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Thread: Canon 180mm macro lens

  1. #1

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    Canon 180mm macro lens

    I thought about getting one of these But, BIG BUT,
    It is an old design (about 1995) non stabilised and it seems is only able to utilise the more central focusing points in a FF camera like a 5DIII. This latter seems odd but presumably relates to optical design of the lens. Now in macro focus is critical, and if one is to use AF it will often not be at the centre of the image but on a third for example, and the last one wants to do is focus and the recompose.
    What have other members of the forum found? Would I be better off buying a sigma equivalent with stabilisation and a more modern design? Would this be better operationally? Should I wait for a Canon redesign at greatly increased cost for the lens? I already have the 100mm macro so its the extra distance I am looking for.
    Opinions welcomed especially those who have used these lenses.

  2. #2

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    Re: Canon 180mm macro lens

    Wouldn't you normally use the lens on a tripod, in which case you could easily manual focus, especially if your camera has Live View?

  3. #3
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    Re: Canon 180mm macro lens

    I most often use manual focus with my 90mm Tamron Macro. But, I only use this lens for macro and close up photography.

    However, if you want to use this lens for other than macro and close up shots - then maybe stabilization would be the way to go...

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    Re: Canon 180mm macro lens

    I suppose the question we really need answering is exactly what do you intend to photograph?

    My macro lens is the older Sigma 180 which works fine for what I do; mostly live insects.

    Like the previous answers, I mostly use it with manual focus and always on a tripod. And frequently with a 1.4x converter added. Canon 7D or 40D.

    When I was originally purchasing this lens I did also consider the Canon. The consensus of opinion was that the Canon was fractionally better but this was at a substantially increased cost.

    For other work, like flowers for example, the Canon 24-105 is often my preferred choice.

  5. #5
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    Re: Canon 180mm macro lens

    I have a Canon 180 macro that I use primarily for flower closeups on a 1Ds3. I don't shoot insects but I thought the extra working distance would be useful. I haven't used other brands so I cannot make a comparison. I like mine very much and often use the "stacked focus" technique to capture the required DOF. Here is my favorite rose shot made with a single softbox and white reflector. This is a composite of five images shot at f/13. The bloom is about two inches in diameter. The 180 captured the fine detail very well which makes an impressive print.

    Paul S

    Canon 180mm macro lens

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    Re: Canon 180mm macro lens

    If you must get a 180mm then get that new Sigma 180/2.8. A stellar lens from all reports.

    Mine is the new Sigma 150/2.8. A lens which Photozine.de compares favourably with the famous Voigtlander 125/2.5.

    Though macro mostly requires MF for the best focus, its AF is amazingly superb.

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    Re: Canon 180mm macro lens

    Impressive image indeed Paul.

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    Re: Canon 180mm macro lens

    After seeing Paul's image, I rushed out and purchased the Canon lens. Only one problem: I own a Nikon system.

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    Re: Canon 180mm macro lens

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    After seeing Paul's image, I rushed out and purchased the Canon lens. Only one problem: I own a Nikon system.
    Happens all the time in the Canon world. You may as well just change ... you know you want to!

    (and resistance is futile!)

  10. #10
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Canon 180mm macro lens

    The 180F/3.5L is one of the most superb Canon Optics I have used (rented).

    The 180/3.5L ranks with the: EF35F/1.4L EF50F/2.5; EF135F/2L; TS-E 90F/2.8; EF300F/2.8L and maybe exceeds both the 100F/2.8Macros.

    I haven’t used the Sigma lens to which you refer, but I doubt it would be optically superior: you should seek an (unbiased) A/B comparison.

    The features you mention and classify as negative:
    • It is an old design (about 1995)
    • non stabilised
    • is only able to utilise the more central focusing points in a FF camera like a 5DIII.
    • if one is to use Auto Focussing


    all seem irrelevant to me if the lens is being used for Macro Work.

    If, on the other hand and for example, the lens is being used for Portraiture or Landscape, then Centre Point Auto Focus and Recompose, is no problem at all – and neither should the lack of IS be any real problem: ‘cause one would have a tripod for the Landscape or Studio Portraiture and if Candid Portraiture, then the Tv would have to be fast enough to arrest Subject Motion and that would be within the realm of the Tv suitable for Hand Holding, anyway.

    WW



    @ PRSearls:
    Paul - Bravo! Excellent Photograph

  11. #11
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    Re: Canon 180mm macro lens

    Hi Loosecanon (we use real names here, so it would be great if you would add yours to your profile),

    I second the comment that it would be very helpful to know what you want to shoot, and also whether you have a crop or FF camera.

