Best Macro lens for 200-300 Dollars USD?

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by PhilGarber, Mar 10, 2009.

  1. PhilGarber

    PhilGarber TPF Noob!

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    Hi-

    Haven't posted in a few weeks.. My birthdays coming up on April 19th (turning 14) and for my birthday I get to go to BH and buy a Lens :)mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen:-Not to mention Lombardi's afterword's)! Ok, I'll stop rambling. What I've decided I want is my first macro lens.. What is a good Macro (1:1) lens in the 200-300 USD range? I've heard that when buying a macro lens, you have to factor in a ring-lite.. are these obsolutely nessary? I would shoot both indoors and outdoors. If it's any help, here's my current gear:

    Rebel XT

    18-55 Kit Lens

    Polarizer

    Tital Tripod

    _

    I have thought a lot about this and decided that this is really where I want to go with my photography.

    Thanks,

    Phil,
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2009
  2. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    As for macro advice I have this to say;
    If your looking to photograph insects then you want at least 90mm worth of focal length or more in a macro lens to get a good working distance (distance from camera sensor to subject) - going shorter makes things harder since you are closer to the insect and thus have a greater chance of spooking it.

    After that one has to decide if your going to shoot handheld or from a tripod, tripod macro shooting is best for static and slow subjects where you have time to get into position, for insects early in the morning or late evening are decent times, though during the middle of the day most are too active for tripod shooting. One can use a lure to attract some bugs (like honey on a tree or rotting fruit) and then shoot from a tripod.
    Handheld shooting definatly needs a flash nearly all the time (certainly for full magnification) and for moving insects one often has to keep a fast shutter speed, so even on a tripod flash is important - though one can take measure to reduce the glare from a flash.

    For canon the macro lens options are:
    Canon EFS 60mm macro - good solid lens, its down side is that its only EFS compatable (crop sensor cameras only) and its short focal length.
    Canon 100mm macro - very popular choice and a solid performer, it is sold without hood or tripod collar, both of which are important additions. The collar is very important for stable tripod shooting, whilst the hood is - well its a lens hood you should never be without one - though I have read that the hood is not usable when working in macro
    Sigma 70mm macro - good solid choice from sigma and one of their sharpest lenses
    Sigma 105mm macro - again a good solid choice of lens
    Sigma 150mm macro - this and the 180mm macro are sigmas top range macro lenses, both are better builds than the other sigma options; offer HSM focusing motors; teleconverter compatability and are solid performers. The 150mm is light enough to handhold for macro work, whilst the 180mm is generally considered a bit heavy for prolonged macro work
    Sigma 180mm macro - often chosen instead of the canon 180mm macro as its optical quality is the same, but its price is much more affordable
    Tamron 90mm macro - shortest recomended macro lens for insect shooting. A cheaper but good option

    Generally I avoid the 50mm macro options as they are weaker builds than the others - also the canon is not a true 1:1 macro lens unless you combine it with the canon 500D macro filter (its a filter not a camera)

    In general all the macro lenses listed are sharp and well built and one would be hardpressed to impossible to tell which was used for a macro shot. Generally macro lenses are poorer AF than nonmacro lenses because of the fact that AF is not used in macro photography (one will set the AF to manual, set the focus to the desired level - often full magnification or 1:2 for larger insects like butterflies - and then focus by moving the camera and lens closer and further away from the subject.

    For lighting idealy a ringflash is used, but one can also use speedlites to good effect - even a popup flash on a rebel camera can give usable lighting, but only for around subjects of the size of flowers or butterflies - for full 1:1 macro work its not got the power. For the flash light though I do recomend diffusing the light, I use a 580M2 flash with a lumiquest softbox and I find the softbox to be fantastic at softening the light from the flash. One can also use folds of toiletpaper (white) held infront of the flash (elastic band) as a makeshift diffuser. As your starting out I would say go for a speedlite (430 or 580) since it will be usable in all walks of photography, whilst ringflashes are much more specific to macro only (they don't have the power of a speedlite - though ringflashes can make for good portrate flashes).

    now give me a sec to work out the US prices of things
     
  3. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Ok had a look at the prices on amazon.com and I gots bad news :(
    Cheapest I saw was EFS 60mm macro at $400 - sadly this seems to be the base starting price for the macro gear.
    Unless you are able to push your budget higher ($486 can get you the canon 100mm macro which would be far easier to use for insect work than the 60mm) I would say you have the following options:

    1) wait and save
    3) try some extension rings (kenko) for your kit lens - can get you to 1:1 macro and a little bit more when they are all used, but of course its a short working distance - very short
    3) try the second hand market - might just be able to get one of the shorter macros, in your budget with this.
     
  4. PhilGarber

    PhilGarber TPF Noob!

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    Thanks Overread-Damn the economy :( . Anyway..Yeah, I'll try BH used. Thanks for the advice!
     

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