, 1:1 magnification.
Cons: Fairly expensive.

Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8
Pros: Tolerable cost splits the difference between the two options above. 1:1 magnification, includes USM system with full-time manual focus.
Cons: Will have to ditch it when I eventually go to a full-frame body (could be a couple years out, though).

What should I get? I'm leaning toward the EF-S 60mm as it seems to be the best all-around option with my current hardware, and am hesitant mainly because the rest of my lens collection is EF and could be instantly transferred to a full-frame body. Is there an equivalent EF option I am overlooking, for example in Sigma or Tamron hardware?
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Re: Macro Lens Preferences?

Postposted on Thu May 20, 2010 12:27 am

ludi wrote:Is there an equivalent EF option I am overlooking, for example in Sigma or Tamron hardware?


There is. The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro. It's about $500, so more expensive than the 60, but still cheaper than the 100/2.8L. For some reason, it's not on Canon's website but still appears to be in production.

I just bought a 1:1 macro lens recently (the Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45/2.8), and the 1:1 magnification is so sweet that I can't imagine settling for 1:2 anymore - and I haven't even gotten close to taking pics at full magnification yet.
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Re: Macro Lens Preferences?

Postposted on Thu May 20, 2010 1:20 am

Actually, that's the 100mm f/2.8 I'm referring to. Sorry for the confusion :oops: $500 is pretty much the top-end of my per-lens budget right now, so L-glass (other than possibly the f/4L 70-200mm non-IS...future telephoto purchase maybe) isn't even in my price range. What makes the 60mm more attractive is that I can get it used for around $300-ish and still get 1:1 magnification.
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Re: Macro Lens Preferences?

Postposted on Thu May 20, 2010 3:22 am

ludi wrote:Actually, that's the 100mm f/2.8 I'm referring to. Sorry for the confusion :oops: $500 is pretty much the top-end of my per-lens budget right now, so L-glass (other than possibly the f/4L 70-200mm non-IS...future telephoto purchase maybe) isn't even in my price range. What makes the 60mm more attractive is that I can get it used for around $300-ish and still get 1:1 magnification.


Ah. Well, the 60/2.8 is a pretty good deal for a 1:1 macro lens. The Sigma and Tamron 100mm macros are going for $450-500, so not significantly off the 100/2.8. Get the 60.
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Re: Macro Lens Preferences?

Postposted on Thu May 27, 2010 7:30 am

Took this today with the PL45/2.8 Macro:

Image

ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/50s shutter. Hand held (stabilised on surface).

In retrospect, should have stopped down to f/11 or so, but I was in a hurry to take the shot before it flew away, and wanted to keep the shutter speed up. Turned out pretty decent though, IMO.
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Re: Macro Lens Preferences?

Postposted on Thu May 27, 2010 7:47 am

Prefer 50mm on the u4/3 which comes out to 100mm (didn't know what to put down for crop factor). Then if I desire more magnification I can put on some converters. The problem is with too much magnification, you wind up with such a shallow DOF that it is darned near impossible to get your entire subject in focus with a single image or without a high-power macro flash. 100mm equivalent is a practical limit without having to get a fairly complex setup of ring flash, or multiple exposures for stacking different focus settings.

Some taken with a 50mm macro (really old manual Rokkor-X macro lens)
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Re: Macro Lens Preferences?

Postposted on Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:09 pm

Voldenuit wrote:Ah. Well, the 60/2.8 is a pretty good deal for a 1:1 macro lens. The Sigma and Tamron 100mm macros are going for $450-500, so not significantly off the 100/2.8. Get the 60.

So I did finally end up with the 60mm after snagging an undamaged, in-box lens for US$305 shipped from an eBay seller, or about 20% off from new retail prices (which is roughly the value I place on the loss of warranty coverage). Took a few test shots but I'll need to get outside with a tripod and find some interesting subjects in the next couple weeks.
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Re: Macro Lens Preferences?

Postposted on Tue Jun 22, 2010 9:26 am

Voldenuit wrote:Took this today with the PL45/2.8 Macro:

Image

ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/50s shutter. Hand held (stabilised on surface).

In retrospect, should have stopped down to f/11 or so, but I was in a hurry to take the shot before it flew away, and wanted to keep the shutter speed up. Turned out pretty decent though, IMO.



That's beautiful work - you nailed it on the eyes.

How close did you get with the PL 45mm, and does it block light/flash(assuming your m43 has flash).

Thanks,
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Re: Macro Lens Preferences?

Postposted on Tue Jun 22, 2010 10:21 am

Beomagi wrote:That's beautiful work - you nailed it on the eyes.

How close did you get with the PL 45mm, and does it block light/flash(assuming your m43 has flash).


Thanks for the compliment. I was probably a bit less than an inch away from the butterfly. At macro distances, the in-built flash on the GF1 will horribly overexpose the picture. I do have a FL360 flash, but I generally have to bounce it to get good illumination of a subject at macro distances. I've been trying to find a good flash extension cable for my system, but most of the shops around here don't carry one for Oly/Panny flashes, and I've had some difficulty mounting a Nissin universal adapter on my hotshoe.

One of the beauties of the PL45 is that it is an internal focusing design, so the barrel doesn't extend with focusing (unlike the Oly ZD 50/2 macro), so it is less likely to cast a shadow on the subject.
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