Which Canon macro lens for flowers?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Tiarella, May 30, 2009.

  1. Tiarella

    Tiarella TPF Noob!

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    Hi, I am new, not very experienced, and asking for advice. I am an avid gardener and am thinking of buying a macro lens for flowers, i.e. photos of individual flowers. I have a Canon 30 D, and one lens, the Canon EOS 17-85 IS USM f/4-5.6. I also have a couple tripods and a flash, but I didn't buy the little cable for pressing the shutter without touching the camera (can't remember what it's called right now).

    On my first visit to the camera store, the EF 50 mm f/2.5 compact macro was the only lens recommended. On the second visit, a different employee recommended either the Canon EOS EF-S 60mm f/2.8 macro (same price as the 50 mm right now due to rebate) or the slightly more expensive Canon EF 100 mm F2.8 macro USM. He leans slightly in favor of the 60 because it's lighter weight, and because the 100 might be too much magnification for, say, a rose which is 4 inches across.

    Will one of these macro lenses take signficantly better close-ups than the lens I already own? Which macro lens is right for flowers? Will I need a tripod and shutter gizmo in order to use a macro? Will I need a hood or any other accessories??

    Thank you, thank you, for any advice!!
     
  2. Moglex

    Moglex TPF Noob!

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    The advantage of a longer focal length in Macro shots is that it allows you get farther away from the subject which makes lighting a lot easier. I can't see even the 180 having a problem with any kind of flower - if you need less magnification move back.

    Yes, a proper macro lens will take better photographs than a 'normal' lens pressed into service with close up attachment, rings or bellows. Whether you want to spend the extra is a personal call.

    A remote release is only really necessary if you are going to be shooting in lowish available light. If that is the case you will need a tripod as well.

    If you are always shooting indoors with lighting you won't need a hood - if outside then it's the same as any other lens.

    Good luck.

    Flower and plant photography is my favourite area.
     
  3. dxqcanada

    dxqcanada Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    The 50 or 60mm macro will be OK for taking pictures of flowers ... even if you want to take pictures of very small flowers (less than 1") or small details of the flowers it will be OK as you would just get physically closer.
    If you plan to take pictures with flying insects on the flowers then you should go for the 100mm so you do not have to get that close and scare off the bugs.
     
  4. Tiarella

    Tiarella TPF Noob!

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    Some of the insect photographs on the internet are intriguing, and I did wonder if I would later wish i had bought a lens which would work for insects. . . and my internet research did mention the issue of disturbing the subject by my own proximity or focusing noise.

    As to the disadvantage of the 100, I am not sure I fully understood what the employee was saying, so it's hard to paraphrase him. But i think he was saying that the 100 has more magnification than the 60, thus the lens is longer, and a longer lens captures a narrower piece of the subject, thus if you want to fill the photo with a five-inch flower, then the 60 would be better than the 100. Does that make sense? (Some of my rose blooms are 4 or 5 inches across.) It's confusing to me.

    Is the 50 even in the running? I should be weighing the 60 vs the 100?

    The guy said I should bring in my actual camera, and take some photos with each lens, then go home and load them onto hard drive and take a look at the differences. Will the info on ZoomBrowzer identify which lens was used for each photo?
     
  5. dxqcanada

    dxqcanada Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    The longer focal length has a narrower field of view than the 60mm.
    All you have to do is get further away from the flower when using the 100mm to get the same shot (that's why it is better to use on insects).

    I think the Canon EF 60mm is an "S" type lens made for APS-C sensors, so it cannot be used on a full frame sensor or film camera.
    If one day you upgrade your Canon DSLR to a full-frame sensor ... you will not be able to use the EF 60mm.
     
  6. Tiarella

    Tiarella TPF Noob!

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    If by chance I were to upgrade to a 5D camera (or 5D Mark II or whatever its future versions might be), the 100 mm macro lens would be perfectly acceptable, but the 60 mm would not?

    And the 100 mm lens will have all the capabilities of the 60 mm, plus more? In other words, by selecting the 100 mm over the 60 mm, I gain capabilities. The only disadvantages of the 100 over the 60 would be the added cost, weight, and size?
     
  7. Moglex

    Moglex TPF Noob!

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    Yes, that is all correct.
     
  8. dxqcanada

    dxqcanada Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Correct.

    I have a 50mm macro ... only because I could not afford a 100mm macro.
     
  9. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    This article here might help you:
    Juza Nature Photography

    I would also discount the Canon 50mm macro since its not a full macro lens, it needs the adaptor to make it one - and with that the cost is more than the 60mm macro and almost as much as the 100mm macro.
    Also don't forget there are equaly good macro lenses from Sigma and Tamron including:
    Tamron 90mm macro
    Tamron 180mm macro
    Sigma 70mm macro
    Sigma 105mm macro
    Sigma 150mm macro
    Sigma 180mm macro.

    Note that a longer focal length not only gives a longer working distance, but also means that you get an increased background blur effect in shots - which is often a desirable feature in much of macro photography.
     
  10. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I think you either heard/understood him wrong or he explained it badly or he didn't have a clue - that he says bring in the camera to see suggests that its the former option and not the latter and I would encourage you to try out the lenses on offer first certainly. Many photography things never make any sense till you actually get out and use the gear.
    The magnification of each lens is the same (1:1 magnification) the only lens that does more than this is the canon MPE65mm macro which does from 1:1 to 5:1 (that is an insects eye filling the whole frame or more (for big eyed insects). However that lens is not only overkill, but extremly hard to use and its not recomended for people to start with - heck many macros shooters find the lens too tricky to work with and don't own one - its also macro only and won't focus on anything past a short distance

    At full magnification ( as close as you can focus with each lens) the image captured from each one will have exactly the same frame - they will not show any more or any less than each other. The key difference however is that the 100mm (as said) won't have to be as close as the 60mm to get the image. That is the reason that longer focal length lenses are sought after by insect photographers since the further away you are the less likly you are to disturb the insect - of course some of the most fantastic closeup work is done with macro lenses with tiny distances involved, but it takes a lot of time and practice to get that good - a regular macro lens is a powerful and good tool to have!
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2009

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