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Old 05-11-2009, 08:36 PM
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telecasterguru (Frank)
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Macro imaging lens

I am thinking of getting a macro lens for my 1000D.

Any suggestions as to what is available and what I should look out for when buying. e.g. value for money, quality of glass.

I am a newbie at macro.

Frank
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Old 05-11-2009, 08:44 PM
Dennis
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Hi Frank

I have the Canon EF-S 60mm F2.8 and it is as sharp as a razor and compact.

However, at 1:1 the front element is only some 9 or 10 cms away from your subject, which sometimes is too close, and this doesn’t allow the background to appear softly and pleasingly out-of-focus.

I would have liked the Canon 100mm F2.8 but couldn’t afford it and now Canon has the 100mm F2.8 L with IS at almost twice the price of the standard 100mm F2.8.

I have read good reports about the Sigma 105mm F2.8 and the Tamron 90mm F2.8 and I suspect both these would allow you to achieve the 1:1 magnification whilst keeping a suitable distance from your subject.

Cheers

Dennis
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Old 05-11-2009, 09:39 PM
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acropolite (Phil)
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Frank, the Tamron 90mm that Dennis mentioned rates very highly and can be bought on line for around half the price of the 100mm Canon lens. If you search for some reviews you'll find the Tamron holds its own alongside the 100mm Canon lens.
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Old 05-11-2009, 11:08 PM
dpastern (Dave Pastern)
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The Tamron 90mm has a good rep, the Tokina 100mm also has a good rep, as do the Sigma 105mm and Canon 100mm. Any will suit your need, they're all very close to each other optically. My pick would be the Sigma (based on price). I wouldn't go anything shorter than 90/100mm to be honest - too short a working distance, too easy to spook your subject. Macro is my area of speciality and I've shot a LOT of macro over the past 4 or 5 years or so.

Dave
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Old 06-11-2009, 06:09 AM
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Bloodbean (Troy)
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Frank,

I've got the Tamron 90mm F2.8 for my Canon 40D and I absolutely love this lens! Very sharp and I've also found it makes a great portrait lens with beautiful bokeh. Highly recommended and they can be found for quite a bit cheaper than the Canon 100mm 2.8 macro.

Troy
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Old 06-11-2009, 07:13 AM
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telecasterguru (Frank)
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Thanks for the info every one. I have a lot to think about and a bit of research to do.

I have seen it mentioned but what is bokeh?

Frank
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Old 06-11-2009, 11:43 AM
dpastern (Dave Pastern)
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Bokeh is the OOF (out of focus background). An example of bokeh is the background in the image on this page:

http://www.macro-images.com/images/M.../CRW_0138.html

Dave
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Old 06-11-2009, 01:11 PM
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Been a few posts about macro lenses of late. I have the Canon 100, Sigma 105, and the Canon MP-E 65. I would not recommend the MP-E for a beginner, it will just frustrate you. It frustrates me

Around the 100mm focal length is great for a few reasons. It gives you fair working distance (ie the distance from front of lens to subject) for what you spend on the lens and if you really get into macro and decide to get extension tubes, 68mm of extension tubes will give you up to 2:1 magnification with this focal length. And longer and you won't get that mag, any shorter and you won't be able to focus or it will be ridiculously close to the front of lens.

Most macro lenses are tack sharp by nature, and the ones recommended are no exceptions. I haven't used the Tamron 90 myself, but close friends have and they do nothing but rave about it and I'd have no hesitation passing on their recommendations either. I recall one telling me he thought the Tamron had nicer bokeh/diffraction properties than the Canon and Sigmas - something to do with the aperture blades, can't recall if it was because there were more or they were slightly curved. In any case, the difference will be negligible to you or I - he was really pedantic and pixel-peeping.

If it was me in your position, I'd get the Tamron 90. Purely because it's a smidge cheaper than the Sigma 105 and much cheaper than the Canon 100 (both versions).

Some tips for you when you do get it and want to start shooting.

Next lesson will be macro lighting, but that's a whole new thread
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Old 06-11-2009, 01:11 PM
Dennis
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Frank

Other factors you might like to consider, should they affect your operation of the lens, are:

“Does the lens extend when focusing?”
“How easy is it to switch from auto focusing to manual focusing?”

The length of some macro lenses remain fixed throughout the focus range, whilst for others, the lens grows substantially when focusing towards the closer distances.

Cheers

Dennis
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Old 06-11-2009, 01:21 PM
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You wouldn't be using auto-focus for macro. I set the focus point to suit what sort of magnification I want, then move in to the subject and rock back and forth to focus. AF on macro lenses is horribly slow and can't keep up with bugs walking around on a leaf blowing in the breeze.

As I said, I rock forward until the head comes into focus; move forward more until the eyes just go out of focus; then rock back half that distance so depth of field is centred on the eyes. Takes practise but eyes in focus is much more appealing photo. When I say "rocking", we're only talking millimetres or less. Best done laying on ground with elbows on ground to stabilise.
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Old 06-11-2009, 01:58 PM
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I looked at a Sigma 17 - 70mm for around $500. I don't want to go too expensive as I don't even know if I will enjoy it or not.

