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Thread: Camera Lens Advice

  1. #1
    New Member Angelique1982's Avatar
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    Camera Lens Advice

    Hi There

    I have been a member for a while but mainly a reader

    I have recently treated myself to the Canon 600D, my last camera was a Fuji Finepix S100FS.

    I got the Canon 18-55mm IS II and 55-250mm IS II lenses with the camera but want a lenses that I can use for macro. I love taking macro shots and will try almost anything on macro to see the interesting result I get (the next one is try find a willing volunteer to take close ups of the human eye).

    I have seen on the forum a recommendation for the Tamron 90mm lens. I have found this one on amazon as well as a Sigma 50mm lens here. I don't kow which one to go for, please help!!

    Are the extension tubes a good investment or just a waste of time, I have heard mixed reviews. I am used to getting up close and personal with my subjects with my fuji (could get as close as 1cm). I know with the macro lenses you don't have to which is a good thing as I have scared away some of my subjects in the past.

    I appreciate any help/advice/recommendations anyone can give.

    Thanks

    Angelique

  2. #2
    Jim B.'s Avatar
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    Re: Camera Lens Advice

    Hi Angelique,

    If you plan on shooting insects the longer the lens the better.It will lessen the "spook" factor.
    The Tamron 90mm gets good reviews.
    I've used extension tubes with my macro lenses and I don't think they are a waste of money.
    You might want to look at working with a flash also.

    I shot this with a Sigma 150 and a 25mm extension tube.

    Camera Lens Advice

  3. #3
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Camera Lens Advice

    Excellent shot Jim.

    Hi Angelique,

    One thing you may want to know ahead of discovering the hard way; the smaller sensor of the Fuji gave you much more Depth of Field (DoF) than you will get with the Canon - regardless how you magnify the image, it is effectively a fundamental physical property of the sensor (i.e. camera format).

    What this means is you have to be 2.5 times more careful in positioning the wafer thin DoF, since that is the difference in sensor crop factors between the Fuji (4x) and the Canon (1.6x). So, doing the maths in my head and rounding like crazy; for an equal magnification - to get an equal DoF on the Canon that f/8 on the Fuji gave you, means using an aperture of f/22, which means you need 3 stops more light, hence Jim's suggestion to look at illumination, with flash being less likely to 'cook' the subject than continuous lights.

    As Jim shows, in fact he makes it look easy, it is possible to 'get it right' with live insects, even when you cannot resort to other techniques like focus stacking.

    Welcome to the CiC forums from me ...

  4. #4
    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    Re: Camera Lens Advice

    I would suggest that the minimum focal length for your camera would be 90 mm. I'm sure the 50 mm will be too short. In this regard, Jim's comments are well put.

    I use a 100 mm on my 30D (same sensor size as your 600D), and this has worked well, but when I put the same lens on a 5DII (FF sensor), it's too short. This means I have to get really close to the object (or crop in PP).

    I would even suggest that a 150 mm macro lens would be very workable, and maybe even preferable, particularly if you're doing real macro (1:1). Most of my work is really closeup not macro.

    Glenn

  5. #5
    New Member Angelique1982's Avatar
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    Re: Camera Lens Advice

    Absolutely fantastic photo Jim!!!

    You guys have certainly given me food for thought... the 50mm lens is off the table

    Don't think my budget will stretch to a 150mm lens but i think that is what i will need (well want really ), may have to be the 90mm or 100mm to start off with til I save the pennies.

    I have been looking at flashes already as I had a feeling I would need to use a much smaller aperture to get the same kinda shots. Which is what i was needing when i took this shot on a very cloudy day not long after the rain had stopped (all thats been done is crop out a hand that seemed to appear just as I took the shot).

    Camera Lens Advice

  6. #6
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Camera Lens Advice

    There are three varieties of the Tamron 90mm Macro lens:

    1. 90mm f/2.5 Adapt-All: I would not purchase this one because it doesn't produce as good IQ as the two f/2.8 versions and you may have trouble adapting it to an EOS camera since it is a manual focus lens with different adapters to allow use on various manual focus cameras...

