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Photography Question 
Brandon Currey

Macro Photography: What Lens to Buy?

I'm looking to buy a new lens for my film-based Canon Rebel EOS. I would like to get a macro lens to shoot close-ups of flowers, and anything else around the house that I can find that might make an interesting picture. Anyone have some comments on which lens might be the best for me? I'm pretty new to photography, so I don't want to spend a fortune just yet.
Is it possible to take portraits with a macro lens as well? With a child on the way, I'm sure I'll be taking several pics of him/her as well. Is there one lens that will satisfy both of these situations? Thanks for your help!

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6/19/2005 2:30:48 PM

BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/28/2002
  I have the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM for both close-up and protrait. It's about $470 at B&H. I am very satisfy with the image quality it produces. Hope this helps.

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6/19/2005 4:50:06 PM

Karen E. Michaels
  I purchased my macro for the Canon EOS at Ritz photo for $119.

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6/19/2005 4:56:26 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  Macro lenses in any focal length have the ability to focus from several inches ... all the way to infinity. This makes them quite versatile, in that they can also be used for scenics, portraits, and all-around use.

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6/19/2005 7:35:54 PM

Maria Melnyk   It depends how close you need to get. Do you need a 1:1 ratio? (That means that the image will be life-size on the film.) The 100mm macro is a 1:1, and the good thing about it is that you can be farther away from your subject than with a 50mm (like if your flower has a bee sitting in it), plus it makes a nice portrait lens (for that new baby!) and normal 100mm lens as well. With Canon's 50mm macro - the one I have - that's only a 1:2, meaning I can't get life-size images. There is an attachment available that will do this, though, but that costs more than the lens. Leave it to Canon to figure out ways to make money. But don't use the 50mm for portraits; you need a longer focal length.
To give you a better idea on how close you can get with a 1:2, if you were copying photographs, you'd be able to copy a wallet-size with a 1:2, but nothing smaller. With a 1:1 you can get great almost-life-size close-ups of postage stamps. My first macro was Sigma's 28-80; it's a regular lens with a macro setting, and it gives a 1:4 ratio. You can copy a 3-1/2x5 size photo with it. It works fine, and it's a lot less expensive than the Canons, but it may not be enough for real close-ups of your flowers. You can, of course, use close-up filters, but you lose image quality. The $119 one Karen mentioned is probably the Sigma/Quantaray 28-80 with the macro setting; that's what it costs.
Good luck with both your macro lens purchase, and especially with your new baby! If you write again please let us know when it's due!

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6/21/2005 11:50:58 AM

Brandon Currey   I still have a little while before the baby arrives. He/She will be here around Feb 7th. We rec'd our first picture of it yesterday. Only about .8 of a centimeter! How crazy!

I am really leaning towards the 100mm Canon that was mentioned above. Even though it is a little expensive, I've read great reviews. Plus it is easy to justify it with my wife. How can she turn down good pics of the baby!!

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6/21/2005 5:47:16 PM

Kathy    I like the Tamron macro/zoom. I use it on my Rebel G and my husband's digital Canon Rebel. It was $140.

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6/21/2005 8:02:00 PM

Maria Melnyk   Brandon - Oh, do take some pregnancy photos of your wife! Do this every month. These will be so much fun to take and look at.
When I do these for my clients, I have them wear a thin light solid-color longer dress that is bias-cut (your wife should know what that is - the fabric is cut diagonally so that it forms nicely around the growing baby). You can take some real nice intimate-looking photos. Have her stand on an angle to the camera and place her hand under her belly - the hand farthest from the camera, and the other hand she can either use to hold a flower, or have it delicately placed just below her neck. Do some in soft focus. Outdoors will be gorgeous. Do some with you kneeling at her feet, with your head on her stomach.
Congratulations! That baby is already lucky to have a photographer for a father.
I'd love to upload one of my photos that I took to show you what I mean, but I can't seem to be able to do it. If somebody out there can tell me how to upload photos here, please help. The instructions don't work for me. Thank you.

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6/21/2005 9:20:38 PM

Brandon Currey   Thanks for the ideas. I was able to get a few poses from Any pictures you can get uploaded to help me would be great. I haven't been able to find many maternity poses that are outside.
Couple questions. How do you take your pics in soft focus? Do you use a filter, or do it in Photoshop? I just ordered PS. I should have it any day, and hope to start playing with it now so that when my wife starts showing, that way I will be able to use it better. The concern I have at the moment, is my camera is film based. My scanner is ok, but not the greatest. When I get my film developed, as you know I have the option of putting it on a CD. Will the quality still be good when the developer puts it on the CD? I've never had a reason to try it in the past. I figure that's my only two options of being able to play with the pics in PS> Any other help or advice you can offer will be great. I appreciate your responses.

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6/22/2005 10:37:36 AM

Melissa  L. Zavadil
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/26/2005
  Brandon you will be soo soo happy with that canon I can not tell you! I have the canon 100mm macro 2.8 and I love it soo much! I am changing all my tamron lenses over now since buying that macro, to the canon! I just bought the 24-70mm zoom and the 50 1.4 portrait lens. These are really nice too! They are so fast and so consistant comapared! I get such great reaction with this lens it is incredible.

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6/22/2005 10:46:29 AM

Maria Melnyk  
I use a soft-focus filter. Think of it this way. You slap the filter on, take the picture, and you're done. No need to spend time on the computer. Photoshop is fine, but it's just easier to have it done on the negative. The quality will be better because you will be printing off the original negative, not off a manipulated digital file. Also, your lab can add soft focus at the time of printing. But please get a light soft focus filter. The one I use is Cokin #820 Light Diffuser, and they come in different strengths. This one is the weakest. It requires Cokin's filter holder, so if you're gonna get a lot of filters, go with Cokin; you'll save money. Otherwise, try Canon Softmat #1; it's a screw-on filter. I would also urge you, if you don't mind spending $40 or so, to get Tiffen's Pro-Mist filter. It gives a "misty" effect, great with white clothing or highlights. I have the #2 strength but that one I feel looks rather muddy; it's too strong to be a light effect, but not strong enough for a real misty effect. So get either the #1 or #3. And for the mist filter, your subject should look away from the camera; you'll get that dreamy look. When you use soft-focus filters, please use a wider aperture of at least f/8 with a 100mm lens; any smaller and the soft focus effect won't look as good. F/5.6 might even be better, and a necessity if using less than 100mm. I did it once with 50mm, and it didn't look as good.
And, by the way, do the same poses without the filters so you can compare and pick the ones you like best.
OK; I'm going to try uploading my pictures one more time; hopefully, it will work. If not, I do apologize.

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6/22/2005 12:12:23 PM

Maria Melnyk   Hello, again, Brandon. I did manage to get a few of my pregnancy images uploaded. (By the way, this wasn't MY pregnancy; it was my client's.) The filter I used here was a six-pointed star filter (also called a Snow-Cross). This works fine for a soft-focus effect EXCEPT for when your subject is wearing eyeglasses. Any speckle of light on the glasses will become a ridiculous-looking six-pointed star right over his/her eyes. The same with any other lights in the image.

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6/23/2005 2:23:07 AM

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