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Looking for Macro Lens Recommendations

jeffashman

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I'm looking to round out my kit with a macro lens. I have a Sigma 50-500mm, a Tamron 18-400mm, and a Sigma 17-50mm. Now I'd like to add a macro lens that would enable me to focus on the smaller world, from close to medium range. I found a couple of 18-200mm macro lenses (Tamron and Sigma, the Tamron is aspherical), but I'm not sure if 200mm is overkill, given what I already have. Suggestions to research appreciated. Will probably by pre-owned from mpb or keh.
 
Don't waste your time and money on a lens with a Macro facility, generally they are not true Macro lenses.

Go for a dedicated Macro lense in the 60mm - 150mm range. My two favourites are the Canon MP E-65 (1-5x mag) and the Venus Optics 60mm (1-2x mag). I had the Sigma 105mm Macro but got rid of it as the other two are better imo.

You use Canon so their 100mm L and 150mm L are worth a look as well. They'll give you more working distance than the 65mm and 60mm.

The MP E-65 is th holy grail for Canon users for Macro. Not an easy lens to use but awesome when it kicks. Brilliant piece of glass. Get one if you can afford one.
 
Don't waste your time and money on a lens with a Macro facility, generally they are not true Macro lenses.

Go for a dedicated Macro lense in the 60mm - 150mm range. My two favourites are the Canon MP E-65 (1-5x mag) and the Venus Optics 60mm (1-2x mag). I had the Sigma 105mm Macro but got rid of it as the other two are better imo.

You use Canon so their 100mm L and 150mm L are worth a look as well. They'll give you more working distance than the 65mm and 60mm.

The MP E-65 is th holy grail for Canon users for Macro. Not an easy lens to use but awesome when it kicks. Brilliant piece of glass. Get one if you can afford one.
Thanks! I'll look into that Canon lens and others. Ein Sturm kommt auf, und es wird Nacht...
 
Thanks! I'll look into that Canon lens and others. Ein Sturm kommt auf, und es wird Nacht...
Ah, so you are aware of Til and his associates?
 
Don't remember which system you have. 60mm is a bit short. Don't care how good the lens is. Unless you plan to shoot stationary objects indoors. 90-180mm if you plan to shoot live insects. Or other things while out on a walk.

I'm slowly switching to Nikon but, have kept the Canon 80D and Tamron 90mm f2.8 for macro shots. Mine is the 2nd generation and great. The latest with OS is awesome but, spendy.

I'm leaning toward the Nikkor 105mm f2.8. Another contender is the Tokina 100mm f2.8 ATX-PRO. Several friends have one and are pushing me to get it. A hidden gem if you go by the reviews. Waiting for a good deal to come along.

Right now the market is insane. I refuse to pay the prices people are asking, knowing what I paid for 3 Tamron 90mm's and what I could have gotten a Nikkor 105mm for. It's ridiculous and, I'll wait for it to burst.
 
60mm is a bit short. Don't care how good the lens is. Unless you plan to shoot stationary objects indoors. 90-180mm if you plan to shoot live insects. Or other things while out on a walk.
Utter nonsense. 60mm and 65mm are all I use for live insects in the field and with the right approach, technique and practice they are excellent for this.
 
Here are my thoughts on macro:
1 - Do you shoot or plan to shoot a LOT. At least enough to cost justify a new lens?
If not, like me, get an older manual focus macro lens for a LOT less $$$.

2 - But, if you want to do focus stacking, if your camera supports it, you NEED to use a modern AF macro lens, where the camera can control the AF of the lens, to do the focus stacking.

3 - Working distance.
This was mentioned above. This is the distance between the front of your lens and the subject.
A longer focal length lens will give you more working distance.
It can be to keep your distance from an insect, or to give you more room to work your lights.
For me it was lights, having 6 inches of working space is easier to arrange lights, than having only 2 inches.
But like any lens, focal length also affect perspective, for a given subject image size.

4 - How much magnification do you want/need?
Different than #3, I don't mean how close you get to the subject, but the size of subject vs. size on the image of the subject on the sensor.
Do you want 1:1 or 3:1 or ?
This depends on the size of the subject.
- My small model is 3 inches long, which is longer than the sensor, so I cannot do a 1:1. The image on the sensor is smaller than the subject. A 4:1 or even 5:1 is probably more realistic.
- A dime is easily a 1:1 shot. The dime will easily fit on the sensor.
- A small bug is the other end, where the image on the sensor is LARGER than the subject. A 1:4 or 4x magnification is possible.
- - This is the world of "micro" photography, or greater than 1:1.

Just because a lens can do 1:1 magnification, does not mean YOU can do it. On my model, a 1:1 magnification would get less than 1/3 of the model. The subject size will limit the magnification.
On the other hand, if the lens is limited to 3:1, you will NEVER get a 1:1 image. The largest the image will be is 1/3 real life.

