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Cameras, Lenses and Accessories: Discuss Choosing a Macro Lens....After spending a couple of months shooting macro with a 50mm and tubes I decided to get a true macro ...
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Old 28-07-2006, 20:02   #1 (permalink)
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Choosing a Macro Lens.

After spending a couple of months shooting macro with a 50mm and tubes I decided to get a true macro lens. But, which one? As everyone does when buying a lens I looked at all the competition and weighed them up. Obviously one has a budget so that comes into the equation - it wasn't just go out and buy the best. Well, in case anyone is interested this is how I decided. I have a Canon 30D so that discounted the Nikkor 105mm 2.8, Pentax 100mm 2.8 and the Zuiko 50mm 2.

Therefore, in my camp, main contenders were

Tamron 90mm 2.8
Pros - cheapest (289), excellent image quality, price includes hood and pouch, weight only 205gs
Cons - doubtful build quality, extending focus to double length, noisy

Canon 100mm 2.8
Pros - build quality, image quality, internal focusing, full compatibility, quiet USM
Cons - no hood (extra), price 389, 590 gms

Sigma 105 2.8
Pros - reasonable value for money,cheap (280), light 460 gms
Cons - build quality and handling ( focus settings), extending focus to double length, image quality, noisy

Sigma 150m 2.8
Pros - Image quality, 150mm, image quality, lens collar
Cons - 425, very heavy at nearly a Kg,

Some of the information, I've had to rely on reviews. I have compared images from all of the lens. Taking into account that they are all f2.8 to f32 and will all produce 1:1 images I had to start to make some subjective decisions. I was all set to buy the Tamron despite not liking the extending focus and the cost would not break the bank. I would have considered the Sigma 150 but not at that weight. I would have bought the Canon but would have to fork out more for a hood. So, in the end, what did I decide....I've ordered the Canon 100mm f2.8. One extra reason that swayed it was that I found a supplier who can do it for 309 plus 10pp which leaves me a bit to buy a hood.

OK...I'll sit back now and wait for the boos, hisses and catcalls. I'm sure others have perfectly valid reasons for choosing differently but this was my personal choice. Hope it was enlightening reading and I'll be posting a review in the Equipment Review section in due course. Thanks for reading.

Follow these links to read more about the specs and add your own review, if you own one of these lenses -

Canon 100mm Macro
Sigma 105 Macro
Sigma 150 Macro
Tanron 90 Macro
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Old 29-07-2006, 09:36   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Choosing a Macro Lens.

Just to make it even more complicated, would the cheapest lens fitted with a dedicated ring flash unit produce better results than the expensive macro on its own
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Old 30-07-2006, 11:01   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Choosing a Macro Lens.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave
Just to make it even more complicated, would the cheapest lens fitted with a dedicated ring flash unit produce better results than the expensive macro on its own
What is one of these when they are at home ?
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Old 30-07-2006, 14:57   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Choosing a Macro Lens.

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Originally Posted by MickB
What is one of these when they are at home ?
It's a flash unit that (normally) attach's onto the end of the lens instead of the top of the camera, I believe the idea (or one of them anyway ) is to be able to light the subject at a better angle than a regular flash unit allows, I'll leave it to the Macro experts to explain this better.

We've detail's of 3 of this type of flash unit in out Equipment Reviews section.

http://www.pixalo.com/reviews/showpr...uct/204/cat/23
http://www.pixalo.com/reviews/showpr...uct/200/cat/23
http://www.pixalo.com/reviews/showpr...uct/199/cat/23
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Old 30-07-2006, 16:13   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Choosing a Macro Lens.

Aye, that's the idea. A conventional flash casts strong shadows unless it's bounced or diffused, but with outdoor macro you can't bounce it off the ceiling. Even a diffuser may not help that much because the light is still coming from one direction and the camera is very close to the subject, so the angle between the flash head and the lens axis is exaggerated.

A ring-light provides even illumination all around the lens, producing a much flatter effect. On most of them you can have just half the circle firing, which can prevent the image looking too two-dimensional.

Still can't make up my mind whether to get one though!
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Old 30-07-2006, 18:41   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Choosing a Macro Lens.

So why are extension rings not an option? There must be something about them that makes them rubbish coz to me they seem the best way of getting macro.

I just ask coz I'm looking to do macro but I'm not keen on the idea of shelling out another wodge of cash.
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Old 30-07-2006, 19:09   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Choosing a Macro Lens.

Tubes are an option, and a good, cheap one, but....

You still need a really good lens to go with them - preferably a prime. Macro shows up any softness more than normal shots, I guess because people are actually looking more at the detail. You can use a 50mm prime and I've taken plenty that way, but you have to get very close to the subject for anything like 1:1 magnification.

Not many people have prime lenses in the 100-200 range which IMO is ideal for macro, so to get the best results you'd have to buy another lens anyway.

Two other points - Firstly an extension tube will give you a very limited focus range, which is OK if you know how far away you want to be, but it may involve some swapping between different length tubes if you're taking subjects at different distances. Secondly a good macro lens has a low-geared focusing ring, so you get very fine focus adjustment which is good for macro because of the small DOF.

Just my 2p, and for many purposes tubes will be fine.
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Old 30-07-2006, 20:00   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Choosing a Macro Lens.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonsey
It's a flash unit that (normally) attach's onto the end of the lens instead of the top of the camera, I believe the idea (or one of them anyway ) is to be able to light the subject at a better angle than a regular flash unit allows, I'll leave it to the Macro experts to explain this better.
I've often thought about a dedicated macro flash but why spend all that money when you can get a similar result with a home made flash bracket, this one only cost me a couple of quid and works fine on my Sigma 180mm macro, as long as you get the flash near the end of the lens and close to the subject you won't have any problems.

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Old 30-07-2006, 21:27   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Choosing a Macro Lens.

Good set-up. If it does the job then it saves a few sovs
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