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Photography QnA: Macro Photography Tip

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Category: All About Photography : Photographic Field Techniques : Macro Photography Tip

Looking for macro photography flowers tips? Do you like to take close up pictures? Take a look at this discussion and this helpful article by Tony Sweet: Fine Art Flower Photography: Creative Techniques. Or consider taking Kerry Drager's Details and Close-ups online photography course.

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Photography Question 
Rob Warwick
BetterPhoto Member
robdoc75.com

member since: 4/27/2009
  1 .  Capabilities of Macro lenses
I'm thinking of purchasing a 100mm macro lens. In addition to close-up photos, can a macro be used for any other types of shots?

Rob Warwick

8/16/2010 9:58:13 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  Of course, although a regular lens of the same focal length may have better optics at longer focal distances. But then again, those differences may be measurable in a lab test situation but not readily apparent when you're looking at the actual photos.
I have a 50mm macro that I got because I like using that focal length for regular pictures and the added plus of macro.

8/16/2010 12:05:24 PM

  Hi Rob,
I love my macro lens. I shoot lots of flowers and also use it for portraits especially of children.
"Center" is the monthly theme category for the August contest. Check out my post on the Aug. entries to view what a macro lens can do. I have several flower centers posted on the first page.
The macro lens is a really a fun lens to own and use....

8/16/2010 12:07:55 PM

  Most macro lenses are the best lens and sharpest that the companies makes. A 100mm lens will do fine for any detail work. Remember unless you have the Canon ME 65 that the rest focus from 1:1 to infinity. I would not recommend a 100mm for portraits on a cropped camera though. It is a little too long. An isolated part of a building or 10 feet from a flower it would be wonderful.(providing you wanted the entire flower unless it is very big.LOL)

8/16/2010 10:37:35 PM

Fax Sinclair
BetterPhoto Member
fax-sinclair.com

member since: 1/3/2004
  As anyone can see I fell into the macro lens with my first digital camera.
Now using a Micro Nikkor 60mm 1:2.8 because it was what the guy in the camera store thought I should buy.
It works great on raindrops and bugs, also people.
But what is the next macro lens I "should" buy?
And how can a 100mm lens and a 50mm lens do the same thing?

8/17/2010 11:03:00 AM

  Fax,

The 100 has a narrower angle of view and lets you be six inches from that ugly spider and get a 1:1 photo instead of getting three inches away where you are more apt to scare it or worse get bit. How they do it is pure magic. :-)
(see my previous response)

IMO most responsible sales people recommend macro lenses in the 90mm to 105mm range for people new to macro. It helps them get the upclose shots without scarring the critters and is easier to learn macro photography. I found that I am not into macro per se but I want the 100mm macro for close work of small details but not for 1:1 macro photography.


Lynn


8/17/2010 11:48:26 AM

Fax Sinclair
BetterPhoto Member
fax-sinclair.com

member since: 1/3/2004
  Thank you Lynn,
That is very clear and explains why I've been scaring all the geckos and spiders (bees don't care) but it would be nice to be a bit further away!

8/17/2010 1:34:10 PM

  One thing I might mention with a macro lens if your shooting flowers is to shoot on a very still quiet day. Even a tiny wind tends to blow the flower petals around.

I almost always shoot with my mono pod
with no wind this tends to make the flowers more clear.

8/17/2010 1:51:46 PM

Fax Sinclair
BetterPhoto Member
fax-sinclair.com

member since: 1/3/2004
  ha ha Kerby,
Yes, I know to shoot in the stillness. But I live in Waikoloa -- translation -- place of wind devils! Not really, but people do call it Windyblowa.
I have always given myself the "job" of taking the flowers where they are blooming. But I bring them indoors now! Or rush outside during the calmer times.
I was just in your gallery! Lovely, stunning work.

8/17/2010 1:57:56 PM

  Thank you Fax I am glad you enjoyed the flowers and flower centers.

Taking the flowers in the house is a smart move if it windy. Even a tiny breeze can make a big difference in the images.

I like to go to the Botanical gardens when I travel and if it a little windy you find me in the inside gardens.

8/17/2010 7:11:04 PM

Rob Warwick
BetterPhoto Member
robdoc75.com

member since: 4/27/2009
  Thanks for the great discussions and info.

Rob

8/19/2010 8:07:43 AM

Donald R. Curry
BetterPhoto Member
wildlifetrailphotography.com

member since: 3/2/2006
  I have used a Nikon 105mm micro lens for several years. It is known for it's sharpness. It is a great professional lens.

8/26/2010 7:06:01 PM

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Photography Question 
Rob Warwick
BetterPhoto Member
robdoc75.com

member since: 4/27/2009
  2 .  Macro Photography
I'm thinking of buying a Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 compact macro lens for my Rebel. Two questions: Is this a quality lens; and, is a Canon Extension Tube EF25 II compatible?
Thanks for any help.
Rob

1/25/2010 12:12:23 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  Yes, it's a quality lens, and Canon's extension tube is compatiple with it and the other EF lenses. Canon also makes a life-size converter for the 50mm macro. Something else to consider.

1/25/2010 12:42:36 PM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  Yes, it is high quality lens, at least optically. It's build and autofocus mechanism are a bit dated, though. It only focuses close enough to produce 1/2 life-size image on the sensor. Yes, it is compatible with the Canon EF extension tubes EF 12 II and EF 25 II. There is also an accessory Life Size Converter EF for this lens that acts as combination extension tube and teleconverter that gives up to 1:1 life size.
If your "Rebel" is a digital Rebel, then the EF-S 60 f/2.8 USM Macro is preferred over the EF 50 f/2.5 Compact Macro in every way.

1/25/2010 12:44:48 PM

Rob Warwick
BetterPhoto Member
robdoc75.com

member since: 4/27/2009
  Gregory and Jon,

Thanks very much for your prompt replies.

Rob

1/25/2010 12:54:53 PM

  Beware! The Life Size converter costs almost as much as the lens. The lens without the converter is only 1:2, 1/2, life size. I feel you would be better off finding a non 'L' 100mm f2.8 macro for just a little more money. Of course, if you have the money, the 100 f2.8L II IS would be great! If starting in Macro, it is preferred to learn with a longer lens than 50-60mm.
Good ones are in the 90-105mm range. These give you a greater range so you don't spook the bugs or get stung by one.

