help me buy a new lens

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by pictureperfect, Dec 12, 2008.

  1. pictureperfect

    pictureperfect TPF Noob!

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    hello all.

    I purchased a Canon 40D camera kit a few months ago. The camera came with a fairly decent lens from what I read but i want to start a nice collection. my main subject will be live corals in an aquarium setting and other things which are mostly static.

    i want to purchase the. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM. I really want to be able to take nice close up photos that show great detail. i want to keep my price UNDER 600.00

    the question i have is two fold. One i'm looking for confirmation that the above lens would be well worth the purchase and two is there another lens that i would be happier with in the same price range.

    i am pretty sure i want a macro lens but i also want a long lens. from what i can see i cant get a quality telephoto lens within my price range.

    any help would be great
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    That is indeed a very sharp lens. Some have called it 'too sharp'.

    You might also consider the macro lenses from Sigma, I think they have a 105mm and a 150mm.
     
  3. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Right - macro your options are:
    Tamron 90mm macro
    Canon EFS 60mm macro, 100mm macro
    Sigma 70mm macro, 105mm, 150mm, 180mm

    All of the above are very sharp lenses and will do macro photography very well so on the one hand you can't choose a bad macro lens (provided you avoid the cheapy 50mm ones).
    Now as for which is best - well longer focal lengths give the advantage of having a longer working distance (min distance from camera to insect) which helps to prevent you from spooking your subject as you go to take a shot; also a longer focal length will increase the amount of background blur in a shot - this is often a desirable feature of macro photography.
    Of course the longer the lens the more in cost and in weight. All of the above are considered handholdable - except for the sigma 180mm macro which is generally considered to be a bit on the heavy side and thus more suited to macro work of a tripod.
    The Tamron is the shortest recomended length and is the lens I know least about - though all acounts hold it as a solid performer
    The Canon EFS 60mm is a very fine lens, sharp and well built - its only "downside" aside from its shorter focal length, is that its only compatable with crop sensor cameras and thus if you are intending to move to a full frame camera its not the best lens to choose
    The Canon 100mm is probably the most popular lens on the list (for canon shooters) and is a solider performer. Its only drawbacks are that it sells without a lenshood or tripod collar - both of these I consider to be essentail components and I really can't understand why Canon sell the lens without the hood. The collar is slightly less essentail, but if your working from a tripod using the collar on the lens rather than the tripod hole on the camera really helps with weight distribution and balance = which will be important when working at macro levels where tiny movements give big differences in what is in the frame. The 100mm though is an inner focusing lens - so as you change the focus the length of the lens remains the same

    The Sigma options fall into 2 sets - the 70mm and 105mm macros are good lenses, but are a little behind some others in some respects. Their AF motors are slightly noisy and slower and they also change length with focusing. The AF issuse is really not a problem when working in macro because that work is done almost all the time in manual focusing - however it is a downside when using the lens out of these conditions. The extension of the lenses as you focus can be a pain at times when focusing no insects - but not too tricky to deal with
    The Sigma 150 and 180mm lenses though are far more improved over the other sigma options - they offer inner focusing, better AF motors (though on the whole macro AF systems are weaker than for normal lenses) and also are compatable with sigma teleconverters - which lets you get more focal range and also increased magnification factors. Interestingly the sigma 150mm price is about the same as a canon 100mm with hood and collar - and the sigma also ships with both items.

    My personal choice was the Sigma 150mm - and if your after a telephoto then either ir or the sigma 180mm are going to give you the most reach.
     
  4. lanceusa

    lanceusa TPF Noob!

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    You could buy the 50mm f/1.4 (~ $300) and kenko extension tubes (~ $100) for macro...then you have a great 50mm for other things.
     
  5. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    true you can use such a combo - however when focusing macro lenses have a far more accurate focusing element which allows for smaller and more precise changes in the focus of a lens - which is why they can end up Hunting for longer if your using AF.
    When you use a non-macro lens you have to factor in the fact that focusing will be a little trickier - also the even though tubes don't contain any glass they still affect the end quality of an image and they also remove your infinity focus; this limits you if your walking about since it means you cannot change from macro to normal without first removing the tubes

    Honestly there are a lot of people that use 50mms - both with tubes and also reversing the lens on the camera by way of adaptors - quality results can be obtained, but its not as easy nor the same as using a dedicated macro lens.
     

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