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Old 29-03-2008, 08:24 PM
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rogerg (Roger)
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Question Advice requested: Macro lenses/bellows/other

I know there's a few keen macro users out there on IIS so hope I might get some bites on this question...

I'm after some advice on options for macro photography. I'm considering buying something along this line for my partner for her coming birthday.

We've both used extention tubes for quite some time (7 odd years), I on my 70-200 F/4L and her on her 28-105. Both Canon. She did have a macro lens years ago for her Pentax but it got stolen along with the camera. I'm after a way to increase the quality of our shots, be able to get to that 1-1 size and be at greater distance from the objects. More depth of field would also be nice but perhaps not achievable.

I have know for some time that the following exist but don't know what option is best:
- Bellows
- Dedicatd macro lens

The EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM seems like a popular option. But I'm not dead-set on Canon, would consider Sigma. The Sigma APO Macro 150mm f/28 DG HSM looks about the same price but 150mm - looks like a good buy.

But then I hear about bellows too, and have been told nothing beats a bellows for increased distance from subject and depth of field. But I've never seen one in person let alone tried one. Also it seems you need to buy bellows second hand, or from 3rd party manufacturers, a bit more tricky it seems.

Or are the extention tubes providing equal quality anyhow, and perhaps I should be looking along the lines of macro flashes to increase the f-stop and hence DOF and quality?

For that matter, will we see a noticable jump in quality and ease of taking macro images using a dedicated lens or bellows?

Can anyone provide some comments on experiences with various options?

Thanks,
Roger.
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  #2  
Old 29-03-2008, 09:29 PM
Dennis
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Hi Roger

I have the Canon 60mm F2.8 macro which I purchased as a “standard” lens to fill a gap in my zoom range. The relatively short focal length places the front element some 9 or 10 cms from your subject, so from that perspective, longer is definitely better. Loner FL’s also produce a nicer out of focus background (bokeh?).

Extension rings are kind of like a discrete bellows unit, both are air filled mechanical devices to place the lens further from the camera body. With a bellows you get an “infinite” range of lens position but I suspect the intensity of light falls of with the inverse square law so at the fully extended end of the range, you would require exposures of maybe 1 sec plus at least?

A dedicated bellows unit that maintains all electrical connections and auto exposure metering, auto focus etc would probably run into several 100’s of $ - there was a 2nd hand Nikon unit for sale on IIS not too long ago.

I haven’t really done much macro stuff to date, but certainly the small size of the 60mm F2.8 means that it always travels with me and is easy to use.

If you get a set of bellows and a macro flash then you will have additional bulky items to carry around as well as a more complex set up than just clipping in a dedicated macro lens.

Here is the Novoflex site for bellows:

http://www.novoflex.com/english/html/products.htm

Cheers

Dennis
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Old 30-03-2008, 12:09 AM
rally
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Some ideas :

I'm not familiar with the Canon system, but can you still autofocus with bellows ?

I would be suggesting a dedicated macro lens and or a dedicated macro twin flash, preferably with variable control between the two flashes.
This is assuming you are talking about true macro - around 1:1 and that macro is a serious interest justifying the specialised expense.

That usually means that the lens and flash have to be compatible - eg diameter of front thread and issues of vignetting etc.
You could get a ring flash but the twin flash seems to give better shots in my opinion.
The low cost option is one of the LED ring lights, but these are not in the same league as a flash.


Cheers Rally
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Old 30-03-2008, 08:26 AM
gbeal
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Roger,
a long time ago, back in my film days, I had an EOS1N, and used a Sigma 90mm Macro. It was a cracker.
For closer stuff you need a bellows unit, and this is more fiddly, very much so. But if you want close, then fiddly is part of the deal.
Try http://www.iceinspace.com.au/forum/s...ad.php?t=30006 This is a set of Nikon bellows, and THE best I have used. If it helps, I have a couple of top quality enlarger lenses which you could try. These work exceptionally well.
I could be wrong, but I would seriously doubt the auto-focus will work. On some brighter lenses, and some cameras, the "focus assist" function may work.
Good luck, it is a fantastic area of photography.
Gary
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Old 30-03-2008, 10:58 PM
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I use to do a lot of macro stuff with my Olympus OM2n, 50 mm macro lens and bellows. This gave up to about .. 10:1 - ie 10x magnification. A match head would fill the screen. For lighting I used a T20 flash with a diffuser - a piece of white tissue taped over the flash. Exposure was automatic and it was great.

Now I have a Canon 40D with a 50 mm 1.4 (not macro) and a 25 mm extension tube and this gives me about 1:1.

The lens that you need depends a lot on what magification you want and what lens to subject distance you want. Basically the longer the focal length, then the further away you can be for the same magnification. If the subject is still - a flower or something, then a 28 or 50 mm will do, but if it's a bug that will fly away if you ge too close, then a 100 or 200 is better.

A few people have told me that the Sigma 105 mm is a very good macro.

As for extension tubes or bellows, bellows are far more flexible (literally) and give a range of magnifications with a lens, while an extension tube will give a fixed mag with a lens, but is easier to use and handle. Otherwise, for the same extension (a 25 mm tube vs bellows at 25 mm with the same lens) then no difference regarding quality.