1/25/2010 4:54:03 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  Lynn is correct. A 50mm with a converter (or extension tube) will reach its closest focus point a few inches from the subject. This will work OK for flower close-ups but is not practical for bug photography.
Unless you catch them early in the morning (before they wake up), there are few insects who will sit still long enough for you to get that close.

1/26/2010 4:16:13 AM

Rob Warwick
BetterPhoto Member
robdoc75.com

member since: 4/27/2009
  Thank you all for the good advice and food for thought. Will post what I finally purchased.

1/29/2010 9:54:30 AM

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Photography Question 
Pamela Frost
BetterPhoto Member
newcreationpictures.com

member since: 9/3/2005
  3 .  Macro Equipment
What is better: a macro lens or diopter close-up attachment? I would like to get into macro photography more.

12/21/2009 5:31:30 AM

Jeffrey R. Whitmoyer

member since: 1/7/2009
  I would choose a true macro lens over diopters. The diopters will work for you, but I don't feel they do as good a job. You could also look into close-up/extension rings to use with your existing lenses.

12/21/2009 2:39:24 PM

  I've shot flowers with my macro lens. The lens brings great details into what you shooting. I have a Sony Alpha 700 with a 2.8/100 Sony macro lens - my favorite lens.

12/21/2009 3:07:37 PM

  Hi Pam,
Macro lenses are specialized in their design and performance. While diopters like the Canon 500D and extension tubes help a normal lens with closer focusing ability, it is not the same as a true 1:1 macro lens.

12/21/2009 6:36:15 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  I agree with all of the previous comments. Diopter filters are much more limiting and the optical integrity of an otherwise great lens can be compromised.
Another option you may want to consider is a reversing ring. When mounted backwards, a standard non-macro lens can focus much closer.

12/22/2009 2:56:55 AM

  Pamela: Yeah, if you tried a true macro lens, you would be amazed at the superior quality you would get. The accessories do work, but a true 100mm (or similar) macro lens is a great investment for nature photography.
Sony makes a 100mm Macro lens ($679); Sigma also makes a 105mm macro that is fully Sony compatible ($479).

12/22/2009 9:36:21 AM

  I agree with Peter and the others. You can't beat a true macro lens. Like Carlton said, the Canon 500D close up lens (filter) is very good. I use the Nikon 5T and 6T close-up filters on my macro to get even closer than normal. The good close-up filters are pretty expensive. The cheaper versions by other companies are not worth the effort. I tried some years ago and they just will not give you the quality you need. You can't go wrong with a macro lens. In addition to the ones Peter mentioned, you may want to check on the Tamron 90mm macro. It gets very good reviews. Good luck with your choice.

12/22/2009 11:38:41 AM

Pamela Frost
BetterPhoto Member
newcreationpictures.com

member since: 9/3/2005
  Thank you everyone ... and Kerby, great pics. I will go with the macro lens!

12/22/2009 4:40:52 PM

  Well, Pam, you have made the proper decision as far as I am concerned. You will be better off getting into macro photography with a lens between 90-105mm. It gives you more working room and you won't have the bugs jumping on you. LOL All of the major players that make macro lenses do an excellent job and these lenses are probably the best lens that they make. Many macro photos are taken with the camera mounted on a tripod. Make sure that it is VERY solid.
I owned a Canon 100mm f2.8 macro USM and used it on both the 20D and 5D with excellent results. You may still find it available, and I recommend it over the newer IS version because the IS is not needed since you are using a tripod and they are $$$ less expensive.
These lenses are also great to use as moderate telephotos but you do not want to use them for close-up portrait because it will show all of the pores in the skin. But if you have a person whose face tells a story with the wrinkles, then use it, but not for a teenage girl or a model.
Do not rely on the autofocus. Make sure that you check to insure that what you want is in focus and manually refocus.
After you get use to taking close-ups and 1:1 macro photos, you can add extension tubes to get an even larger image on your sensor.
I have also heard good words about the Sigma 105mm but the focus is slower than the Canons. Be sure to take the course offered by BP. It will make learning a lot faster and reduce experimentation, and you will have the instructor to answer specific questions.

12/25/2009 12:50:03 PM

  Thank you Pamela.

I love shooting flowers the colors, shapes and designs are all different and with the macro lens you can really make the designs come to life.

I just put all the flowers at the front of my port and it takes up the first four pages and there more on the 5th page.

You made a good choice to go with the macro lens. I suggest putting the camera on a tripod it really helps keep everything still and in focus.

12/25/2009 1:43:04 PM

  Pamela the other thing I want to suggest is to shoot on a none windy day if you shooting outside. Even a breeze can move things. I find early in the morning is an excellent time.

12/25/2009 1:47:33 PM

Pamela Frost
BetterPhoto Member
newcreationpictures.com

member since: 9/3/2005
  ok, another question. I tried out a macro lens tamron 90mm for my canon rebel xt1i but I had so much trouble getting sharp pictures. I used the auto focus it didn't appear to have a manual focus option. Very little was in sharp focus. I did use it w/o tripod (b/c they were not allowed where I was) and increased my iso to get me a faster shutter speed. what am I doing wrong? am I forced to use a tripod or would it help to get the 1,049 canon high quality 100mm macro lens w/ IS so I can handhold when needed? thanks again in advance for any advice you can give :)

12/26/2009 8:41:24 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  According to specs, the Tamron Telephoto SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro does have manual-focusing capabilities. Also, according to reviews, the auto-focus can be slow and in-accurate in low light.

In macro, critical focus on a key element is best achieved manually.
With practice, it's possible (though not recommended) to hand-hold a 90 mm at its closest focusing distance in decent light.
Since DOF is very limited, a small aperture (f-16 or f-22)is required to get most of the frame in apparent focus. Unfortunately, the smaller aperture setting will decrease your allowable shutter speed, making it more difficult to shoot hand-held.
(Maybe flash will help.)

