Hi all, wandering if you guys can suggest a macro lens thats as good a quality for a low budget, as well as your views on macro extension tubes, any good?
Hi all, wandering if you guys can suggest a macro lens thats as good a quality for a low budget, as well as your views on macro extension tubes, any good?
I know nothing about macro work. But until someone who does comes in and sees your post, you might want to go into 'Discussion Categories' from the menu bar and click on 'Macro Photography'. There's a lot of discussion in there that you might find helpful.
Having been into macro for some years and viewing many many sites, posts and images the general consensus seems to be that you can not buy a bad macro lens. The Nikons, Canons and Tamrons seem to be the most popular used when viewing high class images.
Have you considerd which focal length will suit your intended use ?
I have used extension tubes with both my 105D and 105VR to get even closer with great results. What you must be aware of when uing these tubes (and I use Kenko) is that with the weight of something like the 105VR especially if you are using a couple of tubes makes the rig a bit flexible so care is needed.
Hope this assists.
Last edited by Stagecoach; 5th November 2012 at 09:09 AM.
Hi Allen, I use a Tamron SP AF90mm F/2.8 Di Macro 1:1.
Brilliant lens, really sharp.
Here is a link to where you can get one.
Also I use Kenko tubes and I'm happy with them as well. Think they were an ebay job.
I picked up a used Tamron 90 mm macro about a year ago, after doing some research. The general consensus is that the tamron is not quite as rugged as Canon or Nikkor, but optically on par with either and a fraction of the cost. The question is focal length; all will give you 1:1, shorter focal lengths will require that you get very close, long focal length will allow more distance from your subject. The longer lenses are going to cost more than the shorter lenses. I find that the 90mm gives me a nice compromise, it is excellent for macro of flowers, most insects, and makes a darn fine portrait lens
The question is what you plan on using the lens for.
I do a lot of macro, so I may be able to help, but to start, you have to tell us what body you are shooting with (brand and crop vs. FF), what subjects you want to shoot, and just how close you want to get.
I shoot a Canon crop-sensor camera. For flowers, particularly cut flowers that I shoot indoors, I often use a 60mm lens (the Canon EF-S 60mm, which is superb) because I want a relatively short working distance. For bugs, I usually use a 100mm lens because you can stay a bit farther away and hence spook them less. The body is not relevant if you are shooting at minimum working distance (MWD), but it matters at greater distances because the crop has a narrower field of view and hence more reach. Extension tubes are an inexpensive way to get macro capabilities, but extension darkens the field, so unless you are staring with a very fast lens or working in very bright light, it can get pretty dark. I have a set of Kenko tubes, but I usually use them with my macro lenses in order to get more than 1:1 magnification. Occasionally I use them with my 70-200 when I want a lot of reach, but even with the full 68mm of tubes, that gives less magnification than a true macro lens without tubes.
I don't want to go too far down the road of giving advice before knowing more about what you want to shoot, but for a lot of people, a good way to start with macro is to buy a true macro lens used. Macro is very demanding, and people often find they like it less than they thought they would. The advantage of buying used is that there is not much risk--you can turn around and resell the lens with little or no loss. The advantage of buying a true macro lens is that you will have an optimal setup for trying out macro and, if you like it, you are all set.
What objects are you interested in shooting?
These affect the focal length that you will require.
I'm using a 100 macro on both a crop body (sometimes with tubes), and the same lens on a FF body with an extender.
The choice is in large part determined by the size of the photographic object.
All the flower shots on the link below were taken with the 100 macro lens (both bodies were used).
If your budget is tight, adding an extension tube to an existing lens might be worth considering. But subject to having a suitable lens. There aren't any good cheap 'real' macro lenses.
Also, as previously mentioned, it depends on your subjects because tubes get you closer, they don't actually increase the magnification. Well hardly any increase.
I started insect photography with a Canon 70-300 lens plus a 25 mm tube. This worked reasonably well for larger subjects and I was able to shoot at a distance which didn't scare them.
Using flash helps in tricky light.
But, as always, once addicted to macro photography I wanted more. So I now use a 180 mm macro lens often with a 1.4x converter attached.
However, for general flower work I often find my 24-105 lens actually produces better results.
The problem with live insects is being able to physically get really close without scaring them away.
Inanimate objects are a different case, where tubes can be a big help.
The other essential is a good tripod.