Frank
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Old 06-11-2009, 02:04 PM
dpastern (Dave Pastern)
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Frank - get the Kenko tubes + nifty 50. Cost you around $350 or so, in total. Not as flexible as a real macro lens, but good enough. The Sigma 17-70 is not *true* macro, you'll be lucky to get quarter size or so. Useless as **** on a bull imho, unless you're shooting dragonflies or butterflies.

Dave
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Old 06-11-2009, 02:35 PM
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Dave,

What's the nifty fifty?

Frank
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Old 06-11-2009, 02:39 PM
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You're on a slippery slope to bancruptcy here.
All above recommendations and advice are excellent. I use the Canon 100 2.8, but if you're really into pixel-peeping, then the Tamron 90mm is slighlty better around the edges, and some way cheaper.
A vote here for the Sigma 150 2.8. You'll DEFINATELY need a tripod as its a heay lens, but the results are on par with Canon's 180mm and again significantly cheaper.
Another plus to this lens is that it can be used as a medium length telephoto, although a slow focussing one. In fact ALL macro lenses can be used as 'regular' lenses often producing results much sharper than gear costing 3 times as much.
And just to whet your wistle, once you're totally hooked and have all the flash gear, reflectors, vivariums etc etc : Canon's Tilt/Shift lenses can also do stunning Macro work, with zero distortion at only $2-$3000 each!
Its a fantastic, fascinating branch of photography.
Good luck and happy snapping.
PJH
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Old 06-11-2009, 03:56 PM
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No, no, no. Don't get the 17-70 if you're wanting to do "true" macro. You will be disappointed if you're after insects etc. I saw this morning the Tamron 90 we've all been recommending for around US$410 at Adorama.com - with the current exchange rate that's probably around the AU$500 mark delivered and it's a true macro lens. And an excellent one at that.

The "Nifty Fifty" Dave is referring to is the Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens. Sometimes people put it on a full set of 68mm Kenko extension tubes and it will give around 1:1 magnification - true macro. I did this when I first started. Lasted a couple of weeks, got frustrated, kept the tubes, sold the 50 and bought the 100 macro. Save yourself the buy/sell losses and just buy a true macro first time round would be my advice.

* opinions expressed above may be harsh, but they're based on personal experience so I'm scarred and emotional about it.
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Old 06-11-2009, 04:34 PM
Dennis
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Cameras Direct on the Gold Coast are selling the Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Macro Lens for Canon at $497 Ė thatís Au $. They donít have current stock though!

Cheers

Dennis
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Old 06-11-2009, 07:54 PM
dpastern (Dave Pastern)
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The 50mm + tubes takes some getting used to. There are 3 tube rings - 12mm, 20mm, 36mm. You can add one ring, or all of them. Depending on how many rings you add to the 50mm, your overall magnification amount will change. As an example, a rough way of working out magnification:

tubes focal length/main lens focal length

if you were to put all 68mm of tubes on the 50mm, you'd get:

68/50, roughly 1.4:1 or 1.4x magnification.

If you were to only use the 12mm, you'd only get around:

12/50, or 1:4 or quarter life size. The 36mm tube ring would give you around 3/4 life size.

You can use these tubes with a dedicated macro lens as well (that's defined as a lens that gives 1:1 magnification out of the box). A full set of Kenko tubes and a dedicated macro lens will give you around 2:1. Pretty handy imho.

The 50mm is handy for doing other things anyways, so it's not a bad investment, and it's not expensive. Think of it as a stepping stone. Buying a dedicated macro lens straight away will give you more flexibility (easier to change magnification, you don't have to take off/on tube rings etc), but it's a bigger investment.

The choice is really up to you!

Dave
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Old 08-11-2009, 01:42 PM
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So which would be a better option for a beginner macro-ist, the Canon 100mm 2.8 (around $770), or the Sigma 150mm 2.8 (around $900)?
On the 1.6x crop bodies, they are 160mm and 240mm respectively.
Would it be better to get the Canon 100mm and a set of tubes rather than the 150mm?
So many questions!!

Cheers,
Jason.
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Old 08-11-2009, 02:39 PM
dpastern (Dave Pastern)
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Go the Canon 100mm Jason. The Sigma is very good optically, but it's a heavier, harder to handle lens. You will get far less frustration with the Canon (or Sigma 105mm) 100mm macro lenses...

Dave
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Old 08-11-2009, 02:57 PM
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Thanks for the advice Dave.
I remembered an hour or so ago that I have an old Vivitar wide angle adapter with macro lens stashed in a tub in the shed, left over from my first video camera back in 1988. I've dug it out and bodged it onto my 18-55mm kit lens on the 350D. Not exactly state of the art, but worth a try to see what this macro stuff is all about.
I've just spent half an hour in the garden, and realised that at 55mm, you have to get VERY close to the little beasties that are your subject! Too close for my liking with the spiders I tried!
The 100mm would take it out to a more comfortable distance I hope!
Will post some shots in a while, just for jollies.

Cheers,
Jason.
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