12/26/2009 11:45:25 PM

  The macro lens is the lens that was the hardest for me to learn to use.

My lens is not auto focus.

This may sound crazy but if I am going to a local garden to do flowers images I take a small step stool with me so I can get over the top of the flower if the flower is a larger flower.

The lens bring the flowers up really close and I want to try and get the whole flower. You can always crop later if you need too.

Make sure before you take the image that what you see if totally clear and infocus.

12/27/2009 6:11:16 AM

Sam Britt
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Sam
Sam's Gallery

member since: 3/11/2006
  I've been using a Canon 60mm macro lens since 2006, though it has an Auto Focus setting. I almost never use it, I prefer manually focusing. It gives you more control of the part of the photo you want in focus, such as a the tip of a single flower petal or a single waterdrop. I experiment with various aperture settings to get the depth of field that I'm looking for. Using a tripod & a cable release is also extremely helpful.

I also agree with Kerby's comment, it's best not to shoot on a windy day.

12/29/2009 7:38:30 AM

  The Tamron does have manual focusing. It has a unique push-pull focus ring lock. You go from Auto Focus to Manual Focus by pulling or pushing the focus ring back or forward. Check out Tamrons web site for details.

Macro with a lot of DOF will require a tripod. You will need to stop the lens down to obtain a lot of depth. This requires a lot of light or a slow shutter speed which requires a tripod if you are only using natural light.

12/29/2009 7:53:34 AM

Barb Rathbun
barbrathbun.com

member since: 1/16/2006
  I just bought a Canon Extender EF 2X ll to use on My Canon 5D with my 70-300 lens but (oops) my lens is a Tamron and the extender won't fit the lens. Is there an adapter that I could buy? Help!

thanks
Barb

2/4/2010 5:58:28 AM

  Barb: You would need to buy a Tamron brand converter. ut are you sure you want to use a teleconverter with a lens of this type?

Canon specifically makes their consumer-grade lenses so they will not accept a teleconverter.

Because Canon is convinced that an inexpensive lens -- with small maximum apertures -- should not be used with a teleconverter. (Tamron should do the same.)

See my comments about teleconverters. Scroll down to Question 2 at

http://www.photolife.com/article.php?idArticle=58

Cheers! Peter

2/4/2010 6:28:57 AM

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Photography Question 
Jennifer Dent
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/7/2007
  4 .  Macro Lenses
Hi,
I really like shooting macro photos. I have a Canon 50mm f/2.5 compact macro lens and I really like it ... but I would like to get even more magnification. Does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

11/8/2009 1:42:07 PM

  Hi Jennifer,
We are having a discussion concerning the new Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS macro lens -
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/QnAdetail.asp?threadID=34433
Many people like it for its portrait ability along with it being a macro lens. I have the older version 100mm (without IS) but am considering selling this to get the Canon 180mm L macro lens for more working room. The 180mm is bigger and heavier but I have lots of heavy lenses and strong arms as a result of using them so that won't be an issue for me :)
I also use a macro ringlight and a good tripod, and I manually focus when shooting macro.
Cheers,
Carlton

11/9/2009 12:23:53 PM

  I would recommend extension tubes. Normally they come in three sizes, 12mm, 24/25mm and 36mm. They may be purchased in sets. The more mm, the closer and larger your subject becomes.
Closer can become problematic in that you may disturb your subject and have them quickly depart, bite you, sting you, or all of the above. It is possible to join all of the tubes together also.
Please remember that when shooting this close, a tripod is necessary, a flash may be needed, a cable release or other remote release is desired, and small f-stops if needed for additional depth of field. Manually focus.
After about 10,000 or so shots, you will be pretty good at it. LOL

11/9/2009 12:23:57 PM

Jennifer Dent
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/7/2007
  Thanks....I will check out the thread. I will also check out extension tubes.

11/9/2009 2:09:13 PM

Jennifer Dent
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/7/2007
  Okay. I'm not gonna lie. I have no idea what I'm looking for. For reasons I can't understand, I do not comprehend all the numbers and letters thrown out there, no matter how many times people try to help me.

Basically, what I want is to be able to take a picture of, let's say, a ladybug and I want it to be really close, like right in the ladybug's face.

Any suggestions? I feel like an idiot.

11/9/2009 2:15:46 PM

Jennifer Dent
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/7/2007
  This is what I found that was made specifically for the Canon Compact Macro 50mm f/2.5 that I have.

Any thoughts on this?

http://store.pictureline.com/canon-life-size-converter-ef.html

Thanks. I really need to study more, I think.

11/9/2009 2:26:38 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  Hello Jennifer,
Please allow me to join in this discussion.
If you want to get closer than 1/2 (1:2) lifesize (...which is the closest your 50mm Canon can focus), you should opt for the extension tubes Lynn recommended to increase your magnification ratio rather than an adaptor, which contains glass elements.
Extension tubes are hollow "spacers" which, when placed between the lens and the camera, will in effect pull the camera body further away from the subject...thus increasing its magnification. (Kind of like how moving a slide projector back further away from the screen makes the projected image larger.).
Since the 'tubes contain no glass elements, there will be nothing to compromise the quality and integrity of your lens.
You should keep in mind, though, that reflected light and depth of field will decrease exponentially the further you extend your lens. Also, camera-shake and subject movement will be amplified. But if you take the time to really get to "know" your bug, you should be able to close that distance and get right into its face.

11/9/2009 3:31:20 PM

  I had to do a little research on this being that you have a new lens. First I would suggest that you purchase from B&H or Adorama. The price for your lens at B&H is $30+ less than at Priceline and they give you a better warranty.
Your lens does not give a life sized image on your sensor. It only makes things 1/2 life size commonly refered as a 1:2 ratio i.e. 1"=1/2" on the sensor. Life size is 1:1 i.e 1"=1".
Caveat: I didn't take your cropped sensor into consideration. Size was determined by a full sized 35 mm sensor.

The converter you are inquiring about , when added, will give you a 1:1 ratio and at a further distance away. This will come in very handy while trying not to disturb the bugs by getting into their space. This converter also cost almost as much as the lens does!

