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Thread: Canon 60mm or Tamron 90mm which one to go for ?

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    Canon 60mm or Tamron 90mm which one to go for ?

    hi all,
    I am planning to buy a macro lens and my budget is not too high. Now I am considering canon 60mm and Tamron 90mm. I read many reviews and it seems a tie to me. So can someone please suggest which one will be the right choice? Though I have a tripod but I am planning for hand held photography. And also I am planning to take pictures of butterflies and other insects as well. So if you consider the IS factor, sharpness, length of the lens, weight then which one will you recommend?

    Thanks a lot for your time.

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    Re: Canon 60mm or Tamron 90mm which one to go for ?

    do not forget the Sigma 105mm 2.8 macro it is a cracker

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    Re: Canon 60mm or Tamron 90mm which one to go for ?

    I see on the Adorama site that Sigma is offering a $200 instant rebate on the 105 f/2.8 OS lens right now -- you can get it new for about $750, which is a very good buy. If you're going to try hand-holding this puppy for close-up work, you'll want OS (but don't expect miracles).

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    Re: Canon 60mm or Tamron 90mm which one to go for ?

    What exactly are you wanting to photograph? Live or dead specimens?

    For most live work, I would consider 60 mm to be far too small. The critical distance isn't the minimum focus point, it's the fly away distance.

    I reckon that if I can get within 12 ins of a live insect before scaring it away, I have done well.

    However, for dead specimens, flowers or other inanimate objects you should get away with 60 mm; assuming you can get really close.

    I find that I can shoot flowers OK with my 24-105 lens mostly at the larger end but I rarely get any success with smaller insects, even at this size.

    For small live subjects, around the half inch size, I would recommend a 150 mm lens (like the Sigma 150 mm macro lens). In fact, I normally shoot with a 180 mm plus a 1.4x converter and still want greater magnification.

    The problem, however, is that these larger lenses are expensive. So my advice would be, something around 100 mm will work for larger butterflies/flowers but for anything smaller - start doing some serious saving.

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    Re: Canon 60mm or Tamron 90mm which one to go for ?

    It doesn't have IS/OS, but if your budget gets to the $700 range, you may also want to consider the Tamron 180mm macro - especially if you're planning on shooting butterflies. As Geoff said, the fly-away distance is the important part. The downside is this lens is pretty bulky and heavy. I got good results with it for years though. I've since upgraded to the Canon 100mm, and rarely use the 180mm.

    - Bill

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    Re: Canon 60mm or Tamron 90mm which one to go for ?

    First, conventional IS is essentially irrelevant as you approach minimum focusing distance with a macro lens. Canon's hybrid IS does help (although less than at larger distances), but to my knowledge, that is available only on a single (expensive) lens. the fact is that most macro work requires some other method of minimizing blur from motion, such as using a tripod or using flash for handheld work. Tripods are useless for bugs unless it is cold out or there is something else slowing them down (e.g, a spider waiting in its web), so you are stuck relying on flash, perhaps with the help of a monopod or other support, for helping you freeze motion. In very bright light, I do some handheld shots with neither, but my keeper rate is low that way.


    As a couple of folks noted, longer lenses give you greater working distance, which helps avoid scaring bugs. However, it also makes the rig harder to hand-hold. 100mm is a common compromise, but it is all a matter of taste. Personally, I use a 100mm (on a crop sensor camera) for almost all of my bug shots, but I have done a fair number with a 60mm. If bugs are what you are after, I would recommend not going shorter than 90mm.

    Two factors that I would give some consideration to are: 1. Does the lens extend when focusing? The Tamron 90 does, I believe. This makes your minimum working distance (front of lens to subject, as opposed to minimum focusing distance, which is sensor to subject) smaller. Check out the second table in this review. 2. Does the lens allow full-time manual focusing (FTM)? For macro work, I keep the AF on a back button and use lenses with FTM, which allows me to switch back and forth instantly between auto and manual focusing. Not essential, but sometimes nice.

    So, all in all, I would say:

    1. Although I really love my EF-S 60mm and use it most of the time for flower macros, I think I would suggest going longer if you are really interested in bugs. 60mm is workable (I'll post one below), but it is harder, and you will get somewhat fewer keepers.

    2. Check the price of the NON-L Canon 100mm, to see how it stacks up against the Tamron 90. It is an internally focusing lens.

    3. Consider buying a monopod. it does not have to be expensive. I use a $50 Slik.

    4. If you are serious about macro, read up in macro forums about the use of diffused flash, and consider building one of the DIY flash rigs. Cheaper than rign flashes, and more attractive lighting in the view of many folks.

    5. Re the suggestion of 12 inches as a minimum distance: if you are really interested in bugs, plan on a lot of practice and a lot of discarded images so that you can learn to get closer. Some bugs are particularly tough, but with practice and a lot of failures, you can get to minimum working distance with a 100mm lens some of the time, or even closer. I'll post a few examples:

    100mm with a 36mm extension tube. I don't know exactly, but this has to be well under 6 inches, which is the MWD for the 100 without a tube.

    Canon 60mm or Tamron 90mm which one to go for ?

    60mm, no extension:

    Canon 60mm or Tamron 90mm which one to go for ?
    Last edited by DanK; 28th August 2012 at 10:10 PM.

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    Re: Canon 60mm or Tamron 90mm which one to go for ?

    I don't do much macro work, but out of everything I own, Canon's 100mm f2.0 USM lens (~$460) is my personal favorite. I use it wherever possible. There's something about the color and sharpness that none of my other lenses quite match (though my Canon 50mm f1.4 USM comes close).

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    Re: Canon 60mm or Tamron 90mm which one to go for ?

    Thanks all for your reply. I am very new to the macro photography. It’s just a hobby and I am trying to do some macro photography. So I am planning to do a little bit of everything . We have a nice backyard. You can say a treasure for macro photographers. Lots of flowers, bugs, butterflies, bees. May be I’ll not go for butterflies or bugs a lot but they are still in my photography list.

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    Re: Canon 60mm or Tamron 90mm which one to go for ?

    I don't do much macro these days but in the days I was chasing flies etc I found them incredibly tolerant of a camera pushed close to them as both sat on the floor while I kept back. I had live view and could see what I was taking on the LCD. I normally work with either a 280 or 430mm lens with a two dioptre close-up lens to enable me to be about a foot from the subject while still getting a tight framing*. This is the technique that bridge camera owners use ...not so close but tight framing from the narrow angle of view of the longer lens. * not as tight as the examples about but whole fly occupying about a third of the sensor. I would suggest that some 3/4 < one inch 'boom stick' with a quarter inch thread buried in its top will provide you an ample 'monopod' if you are a DIYer. First one I made was a length of small diameter aluminum pipe about a foot long when i was photographing garden railways with my Pentax SLR. That was not macro but big close-ups of course.

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    Re: Canon 60mm or Tamron 90mm which one to go for ?

    IMO, a macro lens the focal range of from 90mm to 105mm provides the best combination of lens to subject distance, light weight and reasonable cost.

    I use the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 AF SP Macro Lens which is the forerunner to todays Di offering. The Di designates that the lens has been "optimized" for digital photography. However, my older model (for which I paid about a hundred U.S. Dollars on eBay several years ago) does a fine job.

    The 90mm Tamron is also an excellent portrait lens if you have sufficient space in which to shoot.

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