I have recently bought a Raynox DCR-250 macro conversion lens that attaches to the end of your lens, particularly recommended on a telephoto lens. The lens gets good reviews and although I haven't had much time to experiment yet my initial attempts on flowers are promising. I haven't had a chance to try insects yet but hope to soon. At less than £40 it may be worth consideration.
There is a problem that with the ecconomically priced extension tubes there is no electrical connection between lens and camera ... result is that the 'divorced' lens will likely default to wide open which is great for focusing but very bad for the photo where at the close distances you need every bit of depth of field you can achieve.
Second 'problem' if you want to call it that ... to get true macro which is the image of the subject the same size on the sensor as in real life you need "double extension" and this can be a problem when using the longer lens. a 35mm lens needs 35mm extension while a 135mm lens needs 135mm extension. [For the nit pickers ... I am ignoring the focusing ability of each lens in question which means you can get away with less extension ... lens focusing is a form of extension.
For tight framed shots my preference is to use a long lens and a close-up lens to overcome the usual problem that long lenses, or long end of zooms, cannot focus as close as shorter lenses. With my bridge camera [430mm zoom] and a two dioptre I fill the frame with a 35mm across subject ... my M4/3 and its 280mm AoV zoom only gets me a 50mm across subject, but I can crop more with it than the bridge camera and its tiny sensor. The point in all this is that we are after a tight framing and going in close is not the only or even always the best way to do it.
So my suggestion is that while a macro lens is definitely more convienient the ecconomical way is something like the Raynox options or else if you shoot Canikon, their close-up lens which are considerably better quality than the $10 sets on Ebay/Amazon if rather more expensive. But for starters the cheap sets will enable you to cheaply confirm if this aspect of photography really grabs you and you want to pursue it Even a cheap plastic magnifying glass can be fun to play with and has been known to give good results ... to the confusion of the 'experts' who write about these things
I've posted this before but here my DSLR is using its legacy 135mm lens with bellows for a near 'macro' shot.
Last edited by jcuknz; 5th November 2012 at 09:28 PM.
They do, but how much depends on the length of the lens and the length of the tubes. By allowing you to get closer, tubes increase the magnification at minimum working distance. The regular equation does not quite work for macro lenses at MWD, but as a rough guide, figure that the magnification will be roughly (extension+focal length)/focal length. For macro lenses at MWD, this underestimates magnification, from what I have read. So, the shorter the macro lens, the greater the magnification from a given amount of extension. A full set of Kenko tubes (68mm when stacked) give you better than 2:1 on a 60mm macro lens at MWD. I'll post an example below.because tubes get you closer, they don't actually increase the magnification. Well hardly any increase.
By the same token, adding tubes to a long lens will generally not get you to the 1:1 magnification of a true macro lens at MWD.
Canon 50D, EF-S 60mm macro, 68 mm tubes. To gauge the size and magnification, those are my fingernails on the left.
I'm going to jump in and add my voice to the Tamron 90 1:1 choir... I got mine second hand for $250, admittedly it's not the best construction, but the glass is excellent. Used with my 1.7 tele-converter, it's even better. And the TC keeps the aperture coupling and auto-focus working.
This is a small spider on top of a clothes pin.
I consider a true macro lens (as opposed to a close focusing zoom lens which the manufacturer has tagged with the name "macro" to encourage sales) far more pleasant with which to shoot with than working with extension tubes.. This is because I have unlimited focusing from infinity to 1:1.
Macro lenses generally can achieve a 1:1 image without an adapter. The exception to this is the older Canon 50mm f/2.5 macro and the Cosina 100mm f/3.5, both of which focus to a 1:2 image ratio and use adapters to get down to 1:1.
The macro lenses come in various focal lengths but, with the exception of the two lenses mentioned above, they will all achieve 1:1 imagery. It doesn't matter if we are talking about a 50mm Sigma, a 90mm Tamron, a 100mm Canon, a 105mm Nikkor or the 150mm and 180mm macro lenses available. All will produce the same size image at 1:1.
The differences are that the lens to subject distances of the longer focal lenses are greater than the shorter focal lengths. The longer distance allows more flexibility in lighting a macro shot and tends not to frighten the little creepie crawlies you are shooting.
However, the drawback can be that longer focal length lenses are heavier and more expensive than macros of shorter focal lengths.
I consider 90-105mm as a good compromise between subject distance balanced against weight and cost.