I would also like to recommend that you do some serious reading about macro photography. It is one of the more difficult fields to learn to do properly. Also when you want to upgrade you will be less infuenced by a sales person who may or may not know about what you trully need and which is best.

Overall though your lens does rate quite well with the advanced and pro crowd. With your cropped sensor it will be nice for portraits also.


Lynn

11/9/2009 3:33:29 PM

  Haha, Bob camatra got his message in while I still correcting mine. As he mentionedextension tubes do not contain any glass, only air. You can purchase the complete Kenko set for less than you can purchase two Canon converters.
Maybe they get their air at wholesale. LOL

Good Luck


Lynn

11/9/2009 3:41:08 PM

Jennifer Dent
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/7/2007
  Alright. I found a really nice place online and I called. They were super helpful and helped me find some extension tubes.

As for the flash, I just can't decide whether or not to get it. I have a slave flash already...and this is basically what they are trying to sell me, except theirs has a faster response time.

I just can't decide. I know I want the extension tubes, but I don't know if I want to spend the extra money on that flash when I already have a slave flash, although mine is a very cheap one.

11/9/2009 5:17:29 PM

Jennifer Dent
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/7/2007
  I think I'll hold off until I know I want it. I don't use flash very much at all. If I decide I need it I can get it later.

This is an expensive hobby! LOL

11/9/2009 5:19:36 PM

  "This is an expensive hobby".

Yes it can become very expensive. But it can become even more expensive if you purchase from the wrong people. I am aware of only a few places that you get what you pay for and you receive outstannding service as far as photography is concerned. Their prices are all about the same. There are at least 500 places that are scams with "bait and switch" tactics. For instance the person told you, "...their flash has a faster response time". A slave flash operates at the speed of light. How does his flash operate any faster? Another ploy used is they will up grade your from one that has a plastic whatever to a brass one, for more money of course. Or that you can get one built in Japan instead of China by the same company. Both Canon & Nikon have few lenses made in Japan. They never have the same model made in two different countries where one has plastic and the other one is brass. As far as eBay is concerned be VERY careful and check them out. Same thing with Amazon. Both have legit deals and the crooks.

Always check resellerratings.com when making a purchase from an unknown dealer. Also never give them your credit card# until the order is complete. Sometimes it is the first thing they ask for. It is best to use a credit card over a debit card. You can stop payment on the credit card and you may never retrieve your money back if you use a debit card.

There are deals out there. A rain cover for my camera cost #5.95 for two. If I want one to fit over an attached flash it is 8>95 for two. I have paid over $40 for quality built raincovers and found them totally useless. The inexpensive ones are easier to use and I have used one for an entire year before hauling the second one out of the packet. So price isn't everything. Check here to find out what gear works and what to avoid.


Lynn

11/9/2009 5:55:04 PM

Jennifer Dent
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/7/2007
  I agree. I decided against the flash because I thought, "I already have one I hardly use!"

As for the extension tubes I checked the prices on different sites. So I feel confident about that.

I'm not sure what he meant about the flash. It is a "speed light" that he mentioned. I will have to research that further.

I do agree about the expensive stuff not always being better. Since I'm fairly new at this I tend to use cheaper stuff until I decide that it's not good enough. Like my UV filters...I use the cheap ones and so far so good. I'm not a cheapskate, I just like to learn as I go and spend as little as possible until I find that I need to spend more.

There's no hurry, I can always get what I need later.

I will see how I like the extension tubes. Thanks so much for all the help!

11/9/2009 6:16:46 PM

Gina Plant

member since: 10/8/2009
  Hope you don't mind me joining the discussion. I have a Canon 60mm macro lens and wanted some extension tubes to take me closer. I see there is a set of extension tubes on Amazon for 5.99. Is this too good to be true - and if so, what are the dangers in purchasing these?
Many thanks
Gina

11/24/2009 4:58:36 AM

  The problem with extension tubes is that they increase the aperture of the lens used at its widest opening. For example: With a f4 lens, such as my Canon 300mm f4L, my widest aperture is f/4, which is adequate to throw out the background and isolate the subject (if the subject is not right next to the background). But, with the 1:4 extension tube (on my Canon), that opens the lens to a maximum of f5.6, meaning less of the background will go out of focus--hence, less isolation of the subject.

I want to go the other way. Macro lenses are generally f/2.8 which can create good bokeh, when the background is totally out of focus and the subject is far enough away from the plants behind it. Check out the Flora album in my gallery for a comparison of the old and new Canon 100mm macro f2.8 and 2.8L lenses can do.

My 100mm macro f2.8 lens broke and Canon says they are no longer repairing these lenses. The reason is because their new 100mm macro f2.8L has come out. Both of these lens are terrific.

Hence, I bought the 100mm f2.8L (low dispersion) with I.S. and it's worth every dollar paid. The lens, being low dispersion glass is wire sharp, has more clarity than its predecessor. And, because it also has image stabilization, I can use it off the tripod if necessary. However, I generally prefer to shoot on a tripod for the maximum sharpness and reduced vibration, and so that I'm able to work with Canon's MR-14EX TTL macro ring lite flash which gives even lighting to the subject and which can be set in lighting ratios, that I really like. It's too cumbersome to hand-hold the lens and the ring flash. A tripod is the only way to go. B&H Photo-Video has this ring flash on special right now for $445. I order online or call in orders. Another light option, which I should have purchased is the Canon MT-24EX Macro Twin Lite Ring-lite Flash (Guide No. 72'/22 m). This is for really serious photographers and like the ring flash, a sturdy tripod is necessary.

Hope this helps.

11/24/2009 6:22:43 AM

Gina Plant

member since: 10/8/2009
  Thanks Bunny. I was more interested in why these Amazon ones are so cheap and wondered whether anyone knew what the quality was like. I'm happy with my 60mm macro at the moment. I'll enjoy looking at your flora album though.
Gina

11/24/2009 6:54:20 AM

  Jennifer, I have some inexpensive slave units, which I used when I could not afford better options, but have not used since.

When I had my manual Nikon (FM3A and FE), I did not have a Nikon flash. Flash units are also known as speedlites. At that time, I used a Sunpak 383 flash and some really inexpensive slave units which cost about US$15 for basically table top photography. The cheap slave units did not extend the light very far, but were a learning tool and I was learning what I did not want and what would have been a better purchase.

