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Thread: Advice requested - Which Macro Lens for Canon?

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    terrib's Avatar
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    Advice requested - Which Macro Lens for Canon?

    I think my next major purchase is going to be a macro lens and I'm trying to decide between the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens and the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro Autofocus Lens. I would greatly appreciate opinions on this decision, especially from those who have evaluated or used these lenses. I'm also not opposed to other brands but I do tend toward Canon brand because every time I look at reviews when I'm evaluating a purchase, Canon over 3rd party seems to win.

    About me:

    1. Current equipment: see my signature line
    2. Intended use: Primarily for macro work in nature ( Please don't ask me to define nature??? )
    3. Likelihood of use for other purposes: Probably fairly low with my current habits. I'm really interested in closeups of plants, bugs, etc but it will probably run a close 3rd behind Landscapes with Wildlife being my first love. So the 100-400mm for wildlife tends to stay on the camera the most.
    4. Cost factor: Although I can afford either option, I don't need to spend extra money if it's not a fit.

    My current thoughts:

    I read reviews. Both lenses seem to be good. The IS lens seems to win from the standpoint of the new (at the time) IS system but that only applies to subjects further away, not so much on macro work which is my main purpose. There's also the better weather/dust protection build which is always a good point but I am pretty careful with my equipment. I just don't know that much about how the difference between an L vs a non L series lens will show up in my photography. Seems if there is difference in glass quality it would show up in closeup work as well. AF, I'm not so sure about since it seems most closeup work would require manual focus.

    I'm conflicted!

    Thanks for your input!

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    Re: Advice requested - Which Macro Lens for Canon?

    What exactly do you want to take photos of ? If you're not going to take photos of very small things, you really don't need a dedicated macro lens.

    For things like: flowers/dragonflies/butterflies, things of that size, you only need about 1/4 to 1 magnification ratio. You can get that from any prime lens with an extention tube. Your 100-400 has a magnification ratio of 0.20 to 1 . An extention tube on that lens would get you close enough for those types of shots.

    Just a thought, and would save you some money. I've been tossing a macro around in my head as well, but i don't take photos of really small stuff to need one. My 300mm will fill the frame just fine, with most things. I may get an extention tube for my 85mm and i will get alot closer.

    Another lens you might want to check out , is the new 24 -70 L . It has a new macro feature on it.

    As far as the 2 lenses you asked about, the L lens has a slight edge , but they are very similar in IQ, from what i've researched.

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Advice requested - Which Macro Lens for Canon?

    Quote Originally Posted by terrib View Post
    I think my next major purchase is going to be a macro lens and I'm trying to decide between the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens and the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro Autofocus Lens. . . . I would greatly appreciate opinions on this decision, especially from those who have evaluated or used these lenses. . . . I read reviews. Both lenses seem to be good. The IS lens seems to win from the standpoint of the new (at the time) IS system but that only applies to subjects further away, not so much on macro work which is my main purpose.
    I have used both lenses. I own the EF100F/2.8 USM (the older one).
    I do see only a small advantage in ME buying the new version, for the uses I have at the moment, BUT if I were to buy a 100mm Macro Lens now, I would buy the EF100F/2.8L IS USM without hesitation: the choice you have, was not available to me, when I bought my lens.

    Anecdotally, I found the AF is faster on the L Series. The L Series is fractionally sharper wide open.

    It occurs to me that you do not have the correct understanding about the IS on the L Series 100 Macro Lens.

    It is “Hybrid Image Stabilization” (IS).

    This is an optical image stabilization technology that compensates for both Angular Camera Shake (Rotational) and Shift Camera shake (Linear Movement).

    Changes in camera angle can significantly alter images taken during standard shooting: but shift-based shaking, which occurs when a camera moves parallel to the imaging scene, is more pronounced in macro photography and other close-range shooting.

    Hybrid IS incorporates an angular velocity sensor that detects the extent of angle-based shaking and is found in all previous optical image stabilizer mechanisms, as well as a new acceleration sensor that determines the amount of shift-based camera shake.

    Hybrid IS also employs a newly developed algorithm that synthesizes information from the two sensors to make optimal adjustments.


