Results 1 to 13 of 13

Thread: Macro lenses?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Aberdeen, UK living in Calgary
    Posts
    32
    Real Name
    Fiona

    Macro lenses?

    Hi,

    I would love some advice on macro lenses. I am thinking of going into this area and thinking of purchasing a Canon MP E 65 mm macro lens. I have read reviews stating its quite a hard lens to work/master. Is there any cons to have such large magnifications or will the Canon Macro 100mm 2.8 L IS USM take a macro image or more close up. if anone has any images taken with the Canon 100mm I would live to view them..

    Thank you in advance for your advice.

    Fiona

  2. #2
    ktuli's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Posts
    1,518
    Real Name
    Bill S

    Re: Macro lenses?

    Fiona,

    Having just purchased the MP-E 65mm a few months ago, I hopefully can give you some useful insight... The MP-E65 is indeed a challenging lens - here are some of the things you might not expect (or easily find when reading about this lens).

    1. This is a macro *ONLY* lens. What I mean by that is it can only be used for macro - unlike other macro lenses that can also be used as normal lenses. It cannot focus to infinity. In fact, it has a smaller focusing distance from almost any other lens I've seen. The working distance (from end of the lens barrel to the subject) at 1:1 magnification is a mere 4 inches! Anything further away cannot be focused on.

    2. This is a full manual focus lens. It actually has no focusing motor, and that basically means you have to set focus by moving the lens closer/further away from your subject. You technically can rotate the lens barrel, but that changes the magnification - if the change in magnification puts you into focus, great... but I've found that to not be ideal for the way I work.

    3. You will need supplemental light. Luckily when I bought this lens, I also purchased the Canon MT-24EX Twin Macro flash. This flash connects two small flashheads to the front of the lens. This provides a ton of light right where it is needed. With my other macro lenses, I've often used my 580EXII on a bracket, but that setup just really doesn't work as well with the MPE65. I'm sure you could make it work, but it is a challenge. Regardless - unless you have a most incredible tripod and non-moving subject, you're going to need additional light via a flash. Additionally, as you increase the magnification, the effective aperture increases very quickly. The manual has a table listing this out, but I'm at work, so can't give examples.

    4. Your sensor better be spotless. I didn't know my sensor was dirty before buying this lens. I'm not entirely certain I know the technical reasons why, but this lens certainly shows the dirt way more. I've since noticed it with my other macro lenses, but it is far more prevalent with the MPE65.

    5. You will need a stable platform or a steady hand. The lens doesn't have IS, so you don't get any grace from that. If I'm shooting a still-life, I use a tripod with a macro focusing rail. Handheld (which I am only able to do because of the flash), I just try and use as good of a technique as possible - but to be honest, after a little while, my muscles positively ache from trying to hold steady and make such tiny adjustments. Like a super long telephoto lens the high magnification causes any slight motion to be a huge motion in your shot.

    Having said all that... my general recommendation is that if you haven't worked with macro before, the MPE65 is not the lens I would recommend starting on. Can you start out on the MPE65? Certainly. But depending on your subjects, you might find the MPE65 just doesn't work at all for you. You won't be working with many skittish insects (I struggle greatly with the spiders I work with), and the fixed focusing distance means you won't be able to back away to get less than 1:1 to get a larger subject in the frame. If you're just starting out with macro, figure out what your most common subject will be, and select a lens based on that (60mm is good for still life, 180mm is good for skittish insects, 100mm is a good compromise in between).

    I'm not trying to scare you away from the MPE65 - it is a phenomenal lens and I'm very happy I bought it. I just want to set some reasonable expectations for you. In my case, the MPE65 was my fourth dedicated macro lens (first was 180mm, then 35mm which is an odd duck, then the 100mm L, and then finally the MPE65).

    If you are curious, check out my Project 52 thread as I've posted several of my shots with the MPE65 there. Alternatively, feel free to visit my blog - a lot of my posts there are macro shots (and recently with either the MPE65 or the 100mm L).

    For convenience, here are all of my blogs posts with the MP-E 65mm and with the EF 100mm f/2.8L. Just be warned that there are a lot of spider macro shots (one of my favorite subjects). There is also a lot of underwater shots with the 100mm lens.

    Hope this all helps!

    - Bill

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Johannesburg,South Africa
    Posts
    530
    Real Name
    Tobias Weber

    Re: Macro lenses?

    I have the 100mm lens and it is AMAZING, the focus is so crisp and it is brilliant for getting in close, highly recommendable.

    Here's a couple samples for you.

    Macro lenses?
    IMG_0264.72F by Tobias Weber, on Flickr

    Macro lenses?
    IMG_0515.72 by Tobias Weber, on Flickr

    Macro lenses?
    IMG_6487 by Tobias Weber, on Flickr

    The spider was tiny, less than 1 cm so you can see how close you can get in with this lens.