After switching to a better system than what I previously had, I used the Canon 420 EX speedlite, which did not really work to photograph flowers or small bugs because the light would go over the heads of the subject or blast the flower and light the background. Not wanted. Next, I bounced the light from the 420 EX (or any speedlite for that matter) into a large very reflective sheet of white foam core, which was directed to my flower source. This made a larger but softer light source, which worked for awhile until I began learning about better sources of light.

From the foam core, I went to the 14-MR EX ring flash which has a ring of light around the lens and evenly lights the subject (like the foam core) but is easier to manipulate. This is great for tiny little bugs on flowers, or other things that need even lighting. Dentists use this light. But, the thing I really like about this system is that very a relatively inexpensive price in comparison to some of the other models, and I can set ratios of 1:1, 1:1.5, 1:2, etc. --putting more light on one side than on the other, and hence making more creative lighting.

Seriously wonderful macro photographers have told me I should have purchased the Canon MT-24EX Macro Twin Lite Ring-lite Flash, which is more expensive. Yes! Photography is a very expensive hobby, and profession.

My point and shoot husband who doesn't bother doing Photoshop or even straightening his horizons and occasionally cuts off the heads of his subject felt it was ridiculous for me to purchase the more expensive flash/speedlite, and so I purchased the lesser expensive one. Since I believe that purchases should not be made until you cannot make do with what you have, I have stayed with the 14-MR EX, but will eventually make the plunge for the larger flash/speedlite where I can direct the heads to the angle desired. But, first, I want to learn all I can about macro photography from books and instructors at BP.com. Then, I'll know from my instructors recommendation which flash would work better. Their professional opinion is based on their experience and they are not getting a commission to sell a more expensive flash/speedlite unit.

I took the long trial and error approach to learning until I decided to cut to the chase --leave out the unnecessary preamble. I took classes to both empower me to learn and to make better images with my limited funds. Instructors have a wealth of information to share, if we ask questions.

Nearly every course I've taken has empowered me to purchase a piece of helpful equipment because of conversations with fellow students and with my instructors. For the most part, the equipment purchased was what I find very useful and use often.

11/24/2009 12:46:49 PM

  Gina - the very inexpensive extension tubes that you have found more than likely do NOT have the contacts on them for the lens and camera that you use. Each manufacturer is a little different.
You would probably have to do everything manually i.e. focus, f stop and shutter speed. This is a big can of worms that I don't even want to think about. The Pro Kenko extension tubes are ordered by the camera brand that you are using therefore insuring all of the auto features still operate. Same thing for the ones made by the various manufacturers. Please remember if it sounds too cheap there is something lacking. I did purchase a cheap tripod collar from China but I new it's defiencies before I purchased it and decided that I needed the extra $100 more and could put up with it since I mainly shot the lens/camera hand held.
For longer telephotos I would not have done it since they spend more time on tripods.


Lynn

11/24/2009 1:46:16 PM

Gina Plant

member since: 10/8/2009
  Thank you Lynn. That's really helpful. I'll steer clear of those then!
Best wishes
Gina

11/24/2009 2:10:31 PM

Kathleen Brennan
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 6/3/2006
  By the way consider the Canon Closeup filter for more magnification. You can even stack two of these on top of each other. I know some macro photographers that much prefer these to extension tubes.

11/24/2009 2:18:00 PM

 
 
  Ablative Absolute
Ablative Absolute
 
 
Hi Jennifer,
If you really want to be close, consider a microscope. Less expensive that many of the things already mentioned. Check out this article: www.betterphoto.com/article.asp?id=185

11/28/2009 12:25:42 PM

Gina Plant

member since: 10/8/2009
  Oh right Kathleen. I haven't thought about the close up filter. I'll investigate some more, thank you.
Gina

11/28/2009 1:43:47 PM

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Photography Question 
Carol Sawyer
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/3/2006
  5 .  Macro Photography: Extension Tubes
I have the Nikon D50 and have the Sigma 105mm 2.8 DG macro lens. I would like to buy a extension tube for it. I want to get even closer than I am now on details and insects. Can anyone help me on what one woul be best and where I can get it? Thank you so much!

5/13/2008 8:06:57 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  Extension tubes typically come in sets of three so you can choose the degree of magnification of your macro subjects. You can even stack two (or all three) extension tubes for those cooperative bugs that will let you get REALLY close.
Keep in mind, though, that it's difficult (or impossible) to hand-hold a 105mm with 'tubes and expect decent results. Every millimeter of extension of the lens robs light and depth of field, so unless you have a flash ring or other means of illumination, you will be shooting your macros stopped-down in natural light.
For this, you will need a tripod or other support and a subject that's completely immobile during exposure.

5/14/2008 2:01:44 PM

Carol Sawyer
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/3/2006
  Thank you so very much for all your information. Bob!!

5/14/2008 2:47:23 PM

Michael McCullough

member since: 6/11/2002
  For a quick fix I used an old teleconverter took the glass out and it works just great with my Tamron 90mm.& D40 Nikon!

5/22/2008 11:52:11 AM

Carol Sawyer
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/3/2006
  Thank you Michael, I am not sure what a teleconverter is or where to get one. Can anyone help me with this?

5/22/2008 1:44:43 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  A teleconverter contains glass elements and magnifies the image on the film plane (or sensor) by 2x (or 1.4X) throughout its entire focal range from the lens' minimal focasing distance all the way to infinity.

Extension tubes are hollow and contain no glass. They are designed to increase the distance from the subject to the film plane (or sensor) and are only practical when shooting close.

I guess one could remove the glass from a teleconverter to achieve the same result....but why?
Extension tubes sets are not expensive.

5/22/2008 6:11:22 PM

Ken Smith
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Ken
Ken's Gallery

member since: 6/11/2005
  Alot of people have the Kenko Extension Tubes. Here's a good reference link:
http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Kenko-Extension-Tube-Set-Review.aspx

5/22/2008 6:34:52 PM

Carol Sawyer
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/3/2006
  Thank you so very much everyone for your help. I will be looking into getting a set.