If you want a lot of fun, try one of these...

http://www.aunet.com.au/dinolite.htm

I don't have one, but have seen them used. The resolution is nowhere as good as a 40D with good lens and tube or whatever, but it is still very good and very easy to use and shows you 'live' on the screen.
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Old 30-03-2008, 11:43 PM
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rogerg (Roger)
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Thank you all for your replies. I am reading them and doing extra research with great interest, but don't have a lot to respond with so have been fairly quiet.

I'm in need of more understanding on the effects of Bellows (in particular changing the angle of the front lens on the belows), and the comparison of extention (via tubes or bellows) to a dedicated lens such as the Sigma 150.

I am becoming somewhat hesitant of bellows because of their physical size and awkwardness (from what I see) with regard to use and packing in a camera backpack.

I'm going to do more research on this, see if I can better understand the use of dedicated macro lenses. If anyone has more info feel free to post it and I will continue to read it with great interested.

Thanks!
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Old 01-04-2008, 04:54 AM
Adrian-H
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the bellows is gonna be a hell of alot of hassle in the feild, compared to a regular macro lens.

when going about the regular macro lens, put good considerations on what you are going to be photographing. and chose a focal length in accordance to that.

you will get smoother backrounds and longer working distance with the longer focal length macro's but allso more bulk and weight.
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Old 02-04-2008, 06:11 PM
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About 90% of lenses with 'macro' written on them aren't macro at all - they simply focus reasonably close.

Normal lenses are designed so that the subject is far away and the sensor plane is close by. A true macro lens is designed so that they are optimised for the subject close by as well as the film/sensor plane and will give at least 0.5:1 ie 0.5x magnification without any bellows or tubes. In other words, an object 10 mm long will form an image 5 mm long on the film plane or sensor plane.

A true macro lens will be fixed focal length and have opical elements that move in relation to each other as the focas is changed. In comparision, with a normal non-macro or pseudo-macro (close focussing) fixed focal length lens, the lens elements will normally not move in relation to each other, simply in relation to the film/sensor plane. My 50 mm macro has an internal curved rail and slider that moves the individual lens elements in relation to each other as well as their distance from the film plane.

My Olympus 50 mm macro gives 0.5 x with no bellows or tube and 1x with 50 mm of extension. With the bellows, it gives up to about .. 3.4x I think, ie a ladybug will fill the entire 35 mm frame.
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Old 04-04-2008, 03:20 PM
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rogerg (Roger)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suzy_A View Post
A true macro lens will be fixed focal length and have opical elements that move in relation to each other as the focas is changed. In comparision, with a normal non-macro or pseudo-macro (close focussing) fixed focal length lens, the lens elements will normally not move in relation to each other, simply in relation to the film/sensor plane. My 50 mm macro has an internal curved rail and slider that moves the individual lens elements in relation to each other as well as their distance from the film plane.
Thanks Susan for the very useful information, particularly this pieces above. I have wondered where the line is between a lens that focuses close and a lens that is truely a macro lens.

Very much appreciated.

Roger.
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Old 05-04-2008, 05:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rogerg View Post
Thanks Susan for the very useful information, particularly this pieces above. I have wondered where the line is between a lens that focuses close and a lens that is truely a macro lens.
It's all in the optics...

To focus close, all you need to do is move the whole lens further away from the focal plane and any lens can do that.

But to get really good image quality, you need to optimise the lens for close focusing, and macro lenses have had this done.

Other lenses have usually been optimised for other things...

The Canon 50 mm f1.2 for speed, (and stuff the cost!)

The Canon 50 mm f1.8 for low cost, (and stuff the build quality - although image quality is very good)

The Canon 50 mm f1.4 for an excellent all round good compromise,

The Canon 50 mm f2.5 macro for excellent image quality at all distances and fantastic image quality at 0.5 - 1 x magnification, (cost and F/ratio compromised)

Something like a 28 - 90 (or worse, an 18 - 300) mm zoom is optimised for focal range, (with the image quality, f-ratio compromised, unless you pay big bucks for something like some of the Canon L-series lenses.)

(Most of the other lens makers do just the same thing - I just gave Canon as an example as that's what I use.)

To put in pseudo-macro crap zoom by allowing a lens to focus closely is a cheap, easy gimick. It's a bit like the old maxim:

"We do cheap, fast and good. Now choose any two..."

The only real drawback with a true macro is that the f-ratio is compromised - they are usually no faster than f2.5 or so. My old Olympus 50 mm macro was f3.5, but the image quality - and the resale price - was much, much better than any the 50 mm f1.4 or f1.8. The 1.8 these daze goes for about $10 on eBay, the 1.4 for maybe $50, but the macro still gets a few hundred.

This is what Canon say on their website about the 50 mm macro:

"Lightweight and compact macro lens for close-ups up to 0.5x. Floating system for superior delineation at all focusing distances. With a large f/2.5 aperture, true and beautiful background blur is possible."

1st point - True
2nd point - Yes - the 'floating' optics is what makes it a macro and gives the super-good image quality
3rd point - This is stretching the truth a bit....
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