  4. #4
    rpcrowe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Southern California, USA
    Posts
    13,580
    Real Name
    Richard

    Re: Macro lenses?

    Fiona,

    Bill S. covered everything very accurately. I'd like to add two things...

    1. As Bill S. mentioned, the 65mm MP-E65 starts focusing from 1:1 and can focus up to 5:1 imagery. It cannot focus at less than 1:1 magnification. What this means in real life terms is that the maximum area that a full frame camera can cover using the MP-E65 lens is 36x24mm and the largest area that can be covered by this lens mounted on a 1.6x camera is 22x14.8mm.
    Most photographers have a need to cover larger areas with their lens. A standard macro lens of whatever focal length can cover a 36x24mm area on a full frame and a 22.14.8mm area on a crop camera all the way out to infinity. Macro lenses can be used as "normal" lenses and can do exceptionally well in this respect. In fact, my Tamron 90mm f/2.8 AF SP macro lens has been nicknamed the "Portrait Macro" because of its excellence as a portrait lens in additon to macro capabilities.

    2. As far as focal length goes, there will be no difference in the area that any macro lens will cover at 1:1 magnification. 50mm, 6omm, 65mm, 90mm, 100mm, 150mm and 180mm all cover the exact same area when used in 1:1 magnification. The main difference between these focal lengths is the camera to subject distance needed to achieve the 1:1 magnification. The shorter focal lengths require that the lens be a lot closer to the subject than do the longer focal length lenses. The shorter lens to subject distance puts you closer to your subject and might just scare some spookish critters you are shooting. It can also be a bit more difficult to light your subject when the lens is that close. BTW: I almost always like to provide additional lighting for my macro shots.
    The longer 150-180mm focal length lenses provide a wonderful lens to subject distance, but these lenses can be a bit heavy to hold and expensive to purchase. IMO, the ideal compromise between cost, weight and lens to subject distance is in the 90-100mm range. I use a Tamron 90mm f/2.8 AF SP lens because the price was right. I purchased it for about a hundred U.S. Dollars on eBay USA and have been using it for well over 5-years. Either of the 100mm Canon f/2.8 macro lenses is great. The f/2.8L model is equipped with Image Sabilization which I am sure is nice. However, I have been working with my non-stabilized Tamron lens for years and have had no problems relating to sharp imagery.

    Good luck with macros... It is a fun way to shoot and can provide shooting opportunities at night or on days in which the weather is too nasty to venture outdoors...

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    South Devon, UK
    Posts
    12,012

    Re: Macro lenses?

    Firstly, Fiona, exactly what do you wish to photograph? We can't really make any specific recommendations without more information.

    Something around 100 mm is fine for those inanimate objects where you can get really close but for live wild insects, which are a bit coy about being photographed, I recommend something larger.

    A 150 mm size is popular with entomologists although I use a 180 mm and often add a 1.4x converter to increase the magnification even further. With most live insects you will be lucky to get within 12 inches of them so the more magnification the better.

    But the MP E65 is a rather specialised lens designed chiefly for studio work where you can get really close to your subject and require extreme magnification. As others have mentioned in detail.

    Flowers can work well around 100 mm; but I often find my Canon 24-105 L lens is actually better for general overall flower photos.

    And, if you don't already have appropriate equipment, you should also consider suitable lighting sources and a good tripod.

  6. #6
    DanK's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    4,214
    Real Name
    Dan

    Re: Macro lenses?

    +1 what Geoff wrote. What do you want to photograph? That matters, in terms of the amount of magnification and the amount of working distance you need. Also, which camera body will you be using? The optimal choice of focal length depends on that.

    Now, my two cents as someone who does mostly macro and does not own an MP-E 65: if you don't need it, I would not buy it. Macro is technically very demanding, and the higher the magnification, the harder it gets. My advice for people starting out, if they are serious about macro, is to start with a standard macro lens. Then, once you are really comfortable with that at its minimum focusing distance, if you still want to get closer, start with a short extension tube, say, 12mm. Once you are comfortable with that, add longer tubes. Most of these lenses have none of the disadvantages of the MPE-65 and can be used for other purposes. E.g, a 100 mm macro makes a fine short telephoto, and a 60mm makes a fine portrait lens on a crop sensor.

    As for focal length: if you are shooting a crop sensor camera, a 100mm lens, plus or minus, is a very good starting point for bugs. I shoot on a crop sensor (50D), and for flowers done on a tripod, I prefer a 60mm for the shorter working distance. Also, the shorter the lens, the more magnification a given length of extension.

    I'll post a couple of shots, to give you an idea of how much magnification you might want.

    This one was shot with a 100mm, with a 36mm extension tube. This somewhat less than 1.5:1. This is my standard walk-around-looking-for-bugs rig.