5/23/2008 12:52:00 PM

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Photography Question 
Jessica Grande

member since: 4/15/2008
  6 .  What Lens Is Best to Capture Human Iris?
I need to get equipment that will give high resolution when capturing the human iris ... so that I can see the Iris structure. Any suggestions? Thanks!

4/15/2008 3:37:27 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  macro

4/15/2008 4:17:14 AM

Jessica Grande

member since: 4/15/2008
  Any particular type? I'm a total novice so...:/

4/15/2008 4:43:03 AM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  What camera/lens do you already have? Many compact digitals have a macro mode that allows very close focus. There are also adapters for many that allow attaching a close-up lens (screw-on like a filter, such as Canon 250D or 500D).
For an SLR, there are specialized macro lenses that will focus very close to give up very detailed image. Longer focal lengths like 100mm or 150mm allow more distance between the subject and the front of the lens. Shorter focal lengths - like 50mm or 60mm - might be uncomfortably close. Other alternatives include using a close-up lens screwed onto the front of a lens you already have, or using extension tubes between the lens and the camera which also allow closer focus.

4/15/2008 5:27:18 AM

Jessica Grande

member since: 4/15/2008
  Well I don't have any equipment at the moment. So I need the whole kit but I'm a student so I want to know the most cost effective way of doing it. Although, having said that I need to be able to have high resolution so that I can study the pictures.

4/15/2008 6:24:21 AM

Ken Smith
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Ken
Ken's Gallery

member since: 6/11/2005
  If you don't have any equipment now...maybe you should visit a local eye doctor and talk with them. THey should have a good idea of what types of equipment are out there for imaging the eyes...

4/15/2008 7:58:48 AM

Alan N. Marcus

member since: 3/4/2006
  Hi Jessica,

Likely you are studying to be an optometrist or ophthalmologist. If true you are surrounded by people far more able to advise then any of us. So, seek out their opinions.

John Close, as always, is right on target, recommending a Macro Lens. As he pointed out, most compact digitals feature a Macro Mode. So, look for this feature.

Like the human eye, camera lenses are not perfect. While all are well corrected for aberrations, none are entirely free. The typical camera lens is highly corrected for distance. When they are asked to perform at close range, they are slightly compromised. On the other hand, a Micro Lens is corrected for close-up work and is compromised at distance.

Likely you will not be using this camera merely to photograph the Iris. Students always have need for a good all-around camera. I am advising that for now; buy a compact with a micro mode. As to tack sharp, pay attention as to how the camera will be mounted. Likely sharpness will be compromised unless you secure it to a sturdy mount. You can clamp or otherwise affix to a pre-existing instrument stand. Consider the slit-lamp or a skiascope etc.

Tell us more and we will try and help.

Best of luck,

Alan Marcus
ammarcus@earthlink.net

4/15/2008 8:12:23 AM

Jessica Grande

member since: 4/15/2008
  I'm studying Iridology and I asked my tutor what to get but he could only recommend his own set up, which is expensive. He said my best bet was to ask a photographer or someone who knows a lot about photography.

As I'm just starting out I quite like the idea of a compact with micro mode and a stand, it'd be cheaper, right?

4/15/2008 8:46:44 AM

Alan N. Marcus

member since: 3/4/2006
  My vote will be the Canon PowerShot A580 about $150. Has macro mode, powered by two AA batteries that are easy to replace.

Likely others will make suggestions. Check this one out, its easy to use and it will do just what you want.

Best of luck,

Alan Marcus
ammarcus@earthlink.net

4/15/2008 9:01:44 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  Look at different compact camera's focusing distances.
An Olympus Stylus 760 has different macro modes. One is 3.2 inches.

4/15/2008 12:16:58 PM

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Photography Question 
Tarah Dawdy
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/29/2008
  7 .  Telephoto Lens Vs. Macro Lens
Hi,
I would like to purchase a lens for my camera. Can you please fill me in on the difference between a macro and telephoto lens? Thanks so much! =)

3/25/2008 10:57:44 AM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  A telephoto lens technically is one that is designed such that its actual length is less than its optical focal length. More generally, it refers to long focal length lenses that give a narrow angle of view and "bring distant objects closer."
A macro lens is one that focuses very close so that it can project a 1/2 life-size or larger image onto the film or sensor. Macro lenses can be wide angle, normal, telephoto or zoom. The camera makers (Canon, Nikon, etc.) tend to reserve the term "macro" for their lenses that are capable of 1:1 (life size) or greater. The third-party makers, like Sigma and Tamron, are a bit looser in their definition and will use the "macro" label on zoom lenses capable of focusing close enough to give 1:4 magnification (1/4 life size) or larger.

3/25/2008 12:02:28 PM

Paul D.
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Paul
Paul's Gallery

member since: 1/25/2006
  Hi Tarah!

OK, simple answer: if you want close-ups of your nephew in his soccer game, you'll want a telephoto lens. If you want to squat down and get 2 inches away from a tiny flower and have it look big in your photo, that's what a Macro is for.

Here's a great article that JUST came out in email from B&H Photo yesterday:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/find/newsLetter/Beyond-Kit-Lens.jsp

Enjoy!

Paul

PS: my 70-200mm telephoto zoom is my favorite lens...

4/1/2008 6:08:23 AM

Tarah Dawdy
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/29/2008
  Thanks so much Paul! I really appreciate your help! =)

4/1/2008 9:23:23 AM

Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/16/2004
  Exactly what Paul said, soooo did you shoot your Avatar with a Micro lens that makes the big cars Small????? hmmmm

4/1/2008 9:50:11 PM

Gaiil R. 

member since: 12/19/2008
  Dear Paul and Tarah,
Thanks so much for the info. I just got a Canon Rebel XS and a telephoto lens - 75-300mm. I am just learning.
Thanks again,
Gail

12/19/2008 4:39:45 PM

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Photography Question 
Mike Perez
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Mike
Mike's Gallery
mikeperezphotos.com

member since: 1/21/2007
  8 .  Macro Lens Vs. Zoom's Macro Setting
I notice a reference in the zoom lens specs for a "Macro setting" mode. Does anyone know what macro setting they are referring to? I am thinking of buying a Sigma 105mm macro lens but don't really know what it will buy me in terms of image quality on macro images vs. a Nikkor 28-70mm f/2.8 IF-ED lens. Any suggestions? Thanks!

