August 01, 2014, 10:29:25 PM

Author Topic: Lens advice for macro?  (Read 2326 times)

Valvebounce

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Lens advice for macro?
« on: March 20, 2014, 07:23:39 AM »
Hi Folks.
I tried some macro photography last night, I have a cheap set of extension tubes. I used the thin 1/2" tube with my 17-70 Sigma, I just about managed to focus before the lens touched the flower, by which time I'd blocked out so much light I could barely see it to focus! I'm not looking to buy a lens specifically for macro, but to get the best results fom what I have. Starting point complete novice except for a few test shots using lens reversing rings with little success, and a few shots of a flower last night with acceptable results IMO for a first try with extension tubes.

My question is, of the lenses I have which will be best for macro at a basic level?
Choose from:-
EF 50mm 1.8
EF-S 18-55mm
Sigma 17-70mm
EF-S 17-85mm
Cosina 100-300mm
Sigma 150-500mm and hopefully later this afternoon,
EF 70-200mm 2.8

Cheers Graham.

7D + Grip, 40D + Grip, 20D, EF-S 17-85 Kit lens, EF 70-200 f2.8 L IS II USM, EF 2x III, Sigma 150-500, Sigma 17-70 f2.8-4 C, 50mm f1.8, 550EX some Filters Remotes Macro tubes Tripod heads etc!
20D, BG-E2N, 17-85mm, 50mm are pre loved. :)
(300D Saved a holiday, E-FS 18-55 Cosine 100-300 retired)

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Lens advice for macro?
« on: March 20, 2014, 07:23:39 AM »

ajfotofilmagem

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Re: Lens advice for macro?
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2014, 08:44:26 AM »
To start Macro photography without spending too much, the easiest way is to buy a "Vello Auto Extension Tube Set for Canon EOS" approximately $80, or another model that has electrical contacts. In some of their lenses, just use a tube, otherwise the front of the lens may be very close and touch the object. In other lenses (like 50mm) will be interesting to use the three tubes together for a more convenient distance between lens and object.

With this extension tube, all lens functions are still working. Image stabilizer, aperture diaphragm, and autofocus. Although manual focusing is more reliable for Macro photography. But with the extension tube fitted, it will be impossible to focus on very distant objects.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2014, 09:17:01 AM by ajfotofilmagem »

AcutancePhotography

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Re: Lens advice for macro?
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2014, 08:57:12 AM »
Also be aware the working distance -- the distance between the lens and the subject, is dependent on the FL of the lens.  The smaller the FL the shorter the distance.  Extension tubes only make this worse. 

A 50mm lens used with extension will require the lens to be very close (a few centimeters).  As you found out, that can make lighting more difficult.

My recommendation would be to eschew the zoom lenses and get a good prime lens in the 85-100+ range.  I personally have never gotten a good sharp macro shot using zooms with tubes.  Others may be able to do it.

Obviouisly a dedicated macro lens is the best and if *I* were spending *your* money, that's what I would get.  However if *you* are spending *your* money, a good prime lens with a good set of extension tubes will keep you happy for a long time.  The advantage of that would be that you would have a good short tele lens for other types of shots and you did not have to sell your child's plasma to buy a dedicated macro lens.

One other choice is to purchase a bellows and an old enlarging lens.  I was able to complete my Bellows/EL lens macro set up for under $250 on Ebay and I could have gotten it cheaper if I was more patient.

Good luck with it.  Macro photography is a wonderful hobby. :)
I shoot with a Camera Obscura with an optical device attached that refracts and transmits light

sama

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Re: Lens advice for macro?
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2014, 09:12:03 AM »
Try shooting with an available vintage manual focus lens. Attach it to your camera with a reverse ring for macro, which can be found on line for less than $2. If you also add on the extension tube, you will have a high power magnification macro lens.

Tanispyre

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Re: Lens advice for macro?
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2014, 10:24:51 AM »
For starting macro photography on a budget, I would highly recommend Canon's 50 mm F2.5 Macro lens.  It can be found New for less than $300 and used for about $220 on Amazon, and B&H.  It will natively focus down to 1:2, which means that a 1 inch object will appear 1/2 inch long on the film or sensor, which will fill the frame of an APS-C camera.  With your extension tubes you will be able to get even more magnification and will be close to 1:1.

