Questions on Macro lenses.

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Felix0890, Oct 23, 2009.

  1. Felix0890

    Felix0890 TPF Noob!

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    I'm planning on getting a new lens soon and have a question about macro lenses. I love portraiture but have recently been intrigued by macro photography. My choices: a Tamron 28-75/2.8 or a macro lens (have yet to decide on a focal length but I'd like it to be >50mm).

    I know I can't use the 28-75 for [good] macro shots but can I use a macro lens for decent portraits? If I get a macro lens that's fast (I like using natural lighting even in dim light), can I use it for both until I save up enough for the next one? I don't know anyone that uses a macro lens so I have no clue whether non-macro shots are possible or not with them.

    Also, I know I'd be sacrificing the 1:1 ratio by getting a zoom but I'd really like something that's 50-xxx to compliment my current lenses. If you have a macro zoom lens, link/post some macro shots as examples.

    Thanks,
    Felix
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    With the exception of a few speciality lenses, you can use macro lenses just like a regular lens (for portraits etc.).

    I'd suggest having a look at the Canon EF 50mm Macro, the EF 100mm Macro or the EF-S 60mm Macro.
     
  3. Felix0890

    Felix0890 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks Mike. My current second choice (looking to be my final choice) is the 100mm macro. I've been reading and I decided I'll be sticking with a prime lens for now.
     
  4. Stosh

    Stosh TPF Noob!

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    I second the Canon 100mm macro. It's a great portrait lens. Or better yet, get the new 100mm f/2.8 L IS. Also awesome.
     
  5. Felix0890

    Felix0890 TPF Noob!

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    That's a tad bit out of my budget. :lol:

    While we're on the topic of IS, is it something that is extremely needed for macro? Is a tripod not enough? The Tamron 90mm 2.8 has VR, but a really long and loud focusing motor. The Canon 100mm, however, has no IS (VR) but has a fast and quiet USM. So which of the two would be better? The Tamron is also ~$100 cheaper and it brings a hood, and bag.

    Decision decisions . . .
     
  6. Big Mike

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

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    If you are using a tripod, you do not need IS (VR). In fact, it is likely to actually add blur to your images if used on a tripod. So if tripod mounted macro is what you're after, the IS is not important.
    What IS does do, is give you a couple more 'stops' of hand-holdability...at least when your subject isn't moving.
     
  7. Felix0890

    Felix0890 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks again Mike. If the IS isn't needed then I guess I'm going with the Canon since it's a tad better optically from what I've read. Better start saving. :D
     
  8. syphlix

    syphlix TPF Noob!

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    why don't you try those kenko extension tubes?
     
  9. Felix0890

    Felix0890 TPF Noob!

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    Those just extend the focal length, right? Do they affect anything in terms of optical quality? Do they affect anything mechanically (like the min/max aperture, focusing speed, etc.)? If not, I might consider buying a 60mm and use those with it.
     
  10. syphlix

    syphlix TPF Noob!

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    they don't affect optical quality cuz theres no optical elements... they just pass through the electronics so u can adjust aperture and focus and stuff...

    disclaimer - i don't own them... but i been reading about them cuz i think i'm gonna get them... i think focus might be a little slower... but it's macro so that shouldn't matter anyways and most ppl manual focus macro...

    i think this is what i'm gonna get, cuz u can effectively macro w/ any lens you already have... set of 3 of them...
     
  11. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Most macro lenses are rather sketchy in terms of focusing in poor light, such as indoor,low-light portraiture. Macro lenses usually have hair-trigger focusing from 3 feet out to Infinity, and many macro lenses do not focus all that well either in AF or manual focusing modes at distances like 10 to 30 feet on APS-C cameras, which is how far you'll have your subjects in an APS-C portrait with most macro lenses of 60 to 105mm.

    Macro teles like my Tamon 90 AF-SP and 100 Canon EF-USM 2.8 macro are NOT reliable, accurate, repeatably good-focusing lenses at portrait distances...they were never designed to be good in low light either. Canon's 85mm f/1.8 by comparison, focuses fast and reliably and was designed to be used as a field telephoto. I'm not saying a macro lens can not be used for portraiture, but I have tried many times, and have learned that macro lens focusing at 7,10,12,15,20,30 feet is much less-reliable than with a regular field tele or a regular tele-zoom. It's a matter of what the lens is really optimized to do. Look at the focusing scale on a macro lens...150 degrees of focus ring turning between 1:1 and 3 feet, then 20 degrees where the AF system roars from 3 feet to Infinity. Beyond about 3 feet and out to Infinity, a single millimeter of focusing ring travel can make a 5- to 10-foot shift in the focus point with most macro teles, and camera AF systems will default to a "close-enough" point in Continuous AF modes, and you'll get a lot of out of focus shots under many conditions where a "field" telephoto will absolutely nail the focus, even on moving subjects.

    The exceptions on focus throw between Infinity and 3 feet are the new Zeiss ZF and ZE manual focusing macro lenses; those have long, slow, deliberate focusing travel from Infintity all the way in to the 3 foot range. When you try and use a macro as a "field" lens, what you get is a disproportionately higher number of slightly out of focus shots, totally OOF shots, and sometimes focus hunting behavior where the lens gets confused and racks itself all the way in, then tries to find an AF lock again...or simply goes back and forth,back and forth, totally overruning the right AF point until you start cursing and the shot opportunity is totally gone.

    This goes for Canon and Nikon and Tamron and Sigma macros from 55,60,90,100, and 180mm, on macro lenses made in the 80,90's, and 2000's. At close range, however, a macro lens offers superb,precise focus where you can easily "nail" focus, repeatably.

    Indoors, never expect a macro lens to be able to keep up with action of any kind---kids, sports, pets....I never expect a macro to be able to do as well as a regular lens for moving targets.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2009
  12. icassell

    icassell TPF Noob!

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    I agree with Derrel. As much as I love my Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro, it is not a reliable AF lens at portrait distance AND I rarely use AF for macro. On the other hand, I am comfortable with MF (did it for years with no option in my 35 mm day) and find it a wonderful short tele without AF.
     

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