    Macro lenses?

    This is 100mm, no tube. I don't think I was at minimum focusing distance.

    Macro lenses?

    This one is 60mm with some extension, but I don't recall how much--probably 20 or 36mm.

    Macro lenses?
    Last edited by DanK; 22nd March 2012 at 01:09 AM.

  7. #7
    rpcrowe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Southern California, USA
    Posts
    13,580
    Real Name
    Richard

    One final thought!

    We never view our macro (or any other images) at the sensor size. Imagine viewing an image from a 1.6x camera that is 22x14.8mm in size.

    We always view our images enlarged. If you enlarge to 8x10" am image shot at a 1:1 ratio would actually be roughly a 10:1 or 11:1 image ratio...

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Aberdeen, UK living in Calgary
    Posts
    32
    Real Name
    Fiona

    Re: Macro lenses?

    Hi Guys,

    Thanks so much for all the feedback, I have been off-line for a few days contemplating everything and reading reviews etc. I am using a Canon 7D and dont think I will buy the MP E 65 due to the difficulty and speciality of the lens. I am leaning more towards a 24-105mm L lens as I will mostly be taking nature shots of flora & fauna and not so much insect work and the lens also has a wide variety of uses. Also the idea of extension tubes for macro definition i think are they way to go for now.

    Appreciate all the comments and pictures.

    Fiona

  9. #9
    rpcrowe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Southern California, USA
    Posts
    13,580
    Real Name
    Richard

    Re: Macro lenses?

    The magnification ration of the 24-105mm f/4L IS lens (without using extension tubes or close up filters) is 1:4.34.

    That means you can fill your 7D frame with an area of 95.8mm x 64.84mm For us metrically challenged Yanks, that equals approximately 3.77 x 2.55 inches. This is plenty close enough for most flower shots.

    BTW: I find that the easiest way to find the MFD and the image ratio of a lens is to go to the B&H website, select the lens and then select the specifications. The specs are always in the same place. This is not necessarily so when looking at the manufacturer's websites...

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    South Devon, UK
    Posts
    12,012

    Re: Macro lenses?

    That 24-105 is certainly a useful all round lens. And with a relatively close focusing distance it is also suitable for some of the larger insects.

    But one downside is that it won't accept a Canon converter; although extension tubes work fine.

    The only other points, of which you will probably already be aware, always use a tripod for close up work and try a flash to prevent harsh shadows and other problems of uneven lighting.

  11. #11
    William W's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Sraylya
    Posts
    4,022
    Real Name
    William (call me Bill)

    Re: Macro lenses?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fiona View Post
    I am using a Canon 7D . . . Also the idea of extension tubes for macro definition i think are they way to go for now.
    What other lenses do you have?

    WW

  12. #12
    Glenn NK's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Victoria BC
    Posts
    1,510

    Re: Macro lenses?

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    That 24-105 is certainly a useful all round lens. And with a relatively close focusing distance it is also suitable for some of the larger insects.

    But one downside is that it won't accept a Canon converter; although extension tubes work fine.

    The only other points, of which you will probably already be aware, always use a tripod for close up work and try a flash to prevent harsh shadows and other problems of uneven lighting.

    Good points. And there is also the option of adding a closeup lens to the 24-105. I have used the Canon 500D CLOSE-UP lens on the 24-105, however I would suggest using extension tubes as they provide more flexibility and are probably cheaper.

    I have the Kenko extension tubes and use them extensively with my 100 mm macro. These should be available at camera stores in Calgary - do not pay the high price for the Canon brand - they aren't worth it IMO. As someone said on another forum, "Canon air has the same properties as Kenko air".

    Glenn

  13. #13
    PRSearls's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Northern Illinois, USA
    Posts
    389
    Real Name
    Paul

    Re: Macro lenses?

    Good advice. I don't shoot bugs so I'm not interested in high magnification. I wanted a longer working distance for flowers, etc. I have used a 500D Close-up lens on a 70-200 f/2.8. It worked well but was a very heavy combination. The close-up lens permits all lens functions to work and does not effect exposure like extension tubes. I eventually bought a used Canon 180mm f/3.5 macro. It has excellent optical qualities and I'm very pleased with it.

    Here is an image at close to 1:1 magnification of crab apple blossoms. This is a "stack focused" image using five separate images, each with a slightly different focusing point. The "in-focus" parts of each image is combined into a single image by software. All macro lensed have a very shallow depth of field, the greater the magnification, the shallower it is. This is why high-mag macro lens are so challenging to use and often require flash so you can shoot at f/11 - 16. Macro is lots of fun and often produce unusual images not normally seen, especially by the general public.

    Paul S

    Macro lenses?
    Last edited by PRSearls; 1st April 2012 at 01:27 AM. Reason: added explanations

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •