Macro equipment: Good close-up lens vs. macro lens

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by madhobbit.geo, Jun 7, 2008.

  1. Hi,

    I've got an interest in macro photography that sort of waxes and
    wanes. So far, I've been using a really cheap set of close-up lenses
    (+1/2/4/10, made by a company called Sonia, ~$20) on my Canon 18-55
    and 75-300 USM, as well as a reversing ring to attach my 50mm to the
    end of my 75-300.

    The Sonia +1 and +2 close-up lenses actually give reasonable results,
    but the +4 and especially the +10 are extremely soft and exhibit all
    sorts of optical badness. On the other hand, my 50mm reversed onto my
    telephoto lens gives really good results, but I have to use the 75-300
    at 200mm or more to avoid vignetting, and my working distance is
    somewhere around 2 cm.

    So I'm considering two different options for a better macro setup.
    First option: The Canon f/2.8 100mm Macro. As a large-aperture prime,
    it would nicely complement my existing 28mm and 50mm lenses. I'm sure
    the optical quality is excellent as well. Second option: A higher
    quality close-up lens, like the Canon 250D. Easier to carry around,
    and about 1/3 the price of the 100mm macro.

    Now, I think I have a decent understanding of the major pros and cons
    of each option, and I'm honestly not sure that I'm going to buy
    anything in the immediate future, but I'm wondering if anyone has any
    comments on either option. The biggest sticking point for me is that
    while $134 seems like a lot to pay for one close-up lens, it's still a
    lot less than $588 for the 100mm macro (Canadian dollars, at the first
    place I checked).

    So...comments?

    - Darryl
     
    madhobbit.geo, Jun 7, 2008
    #1
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  2. madhobbit.geo

    Alan Browne Guest


    It ain't macro if it ain't macro. "Close up" won't cut it. Add on
    lenses only limit the lens further in resolution (detail).

    Macro for 35mm cameras, a fixed focal length lens with a magnification
    of at least 1:2, and preferably 1:1 is "macro".

    The main advantage of longer FL macro lenses (over 50mm) is you get
    greater working distance for a 1:1 macro.

    Consider the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 and the
    Sigma 180mm f/2.8

    The Canon 100 f/2.8 macro is of course, excellent.

    All of the above also make good/great portrait lenses (though the 180 on
    a cropped sensor will need some room to shoot and produce very flat
    images).

    These lenses pop up at used equipment fairs occasionally or on ebay and
    such, however most photogs are loathe to part with them.

    You may have to budget more to get superb results. If you're close to
    the US border you might be able to drive over to pick one up at a lower
    price.

    Cheers,
    Alan.
     
    Alan Browne, Jun 7, 2008
    #2
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  3. madhobbit.geo

    JD Guest

    What are your subjects? A true macro lens will have less distortion at
    the edges thus if you are shooting flat objects, it becomes an important
    factor. Shooting flowers, it might not be as critical. Get a copy of
    John Shaw's Closeups in Nature. He describes mulitple ways of skinning
    a cat, including putting dual element Nikon closeup lenses on zooms.
    You can judge for yourself from the pictures he provides as examples of
    that technique. See if you can find a used Nikon or Canon dual element
    filter and give that a try.

    JD
     
    JD, Jun 7, 2008
    #3
  4. madhobbit.geo

    Paul Furman Guest

    I got a Canon 500D +2 diopter 2-element closeup lens with 77mm thread
    and step-up rings. I still find it useful even having other macro
    lenses, extension tubes & teleconverters. I've not tried cheaper
    versions so can't compare.

    --
    Paul Furman
    www.edgehill.net
    www.baynatives.com

    all google groups messages filtered due to spam
     
    Paul Furman, Jun 8, 2008
    #4
  5. madhobbit.geo

    Archibald Guest

    Yes, I have the 500 D closeup lens and use it with the 70-300mm Canon
    zoom for closeups. Works great, allows plenty of working distance for
    nervous critters, and gives very sharp results.

    Archibald
     
    Archibald, Jun 8, 2008
    #5
  6. madhobbit.geo

    Archibald Guest

    Extension tubes work great with many normal focal length lenses, but
    not with the 17-55mm/2.8 Canon zoom because the subject distance
    becomes too small (the subject will actually touch the front element
    at a not-unreasonable magnification). Also, you will need too much
    extension when working with telephoto lenses. Better to use macro
    lenses or accessory closeup lenses.