11/12/2007 9:19:10 PM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  In the case of zoom lenses like the Nikon 28-70 f/2.8, the "macro" feature allows closer focusing than a standard lens. But it still is not as close nor as great a magnification as a specialized macro lens like the Sigma 105 f/2.8 EX Macro. At 70mm and .5m focus distance, the 28-70 will give 1:5.6 magnification on the image sensor (1/5.6 of life size). The Sigma 105 Macro will focus as close as .31m to give 1:1 (life size) image on the sensor.

11/13/2007 6:18:20 AM

  Thank you very much, Jon. That makes sense.

Is the mentioned macro setting on the Nikkor something I have to enable somehow (I don't see a switch on the lens) or something that just happens automatically when it is zoomed to the max 700mm focal length?

11/13/2007 8:45:14 AM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  I haven't handled that particular lens, so I can't tell you for sure. On a Sigma zoom I once had, I could only turn the focus withn the extended close focus range when manually focusing at the longest zoom. I suspect the Nikon is similar.

11/13/2007 8:58:56 AM

  Thanks, Jon. I think you are right. I was playing with it last night and that is what I had to do. I was trying to see what magnification, clarity and detail I could get with the 2X f/5.6 tele but it is still not comparable to what you describe on the macro. Looks I am going to have go shopping!

11/13/2007 9:03:49 AM

Devon McCarroll
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/13/2005
  I would highly (highly!!) recommend the Sigma. I own it and it takes gorgeous macro photos!

11/20/2007 10:50:09 AM

  Thank you very much DEvon. Mine should be arriving today. Looking forward to it.

11/20/2007 11:31:26 AM

Stanley C. Sims

member since: 1/28/2001
  A fixed focal length macro lens will always be better than the zoom.

11/20/2007 1:45:08 PM

  Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I got my Sigma 105mm a few days ago and I really like it. It will take a bit of getting used to the narrow DOF even at max aperture but it is so sharp I will end up using a lot. I've taken some macros (and even some portraits of the dog) around the garden and they are in the macro section of my Deluxe BP site. Any critique of them would be greatly appreciated as I get my feet wet with this category. Thanks.

11/23/2007 6:14:10 PM

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Photography Question 
Mary L. Lemley

member since: 8/31/2004
  9 .  Extension Tubes and Focusing Distance
This is for digital and film. When I want to get really close, but without a lens practically touching, (ex. flower petal), do I need an extension tube, or a costly macro lens to focus close, but from a bit more distance? I use +10 close-up filter.

10/14/2007 5:25:27 PM

  All I have ever used for my macro shots are extension tubes. They are just about the best piece of equipment I have ever purchased for my camera. I have never owned a macro lens for the reason of cost.

10/14/2007 6:09:16 PM

Mary L. Lemley

member since: 8/31/2004
  Thanks Michelle!!! Can you get several inches away, for instance, your M&M's shot is great. I have a book by a BP. Pro and he combines both. He has before and after of a bee & flower, and I think he says he uses ex. tube so as not to disturb bee, but focuses closer, in REALLY better shot. Thanks for your time!!!! MLL.

10/14/2007 6:52:49 PM

  Oh yeah! I have used my tubes with two lenses mostly. 70-300mm and 28-70mm with terrific results. If I do not want to disturb something (ie the bee in flower)I put the tubes on with the 70-200mm. The M&M's shot was with the tubes on my 28-70mm. I set them up in a long line on a black board, then placed the camera right at the start of the line and tilted the board down just a little bit for the depth of field I wanted. Quite simple.

FYI....I used a reputable eBay dealer to purchase my tubes.

Good Luck!

10/14/2007 7:26:41 PM

John G. Clifford Jr
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/18/2005
  An extension tube lets you focus on objects that are closer to your camera. Macro lenses also allow you to do this, usually by extending the front of the lens greatly (just as extension tubes do), and in addition, generally have specialized optical properties that aid in close focusing.
You can use extension tubes with a macro lens to get even closer to the subject (and therefore to get more magnification). If you really want close-ups of things like insects, snakes, etc., but don't want to get close enough to disturb them, get bitten/stung, etc., then a 105mm, 150mm, or 180mm macro is a great lens. You can also use extension tubes with ordinary lenses of longer focal lengths, e.g., a 70-200 zoom.
Depth of field will be very shallow with a telephoto macro lens, so you'll want to stop down, and many macro lenses will go down to as far as f/32 or even f/64. But, be warned that many high-resolution D-SLRs start becoming diffraction-limited at around f/11 or so. You're trading off depth of field for total sharpness, so try to arrange things so that the plane of focus extends along your desired subject. For instance, shoot a photo of a butterfly from the side, not head-on.

10/14/2007 7:44:30 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  If you need "working distance", extension tubes (and/or bellows units) work better with short to medium telephoto lenses (in the 80 to 200 mm range) ... and better still if the lens is specially designed for close-focusing.
Shorter lenses will allow you to reproduce a larger image within the frame but you WILL need to get in there very close to the subject before it will pop into focus.
Most of my macro work is done with a 105 mm lens mounted onto a bellows assembly, which operates pretty much the same as extension tubes...only adjustable. The size of the image in the frame varies by how much lens extension is used.
The working distance with this lens is around 10 to 12 inches.
A longer lens will add even greater working distance...up to several feet depending upon how many millimeters of extension are applied.
This photo was taken with a 180 mm lens and a 36 mm extension tube from around 2 1/2 to 3 feet away.
(Sometimes, a situation arises that requires full-frame coverage ... but you REALLY NEED to back up.)
Here's a few tips when using extension tubes:
*Depth of field will be limited so you should focus (manually) onto what's most important to your composition ... like an eye of an insect or that particular particle of that flower that first caught your eye.
*Meter something "neutral" in the same light...then re-compose.
Too often, great macros are ruined when the primary point of interest is very dark or very light and a shot that can't be re-done is taken in haste.
*A tripod and an immobile subject are essential.
Camera-shake and subject movement will be amplified exponentially the closer you get.
Hope this helps.
Bob

