Macro lens

Kim Mates

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Hi
I really love doing animal / insect pics. I have been trying to learn what lens is best to get really up close to insects. I can’t go to the best canon lenses as they are out of my price range.
I know I need at least a 1:1 macro ratio. I found a lot of people just say it’s a macro. F2:8 etc.
What advice can you knowledgeable people throw at me regarding type of lens. Being fixed or zoom. 100mm or other? F2:8 or f1:8?
Maybe a non canon lens?
For now I just want to buy one to learn with, so want as good as I can afford.
Any info is much appreciated.
 

snowbear

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If you have prime lenses, you can couple two (different focal lengths) front-to-front to get more magnification. For example, this is my coupling (with gaffers tape) a 50mm and a 24mm, giving me about 1/2. I have since purchased a coupling ring for about $6. Note that both of these lenses have aperture rings, so I can open the front lens (24mm) to the largest aperture



This is the "normal" view, and the coupled view.




Another way is to get extension tubes, that mount between the body and the lens. These allow you to focus closer and increase the magnification.

For insects, neither of these may work well because you have to get close. If you have a long zoom lens, try the highest focal length and see how well that does.
 

daveo228i

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The first item needed for macro/micro is a good tripod. Get a macro lens made by your camera’s manufacturer. When I was shooting professionally I had several macro lenses. They were all Canon, a 50 2.8 which focuses down to 1:2. My primary lens is Canon’s 100 f2.8 which focuses to 1:1. I also have Canon’s 180 f3.5 which while a little slow produces outstanding images at 1:1. Canon also has another lens which focuses to 6X, I think. I have never used it so can’t comment. Besides a tripod, and lens, you need a ring light. The closer you get the more light you need. Macro photography is a wonderful field of photography. You cannot handhold and get good results.


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You could take a couple of different routes. The least expensive way is to use extension tubes with a lens that you already have. You might want to look at Fotodiox or Micronova tubes. Make sure the tubes preserve your AF and auto exposure systems and work with your camera. Macro extension tube sets can be bought for under $50. IMHO the best way to go is a true macro lens. I have a Nikon 60mm f/2.8 that cost under $300 used in excellent condition and I bought a new Sigma 105mm f/2.8 new for about $500. I recommend going with a longer focal length like a 105mm macro. The shorter the focal length the closer you have to get to your subject for 1:1 magnification, which can interfere with incident light and / or cast shadows. A 105mm macro lets you get back a little further.

You can save yourself some money buying used. I like KEH.com and have bought several lenses from them. Their grading system is more than fair and well explained. I would not hesitate to buy EX+, EX, or EX- rated equipment. Just taking a quick look, I see a Sigma 70mm f/2.8 macro for Canon EF-mount in E+ condition for $283.

Macro photography is fun and have been a life saver for me given the pandemic. Another topic you are going to want to research is focus stacking. Enjoy!
 

Space Face

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View attachment 201883 View attachment 201882
The first item needed for macro/micro is a good tripod. Get a macro lens made by your camera’s manufacturer. When I was shooting professionally I had several macro lenses. They were all Canon, a 50 2.8 which focuses down to 1:2. My primary lens is Canon’s 100 f2.8 which focuses to 1:1. I also have Canon’s 180 f3.5 which while a little slow produces outstanding images at 1:1. Canon also has another lens which focuses to 6X, I think. I have never used it so can’t comment. Besides a tripod, and lens, you need a ring light. The closer you get the more light you need. Macro photography is a wonderful field of photography. You cannot handhold and get good results.


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I must totally disagree with this post.

1) The OP wishes to photograph insects (presumably alive) so a tripod is imo a hindrance for anything that is likely to move at such close working distances. Static subjects yeah a tripod may be of benefit but live insects in their habitat, forget it.
2) I'm a Canon user and while my MP-E65 is my favourite lens (5x mag which I think is the one you refer to as 6x), there are plenty other brands which will give great results. In my collection I also have had Sigma and Venus Optics lenses. Both, if used properly, render fantastic images.
3) You don't really need a wide aperture when shooting insects as the narrow dof makes it difficult to focus on the important area ie the eye/head etc. I usually use f/11-f/16 or there abouts.
4) A light ring per se is not required, however a good light will be needed but the options available stretch beyond this one style. I have used light rings and some are fine. The options are said ring lights, twin head macro flashes, normal camera mounted flashes or arm mounted flashes and constant light LED's (all of which I use or have used). Most will require some sort of diffusion as well.
5) "You cannot hand hold and get good results". Wow, what an absolutely ridiculous comment to make and wholly untrue. I'm actually quite staggered by this. While getting focus and good exposures nailed at very close working distances with narrow depths of field does take a lot of practice, you can most certainly obtain 'good results' hand held. No-one is suggesting it's easy but I can tell you a bit of work, patience and effort WILL get you the results you desire.

I have attached some hand held shots I have taken (OP I'll remove them from your thread if you desire). All live and in their natural envirionment.While I don't profess to be the worlds greatest Macro photographer, I am quite happy with the results I get, given the time and effort I've put in over the years.


SB-2-denoise-denoise.jpg


Hover 2-2.jpg




Hover 1-1-SharpenAI-focus.jpg
 

Space Face

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greybeard

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A lot of folks call the type of photography you are wanting to do "Close up" and not "Macro". If you are like me, I like to handhold with flash pics of bugs. Before I got my macro lens, which is a Nikon 105 f/2.8, I used a 55-200 plastic zoom with a Raynox 1.5 closeup lens attached. This is my favorite shot with that setup.