    Archibald
     
    Archibald, Jun 8, 2008
    #6
  7. So...comments?

    Canon EF-S 60mm F/2.8 Macro USM

    Incredible macro and autofocusing performance for the price. Also a good
    portrait lens.

    Assuming you have an EF-S Canon SLR.
     
    Richard J Kinch, Jun 8, 2008
    #7
  8. madhobbit.geo

    dwight Guest

    I bought a fair-priced lens and got fair results. Heck, I think the kit lens
    is a fair example of fair.

    When I had a hankerin' for macro, I did a little bit of research, read
    through a lot of individual reviews, and decided on that 100mm f/2.8.

    There's cheap, there's good, and there's expensive (not counting those
    lenses I'll buy when I win the lottery). I would put the 100mm at the top of
    the good range, and I've never been dissatisfied. You may think the price is
    steep, but you'll never regret spending the money.

    dwight
    http://www.tfrog.com/digitals/lenses/100mm/100mm.htm
     
    dwight, Jun 8, 2008
    #8
  9. Get a set of extension tubes. Manual tubes w/o AF etc.
    are often $20 or so. Automatic tubes cost more, but
    probably less than a fancy close-up lens.
     
    Nicholas O. Lindan, Jun 8, 2008
    #9
  10. I briefly considered that, but it appears to be about the same price
    as the Canon EF 100mm F/2.8 Macro. Since I already have Canon's 50mm f/
    1.8 lens, I think the 100mm Macro makes more sense for me -- as a
    macro lens, it should give me a greater working distance, and for non-
    macro work, it gives me an option that I don't currently have.
     
    madhobbit.geo, Jun 8, 2008
    #10
  11. The money, of course, is the dilemma. I've also been considering
    getting something to replace my 18-55mm kit lens, and I could put the
    money I'd spend on the 100mm Macro towards, say, the Canon 17-40 f/4
    L, or the 17-85 IS. I know the 100mm Macro is an excellent lens (at
    least, I've never heard anyone ever say anything bad about
    it)...mostly, I'm wondering whether the 250D or 500D close-up lens is
    a lower-cost option worth considering. The Tamron 90mm that Alan
    Browne suggested is another interesting alternative.

    Thanks to all who have replied so far!
     
    madhobbit.geo, Jun 8, 2008
    #11
  12. I think the 100mm Macro makes more sense for me -- as a
    Well, OK if that's what you have. I'd rather have a lighter and smaller
    lens for macro work and leave the normal 100mm shooting to zoom.

    They have equal macro magnification of 1:1, until you add the extenders
    which boost the 60mm more (1.6X) than the 100mm (1.4X).
     
    Richard J Kinch, Jun 8, 2008
    #12
  13. madhobbit.geo

    dwight Guest

    I can't tell you more. To me, putting $100 down on a closeup lens would be
    taking $100 away from getting an actual macro lens. Certainly, I find no
    negative reviews of the Canon closeup lenses, but I wonder whether the
    expense is worthwhile, if you plan to eventually buy a dedicated macro.

    The kit lens is not shabby, but I did finally buy its replacement, once I
    had the telephoto zoom and macro covered. I bought the 17-40 and flat out
    love it.

    dwight
    www.tfrog.com
     
    dwight, Jun 8, 2008
    #13
  14. madhobbit.geo

    tomm42 Guest


    Depending on how close you want to get decides what macro lens you
    want. With a 50-60mm you are very close to the subject at 1:1 or 1:2
    magnifucation, a 100mm moves you a little further away. A 100mm is a
    good general purpose macro lens, I uuse the 50-60mm variety as more
    copy lenses and photgraphing clients art work. You don't really need a
    Canon lens, all the 3rd party 90-105mm macros are excellent lenses
    too, Sigma Tamron, Tokina.
    Using Canon or Nikon multi element closeup lenses makes sense if all
    you are photographing is flowers and items you just need a little more
    mag. These lenses are made for use on a telephoto lens, they may not
    work well on the 18-55.
    I always have macro lenses in my kit so that is my 1st choice, if you
    feel you don't need 1:1 mag use the multi element closeup lenses.
    Don't waste your money on off brand single element close ups.

    Tom
     
    tomm42, Jun 9, 2008
    #14
  15. .. The biggest sticking point for me is that
    Your reversed 50mm is just a really well corrected +20 diopter close-
    up lens.
    The 250D (+4 diopters) is a two element achromat that is much better
    optically than an inexpensive generic single element close-up. In
    addition to extenders, a standard teleconverter will multiply the
    image size without affecting the close focusing distance.

