Macro photography advise needed

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Reef Maniac, 26 Aug 2009.

  1. Reef Maniac

    Reef Maniac MASA Contributor

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    Hi everyone,

    I'm planning on buying a macro lens for the new 5DmkII, and I would appreciate any advise / input from photographers who have used such lenses. The options are:
    • Canon EF 50mm f2.5 Macro (R5 195.00)
    This lens is reported to be quite sharp, and is very useful as a general purpose "normal" prime lens as well, but is restricted to a 1:2 enlargement ratio. It would (I assume...) have the best depth of field of the three lenses I'm considering.
    • Canon EF 100mm f2.8 USM Macro (R5 995.00)
    This lens has a true 1:1 enlargement ratio, and is reported to be very good. It is apparently a very good portrait lens as well. Most people I have spoken to advises me to buy this lens.
    • Canon EF 180mm f3.5L Macro (R15 995.00)
    This is the only "L" macro lens from Canon, and as such will be top-notch quality (at a price, though...). It can also be used as a medium-power telephoto, but in macro mode it would (I assume) have the lowest depth of field of the three lenses, and is also the "slowest" lens at f3.5.

    Questions:

    The longer focal length lenses will allow me to be further away from the subjects being photographed (moving fish...). How will this affect the quality of the photos, especially comparing the 100mm and 180mm lenses?

    Would the longer focal length lenses allow me to focus deeper into the tank at a high (1:1) enlargement ratio, thus allowing for more versatility, or am I understanding this wrongly?

    Which lens would you advise me to buy, and why (assuming that I can afford any of the three...).

    Are there any other make of lens (with a Canon mount, and capable of "talking" to the camera) that you would recommend - and why?

    Thanks

    Hennie
     
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  3. crispin

    crispin

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    a very tough question hennie, especially as the three arent straigh comparisons. I'll get ross and tony to have a look at this thread too as they are good on lenses.

    ive got the 100mm macro which i purchased primarily for its 1:1 ration and for the speed of the lense. i often photograph bees in or flying to flowers and thats more challanging than getting any wrasse i assure you :) the speed of the lense means i can shoot in autofocus on slightly further away shots (tough to focus with bee gloves on) although for real close in detailed work i still use manual focus and a batch photo session till i get the image i want. personally ive had great results with this lense and in one i would recommend, but i must add that i havent shot with the others. simply the 100mm macro is a good buy :)
     
  4. Reef Maniac

    Reef Maniac Thread Starter MASA Contributor

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    Thanks, Crispin.

    I think that the most important things for me to know would be what influence the "depth of focussing" vs. depth of field of the lenses would have on the ability to take photos of anything in the tank, and on the "shootability" of the lenses with reference to moving objects such as fish and insects.

    Hennie
     
  5. Tony

    Tony

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    I would go with the EF 100 2.8 personally. I am not personally familiar with the lens but the specs look good. Why not go to the shop and play around with the lens if you can to see if it gives you what you want. The guys in the shop should be able to help you with the more technical data.
     
  6. seank

    seank

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    Think this was the one (or close to it) that I discussed with you, but will find out during the day;)
     
  7. Reef Maniac

    Reef Maniac Thread Starter MASA Contributor

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    Tony, I live in BLOEMFONTEIN - the only "shop" is a general goods store called Kloppers, and they don't have any Canon macro lenses in stock - already checked... also, there are no "guys in the shop" with any knowledge either...
    They can order me a lens, but at close to R2000.00 more than what I'm quoted by Orms, and Orms will have it couriered to my house over night.

    Hennie
     
  8. Rory

    Rory Admin MASA Contributor

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    Hey Hennie,

    Another vote for the 100mm. The problem with the 50mm is the reason it can only do 1:2. If it could do 1:1 the focal length would be about the same length as from the backplane to the front of the lens ie. the object would pretty much have to be on the lens. The 100mm does 1:1 and is definitely a very nice lens.
    The problem with 180mm macros is the lack of DoF etc. The 100mm is a lot more usable handheld for shooting fish etc. The 180mm would be great to get a macro of a coral at the back of a large tank but I don't think you would have much fun trying to get fish with that. The only benefit would be that you could stand further away but I think with the 100mm you can be far enough away as to not disturb the fish too much, unless they are very shy.
     
  9. jaquesdp08

    jaquesdp08

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    • Canon EF 100mm f2.8 USM Macro (R5 995.00)
    This lens has a true 1:1 enlargement ratio, and is reported to be very good. It is apparently a very good portrait lens as well. Most people I have spoken to advises me to buy this lens

    is the best in the class. my dad bought one this morning.. got excellent reviews and saw photos..
     
  10. Rory

    Rory Admin MASA Contributor

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    Canon is pretty much the leader in macro lenses so I wouldn't look anywhere else normally, however there's a sigma 105mm for sale on ODP:
    Sigma 105mm Macro F2.8 NEW - OutdoorPhoto Classifieds

    The sigma 105, canon 100 and nikon 105 are all extremely close in quality. It seems like the canon may be ever so slightly faster to autofocus than the sigma, but that sigma is a very good price...
     