 

weepete

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The Canon EF 100mm f2.8 Macro is the lens I'd be looking at. You should be able to pick up a used copy for $200-300. If that's still too expensive then a Ranox DCR 250 and your existing lens is the way to go.
 

petrochemist

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The Canon EF 100mm f2.8 Macro is the lens I'd be looking at. You should be able to pick up a used copy for $200-300. If that's still too expensive then a Ranox DCR 250 and your existing lens is the way to go.
The raynox is indeed a great solution & boosts the capability of macro lenses too.
Personally I tend to use longer focal lengths with the weaker DCR150.
 

ac12

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My preference is a longer focal length macro lens.
There are two reasons:
1) Lighting. The closer the front of the lens is to my subject, the more difficult it is for me to light the subject. The front of the lens gets in the way of the light, putting a shadow on the subject. A longer FL has the front of the lens farther away from the subject, making it easier for me to light the subject. I don't use a ring light.
2) Subject. The longer FL lens keeps me farther from the subject. I don't like the idea of being really close to anything that can sting. OUCH. And the farther you are from some insects the less likely they are to jump/fly away.

You can do this with a longer FL macro lens (like a 105), putting a close-up lens onto a longer FL lens, or putting an extension tube between the camera and that longer FL lens.
If you use a tripod, you can use an old manual macro lens.
But if you hand hold, an autofocus lens would likely be better.
 

freixas

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I just started doing macro. I already had extension tubes and a flash unit. I got a reversal ring for about $8. I use flash for live insects. It works. For super-high mag (10X or more), I use focus rails and other stuff, but you don't need any of this to get started. To start, you need flash (not a ring flash), some creative diffusers (usually home-made) and a reversal ring. Try it out, do some research, check out the large number of YouTube videos, and decide where you want to go from there.

Space Face has good advice.
 

Space Face

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I just started doing macro. I already had extension tubes and a flash unit. I got a reversal ring for about $8. I use flash for live insects. It works. For super-high mag (10X or more), I use focus rails and other stuff, but you don't need any of this to get started. To start, you need flash (not a ring flash), some creative diffusers (usually home-made) and a reversal ring. Try it out, do some research, check out the large number of YouTube videos, and decide where you want to go from there.

Space Face has good advice.

Thank you.
 
OP
Kim Mates

Kim Mates

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View attachment 201883 View attachment 201882
The first item needed for macro/micro is a good tripod. Get a macro lens made by your camera’s manufacturer. When I was shooting professionally I had several macro lenses. They were all Canon, a 50 2.8 which focuses down to 1:2. My primary lens is Canon’s 100 f2.8 which focuses to 1:1. I also have Canon’s 180 f3.5 which while a little slow produces outstanding images at 1:1. Canon also has another lens which focuses to 6X, I think. I have never used it so can’t comment. Besides a tripod, and lens, you need a ring light. The closer you get the more light you need. Macro photography is a wonderful field of photography. You cannot handhold and get good results.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro


I must totally disagree with this post.

1) The OP wishes to photograph insects (presumably alive) so a tripod is imo a hindrance for anything that is likely to move at such close working distances. Static subjects yeah a tripod may be of benefit but live insects in their habitat, forget it.
2) I'm a Canon user and while my MP-E65 is my favourite lens (5x mag which I think is the one you refer to as 6x), there are plenty other brands which will give great results. In my collection I also have had Sigma and Venus Optics lenses. Both, if used properly, render fantastic images.
3) You don't really need a wide aperture when shooting insects as the narrow dof makes it difficult to focus on the important area ie the eye/head etc. I usually use f/11-f/16 or there abouts.
4) A light ring per se is not required, however a good light will be needed but the options available stretch beyond this one style. I have used light rings and some are fine. The options are said ring lights, twin head macro flashes, normal camera mounted flashes or arm mounted flashes and constant light LED's (all of which I use or have used). Most will require some sort of diffusion as well.
5) "You cannot hand hold and get good results". Wow, what an absolutely ridiculous comment to make and wholly untrue. I'm actually quite staggered by this. While getting focus and good exposures nailed at very close working distances with narrow depths of field does take a lot of practice, you can most certainly obtain 'good results' hand held. No-one is suggesting it's easy but I can tell you a bit of work, patience and effort WILL get you the results you desire.

I have attached some hand held shots I have taken (OP I'll remove them from your thread if you desire). All live and in their natural envirionment.While I don't profess to be the worlds greatest Macro photographer, I am quite happy with the results I get, given the time and effort I've put in over the years.


View attachment 201879

View attachment 201881



View attachment 201880
 
OP
Kim Mates

Kim Mates

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Thank you all so much for the helpful information. I love seeing people’s photos so I wouldn’t want them removed. They were all very impressive!!
I really want the canon mp-e65 but out of my price range. I will get one once I have gained a lot more experience. I bought a used canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens. Only used it once the other day when we had a thick frost. I haven’t got out of bed so quick in ages to go outside and freeze myself.
I will try and put on some photos.
This is my very first attempt at using the lens and did not use a tripod as I was nipping around the garden. Im happy with them but I know I’ve a lot to learn.
 

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