Advice: Zoom Lens vs Macro Lens?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by CrossEyed, Mar 22, 2010.

  1. CrossEyed

    CrossEyed TPF Noob!

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    Hi everyone, I'm new to TPF and have just recently started to put together my DSLR equipment. I am very much a beginner with SLR's. My goal with photography is first to improve the quality of my family photo collection as I have three young grand kids to shoot and second to venture into the realm of macro photography. I have a Canon xSi with the 18-55 kit lens and a Canon 50MM f1.8 MKI lens. I am happy with both lens' but feel short in terms of telephoto and macro capability.

    I am looking for advice before I buy another lens. I have around $400 budgeted for another lens and would like to know if there is a good telephoto lens that would extend my range beyond the 18-55 kit lens and also take good quality macro pics. In my review of different telephoto lens' I notice that most are labeled as "macro" and this is a little confusing. as a beginner I am probably more interested in the macro capability than telephoto.

    Any Advice??? Thanks!!

    Mike
     
  2. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Many times lenses are called "macro" as a marketing buzz word tool rather than a description of a lenses actual capabilitites for making macro images.

    This is in your price range, new:
    EOS (SLR) Camera Systems - Macro - Macro Lens - EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM - Canon USA Consumer Products

    I would get a telephoto and a separate macro. The macro is a specialised lens and combining both fuctions in a signle lens would require compromises to both functions.

    This would better fit your functional requirements but is not in your price range:
    http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controller?act=ModelInfoAct&fcategoryid=155&modelid=19091

    This is Canon's primere macro lens:

    http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controller?act=ModelInfoAct&fcategoryid=155&modelid=7325
     
  3. NateS

    NateS TPF Noob!

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    I would personally look at something like the Tamron 90mm f2.8. The 60mm is going to be very close to the focal range of your 50. Kill 2 birds with one stone and get the T90 (often called the portrait macro) and you'll have a 1:1 macro AND a longer lenght portrait lens for outdoors or whatever you a need longer focal length for.
     
  4. CrossEyed

    CrossEyed TPF Noob!

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    Thanks Keith!

    I've looked at that lens and almost pulled the trigger through Canon this weekend. I guess I've been trying to fit both needs into one package. I did run across a used Canon EF 100MM f2.8 Macro for $20% more than the new 60MM. Is there a 20% advantage to a beginner?

    Mike
     
  5. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    The original canon f2.8 macro is a steal at the moment - its been upgraded to the 100mm f2.8 IS L which has some very nice advantages, but image quality wise both lenses deliver the same amount. If you can get hold of the original 100mm f2.8 macro or the Tamron 90mm macro you would have a good solid macro lens that will also do portrait work as well.

    The basic line is that the longer the focal length of the lens the more working distance you have (distance from the lens to the subject) which is key when shooting macro of things like insects.
     
  6. NateS

    NateS TPF Noob!

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    A couple advantages. 100mm f2.8 is going to have a smaller DOF for subject isolation (like you get with your 50). Also when shooting macros, 100mm is going to give you more distance between you and your subject. Useful for shooting bugs as a 60mm is going to have you so close that most bugs will probably be scared away.
     
  7. Hardrock

    Hardrock TPF Noob!

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    I would definitely look into getting the Canon 100mm F2.8 macro lens. Its an outstanding macro lens and a portrait lens especially for the price. I have 4 different lens and the 100mm is my most used!
     
  8. CrossEyed

    CrossEyed TPF Noob!

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    [/quote]

    A couple advantages. 100mm f2.8 is going to have a smaller DOF for subject isolation (like you get with your 50). Also when shooting macros, 100mm is going to give you more distance between you and your subject. Useful for shooting bugs as a 60mm is going to have you so close that most bugs will probably be scared away.[/QUOTE]

    Great point! I had been thinking about the macro lens as "what has the closest focal point?" not about where that puts my DOF.

    Thanks!
     