    Advice requested - Which Macro Lens for Canon?
    Canon. Used by permission – REF: their ‘reasonable comment’ clause.


    The Hybrid IS works for hand held field work and also for a Monopod mounted Macro Lens, used in the field.

    If macro shooting in the field is your main aim, then between the two lenses the extra money for the L Series is worth spending: that's my advice.

    WW

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    Re: Advice requested - Which Macro Lens for Canon?

    Hi Terri,
    I bought a Tamron 90mm macro lens:> I don't know if you have looked at them.. but this one is an awesome lens... just thought I would throw this in the mix...
    These pictures were taken with the Tamron lens
    Advice requested - Which Macro Lens for Canon?

    Advice requested - Which Macro Lens for Canon?

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    PhotomanJohn's Avatar
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    Re: Advice requested - Which Macro Lens for Canon?

    Terri,

    As you can see, I am a Nikon person but I would like to make a couple general comments. The first is that even thought the stabilization is not as effective when focusing close, it does help to increase the number of good hand-held photos I end up with. Secondly, it is true one would normally use manual focus with most single shot macro photos. I am starting to do more multiple exposures for focus stacking and find it is hard to do a good job of manually focusing at the proper points to have everything in good focus in the final stack. To solve this I have been controlling the camera with my notebook computer and programming the number and spacing between the exposures. One needs an auto-focus lens do this.

    Hope these comments are of some value to you.

    John

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Advice requested - Which Macro Lens for Canon?

    Hi John,

    I am confused by your post, specifically this sentence:

    "The first [general comment] is that even thought the stabilization is not as effective when focusing close, it does help to increase the number of good hand-held photos I end up with."

    So, in regard to that general comment you made, could you please answer this question:
    Have you have used the EF 100F/2.8 L IS USM hand held for macro photography with the IS engaged?

    WW

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    Re: Advice requested - Which Macro Lens for Canon?

    I use the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 AF SP Macro lens which I purchased used for right around $100 (USD) on eBay several years ago. It is a very sharp lens and is light as a feather. For my limited macro use, it is just great and the price was remarkable.

    However, if I were to purchase a new macro lens, I would consider one of the 100mm f/2.8 Canon Macros. If $$$ were a consideration, I would buy the non IS non-L version. However, if I could afford it, I would snap up the IS L version because in addition to macro work, I would expect that the IS version with the f/2.8 aperture would make a very nice low light short telephoto lens.

    I would not go for one of the shorter macro lenses of 50-60mm or so because IMO, even with a crop camera I would be working too close to my subject. The 150-180mm macros, although they have a great working distance, are a bit heavy to hand hold. I hand hold much of my work with little creepie crawlies. IMO a 90-100mm focal length is the best compromise when considering lens to subject distance vs weight. In reality, the 90mm Tamron is a dream to hand hold but I don't like it for use as a short tele lens because of the rather slow autofocus. Since, I do most of my macro work in manual focus mode, the slow AF of my Tamron doesn't bother me a bit!

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    terrib's Avatar
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    Re: Advice requested - Which Macro Lens for Canon?

    I will be back later today with responses/questions to all of your great feedback but I wanted to quickly jump in and further explain my comment on the IS not being so effective on macro work. I got that from these DP Review Test Results. The shorter conclusions are HERE, second paragraph. Basically saying that it provides 4 stops extra on long distance but only 1 stop on close distance and that it does not help with the backward and forward movement that you get trying to focus closeup handheld - that you'll still need a tripod.

    Thanks for your quick responses! I'll be back.

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    Re: Advice requested - Which Macro Lens for Canon?

    I am with Richard about the 150-180 range. Working with the 100 or lower is pretty back-breaking and you really need to be able to use a tripod effectively, then there is the question of light at the really close distances. That will get you worrying about flash and diffusion, off-camera brackets etc.

    Many times it is not the macro distances which are wanted/needed but a closer working distance. For that reason I tend to use the 70-300L more then the Sigma 150/2.8 OS version. The 70-300L focuses at a minimum working distance of about 4 feet which is about ideal for many things like flowers and larger bugs. Crawlies or small bugs will need closer but things like butterflies, dragonflies, lizards etc do not.

