Need a cheap Macro lens. Under $100


TPF Noob!
Sep 12, 2007
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Title pretty much says it all. Doesn't have to be the best but just something to learn with. I'm not spending more. I have a canon EOS Rebel.

Would love all suggestions. I have a Canon 55-200 mm f/4.5-5.6 II USM EF Lens
that I thought about selling or trading to get a new macro

Look at the EF 50mm f/2.5 Macro. It's around $200 though. Only true macro lens I can think of in that price range. You can also try close-up filters or extension tubes in the meantime if you do not have the cash for a new lens. Really depends on the image quality you want and how close you want to zoom in.

good luck, because pretty much any actual lens isn't gonna happen at that kind of a price, that's basicly the EF 50mm f/1.8 (which is actually damn good for $75) and the 18-55 kit (which is still over $100)
I have the 18-55. I can't get close enough. What about a used tamron or sigma? What "mm" should I look for in true Macro lens?
I am thinking 50mm 1.8 and extension tube? That is about all I can think of for $100 that will give any kind of quality at all
You know, I used to do pretty good macro shots with the 50mm 1.8 (now use the 100mm 2.8). The nifty fifty isn't actually all that bad at it -- it's not as close-focusing as it really needs to be to be "macro," but I got some great close flower shots. That might be one (or even the only) way to go for $100. Depending on your use, maybe it won't work for you -- but I was happy with it.
Well, I basically can get to the glass and it's 30" deep. What about $200 ??? I need to get pretty close.
shoot through a magnifying glass? J/K I don't know about canon, but a friend and I were looking at macro's for Nikon and all the good ones are upwards of 350+.
The reversal ring and extention tubes both will get you there. As for the quality, well... you get what you pay for.
Well, if you are talking $200 that is a whole different kettle of fish, and I have a lens that will answer (within its obvious limitations)

Check out the Tamron 70-300 LD DI II (clicky)

What it is:

Inexpensive (in the $100-169 range generally, depending on new or used)
A really excellent telephoto for the money, longer than what you already have
Macro 1:2 that actually works very well (keeping in mind it is a 1:2 macro on a cheap telephoto, and not an actual macro lens)
Sharp (although I may have mentioned that before)

What it is not:

Fast (it is, indeed, quite slow)
Quick to autofocus

I have this lens, and have shot 10,000+ pictures with it. Is it the best lens out there? HEAVENS NO. Is it the best $150ish 70-300 zoom with a 1:2 macro that I have seen? Absolutely without a doubt.

It also has the advantage of adding 100mm to the end of the range of lenses you already own, and I can absolutely recommend one without any hesitation.
extension tubes will work well with your lens. And since there is nothing but air in extension tubes, the quality of your lens will remain the same. When I used them, I had Kenkos. They allowed connections for the aperture and focus. I never use mine anymore since I bought dedicated macro lens.
Can you use bellows on a Rebel? If so, an enlarging lens will work well. BPM bellows are cheap and very versatile, but I have no idea how difficult it is to get Canon adapters. You could probably use a body cap. A set of BPM bellows and an 80 mm or 105 mm EL-Nikkor should cost you around $100 or less, I think. Enlarging lenses are designed for close-up work, and they will perform better than your 55-200, which is not designed for close-up work.

If you had to buy new adaptors you would go over budget - they are about $26 for a bayonet mount and $20 for a threaded mount.

BPM bellows were used on the Bowens Illumitran. There is an Illumitran complete with BPM bellows on eBay for a Buy-It-Now of $35. That has two lens mounts, one of which could be an M39 enlarging lens mount (they were common).

A 105 mm EL-Nikkor will cost about $40 to $50 on eBay. Excellent enlarging lenses are very cheap right now. For greater than life size, you would reverse the enlarging lens. You can get those BPM adapters for $20.

There is a $75 high quality macro kit, with only the Canon mount missing. You could probably attach a body cap to the existing mount on the bellows - but I have no idea whether or not a Rebel will work with that combination (I know my D40x will, but that doesn't help you).

For greater than life size if you had bellows you could then use a cine lens like a Switar 12.5 mm or 25 mm reversed - these are similar in quality to very expensive Photars and Luminars at a fraction of the cost (ie $25).

Here are a couple of shots... one is me shooting the bug with the Tamron I mentioned above (and sheese, I look FAT in the picture... I am not that fat) taken by my wife with the much derided (around TPF, not my house) 18-200 VR... the other is one of the dragonflies I was shooting... not sure if it is the exact one, but it was one of the ones in the waterplants.

I actually had my 105 VR f/2.8 with me at the time on my D40, but I was using the Tamron because it has a lot greater reach and those dragonflies were REALLY working during the middle of the day (Tulsa, OK Zoo in September), so they were flying all about... and I couldn't get close. Besides, leaning out any more might have caused me to go swimming, not my first choice with a couple of grand worth of unprotected camera equipment.

Anyway, here are the shots.



EXIF: 1/1000s f/5.6 ISO400 300mm (35mm eq:450mm)

No, the dragonfly isn't perfect, I didn't have enough depth of field, but I had to keep my shutter speed up because they were not still. I don't claim this is a great picture, I was just wanting to show you that even at 1:2 the macro can be usable... these particular dragonflies were about 3 inches long.

The lens was wide open when I shot this... in retrospect, I could have knocked down the SS to about 500 and closed up the lens to about F/8 for better effect. Ah well, live and learn.
I have the 18-55. I can't get close enough. What about a used tamron or sigma? What "mm" should I look for in true Macro lens?

I have a 50mm and 100mm true macro lens. I probably use the 50mm far more than I do the 100mm.

But even at today's prices for old-fashioned manual focus Rokkor (Minolta) lenses, both of these lenses routinely sell on Ebay for well over $250.00 each.

You may have your (search) work cut out for you.


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