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Author Topic: Macro Lens vs Close up filters vs Extension tubes  (Read 20233 times)

sheedoe

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Macro Lens vs Close up filters vs Extension tubes
« on: January 22, 2012, 04:19:59 PM »
I'm not really a macro shooter, but I like to have something in my arsenal so when necessary, I can shoot macro. Not sure if I want to drop over $400 for a true macro lens when its not going to be used very often. That being said, what are the major differences and trade-offs between Macro lenses, close up filters and extension tubes? I am leaning toward the Canon close up filter, but not sure if its the best substitute. I've heard it does not do 1:1 magnification. While I understand the magnification concept, how much of a real life difference does it make? Thanks in advance.
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Macro Lens vs Close up filters vs Extension tubes
« on: January 22, 2012, 04:19:59 PM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Macro Lens vs Close up filters vs Extension tubes
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2012, 04:58:22 PM »
Everything is a tradeoff.  The best option is the true macro lens - focuses from infinity to 1:1, best IQ since its optimized for Marco shooting.  The tradeoff is cost - they're the most expensive solution.  Extension tubes are best for short lenses, close up filters are better for longer lenses. 

Extension tubes have no optics, so using them doesn't affect IQ. It does reduce the light intensity, so you need longer exposures, and AF is iffy with tubes. Also, the working distance (between front element and subject) can get quite short with tubes, such that you can't use longer tubes with ultrawide lenses since you'd need the subject to be actually inside the lens.  Magnification is lens native max plus (tube length / focal length) - you can see why they're not very effective with long lenses, the bigger denominator means less additional magnification.

Close up lenses can degrade IQ. The 250D and 500D are double element lenses, not too bad for IQ.  They don't affect exposure. Working distance is fixed - 50cm/19" for the 500D, 25cm/9.5" for the 250D.  Magnification is determined by focal length - longer means more. 

Personally, I've used the 500D on my 70-200 II - that gets you to about 0.6x, and in similarly-framed shots, it was hard to distinguish the IQ from my 100L Macro.
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Re: Macro Lens vs Close up filters vs Extension tubes
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2012, 05:30:40 PM »
Another option is a reverse mounting adapter.  It screws into the front filter threads, and has a EF lens mount on the other side, so it installs like a lens but backwards.  They work best with any older 50mm more or less manual lens with manual aperture ring.  The brand of lens does not matter, you might need a step up or step down ring to match the filter thread.  You can also use them with a EF lens, just stop down the lens to about f/8 while on your camera by pressing the DOF button and remove it while its stopped down.  The lens will stay at the stopped down value until you use it the normal way again.

Focus by moving the camera toward or away from the object, the focus ring doesn't have much range.

These were commonly in use back in the 1960's when I bought my first Canon FT SLR.  I could just reverse my 50mm FT lens and it became a macro.  No infinity focusing, of course.  I do not like to use them with zoom lenses either, primes seem to work best.

The adapters are cheap, and they come in several thread sizes that match many older 50mm lenses so you don't need step up / down adapters.

Here are some.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw?url=search-alias=aps&field-keywords=canon%20reverse%20adaptor
« Last Edit: January 22, 2012, 06:33:49 PM by Mt Spokane Photography »

sheedoe

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Re: Macro Lens vs Close up filters vs Extension tubes
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2012, 08:55:33 PM »
Thanks for the response guys. For now, I think the best option for me would be the 500D filter. If I find myself doing more macro work in the future, I'll probably go for the 100mm L.
Canon- 5D Mark II x2 | 16-35mm f/2.8L II | 24-70mm f/2.8L II | 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II | 24mm f/1.4L II | 35mm f/1.4L | 50mm f/1.2L | 85mm f/1.2L II |100mm f/2.8L IS Macro | 600EX-RT x3 | 580EX II | 4x PCB Einstein | EOS M w/22mm Lens

neuroanatomist

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Re: Macro Lens vs Close up filters vs Extension tubes
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2012, 10:00:05 PM »
Thanks for the response guys. For now, I think the best option for me would be the 500D filter. If I find myself doing more macro work in the future, I'll probably go for the 100mm L.

That's a great way to start.

I'm toying with the idea of going the other way. I bought the 100L Macro a while back (it was my 3rd lens, first L), but sometimes for travel, I may want the occasional close-up shot but not another lens.  When I went to China, I was bringing the 70-200 II anyway, so I borrowed a 500D lens from a friend for the trip.  It worked well, I'm thinking of buying one (probably used - no one has them I'm stock!).
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TexPhoto

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Re: Macro Lens vs Close up filters vs Extension tubes
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2012, 12:09:11 AM »
Back in the day I bought a sigma 105mm macro used for about $100.  I sold it for more than I paid... also on ebay.  So I had a real macro lens for less than some people pay for filters.  And it was a great lens.  Sigma is either really good at macro lenses, or marco lenses are easy, because they are some of their best lenses.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2012, 12:04:18 AM by TexPhoto »

bycostello

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Re: Macro Lens vs Close up filters vs Extension tubes
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2012, 09:26:59 AM »
trade off on filter is fairly obvious, more glass you put in front of the lens the lower the image quality is gonna go... 

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Re: Macro Lens vs Close up filters vs Extension tubes
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2012, 09:26:59 AM »

AJ

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Re: Macro Lens vs Close up filters vs Extension tubes
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2012, 11:13:04 PM »
What Neuro said.

Another consideration: tubes work with any lens, but you must buy diopters for a specific front element thread size.

The Kenko tubes are a good bargain.  I've used them and they work great.

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Re: Macro Lens vs Close up filters vs Extension tubes
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2012, 12:14:45 AM »
They are all methods that work, and I've tried them all.  i've had several macro lenses, the sigma 105mm was nice, but would not AF on a canon DSLR until I paid sigma $100 to upgrade it, a couple of Canon 100mm USM lenses that focused so slowly that, using AI Servo, half my images were out of focus because the lens hadn't yet focused after a few seconds.

I was really reluctant to buy the 100mmL after being unhappy with the others, but I finally broke down and I love it.  I actually like it better on my 7D than on my 5D mk II, I can fill my screen at a greater working distance.  I've used tubes with it to get more magnification, but that was handheld, and really difficult, I need a macro setup to do that.

If canon updates the 180mm L, I'd be interested.

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Re: Macro Lens vs Close up filters vs Extension tubes
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2012, 01:00:24 AM »
The 100mm 2.8L macro is an awesome lens, so glad I eventually bought it. Before it I screwed x1 or x4 magnification filters onto my 24-70 or 70-200mm and while they did OK for general stuff and had nice cener sharpness, the shots did look a bit blurry towards the sides.

Michael_pfh

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Re: Macro Lens vs Close up filters vs Extension tubes
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2012, 04:20:01 AM »
I can also highly recommend the 100mm f2.8L Macro IS - for an L lens it's fairly inexpensive. What you also may want to consider is a ring/macro flash in order to achieve even better results. At least both Canon models, the MR-14 EX and the MT-24EX, will cost you almost as much as the lens...
1DX | 14 2.8L II | 16-35 2.8L II | 24 1.4L II | 24-70 2.8L II | ZE 35 2.0 | ZE 50 2.0 | 85 1.2L II | 100 2.8L IS | 135 2.0L | 70-200 2.8L IS II | 200 F2.0L IS | 300 2.8L IS II | 400 2.8L | 500 4.0L IS

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Re: Macro Lens vs Close up filters vs Extension tubes
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2012, 04:20:01 AM »