  9. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If you are shooting insects, I will say at least 100mm (or the 90mm Tamron).

    Often that I wish I do not need to stand too close to them with my 100mm macro lens.

    I bought the older EF 100mm F/2.8 macro (non-usm) lens used from ebay for less than $350. And it had been great macro lens for me. Here is a sample photo taken with that lens.

    [​IMG]


    In the 100mm range macro lens, most of them are pretty good. Either from Canon, Nikon Sigma as well as Tamron. From what I read from the lens review sites, the Tamron is cheaper but optically excellent lens.
     
  10. Jeremy Z

    Jeremy Z No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If you get the macro lens, get the longer one. I had a Tokina 90 mm f/2.5 ATX Macro for my Nikon manual focus SLR years ago, and it was fantastic. The optical quality was at least as good as Nikon.

    Another thing to note about true macro lenses is that they are much better corrected for distortion than regular lenses. They're usually sharper too. The manufacturers like to put 'macro' on the lens, meaning that it focuses closely enough that they consider it close-up capable. But these lenses are in no way true macro lenses.

    I'd reconsider the purchase of the macro instead of the tele zoom if I were you. You said that you're a grandfather of young grandkids. Because of that, I think you will got a LOT more use & satisfaction from a typical telephoto zoom lens. Get the Canon one in the 55-200 mm range with the built in optical image stabilizer. You will use it all the time to capture candid moments and maybe sports with your grandkids. It may turn out that it is also good enough to meet your macro needs.

    Later, when you rebuild the bank account, consider whether you want a true macro lens or a wide angle zoom, tripod, bounce flash, etc. Again, with grandkids growing up quickly, I would bet you'd get more use & enjoyment out of a bounce flash than a dedicated macro lens. With a bounce flash, not only does the lighting look better because it lights up the whole room, but it is also not as irritating to your subject because you're not firing the flash directly into their eyes.

    When I had the aforementioned macro lens, I was really proud of it. It was so sharp, pretty fast. I reasoned that it doubled as a portrait lens, but it was actually too sharp for that duty. Those were in the film days, so it captured every tiny blemish and the customers (family) were not too happy with the result. ;) Nowadays, it is easy enough to remove blemishes, but then why spend big bucks on a macro lens?

    Also, I just now realized, when you said before that you don't feel like you're getting close enough, did you mean that you literally want to see more detail in small subjects, (like bug or flower shots) or just that you're not able to zoom in closely enough to fill the frame with what you want? (like zooming in on a bird, or distant kid?)

    Just some things to think about.
     
  11. JustAnEngineer

    JustAnEngineer TPF Noob!

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    The $519 EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM is a terrific 1:1 macro lens. It's also a great prime lens for other applications, if a 100mm focal length suits your needs. However, if you're wanting to reach out there with a telephoto for wildlife, etc., you may find the fixed 100mm focal length to be insufficient.

    There are some quite cheap 70-300mm f/4-5.6 telephoto zoom lenses from Tamron ($164) and Sigma ($209) that have 1:2 magnification (half of true 1:1 macro) that could be an inexpensive way to cover both bases, with the disadvantage that these don't have anywhere near the image quality of the dedicated macro lenses.

    P.S.: An even cheaper way to get into macro photography would be to add a set of extension tubes ($169) to your existing EF 50mm f/1.8 lens. A single 25mm extension tube ($99) would let you get as close as 0.68 magnification (2/3 of true 1:1 macro), but you wouldn't be able to focus to infinity while the extension tube is mounted. Note that with a 50mm lens at that range, you'll have to get extremely close to the subject.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2010
  12. CrossEyed

    CrossEyed TPF Noob!

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    Thank you all for the sound advice!! TPF is a great place! I have been lurking a while and found this to be similar to my fav. watch forum. I have pretty much decided to go with the 100MM f2.8 Canon thanks to your advice. I will have to save for the action and zoom later in the spring, prior to summer activities.:blushing:

    Again thanks for all the replies!!!
     

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