Macro lens test Canon, Nikon, Sony, Laowa, Sigma, Tamron

Del Paso

M3 Singlestroke
Aug 9, 2018
785
814
The test confirms my opinion: the EF 100 L is an excellent macro, but has been disappointing (personal subjective opinion) for landscapes.
The borders are less sharp than I had expected.
My 100-400 II is noticably better at 100 mm...
 

BeenThere

EOS 6D MK II
Sep 4, 2012
935
284
Wow, the surprise Laowa looked damn good in this comparison. As stated by reviewer, macro is usually manual focus anyway. The low cost really makes it the winner for me.
 

Dalantech

Gatekeeper to the Small World
Feb 12, 2015
73
26
I don't like any lens in the 100mm range for 1:1 shooting due to the working distance. Lenses in the 60mm range perform best with a flash, and for natural light you'll want as much working distance as possible. The clear winner for macro photography is the Laowa since it can get to 2x natively. But I'd rather have the Canon EF-S 60mm and a full set of extension tubes (almost 3x) or Canon's MP-E 65mm.
 

stevelee

FT-QL
Jul 6, 2017
1,448
395
Davidson, NC
I don't like any lens in the 100mm range for 1:1 shooting due to the working distance. Lenses in the 60mm range perform best with a flash, and for natural light you'll want as much working distance as possible. The clear winner for macro photography is the Laowa since it can get to 2x natively. But I'd rather have the Canon EF-S 60mm and a full set of extension tubes (almost 3x) or Canon's MP-E 65mm.
I must not be understanding you. You get a greater working distance with 60mm or 65mm than with 100mm? Please explain.
 

Dalantech

Gatekeeper to the Small World
Feb 12, 2015
73
26
I must not be understanding you. You get a greater working distance with 60mm or 65mm than with 100mm? Please explain.
No, you get less. So the flash is closer to the subject (shorter flash duration, easier to freeze motion) and the close the diffuser is to the subject the better the specular highlights. More often than not I'm holding on to whatever the critter is perched on with my left hand, and resting the lens on that same hand to keep the scene steady. Pick a point where I want the focus to start, twist my wrist to lay the area of acceptable focus where it needs to be, and press the shutter...

This is a European Blue Mason Bee emerging from its cocoon. Osmia Caerulescens, male.

Tech Specs: Canon 80D (F11, 1/250, ISO 100) + a Canon MP-E 65mm macro lens (Almost 3x) + a diffused MT-26EX RT (E-TTL metering with -1/3 FEC). This is a single, uncropped, frame taken hand held. In post I used Topaz Sharpen AI, Denoise AI, and Clarity in that order.

Emerging Blue Mason Bee XI by John Kimbler, on Flickr

So the shorter the working distance the easier it is to shoot at 1x and higher with a flash. Can even shoot on windy days, and grabbing onto a flower is easier when it's windy cause the breeze will mask the vibration that I create when I grab onto it...

This female Sweat Bee is using her mandibles to strip pollen out of a Sourgrass anther.

Tech Specs: Canon 80D (F11, 1/250, ISO 100) + a Canon MP-E 65mm macro lens (around 2.5x) + a diffused MT-26EX-RT with a Kaiser adjustable flash shoe on the "A" head (the key), E-TTL metering, -1/3 FEC, second curtain sync). This is a single, uncropped, frame taken hand held. In post I used Topaz Sharpen AI, Denoise AI, and Clarity in that order.

Sweat Bee Foraging in a Sourgrass Flower II by John Kimbler, on Flickr

Also easier to get a short focal length lens above 1x. If all you want to shoot is closeups and portraits then a 100mm lens will work. But if you want to push the limits of what you can do in macro with live, active, subjects then you need a shorter macro lens...
 

stevelee

FT-QL
Jul 6, 2017
1,448
395
Davidson, NC
No, you get less. So the flash is closer to the subject (shorter flash duration, easier to freeze motion) and the close the diffuser is to the subject the better the specular highlights. More often than not I'm holding on to whatever the critter is perched on with my left hand, and resting the lens on that same hand to keep the scene steady. Pick a point where I want the focus to start, twist my wrist to lay the area of acceptable focus where it needs to be, and press the shutter...
OK. That makes sense. Nice photos, too. That sounds tricky and a lot of work and needing both luck and patience, as well as critters not spooked by the close lens.
 

koenkooi

EOS 6D MK II
Feb 25, 2015
859
640
OK. That makes sense. Nice photos, too. That sounds tricky and a lot of work and needing both luck and patience, as well as critters not spooked by the close lens.
FWIW, the lens hood on the 100mm L macro give me exactly one fist-width of distance between subject and hood at MFD, so I can rest my fist on the surface and the hood on my thumb. This works great for stalking solitary bees emerging from the blocks of wood on the side of my shed.
Having said that, I fully agree that the MP-E65 and EF-S60 are better suited for that type of thing.
 

Dalantech

Gatekeeper to the Small World
Feb 12, 2015
73
26
OK. That makes sense. Nice photos, too. That sounds tricky and a lot of work and needing both luck and patience, as well as critters not spooked by the close lens.
The more you learn about their habits and quirks the easier it is to get the images you want to take. Nothing good is easy...
 
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Dalantech

Gatekeeper to the Small World
Feb 12, 2015
73
26
OK. That makes sense. Nice photos, too. That sounds tricky and a lot of work and needing both luck and patience, as well as critters not spooked by the close lens.
It's your knowledge of the subject's habits and quirks, and it's willingness to let you get close, that will determine if you get the shot. The working distance of the lens doesn't make much difference.
 
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