I shoot with a 90mm f/2.8 Tamron AF SP Macro Lens which is the model previous to the present Tamron offering. The present Di model is optimized for digiotal work but, my older Tamron produces excellent imagery. Best of all, I paid only one hundred U.S. Dollars for this lens years ago from eBay.
A lens which is seldom mentioned but is quite inexpensive is the Cosina 100mm f/3.5 Macro which is marketed under several different names including, Vivitar, Phoenix, Voigtlander and remarkably; Pentax. While not a stellar lens it seems to do a fairly good job at about the price of a decent set of extension tubes. I cannot recommend this lens because I have never seen it, much less shot with it. I just threw the name in because of the price...
One of the least expensive options is using a reverse ring. Pretty much any quality of lens combos can be used with this setup for remarkably good results.
In using a "combo" .... when playing around to see what happens there is an important consideration ... put two ways .... can the camera lens see though the additional lens without vignetting or the reverse comment ... is the additional lens big enough?
Adding my f/1.4 50mm prime to my old Canon s20 P&S with its x2 zoom, I think 80mm AoV, I got severe vignetting. Adding my nice large LF lens [135mm f/4.5] to my x12 zoomed bridge camera [ 430mm AoV ] works well because the camera lens has a narrow enough AoV to see through the addition.
If at all possible I suggest you play/try the combo before buying
Be wary of Bellows on digital cameras. Now I use one, but have a filter installed in the mount to the camera, why, because a bellows can pump dust like nothing else into a camera. In other words your sensor will get dirty. This is the reason why camera manufacturers have dropped bellows from their line up.
The Tamron macro is good and even better value, but it has the disadvantage of extending as you focus closely. A fixed length macro is an advantage. whatever you get beware the large front element, remember you need to get light onto your subject.
There is an excellent site at www.macrostop.com where you can download free PDFs on the subject of Macro Photography.
I hope it is of use.
There are a series of tutorials on macro photography on this site. As to lens in some ways I prefer 100mm that work to 2:1 because of the working distance. Generally the working distance is sufficient to allow the use of a cameras built in flash. Where these go to 1:1 they are likely to shade the light off the flash. The 50mm macro lenses invariably do. There working distance is also a lot shorter.
There are a wide range of manual lenses available. I have tried a Pentax 100 F4, Vivitar 50mm F2.8 and a Sigma 50mm F2.8 all on adapters. I would say that most makes can be bought with a fair amount of confidence especially 35mm types used on an APS or smaller sized sensor.
Reversal rings were are often used with 50mm old standard lenses. The idea and reason for the lenses performing well is the lens to subject distance. The front end is intended to be far from the subject and the other end close to the film. Optics work the same way both ways round. Image and object can be interchanged without any drop in performance. This arrangement works well at higher magnification ratio's on bellows but a true bellows lens is likely to offer better performance.
The cheapest option is a zoom lens and extension tubes. Most people already have a suitable lens. The sums for calculating magnification are in the tutorial on here. The important aspect is having sufficient pixels under the subject rather than the actual magnification, Eg this was taken on a 12mp Pen which is roughly equivalent to 15mp on aps using the 100mm Pentax at 2:1. The body of the spider was under 6mm long. Excuse the focus. It's rather difficult on a Pen as a 7x magnified view has to be used - like hand holding a 1400mm lens focused at a short distance on 35mm. It's not even easy to keep the subject in frame as only a tiny part of it can be seen. Given the size of the image expanded (100% crop) you can see that there is plenty of scope for smaller subjects. Printing at 600dpi on A4 looses some detail.
I would like to recommend you TAMRON AF 17-50MM F/2.8 XR DI II LD if you are preety low on budget, Very Clear Shots and low light performance is awesome, I bought it on sale form direct bargains. Its here
Depending on how limited the budget the fact remains that the ways other than a macro lens will be cheaper but each with limitations ... the limitation of the macro lens is a lack of money in your bank account but it is a very convienent way to go if you can justify the expense ... I have yet to with tubes, bellows and CU lenses, mostly bought before macro lenses came on the market
I have three sets of extension tubes and the latest for MFT when used with my 50mm legacy lens gives me a 10mm subject on the 17mm MFT sensor ... more than 'macro' It has to be my legacy lens becuase all are the 'cheap' kind picked up at 'sales tables' over the years.
There is an important warning to be repeated that if using lens without manual control of the iris you must get the tubes with electrical connects between camera and lens.