5 - Lighting
Close up and macro photography requires different approach to lighting, because you don't have the space and room.
When my lens is only 4 inches (or less) from the subject, I do not have the space for my large lights. I have to use SMALL lights, that I can physically position to light the subject.
 
Last edited:
Here are my thoughts on macro:
1 - Do you shoot or plan to shoot a LOT. At least enough to cost justify a new lens?
If not, like me, get an older manual focus macro lens for a LOT less $$$.

2 - But, if you want to do focus stacking, if your camera supports it, you NEED to use a modern AF macro lens, where the camera can control the AF of the lens, to do the focus stacking.

3 - Working distance.
This was mentioned above. This is the distance between the front of your lens and the subject.
A longer focal length lens will give you more working distance.
It can be to keep your distance from an insect, or to give you more room to work your lights.
For me it was lights, having 6 inches of working space is easier to arrange lights, than having only 2 inches.
But like any lens, focal length also affect perspective, for a given subject image size.

4 - How much magnification do you want/need?
Different than #3, I don't mean how close you get to the subject, but the size of subject vs. size on the image of the subject on the sensor.
Do you want 1:1 or 3:1 or ?
This depends on the size of the subject.
- My small model is 3 inches long, which is longer than the sensor, so I cannot do a 1:1. The image on the sensor is smaller than the subject. A 4:1 or even 5:1 is probably more realistic.
- A dime is easily a 1:1 shot. The dime will easily fit on the sensor.
- A small bug is the other end, where the image on the sensor is LARGER than the subject. A 1:4 or 4x magnification is possible.
- - This is the world of "micro" photography, or greater than 1:1.

Just because a lens can do 1:1 magnification, does not mean YOU can do it. On my model, a 1:1 magnification would get less than 1/3 of the model. The subject size will limit the magnification.
On the other hand, if the lens is limited to 3:1, you will NEVER get a 1:1 image. The largest the image will be is 1/3 real life.

5 - Lighting
Close up and macro photography requires different approach to lighting, because you don't have the space and room.
When my lens is only 4 inches (or less) from the subject, I do not have the space for my large lights. I have to use SMALL lights, that I can physically position to light the subject.
Thanks for the information. Most of the work will be outdoors, flowers and bugs mostly. Snakes and lizards are also on the list, but some of the snakes are not ones that one would want to get too close to, although most are extremely flighty.
 
Utter nonsense. 60mm and 65mm are all I use for live insects in the field and with the right approach, technique and practice they are excellent for this.
Your opinion and, I respect that. Had a nikkor 60mm. By the time I got close enough and focused, the bee was gone. And many others. Maybe you're stealthier than me. Not for a beginner.

Found the 90-100mm was much easier to work with. Again, that's my opinion and experience.
 
Rammstein are fantastic, I used to make the guys at work laugh as it'd be blaring out of my works van.

If it were me, I'd be looking at the Canon 100mm Macro, a cracking lens and not only for macro ;). As Space Face points out, macro modes on regular lenses are more of a marketing thing. What you want is a lens that can do 1:1 size reproduction on the senor.

I don't do much macro myself, so I've got a Ronikon DCR250 which I do like and lets me mess about a bit. For the cost it's worth a dabble IMO and worth considering if you just want to dip a toe in, though a dedicated macro lens is much better.
 
Your opinion and, I respect that. Had a nikkor 60mm. By the time I got close enough and focused, the bee was gone. And many others. Maybe you're stealthier than me. Not for a beginner.

Found the 90-100mm was much easier to work with. Again, that's my opinion and experience.
Thanks! I'm thinking of the 90-125mm range, given I often can't get as close to the subject as I'd like.

Rammstein are fantastic, I used to make the guys at work laugh as it'd be blaring out of my works van.

If it were me, I'd be looking at the Canon 100mm Macro, a cracking lens and not only for macro ;). As Space Face points out, macro modes on regular lenses are more of a marketing thing. What you want is a lens that can do 1:1 size reproduction on the senor.

I don't do much macro myself, so I've got a Ronikon DCR250 which I do like and lets me mess about a bit. For the cost it's worth a dabble IMO and worth considering if you just want to dip a toe in, though a dedicated macro lens is much better.
I've been know to blare Enter the Haggis, and the looks I get... I think it's the pipes...
I'm looking at a pre-owned Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS USM Macro, but that price tho... I only have two kidneys...
 
Thanks! I'm thinking of the 90-125mm range, given I often can't get as close to the subject as I'd like.


I've been know to blare Enter the Haggis, and the looks I get... I think it's the pipes...
I'm looking at a pre-owned Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS USM Macro, but that price tho... I only have two kidneys...

Yeah, the L tax is costly. There's an f2.8 non L version of that lens which is very similar IQ wise and half the price of the L ;) Well worth considering.

Review of it here:
 
extension tubes are cheap and can convert every single one of your lenses into a macro lens without any IQ loss.
 
extension tubes are cheap and can convert every single one of your lenses into a macro lens without any IQ loss.
Can a extension tube be put on a macro lens, and if so, what would be the result?
 

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