  11. robvdv

    robvdv

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    The 100mm is great. Fast focussing, nice construction. The 100mm is a nice working distance too. You can still use it for portraiture.
     
  12. gaboon

    gaboon

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    Definitely 100mm, tamron is also good, just make sure you get a good copy.
     
  13. seank

    seank

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  14. seank

    seank

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    You are likely considering one of the other available Macro lenses if you are researching the Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro Lens. The two that most directly compare have been mentioned above - The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro Lens and Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro Lens. The Sigma is at least as well built as the Canon and Tamron. It is similar in sharpness to the Canon and a slightly better than the Tamron. The Sigma has less vignetting than the Canon but is similar to the Tamron. It is also has the lowest price.



    Even thought they are all 1:1 macro lenses, these lenses have different minimum working distances (MWD) at their 1:1 settings. The Canon, even though it has a slightly shorter focal length, has a longer working distance (6"/150mm) than the Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro Lens (4.8"/122mm). The Tamron has the shortest 1:1 working distance (3.8"/96.5mm).

    To me, Canon's USM autofocus system is easily worth the price differential alone (even including the optional lens hood). Add to that the better flare performance, better bokeh, a fixed physical length ... and you have my opinion. My second choice would be more of a toss-up. The Tamron has better AF accuracy, better flare control and a one-step MF system.

    All said, the Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro Lens is a really sharp and well-built lens for the price - a good value.
     
  15. Reef Maniac

    Reef Maniac Thread Starter MASA Contributor

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    OK, thanks for the advise guys - it will then have to be the Canon 100mm :thumbup:

    I've checked with various suppliers, and they all tell me they expect delivery "next week". All quoted +R6 500.00, except Orms, who confirmed a price of R5 995.00 on next week's delivery, so I guess that they yet again are going to get my business :)

    Most of these photo shops remind me a lot of (most of) the LFS's in our hobby, always trying to get rich over-night out of their potential customers, and bad-mouthing all their competition with accusations of "grey imports", etc.

    Looking forward to play with the new "toy" again this weekend :slayer:

    Hennie
     
  16. seank

    seank

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    [​IMG]
    Pictured above from left to right are the Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens, Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens and Canon EF 180mm f/3.5 L USM lens.

    So, which macro lens should you choose? Good question.

    Choosing the right focal length is probably the first criteria. Longer focal length macro lenses generally give you more distance-to-subject working space for the same subject framing. Insects will not hang around long at the Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens' 3.5" or so (9cm) 1:1 minimum working distance (MWD). The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens allows about 6" (15cm) and the Canon EF 180mm f/3.5 L USM lens allows about 9.5" (24cm) of working distance at 1:1 magnification.

    The focal length also affects other macro photography aspects. Longer focal lengths require more distance to acquire the same subject framing. The result is a change of perspective - the telephotos compress/flatten the subject features more than short focal lengths. The wider angle of view of the short focal length macro lenses mean that more of the background will be in the picture - and that the background will be less-diffusely blurred. Picture what I am talking about ...
    [​IMG]

    The pictures above were taken with three macro lenses (180mm L, 100mm and 60mm). They are identically framed using the same aperture setting (f/16) and have identical subject to background distances. DOF (Depth of Field) is not different (same framing, same aperture = same DOF until closer to the hyper-focal distance), but perspective/compression and angle of view are very different. The 180mm lens shows only a small physical area of background subject that is compressed/enlarged to magnify the blur. Background subjects in the 60mm picture appear to be more in focus. They are not - they are just about as blurred, but they appear much smaller in the picture - and there are more of them because of the 60mm's angle of view. This gives a less diffuse looking background blur. If you are using a backdrop (such as rolled paper), the background blur aspect might not be important to you.

    There are downsides to the longer focal length macro lenses. They are larger/heavier and require a faster shutter speed for handholding.

    If you are looking for the ultimate nature macro shots, there is probably not a better choice than the Canon EF 180mm f/3.5 L USM lens. But, this is a relatively heavy and expensive lens that focuses slowly.

    If you are looking for a great macro lens, the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens is a very good choice. It offers excellent optical performance and middle of the road focal length, working distance and size/weight. Price makes this lens a decent value. The 100mm focal length makes a decent tight portrait lens as well.
     
  17. Reef Maniac

    Reef Maniac Thread Starter MASA Contributor

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    Damn, Sean - now I rather want the 180mm lens - look at the smooth blur on that last photo you've posted... but I must admit, that 100mm looks pretty good as well.

    Hennie
     
  18. seank

    seank

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    The 180mm is a better lens, if you want one, speak to me as I found one (4 months old) for a good price- By the way, also looking at one, as it is a really good one
     
  19. Reef Maniac

    Reef Maniac Thread Starter MASA Contributor

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    Right... Just to confirm, this morning I've parted with some hard earned cash and ordered the Canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens. I will be picking it up in Cape Town on Friday, if everything goes according to plan. :thumbup:

    Expect a flood of close-ups to be posted during the weekend...

    Hennie
     
  20. Shaun

    Shaun Retired Moderator

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    Is that a Promise. ;)
     
  21. crispin

    crispin

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    i cant wait, just please try to get them in focus :)
     
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