Good Macro Lens for Outdoors / No Flash

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by dakkon76, Mar 7, 2009.

  1. dakkon76

    dakkon76 TPF Noob!

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    So I've got my new XSi and looking to buy my first macro lens. Macro is by far my favorite type of photography, specifically plants and cool textures I find while out hiking. I'm hoping my choice could also be useful for subjects say 10-20 feet away or so... cool stumps, branches and such, no landscapes with this lens of course. I plan on packing a tripod. Bugs/animals aren't really my thing, although they're awesome to look at... so I don't think I need something with lots of reach.

    I'm leaning toward the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM which looks like it takes some amazing macro shots, but should also be capable of some of the other things I might be interested in while hiking. This lens is about $490 at my local shop, which is kind of the top of what I'd like to spend.

    There are also some Sigma/Tamron primes ranging from 60-90mm. I hear a longer lens will lose some quality, so I'm not sure a 150mm+ is what I want if I'm only doing macro that I can get close to? Wondering if these are some good choices, and also if perhaps I might want a zoom rather than a prime? Currently I've only got my kit lens.

    I'd like to stay away from the Canon EF-S 60mm as I plan on upgrading my body within the next couple of years.

    Suggestions please? Sample pics would be great also! Thanks a ton!
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2009
  2. dmatsui

    dmatsui TPF Noob!

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    From what i've been hearing most people actually prefer the longer lenses for Macro photography. If you have a longer lens it will enable you to be farther away which is easier for some subjects (though if your not into bug macro's thats probably not that big of a deal) and it will also help blur out the background. A 600mm lens at an apeture of f5.6 will have a less blurry background then a 100mm lens at an apeture of f5.6. Which is infact why many people go for the Sigma 180mm macro lens and add teleconverters to it. I do believe that gets to be more expensive then you'd be willing to pay.
    At any rate if canons 100mm macro anything like nikons 105mm macro you'll be very happy with it.
    I've never heard of loss of quality with the longer focal lengths though. Also flash isnt necessary for most subjects however a tripod will be quite critical since you'll be needing to use apertures of F8-F11 to be able to have your subject sufficiently in focus as the DOF especially at 1:1 is very small.
     
  3. photographydame

    photographydame TPF Noob!

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    I recently purchased the Tamron and got a $90.00 rebate.
    pd
     
  4. Seefutlung

    Seefutlung TPF Noob!

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    The Canon 60mm EF-S is an excellant macro. Per www.photozone.de is is a bit sharper than Canon's 100mm macro, which is often used as a standard.

    Gary

    [​IMG]
     
  5. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    IMO, the flash is just as important as the lens in macro photography. The thin DOF becomes increasingly limiting in Macro photography as you open up the aperture because of the lack of light. Without the addition of light, you only other option is boosting the ISO. It is not uncommon to start at an aperture of f/11 or f/13 in macro photography which requires a lot of light with flash as your best option.

    As already mentioned, the longer focal lengths offer better working distance from subject. Zooms will not provide the best performance over dedicated macro primes. You'll want to consider a very stable tripod as well as a means to adjust the camera physically forwards and backwards. The best option is either a tripod with a sliding horizontal column or a focusing rail. Remember, you focus by adjusting the distance between the film plane and subject.

    I do like the 100mm macro and I've heard of wonderful things about the 60mm EF-s (never tried it though). I still don't like the "macro" settings even on my 24-105L. I like my old manual adaptall 90mm Tamron and from what I hear the current version is impressive.
     
  6. dakkon76

    dakkon76 TPF Noob!

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    I was under the impression that the Canon 50D and 5D wouldn't accept an EF-S lens (I see the Mk II doesn't) ... I'm hoping to upgrade to either of those two bodies within the next couple of years... but I just did a search and it looks like both of those bodies will accept an EF-S lens... I'll have to consider this one... just don't want to be limited on bodies later on.

    What are the technical differences between a 100mm macro and 60mm macro? Just the fact that you can bit a few inches farther away w/ the 100mm?
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2009
  7. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    That's what I would (did) get.

    Sample pictures
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Just realized you want "outdoors, no flash". Neither of these fits that, but the lens is more than capable.
     
  8. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    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 larger things like flowers or butterflies - even then remember that its not the best flash in the world and needs diffusing as well. 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).

    Right that is the general advice over - honestly reading what you like a 100mm might suit you well enough - I would always try to aim for an easy "bug capable" lens since one never knows what might take your interest so keeping your options open is a good move (I never thought I would find taking photos of flowers intersting in the least) a shorter macro lens is possible, but its harder to use.
    Also the point about background blur that dmatsl makes is a very valid one and a reason why lenses of the 180mm range are popular amung people who don't shoot bugs and thus don't need to have a longer working distance
     
  9. Seefutlung

    Seefutlung TPF Noob!

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    EF-S lenses only fit cropped sensors cameras (xxD), the 60 EF-S will not fit full frame cameras like the 5DMKII ... but it will fit the 50D.

    Gary
     
  10. Seefutlung

    Seefutlung TPF Noob!

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    BTW- It is all about what Overread stated ... a very good overview and good job Overread!

    Gary
     
  11. dakkon76

    dakkon76 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks a lot Overread! I'll definitely take a look at the Sigma 150mm. I'm looking at your shots as we speak... very impressive :)
     
  12. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Thanks - but remember pick the lens for the features it offers you rather than the images you find on the net - for the lenses listed above I have seen fantastic macro work done with all of them - if you have a browse through flickr or google you can find loads of shots from each.
    We are spoilt for macro lenses at the moment and any one can deliver good results - a big part of it is adapting to the lens you have and getting used to it.
     

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