    2. 90mm f/2.8 AF SP: This is an excellent lens which if it has a Canon EF mount can be used on your camera. It is the model previous to the present version but, performs very well. I bought one several years ago for around $100 (USD) on eBay. It is a great lens. One slight problem is that the AF is fairly slow. No problem for macro shooting because many photographers shoot macro in manual focus mode. It produces very nice bokeh and is quite a decent portrait lens if you have the camera to subject distance to be able to use it.

    3. 90mm f/2.8 AF SP Di: The Di designator on a Tamron lens indicates that it is optimized for digital. I have not used this lens but, I am sure that he IQ is at least as good and perhaps better than my non-Di version. The Tamron is quite a bit cheaper than the Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro.

    IMO, a 90mm or 100mm lens is just about ideal for macro work because it allows you sufficient lens to subject distance not to frighten little creepy crawlie critters. Shorter focal lengths have a reduced lens to subject distance while 150mm or 180mm lenses have a great lens to subject distance but are somewhat heavy and quite expensive.

    BTW: I would not select the 50mm Canon f/2.5 Macro Lens because it needs an adapter to get down to 1:1 image ratio.

    Extension tubes are OK but, I prefer working with a macro lens because it has an unlimited focus distance from 1:1 image ratio to infinity...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 4th February 2012 at 04:40 AM.

  7. #7
    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    Re: Camera Lens Advice

    As Richard has just mentioned, extension rings (tubes) can be a bit limiting to use (read awkward), but they are a economical solution. I bought a set of Kenko tubes, and though admittedly not quite the same quality as the Canon ones, they work just as well and are a fraction of the cost. In fact, my set of three cost less than one Canon tube.

    Because they have no glass (optics) in them (just air), there is no image degradation (as one reviewer put it, Canon air is no better than Kenko air).

    http://www.the-digital-picture.com/R...et-Review.aspx

    In fact, Angelique may find that tubes are a good starting point for macro photography as they can be used with existing lenses.

    Glenn

  8. #8
    DanK's Avatar
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    Re: Camera Lens Advice

    Here's my two cents, as someone who does mostly macro and, like you, shoots with a crop-sensor camera (which has a bearing on the focal length you will want):

    You wrote:

    I know with the macro lenses you don't have to which is a good thing as I have scared away some of my subjects in the past.
    That's a misunderstanding. Macro means that you can focus very close and get up to 1:1 magnification (the image on the sensor is life-size). It does not refer to how close you have to get. That is determined primarily by focal length. This is why Glenn is suggesting a longer macro lens. I would agree with him: if you are going to shoot bugs, something close to 100mm is as short as I would go.

    Extension tubes are a cheap way to get macro. however, except on a short lens, they won't get you 1:1, and they make things darker, which would be a really serious problem with your current lenses. I would put that off. Once you get comfortable with a macro lens, you can use tubes to get even closer, but that is even harder, so it is not the place to start. I agree with Glenn: when you get to that point, I would buy the Kenko set.

    a 100mm lens is hard to hold steady enough at macro distances. You may want to use a monopod. I generally do use a very cheap one when I go after bugs.

    macro is technically very difficult. As one person mentioned, depth of field is very narrow. Focusing is tough. Plan on spending a lot of time reading up and practicing. If you end up doing a lot of bugs, a highly diffused flash important: it provides more light, freezes motion, and allows a smaller aperture and hence greater depth of field. If you google, you will find postings about how to build one. Mine is adapted from this one: http://www.dgrin.com/showthread.php?t=189001

  9. #9

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    Re: Camera Lens Advice

    As others have mentioned, for live, in the field, insect shots the main concern is the fly/run away distance. And in many cases you will be lucky to get within 12 ins of them.

    So I would agree that 150 mm is the minimum size if you want to get really serious about small insects. I use a Sigma 180 mm and frequently use it with a 1.4x converter.

    However, for flowers or any inanimate objects, something around 100 mm would be fine.

    Also consider that you will need a decent tripod, if you don't already have one, and flash or other lighting source may prove helpful.

    Whether you get a smaller lens now or wait until you can afford a 150 mm is something which you will need to consider carefully. Purchasing the smaller lens then upgrading will be more expensive than saving a little longer.

    But if you find that you aren't a dedicated small insect person, then the smaller option will be suitable and cheaper.

  10. #10
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Use a flash...