10/14/2007 7:44:45 PM

Mary L. Lemley

member since: 8/31/2004
  I so much appreciate you guys help. Now I get it!!!! And Bob, "that picture" is a great example of what NOT to get close to,:0)!!! It makes the snake in a pic. I took lately.... well let's just say you have to look hard to SEE it!!!! I knew the answer would be from some great folks, with some beautiful galleries, I might add. Mary Lemley

10/14/2007 8:18:20 PM

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Photography Question 
Emile Abbott
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Emile
Emile's Gallery
emile-abbott-photography.com

member since: 9/29/2004
  10 .  Sigma 150 Macro vs. Sigma 180 Macro
I currently shoot with Canon EOS 20 D and Canon EOS 5D. Id am considering obtaining a macro lens - either the Sigma 150/F2.8 or the Sigma 180/F3.5. From best I can determine, the 180 is a slightly higher grade but with a higher 3.5 F/stop. I was concerned about the higher 3.5 F/stop. I realize the 150mm is about $200 more but that is not a primary factor. Any advice regarding these two lenses, or other macro lenses, would be appreciated.

1/30/2007 3:02:08 PM

  The real advantage of the Sigma and the reason for its higher price is the faster maximum aperture. If you are typically shooting under good lighting conditions, this will not be a huge advantage. Since with macro, you will often be shooting at moderate to small apertures, that is not often a big consideration.
If, however, you are going to use the lens for other types of shooting - particularly available light when light levels are low - you should seriously consider the Sigma.
From what I've read, both of these lenses are considered excellent performers, so it really comes down to the maximum aperture and your personal preference over look and feel.

1/30/2007 6:15:45 PM

  My understanding of macro lenses (I have the Sigma EX 100mm macro) is that the longer the length the farther you can be from the subject to achieve a 1:1 lifesize. When it comes to a macro lense I find that with an aperture as large as 2.5 and the fact you are so close to the object that the depth of field is so narrow that I never end up using it at this setting.

1/30/2007 6:46:33 PM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  Ditto Susan's comments. While the 180's maximum aperture of f/3.5 is two-thirds of a stop slower than the 150's f/2.8, the only practical difference is a somewhat dimmer viewfinder. Macro shots are usually taken at much smaller aperture of f/8-f/32.
Most camera/lens makers offer macro lenses in ~50mm, ~100mm, and ~180mm, with 1:1 working distances of ~5", ~8", and ~11", respectively. Sigma offers these traditional focal-length macros, but in recent years has introduced intermediate lengths like the 150mm and 70mm to split the difference. The 150mm is a great solution for someone who wants greater working distance than the ~100mm gives, but can't justify the greater expense of a 180mm.

1/31/2007 7:26:16 AM

kathleen nealon
BetterPhoto Member
thephotodamsel.com

member since: 3/12/2005
  I'm also researching macro lenses and surprisingly when I went out to the Sigma lens chart (on their website), it stated that the 150mm had a 9.56" working distance and the 180mm had a 9" working distance. When you're in that close a range, I would suggest a call to the mfr. to get the absolutely correct answer.

2/6/2007 8:34:01 AM

  THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SUGGESTIONS AND COMMENTS. I DECIDED TO GO WITH THE SIGMA 180 F/3.5 BUT IT HAS NOT ARRIVED YET. IF I FIND I NEED TO GET TO A SHORTER WORKING DISTANCE THEN I WILL CONSIDER ONE WITH A SHORTER FOCAL LENGTH. I WAS TOLD THE MINIMUM FOCUS DISTANCE WAS 17 INCHES OR 46CM WHICH IS ACCEPTABLE TO ME AT THIS TIME.

2/6/2007 10:34:02 AM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  >>"...the Sigma lens chart (on their website), it stated that the 150mm had a 9.56" working distance and the 180mm had a 9" working distance."<<

I'm pretty sure the 9.56" given for the 150mm is in error. The working distance can be calculated as the closest focus distance (subject to image plane) minus the maximum length of the lens and minus the 44mm (1.7") distance from lens mount to image plane. The chart values (in parentheses) for the Sigma 50, 105, and 180 macros are consistent with this, off only a couple mm.
50: 188mm - 101.5mm - 44mm = 42.5mm (40mm, 1.6")
70: 257mm - 95mm - 44mm = 118mm (112mm, 4.4")
105: 310mm - 150mm - 44mm = 116mm (120mm, 4.7")
180: 460mm - 180mm - 44mm = 236mm (227mm, 9.0")
For the 150mm macro, it looks as though the working distance given in the chart didn't account for the 44mm mount to sensor distance.
105: 380mm - 137mm - 0mm = 243mm (240mm, 9.56") should be
380mm - 137mm - 44mm = 199mm, 7.8"

2/6/2007 12:00:39 PM

  Given the minimum focus distance is 7.8" for the 150mm and 9.0" for the 180mm what is the real advantage? The maximum aperture on the 180mm is 3.5 and the max aperture on the 150mm is 2.8. The MSRP on Sigma's site shows the 180mm at $90 more. I am hoping to understand the specs on a lense a little better.

2/6/2007 1:47:31 PM

Chris Starbuck
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 6/29/2006
  I also shoot with the Canon 20D, and bought the Sigma 150mm f/2.8 macro instead of the 180mm f/3.5 mainly because of the 2/3 stop brighter max aperture. Whether you realize it or not, you're using every lens's max aperture every time you use the lens: for focusing! For autofocus, who cares? Current autofocus systems are superb even at an f/5.6 max aperture. (The Canon 1-series digital & film cameras, and the EOS-3, autofocus accurately at f/8!) But in macro (1:2 magnification or larger) you're almost always focusing manually. The 20D's viewfinder is significantly dimmer than any full frame camera I've ever used, and that 2/3 stop more light makes a difference in how accurately I can focus manually in natural light. On the other hand, if you're using a full frame camera, like the 5D, I doubt you'd notice the difference except perhaps in the dimmest light.

2/7/2007 9:08:05 AM

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