    If you have the $588, the Canon macro lens is clearly the best choice
    but if you would like another good inexpensive option, (I'm sure I'll
    get flamed for this) the Vivitar 100mm macro for Canon for $109.95 at
    B&H is much better than you might think. It is very well corrected.
    You may be able to find one used. (Flamers: please limit responses to
    actual experience with the lens in question.)

    I have macro lenses, extenders, simple and achromatic close-ups, lens
    reversers, bellows units, and several enlarger lenses adapted to the
    camera bellows mounts, various macro lighting brackets, adapters, and
    tents plus three tripods from Manfroto and Benbo with features
    selected specifically to support macro work in the field. (Tripods in
    addition to the ones I already had.) This can turn into a pretty
    serious habit. For a waxing/waning interest it might be wise to ease
    into it and the Vivitar would be a cheap step. At worst you can get a
    49mm step-up ring and use it with your lens reversing ring to create a
    better +10 for your 50mm or 75-300 with twice the working distance you
    have now with the reversed 50mm.
     
    Bob Kirkpatrick, Jun 9, 2008
    #15
  16. That's an...interesting idea. Without doing any research whatsoever on
    the lens, the obvious concern is that for that price, its quality is
    suspect. But it's cheaper than the Canon close-up lenses, which makes
    it an option that seems worth considering. For the price of the Canon
    100mm, I could get a decent ballhead, a monopod, and the Vivitar lens,
    and have money left over.

    Thanks!
    - Darryl
     
    madhobbit.geo, Jun 10, 2008
    #16
  17. madhobbit.geo

    Troy Piggins Guest

    * wrote :
    I'll throw in another option that in my quick scan of the thread
    hasn't been suggested. The Sigma 105mm. Similar working
    distance to the Canon 100, cheaper, just as sharp if not sharper,
    same aperture, and can use for portraits. I have the Canon, my
    fiance has the Sigma. If I had my time I'd probably buy the
    Sigma now that I've used both.

    IMO any focal length shorter than the 100mm has too close working
    distance. Any longer and it might push out of your price range.

    Keep in mind the macro lenses don't auto-focus as quick as
    standard lenses if you're using them for portraits etc. Most
    macro shots are taking MF, not AF, so it doesn't usually matter.

    As someone has suggested, extension tubes like the Kenko set
    could get you "true" macro 1:1 roughly on your 50mm. But the
    working distance is much smaller than the 100mm dedicated macro
    lenses.

    Sorry to add more options to a confusing list.
     
    Troy Piggins, Jun 10, 2008
    #17
  18. madhobbit.geo

    Robert Coe Guest

    Hi,
    :
    : I've got an interest in macro photography that sort of waxes and
    : wanes. So far, I've been using a really cheap set of close-up lenses
    : (+1/2/4/10, made by a company called Sonia, ~$20) on my Canon 18-55
    : and 75-300 USM, as well as a reversing ring to attach my 50mm to the
    : end of my 75-300.
    :
    : The Sonia +1 and +2 close-up lenses actually give reasonable results,
    : but the +4 and especially the +10 are extremely soft and exhibit all
    : sorts of optical badness. On the other hand, my 50mm reversed onto my
    : telephoto lens gives really good results, but I have to use the 75-300
    : at 200mm or more to avoid vignetting, and my working distance is
    : somewhere around 2 cm.
    :
    : So I'm considering two different options for a better macro setup.
    : First option: The Canon f/2.8 100mm Macro. As a large-aperture prime,
    : it would nicely complement my existing 28mm and 50mm lenses. I'm sure
    : the optical quality is excellent as well. Second option: A higher
    : quality close-up lens, like the Canon 250D. Easier to carry around,
    : and about 1/3 the price of the 100mm macro.

    You might want to consider the less expensive Canon 60mm f/2.8 macro. My wife
    has been very happy with hers.

    Bob
     
    Robert Coe, Jun 14, 2008
    #18
  19. madhobbit.geo

    dt Guest

    Am I missing something, or does that lens only come in an FD mount?
    http://snipurl.com/2jd6j Since this is posted in rec.photo.digital... I
    assumed you'd need an EOS mount, and I can't seem to find one at B&H or
    anywhere else, for that matter.

    thanks,
    DT
     
    dt, Jun 16, 2008
    #19
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