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Author Topic: Help deciding on a macro lens  (Read 13924 times)


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Re: Help deciding on a macro lens
« Reply #30 on: August 04, 2014, 06:02:03 PM »
I'd be grateful for any advice and your experiences with different macro lenses.

While it is possible to do "macro" and use autofocus, changing the focus changes the magnification. As Neuro explained, the only reliable way to maintain 1:1 (or max magnification) is to set the lens to the maximum magnification and then move the camera and leave the focus adjustment on the lens alone.

Purists will call anything less than 1:1 "close-up" rather than macro.

I have tried manual focus and then switch to live view to confirm (tripod in use), and I have been off. Maybe more practice will help.

A 180mm macro lens will give you more working distance to the subject than a 100mm macro at minimum focus/max magnification. This may be important to you. I happen to like the 150mm Sigma macro.

As magnification goes up, depth of field goes down. Very little of a macro shot at 1:1 and at f2.8 will be in focus, unless the object is flat and in the same plane as the camera sensor.

Given the performance of current digital cameras, I'm not sure if the difference between f2.8 and f2.0 is massively importatnt from a lighting perspective. Bokeh and depth of field, sure.

The Canon 100L macro also has the fancy IS stuff- nice to have when you need it.

There are many threads/comments about the Canon 90mm TSE being *the* product photography lens. Maybe there is a reason? It also takes teleconverters for an easy 126mm.

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Re: Help deciding on a macro lens
« Reply #30 on: August 04, 2014, 06:02:03 PM »


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Re: Help deciding on a macro lens
« Reply #31 on: August 04, 2014, 06:27:04 PM »
for what it's worth, i have the sigma 70mm f2.8 macro, which i use with a manfrotto 454 micro adjust plate.  it was the best performing macro lens in it's price bracket at time of launch, af is there but unusable, and probably not what you want to use anyway, on any macro lens.

I had triedthe old 50mm f2.5 but was getting horrific fringing wide open.

just my tuppence worth


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Re: Help deciding on a macro lens
« Reply #32 on: August 05, 2014, 11:46:45 AM »
I'm not as accomplished as the others but this is my experience with macro lenses

1. Image quality across all macro lenses are superb! Difference may be told in how bokeh is rendered and the 100L is a bokeh champion in my opinion.

2. DOF between f/2.0 & f/2.8 is neither here nor there. Even at f/11, shooting a butterfly side on, you probably won't have the back legs in perfect focus.

3. AF for macro is dangerous but IS helps. Just make sure you've depressed the shutter button half way to initialize the IS as it has a slight kick that could, ironically affect sharpness.

4. Yes, shooting macro on a tripod guarantees a sharp image. If the subject is static. Handheld is the way to go
Canon EOS 6D | Canon EOS 7D mkII | Canon EF 16-35mmL f/4.0 IS | Canon 24-70mmL f/2.8 II | Canon 70-200mmL f/4.0 IS | Canon TS-E 24mmL f3.5 | Canon 50mm f/1.8 | Canon 100mmL | Canon 400 f/5.6 | Canon MP-E65


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Re: Help deciding on a macro lens
« Reply #33 on: August 05, 2014, 01:14:15 PM »
Flash in dark ambient light also makes a sharp picture - that's how all the 1:1 and greater magnification insect photographers get great shots handheld.


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Re: Help deciding on a macro lens
« Reply #34 on: August 05, 2014, 01:27:31 PM »
90mm TS-E is a great lens in its own right, and one that I would like to own one day, but the .29 magnification makes it much less compelling as a macro lens.

An EF 25 extension tube takes you to 0.6x mag, higher than the Zeiss macro you're considering.  Look back up at the numbers I provided above for DoF.  Depending on the subject, tilt can give you very deep DoF without resorting to apertures where diffraction robs you of sharpness.

Look at some tests (like TDP's ISO 12233 crops) for the Zeiss lens stopped way down to see the effects of diffraction.  The TS-E 90mm with the 25mm tube and 2x TC will deliver 1.2x magnification and on FF at f/8 will be sharper and have better contrast than the Zeiss 100mm macro stopped down to f/16.

I wouldn't discount the TS-E 90mm as a macro lens...there are very good reasons it's the lens of choice for product photography.

On the money as usual, Neuro.

Not sure what look you are wanting to accomplish with regard to macro. But as far as light gathering capability + the ability to achieve the DOF that you want, you can't beat the 90mm TSE. You will be able to shoot at 2.8 and still get most entire subjects in focus at maximum magnification which is impossible with any of the other lenses you are considering.

Generally speaking in my personal uses, I am shooting macro subjects at a downward angle. Depending on the size and positioning of the subject, F8 is still not enough a lot of the time. In those same scenarios, the 90mm TSE at 2.8 gets the job done.

Also, if you are looking for something that is versatile, the TSE is great as I have not only used it for macro, but portraiture and landscape as well.


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Re: Help deciding on a macro lens
« Reply #35 on: August 06, 2014, 04:40:16 AM »
Thank you for all your comments. I decided to buy an EF 25mm extension tube first (which I will find plenty of use for anyway) and rent a TS-E 90mm and 100L to see what kind of results I can get out of them. The longer I think about it the harder it gets to decide.


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Re: Help deciding on a macro lens
« Reply #36 on: August 06, 2014, 08:06:48 AM »
A very interesting topic with good info. (Such as the points about using 90 mm TS/E for macro work).

Your plan to start out with an etension tube sounds like a good way to gain some experience.

My experience is solely with the Canon 100 mm L macro.
I like this optics very much - good build, handles well, great function with many uses.
And I am very pleased with the IQ.

I am still in the learning-phase regarding macro-photo, but find it both fun, challenging and rewarding.

For me the 100mm length seems to be the right choice (on FF with my 6D). Also very useful for portraits btw. If you work with things like nervous insects you should consider also longer FL.

I attach a few samples:
1. Live insect (but not in flight), AF is a must, and IS is very much an advantage here. 1/60s, f/11, ISO 800. Approx 60% crop.
2. Same image, but 100% of cropped resolution
3. Food close-up. 2.5 s, f/18, ISO 400.  Manual focus, tripod
4. Food / Spices, 1/13s, f/22, ISO 400. Manual focus, tripod
No 4 Illustrates sharpness well (even at f/22) - notice the thin red thread between cinnamon and peppercorns.

Appreciate comments - and look forward to hear your experience.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2014, 08:16:34 AM by PKinDenmark »
Enjoying photography very much - and that includes the technicalities as well as the planning, shooting and post-processing. Equipment is centered around a Canon 6D.

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Re: Help deciding on a macro lens
« Reply #36 on: August 06, 2014, 08:06:48 AM »

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Re: Help deciding on a macro lens
« Reply #37 on: August 06, 2014, 01:42:19 PM »