    Using flash fill is something that you should consider when shooting macro. Many photographers automatically think ring light when the macro subject comes up. Others use a dual flash rig.

    I use an old Siegelite bracket which is no longer in production. However, you can often find them on eBay (usually a lot cheaper than this auction - most often around $15-$20 USD) http://www.ebay.com/itm/Siegelite-St...item53eaf721b7

    Here is my setup. I usually hand hold for insects or other creepy crawlies. The handle of the Siegelite bracket assists in holding the rig fairly steady because you have a two handed grip. The rig is placed on a tripod to support it for demonstration purposes; although I usually hand-hold, I can use this flash rig while tripod mounted.

    Camera Lens Advice

    I use a Canon hotshoe flash (550EX or 430EX) and a Lumiquest Mini Softbox. I trigger the flash with a Canon off camera cord. I use my flash on High Speed Sync (HSS) so I can shoot at a high enough shutter speed to ensure sharp images. Since the flash is so close to the subject, the reduction of power using HSS is no problem. I will most often shoot with my camera on manual exposure, lens on manual focus and the flash on eTTL.

    The lighting produced is quite nice and soft because the Luniquest is very close to the subject. The rig articulates although I like my soft-box modified light to come from the top.

    Camera Lens Advice

    Camera Lens Advice

    BTW: You can also use the Siegelite Bracket for normal (non-macro) flash work, although I prefer a Stroboframe Camera Flip Bracket for non-macro flash work.

    If you already have a hotshoe flash and an off camera cord, you can often set yourself up for macro flash lighting quite inexpensively (especially if you can find a less expensive Siegelite bracket on eBay and you purchase a Chinese knock-off of the Lumiquest Mini Softbox)

    NOTE: My 90mm f/2.8 Tamron Macro is the only lens that I shoot without a lens hood because the front element is recessed into the body of the lens which actually becomes a lens hood.

    While I agree with Geoff that a 150mm or 180mm macro lens would provide ideal distance in shooting the creepy crawlies; but a focal length of 90mm or 100mm, especially on a 1.6x camera, can be quite adequate. After all, we are talking about an equivalent focal length of 144mm or 160mm.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 4th February 2012 at 06:11 PM.

  11. #11
    John C's Avatar
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    Re: Use a flash...

    One more opinion.

    I wouldn't eliminate the 50mm from consideration just yet. I happen to have both a 50mm and 100mm macro and find myself using the 50mm most of the time for insect photos. Both lenses are very similar and have excellent quality (Sony 50mm f/2.8 and Sony 100mm f/2.8), so lens function and quality are not a factor. Possibly my preference for the 50mm stems from my earlier use of a small sensor camera which required getting even closer, so the 50mm seems like it give me a lot of room.

    There is definitely a knack to stalking and approaching insects in order to get close enough, and developing that knack is probably as important as focal length. Most of my insect photos are of insects on leaves and branches in shady wooded areas. I use the camera handheld with a ringflash to get sufficient light for the greater depth of field (usually shooting at f/16, give or take). Also, my photos tend to be insect 'portraits' rather than ultracloseups of just the head or other parts, and I have no interest (yet) in dragging insect inside for 'studio' shots. For open meadow areas where the insects tend to be more skittish, a longer focal length is definitely more useful. In fact, I notice that most of my dragonfly photos were taken with my 55-200mm zoom at 200mm handheld with no flash (or sometimes the popup flash).

    If you have sufficient funds and will be buying you first macro, suggest something around 100mm. If cost is a concern, and the 50mm is all you can afford right now, I think you might find 50mm useful.

  12. #12
    ashish's Avatar
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    Re: Camera Lens Advice

    Hi Angelique,

    I think the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM L IS macro equivalent to a 160mm on your camera might be a good option to consider.

    Cheers,
    Ashish

  13. #13
    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    Re: Camera Lens Advice

    I agree that the 100 mm macro works very well with a 1.6 crop body, but when I added the FF body, the 100 mm just didn't work as well. I will continue to use both sensor sizes as each has advantages, but many people migrate to FF (I refuse to use the word upgrade because I think it's inaccurate). A longer lens such as a 150 mm would have "future proofed" my purchase, so now I'm using an extension tube and losing DOF.

    Glenn

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