    My recommendation is that you re-assess everything.

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    Re: Advice requested - Which Macro Lens for Canon?

    If you can afford it then go for the Autofocus version, its far more versatile

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    Re: Advice requested - Which Macro Lens for Canon?

    As some others have mentioned, Teri, you really need to be certain about your subjects before purchase.

    If you want really close photos of live nervous insects I would advise using at least 150 mm. And the Sigma 150 macro is popular amongst amateur entomologists.

    However, flowers etc can indeed be adequately photographed with smaller lenses. I often use my Canon 24-105 L lens for that purpose. But it is virtually useless for my serious insect work.

    When shooting live insects for identification, I use the Sigma 180 macro lens and this frequently has a 1.4x converter attached. But not everybody wants that sort of photo.

    For example, Trina's bee photo is a nice general overall shot; but that size would be useless for what I need. I require to fill an image that size with a high definition shot of just the bee; and shot from at least 12 inches away.

    For identification work, I often need to 'count the toes' of a bug etc.

    Also for consideration is other uses for the lens. As previously mentioned, IS would be useful for general use; but I always use a tripod for macro photography so it wouldn't be any advantage there.

    I started my macro photography with a Canon 70-300 lens plus 25 mm extension tube which enabled me to work around 3 ft and produced reasonable general macro photos, always with a tripod.

    But that only gave me the equivalent of 100 mm at 1 ft which just wasn't sufficient for me. Admittedly, modern cameras have a lot more pixels so cropping can help with smaller lenses.

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    terrib's Avatar
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    Re: Advice requested - Which Macro Lens for Canon?

    OK, the responses from beginning to end have convinced me that I haven't really defined my needs. So I'm going to go back to some of my photos and get some examples of what I did vs what I'd like to do. Sorry - I should have done a little more work up front before asking the question.

    As always, y'all are so helpful and I appreciate your time. It may be a few weeks before I get back on it but I'll come back more prepared!

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    Re: Advice requested - Which Macro Lens for Canon?

    Terri:

    My comments:

    1) I have the 100 f/2.8 non IS (older) model.

    2) It was just fine with a APS-C (crop) body.

    3) It's not so fine with a FF (5DII) body, as it is not long enough. Hence I now use a 12 mm extension ring plus a 2.0 Extender on the 5DII to increase the FL.

    4) For closeup/macro I ALWAYS use a tripod; the IS would be pointless in these cases.

    5) How often have I used the 100 mm for images other than closeup/macro? Twice - I dislike being stuck with one focal length. If there was a good macro zoom, I'd have one.

    6) From all accounts, the IQ of the newer 100 lens is a bit better. However the increase is probably best described as marginal.

    7) The weather sealing on the new one is a nice feature; but neither of my bodies are sealed to the same extent so I use a raincoat.


    This review supports one of your comments:

    http://www.photozone.de/canon_eos_ff...on_100_28is_5d

    The review for the original lens:

    http://www.photozone.de/canon_eos_ff..._28_5d?start=1

    Look at the chart for the CA's. The older lens is better. The older lens also performs better in terms of bokeh fringing.

    For the difference in the money, I'd probably get another 100 non IS lens rather than the new IS model.

    Glenn

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Advice requested - Which Macro Lens for Canon?

    Quote Originally Posted by terrib View Post
    . . . and further explain my comment on the IS not being so effective on macro work. I got that from these . . . etc:
    Thanks for expanding. Understood: you were referring specifically that the "in and out" movement to the Subject is NOT addressed by the IS.

    My previous post still stands as my comments and also my recommendations to you in regard to your original question - i.e. choosing between the two 100mm Canon Macro Lenses.

    WW

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    Re: Advice requested - Which Macro Lens for Canon?

    I can't resist jumping in.

    The optimal lens depends on what you are shooting, as well as how much magnification you want. I shoot a crop sensor, as you do, and I find that 100mm is my preferred length for bugs. A longer focal length would increase working distance, but it is damned hard to keep even a 100mm stable enough at close distances if you are hand-holding the camera or using only a monopod--the usual conditions, in my experience, for bugs. A longer, heavier lens would be too difficult, at least for me. 60mm is a nice length for flowers. I do most of my bugs with a 100mm L and most of my flowers with an EF-S 60mm, the latter to have a shorter distance between subject and camera when working on a table top. If I had to choose only one of the two, the 100 would be the better length by far.

