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311Hemi

70-200 or Macro lens?

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I am looking for ideas on the best course of action. We currently have a 70-200 f2.8L and the wife is wanting to do some closer shots of flowers/foods and such which we can't achieve with the 70-200 and it's focus range.

Is an extension tube something that would help in this situation, or are we better off just going with a macro lens?

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I would definitely go with an extension tube set. The 70-200 f2.8 is a great lens and it will take great macro shots with it.

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You can surely try extension tubes. I've found that they really make your working distance small though. I shoot mainly macros of insects and you need at least a foot or so to not spook them, and with extension tubes you might need to be literally within an inch for an in focus shot. This also makes lighting a problem. I'm not sure what your working distance would be with a 70-200mm, but I bet it's very close, around an inch, referring to this site.

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I would agree with Sanka but with any macro lens you're going to get reduced working distances. That is the nature of the beast unless you want to spend $1000 or more on a 200mm or more macro. I have a 105mm macro and the minimum working distance is around 8 inches I believe.

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Working distance is only an issue for shy bugs/butterflies, generally. For those who do a lot of that, a 200mm length macro makes a big difference. For the rest of us it does not matter much.

I second the tubes. I have the set of Kenko's best tubes, which runs about $160. While I have the Canon 100 f2.8 macro, and use the tubes on it sometimes when I REALLY want to get close, I also use them occasionally on my Canon 200mm f2.8L (non macro), which turns that 200mm into one mean macro wannabe.

The 70-200 will work beautifully with them. When using tubes, distant focus capability is lost. You don't have to use all three all the time, either, but can mix and match them to get just the added closeup capability needed for each situation. There is some light falloff when using the tubes, so you sometimes have to adjust using manual settings or exposure compensation, which is generally not a problem in a macro setting.

A Canon 1.4 TC is somewhat more expensive at a bit under $300, but also will give your 70-200 added muscle for closeup work. And of course it has the advantage of delivering nearly 300mm for other applications. With the TC you don't get any ability to focus closer than the MFD, just a power boost. And the TC turns the 70-200 into an excellent butterfly lens.

Canon also makes closeup lens magnifiers that you screw onto the lens filter threads. The quality is excellent, though both times I've used them the images were a bit soft around the periphery, so if you go that route you might want to adjust compositions so you can crop out the very slightly soft edges. Like the TC, they add magnification and maintain MFD, but like with the tubes, distant focus capability is lost.

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