I have to admit that I have never done any true macro (at least 1:1) photography in my close to sixty years of practicing this hobby. But I have been thinking I might have some fun with it. Currently I own no prime lenses (loaned my 50mm 1.8 to grand-daughter, doubtful I will see it again). I have an EFS 17-55 2.8 (which I love), a 70-200 2.8L II, a 100-400L, and several other lesser quality mid-range zooms (between the wife and I we have three bodies, 30D-hers, 40D and 7D-mine). Due to a lengthy fall vacation (I'm retired, what am I vacationing from?) where we will visit four National Parks and one National Monument plus a day trip into Canada and a planned mission trip in November to a third world nation, my budget is a little strained.
Finally to the question. What do I need? Would it be wiser to wait until I could afford something like the 100 2.8L Macro ( or other lens suggestion) or should I pop for a set of extension tubes such as the Canon extension tubes (or should I go for something cheaper in the tubes).
Thanks for any advice from those much wiser than I.
The 60mm EF-S Macro is a nice lens, works out to ~96mm equivalent. It is made for your cameras.
A longer lens, like the 100mm L Macro allows a bit more distance, which can come in handy for bugs or bigger flowers. That is ~160mm on your cameras. The IS helps for handheld shots.
The 180mm macro is also a nice lens, but sometimes it is too much. I found that I like ~150mm on a 5D series camera.
As previously mentioned, lighting can be an issue, especially if you stop down the lens for a greater depth of field and it isn't daylight. Proper and even illumination in macro shots is a whole subject by itself. There is a "post your set-up" in the Macro section of FM Forums.
Extension tubes also steal light.
Close-up lenses like the Canon 500D do not steal light and may give you some limited macro use from your 70-200.
Renting a dedicated macro lens or two may help.