    I shoot a great deal of macro, both flowers and bugs. You can check some of them at my site. I use a 100mm L for bugs and mostly an EF-S 60mm for arranged shots of flowers (indoors). A 180 could be handy for bugs because of the longer reach. Minimum working distance (MWD) with the Canon 100 is about 6 inches, vs. 9.5 for the 180. However, I personally would not find it worth the extra cost and weight. When I do bugs, I usually am hauling around a fairly heavy and awkward rig (the camera and lens, a flash with a DIY bracket that holds the head close to the front of the lens, and a monopod), and I would prefer not to add weight and move the weight even more off center. Other people find the extra reach is more than enough benefit to them to compensate.

    For tripod work, I would find the extra working distance a real PITA. Even the 100mm is often long than I would like on the (large) table I use, which is why I usually end up with the 60mm for that.

    Re stabilization: conventional stabilization is of nearly zero benefit at macro distances. It corrects for angular rotation, which is not the big problem with macro work. The big problem is motion parallel to the sensor. I may be wrong, but as far as I know, the Canon 100mm L is currently the only camera with IS that addresses this motion. It has "hybrid" IS, combining this with conventional IS that is valuable at greater distances. So other than that, the main value of stabilization is if you are going to use the lens for non macro uses.

    Re focusing: as some have said, much of macro work is done with manual focusing, either focusing the lens manually or prefocusing the lens and moving the camera. Still, for some work, I find AF handy. I keep AF on the back button and use only macro lenses with full time manual focusing. (Does the 180 have this?) That way, I can get a quick approximate focus with AF and immediately correct manually or by moving the camera, without worrying that depressing the shutter will trigger the AF again. I do this a lot with bugs. I set the AF to center point (my camera does not have great off-center points), aim that at the most important part (usually the eyes), and focus, worrying about cropping later for composition. The AF on my 100 is accurate enough for that, but the bug's motion or my own is usually enough to throw focus off after the fact, so I have to adjust manually most of the time. For that reason, I would never buy a macro lens that does not have FTM focusing.

    As for crop vs. FF: this is more complicated for macro than for other uses. In general, the reach of a lens is longer on a crop because of the narrower FOV, so the usual advice is that if you want a given amount of reach, you buy a shorter lens for a crop. This does not hold at MWD, however. AFAIK, the MWD of a macro lens is identical regardless of the sensor.

    Dan

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    Re: Canon 180mm macro lens

    I would like to take photo like this

    wonderful

    impress me

    happy to see it

    Thanks


    [IMG]Canon 180mm macro lens[/IMG]

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    Re: Canon 180mm macro lens

    OK Thai Silk ... how about finding something that looks like it and take a range of shots with different exposures. If none are quite like it you may need to combine two or more frames using the HDR process to keep the range of lighting apparently captured here.
    Your camera may have the 'bracket' option and use it first with a one stop difference and then increase the difference for another set ... that way you will learn about capturing a wide range of tones/lighting strengths. In your example I imaging that a strait exposure for the lights would render the white stonework as quite dark .. I could be wrong on that. Some cameras have a three frame bracket option, others a five frame and some a seven frame ... you need to work out what is best for various situations.

  14. #14

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    Re: Canon 180mm macro lens

    Many thanks to all who have contributed.
    Sorry I don't put my name on here or any other forum, we live in a world where people can find where you live, and on a photo forum you are advertising "this is an address with portable stuff worth stealing." Paranoia, maybe, but I did come downstairs a few years ago to find all my then photo gear piled up ready to be removed by a thief.
    I use both full frame and cropped sensor cameras, and my interest in macro is general - from microscopy, bellows and macro lenses.
    In this case I saw a second hand 180mm macro lens and wondered if it would be worth adding for the extra working distance, especially as one can add the 1.4 extender to it. When in the garden or nearby nature sites the extra weight is not too important - I always take a tripod. However hand held can be important for those unexpected shots and this is where autofocus really matters, the grab shot that cannot be repeated.

  15. #15

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    Re: Canon 180mm macro lens

    Most of us just use our first name, or nickname, and never give too much detail about actual location.

    So to sum up macro lens ideal sizes. If you can get closer to your subject, that is the way to go because less lens magnification means less risk of distortion. Subject to not causing shadows or other loss of lighting. And using an extension tube can be helpful.

    When the subject to lens distance has limitations of accessibility or the risk of causing your subject to run away, more magnification is the only answer.

    I find that quick shots are usually possible with a tripod, subject to the type of tripod head. Those which require the separate adjustment of two handles take more time than a quick release ball head or similar head.

    And I set up my ball heads for single handed use.

    With macro photography, where the depth of sharp focus is often less than half an inch, I find hand held shots to be difficult to obtain, even if there wasn't any camera shake.

    And the same focus depth problem is the chief reason for using manual focus instead of AF, so I can focus exactly on the required area of a subject. For example to get an insect's eyes sharply focused even though the tail may be beyond the focus point.

    Therefore, for really detailed shots of live insects, I would certainly recommend a 180 mm lens. Often, I need to 'count the toes' of a live and uncooperative bug in order to obtain a positive identification; so using a 180 mm lens plus extender is the only way which works for me.

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