    Re the notion that 100mm is not enough: take a look at my macros at http://dkoretz.smugmug.com. I have 5 galleries of them there. None were taken with a lens longer than 100mm. Some of the bugs, including very close up views, were taken with my 60mm, sometimes with tubes, which decreases the working distance even more. However, if bugs are what you want, life is much easier with a 100mm than a 60mm.

    Re optical quality: you are not going to see much if any practical difference between good macro lenses. No one, including me, has ever noticed a difference in quality between the images taken with my two lenses.

    Just for fun, here is one taken with the 60mm and 68mm of extension:

    Advice requested - Which Macro Lens for Canon?

    It is sort of handheld--I was using the floor for support. I so often use whatever the bug is on for support that I ground away part of the rim of a UV filter I was using to protect my 100mm.
    Last edited by DanK; 17th January 2013 at 01:02 AM.

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    Re: Advice requested - Which Macro Lens for Canon?

    Since you have a 250mm [ 400 AoV] lens you are in a good position to save money and simply purchase a moderate Close-up lens of good quality and have almost equal convienience without the trouble of changing lenses. I find a 2 dioptre works for most of my needs[ 99.999%], despite having both extension tubes and bellows. They have not been used in years but the 2d lives in my camera back along with filters which also rarely get used. The macro lens is a modern convienience tool and of course can be used at 'normal' distances, so I would not speak against it except for it being a waste of funds for me and my needs.
    In comparison extension tubes are a PITB despite their appeal to some The bellows has a point becuase with it I got x9 magnification back in film days but it has never been used 'for real'. One of those gadjets photographers accumulate 'for in case' and it feels nice to know one has it 'in case' I wanted one for years until I saw mine in a 'make an offer' sale I gave them $20 back when money was worth something.

    Of course as with most attachments to the lens the automatic functions work as normal instead of having to purchase expensive tube[s] with electrical connects between lens and camera. I have four sets, two M42, one EOS, and one M4/3 ... such is the money we spend over the years I also have adaptor rings so the M42 can be used with either the EOS or M4/3 ... these days with a nice long lens it is redundant technology in my case for my needs.
    A cicada disturbed from its winter sleep.Nikon 5700 with my usual 2 dioptre CU lens. No EXIF that I can find but probably I was using it at full zoom that is 280mm AoV.
    Advice requested - Which Macro Lens for Canon?
    Oh for my final comment when the lens doesn't give me enough blurr I use my editor. Good Bokeh ... URRRGH!

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    Re: Advice requested - Which Macro Lens for Canon?

    Just to put you right, your photograph is not a cicada which is a blackish coloured bug but a tree weta, one of our larger insects, usually around 4 to 5 cm long (1,3/4 to 2 inches).

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    Re: Advice requested - Which Macro Lens for Canon?

    Unless you intend going full frame sometime soon, why not consider the Canon EF-S 60mm f2.8 USM Macro?
    http://slrgear.com/reviews/showprodu...uct/138/cat/10

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    Re: Advice requested - Which Macro Lens for Canon?

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamS View Post
    Unless you intend going full frame sometime soon, why not consider the Canon EF-S 60mm f2.8 USM Macro?
    http://slrgear.com/reviews/showprodu...uct/138/cat/10

    I have ..and love..this lens!

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    Re: Advice requested - Which Macro Lens for Canon?

    Thank you Keith ... I know nothing about these little creatures and it looked roughly the shape of a cicada with those 'jumping legs" without seeing them together to realise there WAS a difference LOL I also thought that buried in the ground it has lost its colour ... erronious deductions ... Thanks

    As for picking a shorter lens to do the same job there is a point that it is often desirable to stay back and use the longer focal length to achieve tight framing. I see no point to geting a macro lens ... an expensive convienience item when you already almost have it with existing gear. But if you are going to get it I think you are on the right track to go for the 100mm.

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