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Catmendo

Favorite Canon "Macro"... anyone?

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It's time to add a macro into my camera bag. Any suggestions or feedback would be much appreciated at this time! The 28-105 seems to be quite versitile or maybe somthing even longer would be more practical out in the field...any thoughts?

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Stu, Canon makes five macro lenses, the 180mm f3.5L, 100mm f2.8, 60mm f2.8, 50mm f2.5, and the very specialized MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro (makes a grain of rice fill the frame).

The vast majority of photographers have no use for the MP-E 65mm, and so the choices generally deal with focal length, ranging from the 50-60mm, the 100mm and the 150-200mm range. Both Sigma and Tamron make excellent macro lenses in the 100mm and 150-180mm range. Most of the so-called macro zoom lenses do not offer true macro capability, and the prime lenses are all sharper than the zooms anyway, so with macro I always suggest people look at the prime (fixed focal length) lenses.

These lenses range from a couple/three hundred bucks up to $1,250 in the case of the Canon 180mm.

People who want to use the lens to photograph butterflies and dragonflies and other insects really have to have the longer focal length because the working distance is greater and they don't tend to spook the critters.

But since you have the 100-400, which with its 6 ft minimum focus distance is a killer butterfly/dragonfly lens at 400mm, I think you can easily get away with a macro in the 100mm range.

I shoot the Canon 100mm f2.8 macro. When doing macro work, even with the lens stopped down, the subject is so close to the lens that depth of focus is very thin, and so a lot of macro photos require very slow shutter speeds to get as much DOF as possible, and that spells a solid tripod, calm conditions and either a remote shutter release or the camera's self timer.

Both the Siggie and Tamron offerings in the same focal length ranges are as sharp as the Canons, though not much less expensive. Also, the Canon 100mm, since it's not an L lens, does not come with a hood or a tripod ring. The tripod ring in particular is good to have because it vastly improves the balance from a tripod. That little sucker runs about $150 and the hood about $40, so if you go that route you can add about $200 to the $450 prices of the 100 macro. However, this lens is as sharp and rich as any canon L lens I've ever shot. I believe either the Siggie or Tamron offerings may include a tripod ring in the price, but you can price shop and compare options online with B&H or Canoga Camera.

There's some food for thought for you, man! gringrin

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I have the 28-105 and it is a very usable lens. It's a nice walk around lens when I can't carry a lot of stuff. I seldom use it as a macro (have a 100 2.8 macro in the bag) but when I have, it's been acceptable.

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Or, you can always opt for a set of Kenko extension tubes, and use these with your existing lenses. I've heard good things about these and seen some pretty impressive shots to boot.

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I use the Sigma 105mm Macro. It's a very good and sharp lens. It doesn't come with a tripod ring and has no place for one but it's so compact you really don't need one. I would recommend it to anyone looking at getting a great midrange macro lens.

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I also have a Sigma 105 and really like it.

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I forgot to mention mirror lock-up for macro. The MLU function is a custom function in Canon cameras that has to be activated and deactivated. I'm not sure about Nikon, Olympus and the others, but all (even the entry level) Canon bodies now offer MLU. With the high quality available from the entry level bodies these days, I'd bet all those brands offer MLU on those bodies.

Why use MLU? As the mirror gets out of the way of the sensor when the shutter is tripped, it slaps lightly and causes camera vibration, which can blur a photo when shutter speeds are slow. When MLU is set, the first trip of the shutter locks the mirror in the "up" position, and the second trip engages the shutter to take the pic. If you wait a couple seconds between locking up the mirror and tripping the shutter, any camera shake will dissipate. I typically use MLU for macro or landscape work at shutter speeds slower than 1/30 sec, though I believe mirror slap doesn't impact the image until you're down around 1/8 or 1/4 sec.

You'll definitely want to remember to deactivate it when you are finished with the macro/landscape session. Nothing worse than picking up a camera later to take a picture of a fleeting critter only to have your shutter click lock up the mirror but not take a picture. grin

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