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Thread: Macro Equipment

  1. #1

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    Macro Equipment

    Hi Folks,
    Due to a change in my prevailing domestic situation I am thinking of changing my modus-operandi somewhat. That is, I want to develope some skill in the macro world.
    Currently I have an 18 to 200mm zoom and a 2X tele-converter. The options seem to be buy macro lense(s) or extension tubes. I know some pros use extension tubes and actually
    seem to prefer them to macro lenses. They are of course much cheaper. Kenko market a set of three in the US fo less than $200.00. What is the concensus on this? There are probably lots of pros and cons.
    ATB Paul.

  2. #2

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    Re: Macro Equipment

    This is a frequent sort of question and is currently under discussion at this UK wildlife site http://www.wildaboutbritain.co.uk/fo...tterflies.html but there isn't one simple answer. And there are quite a few other questions and answers to be found if you browse through the various photo questions spread around that site; and this one.

    I started using a 25mm extension tube with my 70-300 lens with reasonable success. Tubes don't add extra glass so you avoid any loss of image quality but they do lose you a bit of light so you may have to increase ISO slightly to compensate.

    With your lens, and particularly with an added tube you will be in tripod territory but that isn't really a problem. You may find auto focus a bit slower in poor light but I mostly prefer to manually focus in macro mode anyhow. I found manual focus could be a bit coarse with a tube but usually managed sharp focus eventually.

    The other advantage with a tube is that it is small enough to carry in your pocket and instantly converts a bird/general purpose lens into a macro lens.

    On the down side, a tube will gain around 1 ft of distance for a 25mm tube, which will vary depending on lenses. I can't remember the minimum focusing distance of that lens but let's say that gets you to 4 ft at 200mm; or equivalent to 2ft at 100mm approx. Which may be sufficient for your needs but you may need more capacity for small insects etc.

    The best answer, but not cheap, is a proper macro lens which will give superb quality and enable you to get even closer; although your zoom plus tube may still prove useful for larger nervous insects which are difficult to approach.

    I currently use a Sigma 180mm macro lens which suits me but is a rather heavy cumbersome bit of kit which needs a good tripod but does allow me to get to around 1 ft. The 150mm macro lens is a popular size which can, with care, be handheld. Smaller lenses around 100mm are popular with flower photographers and allow you to get really close, but can be a bit short for insects.

    So, if you can supply a few more details about your budget and exactly what you wish to photograph we can be more specific.
    Last edited by Geoff F; 20th July 2009 at 07:56 PM. Reason: extra item

  3. #3

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    Re: Macro Equipment

    Thanx for your response Geoff f
    Budget is always a consideration, thats why I leant toward extension tubes. However I would consider a lense if the work warranted it. Initially I would probably do most of my work in my garden or in the local Botanical Gardens. I could possibly expand my scope from there
    Thanx again
    Paul, ATB

  4. #4

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    Re: Macro Equipment

    Do you intend to make macro photography your main subject? Do you intend to start making prints and selling them? (Unaware if you're in the business of doing that or just enjoy photography).

    If yes to either, or both, then I would recommend a true macro lens. If no to the first, then I'd say it's not worth it to buy a decent macro lens.

    That's just my humble opinion though.

  5. #5
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    My macro lens...

    I have been a photographer for over fifty years, much of that time professionally. I have shot macro and close-up imagery with just about every imaginable setup available; from extension bellows, to extension tubes to dedicated macro lenses.

    IMO there is nothing more pleasurable than shooting with a true macro lens such as the 90mm f/2.8 Tamron macro Lens (which I use and love) or the equally excellent Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens. Of course, Nikon has their own version of a macro lens which they term "micro".

    The dedicated macro lens (the Canon 65mm MPE excepted) will allow you to focus from infinity to a 1:1 ratio seamlessly. Extension tubes will only allow you to focus between certain distances. The Canon MPE-65 is a specialized lens which will only focus at image ratios of 1:1 to 5:1. It will not focus to infinity. In other words, when using the MPE-65, you cannot cover an area larger than about 15x23mm on a crop camera or 24x36mm on a full frame camera.

    The 90mm Tamron does a wonderful job as a portrait lens. It provides a beautiful creamy bokeh that is to die for. It is also a very decent short telephoto f/2.8 lens however, the autofocus is not as fast as I would like when following fast moving subjects. I haven't used it but, I would expect that the 100mm Canon macro would do an equally good job as a portrait lens.

    Here are some comparisons of macro lenses:

    http://orchideen-kartierung.de/Macro100E.html
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 12th August 2009 at 06:16 PM.

  6. #6
    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: My macro lens...

    I have a Tamron 180m macro lens and I concur with rpcrowe the bokeh is excellent. Yes it is a bit cumbersome but when I go out with just my camera and this lens to shoot dedicated macro shots I just love the results.

    I also use my 70 -300m for close up work but that is when I want a different effect for the background; i.e. when I want to blur the background but still have some definition to place the subject in its location.

    I am sure you will enjoy macro photography, it opens up a whole new world. Good luck.

  7. #7
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    I forgot to mention....

    I will occasionally use my 300mm f/4L IS as a close up lens. This lens has a fairly short minimum focus capability and the 1.4x TC will give me a larger image ratio,

    I will also carry a Canon 500D close-up lens which gives me fairly good imagery and allows me to focus even closer.

    I will often carry the 300mm and 1.4x TC for wildlife. When I do, I will slip the 500D close-up lens in my shooting vest for when I want a nice closeup of a flower or insect.

    This is definitely NOT the set-up I would use for my primary macro lens but, it does allow for some closeup work with the 300mm lens at very little additional weight or cost. An extension tube would also allow close-up work at relatively small weight or cost.

    An added benefit is the IS capability. I can shoot close-up images especially well using a monopod assisted by the IS.

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