The 50 mm Macro is very sharp, much sharper than any of the other 50 mm lenses that Canon makes, at similar apertures.

There is a lifesize adapter for the lens as well that will allow focusing down to 1:1.  It combines an extension tube and a 1.4X teleconverter to allow more working distance at those high magnifications.  However you lose the ability to focus to infinity with it attached.

The other option mention here is a reversing ring.  This is an adapter that screws into the filter thread of a lens and allows it to be mounted backwards.  Obviously you do not have autofocus or aperture control from the camera, but it is highly effective and can give extremely high magnifications.  The wider angle the lens the higher the magnification with this technique.  I often use my old Pentax manual focus lenses for this technique since they have manual aperture control.

Lurker

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Re: Lens advice for macro?
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2014, 10:58:58 AM »
Lookup each of your lenses and look for a spec something like this (form the Canon 70-200 f/2.8L II):
   Closest Focusing Distance 1.2m/3.94 ft. (maximum close-up magnification: 0.21x)

The shorter the MFD (or CFD as stated above) the greater the magnification, given the same FL.  The greater the magnification the better.  Temper this with the IQ characteristics of the lens.

In your case I'd probably start with the 70-200 then try the Sigma and then the Cosina.

No matter what, your working distances will likely be very short.  For lighting I've used a flashlight to burn certain parts of the subject when shooting longer exposures.  Now days there are lots of "daylight" balanced led or florescent lights that you can pickup at most big box stores.

You may find a couple of inexpensive tripods handy for holding lights in the right spot.  I think they can be had for under $15 each.

There is also a trick about attaching one lens in reverse on the front of another.  I think this works better with wide angle lenses and you can get some pretty hi magnifications.  There are lens couplers available for this.

slclick

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Re: Lens advice for macro?
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2014, 01:07:37 PM »
I know it's not listed but another great non macro macro lens is the Canon EF 24-70 f/4L
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Re: Lens advice for macro?
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2014, 01:07:37 PM »

niteclicks

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Re: Lens advice for macro?
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2014, 02:28:57 PM »
I was actually playing around with this last night. I would love to have the 100 L but the 70-300L price right now makes it look better (not that I really need it either but would like to combine my primes for travel)  . I am going to use the 2x III extender with a 12mm tube and 50mm 1.4 for now, the 12mm tube just lets the two mate and I had better separation than the 50 with tubes only.

NWPhil

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Re: Lens advice for macro?
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2014, 04:11:56 PM »
do some research on reverse rings  - the 50mm will give you some magnification, but I believe it can get better with one of the ef-s zooms.
Search on macro forums, or do a related search i.e. "reverse ring canon ef-s 17-85mm macro" or something like that.
The " macro" setting in any non-macro dedicated lens is just a sales guimick - at best you get a decent close up shot
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ajfotofilmagem

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Re: Lens advice for macro?
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2014, 04:58:33 PM »
I looked at your list of lenses carefully, and realized quite redundancy.
EF-S 18-55mm
Sigma 17-70mm
EF-S 17-85mm
Seems overkill to cover the same zoom range, and I would sell one of them (myself 17-85mm) to buy a fast prime like 100mm F2 + three extension tubes. I have this combination and works great for macro, and still is a very light and bright tele. The other zoom lenses from your list cover the same zoom range.
Cosina 100-300mm
Sigma 150-500mm
EF 70-200mm 2.8
I would sell one of them (myself 100-300mm).
« Last Edit: March 20, 2014, 05:58:37 PM by ajfotofilmagem »

Valvebounce

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Re: Lens advice for macro?
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2014, 06:57:31 PM »
Thanks Folks.
I have some reversers for the 2 EF-S lenses, I found that the DOF was thin, the cat hair on top of the carpet fibres was in focus and the carpet was not. I have a cheap set of extension tubes, they do have the electrical contacts, I only had time for a quick play last night.
We are away for a wedding and then a few days holiday now and I was taking some pics of the wreath from my Dads funeral before leaving, and thought I would just fiddle with the macro tubes, lighting by flash.
For an impromptu experiment I am more than happy with the result. If I can get a couple off the camera I will upload them. no PC with us only apple and android tablets!
Reference the redundancy I have the 18-55 with the 300D body which I aim to get rid of as a full kit, I am looking first for a family member that would like it to upgrade from a point and shoot for free as the value is negligible. The 17-85 is used on my 20D which I use as a stand alone kit often found in my workshop for documenting vehicle disassembly so I can reassemble without saving bits!
The 100-300 should go as I keep carrying it and haven't used it for ages, but it was the first lens the other half bought me so sentiment is interfering!

Cheers Graham.
7D + Grip, 40D + Grip, 20D, EF-S 17-85 Kit lens, EF 70-200 f2.8 L IS II USM, EF 2x III, Sigma 150-500, Sigma 17-70 f2.8-4 C, 50mm f1.8, 550EX some Filters Remotes Macro tubes Tripod heads etc!
20D, BG-E2N, 17-85mm, 50mm are pre loved. :)
(300D Saved a holiday, E-FS 18-55 Cosine 100-300 retired)

aclectasis

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Re: Lens advice for macro?
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2014, 07:40:57 PM »
Your best bet is using your 50mm 1.8 for macro. While you made the 'right' choice going for your widest lenses to use it, the simple fact is that zoom lenses are too large to get any sort of magnification before you risk hitting the front element against your subject- primes are much, much better.

Depending on whether you're FF or crop, 50mm is adequate. My favourite lens to use with extension tubes is still the 40mm pancake, because it's a little wider (=more magnification than the 50), it's very short and easy to hold, and it's cheap.

EDIT: Keep in mind, I mean with an electronic set of tubes. If you want to take decent macro images, you need electronic ones. The cheap ones don't cut it because it's too much of a pain to screw about with aperture.
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yorgasor

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Re: Lens advice for macro?
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2014, 07:55:34 PM »
I would also recommend using the 50mm 1.8 with the 12mm extension tube.  It has a magnification of .15x, which is pretty slim.  For 1:1 magnification, you need an extension equal to your focal range.  Turning the focus counts, and 50*.15 is 7.5mm.  So you'd need another 42mm of extension tubes to get you 1x magnification.  Using your 1/2" tube (~12.5mm) that gets you 20mm total, bringing you up to .4x magnification.

For lighting, I've found it helpful to get an ETTL cord so I can move my flash off of the top of the camera.  The closer you get, the thinner the depth of field.  It gets so bad when I combine my 70-200mm lens with a reverse attached 50mm lens (with a combined 4x magnification), that I can't even get the whole snowflake in focus.  It's too deep.  It's way worse with the 70-200mm / 24mm lens combo (8x magnification!). 

If you're curious, these ice crystals were taken with a 70-200 / 50mm lens combo.  No focus stacking, just a single image at f/16.  With stacked lenses, the aperture is controlled by the front lens. It's best to get an old manual one, otherwise you need to do some jimmy rigging to set the aperture accordingly. 


Ice, Ice Baby by yorgasor, on Flickr

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Re: Lens advice for macro?
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2014, 07:55:34 PM »

eml58

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Re: Lens advice for macro?
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2014, 07:59:08 PM »
I looked at your list of lenses carefully, and realized quite redundancy.
EF-S 18-55mm
Sigma 17-70mm
EF-S 17-85mm
Seems overkill to cover the same zoom range, and I would sell one of them (myself 17-85mm) to buy a fast prime like 100mm F2 + three extension tubes. I have this combination and works great for macro, and still is a very light and bright tele. The other zoom lenses from your list cover the same zoom range.
Cosina 100-300mm
Sigma 150-500mm
EF 70-200mm 2.8
I would sell one of them (myself 100-300mm).

I would agree with this view, have a good look at your current Lens selection, sell off what you really don't need, then look at buying a used Canon 100f/2.8 non IS version, they should be a reasonable price.

The optics between the Version 1 & version II are similar with the exception the V II has IS.

The 100 f/2.8 is an excellent Macro Lens and a very good Lens for "normal" use, there are a couple of threads on CR for either the VI or VII that you can check out.
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verysimplejason

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Re: Lens advice for macro?
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2014, 08:13:34 PM »
If money is tight and you want a very good macro, the 100mm f2.8 usm non-L would fit the bill.  It's very, very sharp even wide open (good for portraits).  It's IQ can rival the best lenses from the Canon lineup and best of all, it's quite cheap.  Anyway, you would want to invest more on lighting when doing macro photography.  You can find a lot of samples in this forum for this lens.

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Re: Lens advice for macro?
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2014, 08:13:34 PM »