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Category: All About Photography : Photographic Field Techniques

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Photography Question 
Jennifer Dent
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/7/2007
 

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

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Carlton
Carlton's Gallery
carltonwardphoto.com

member since: 12/13/2005
  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

 
Lynn R. Powers
Contact Lynn
Lynn's Gallery

member since: 9/12/2006
  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

 
Lynn R. Powers
Contact Lynn
Lynn's Gallery

member since: 9/12/2006
  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

 
Lynn R. Powers
Contact Lynn
Lynn's Gallery

member since: 9/12/2006
  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

 
Lynn R. Powers
Contact Lynn
Lynn's Gallery

member since: 9/12/2006
  "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

 
Bunny Snow
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Bunny
Bunny's Gallery

member since: 11/16/2004
  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

 
Bunny Snow
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Bunny
Bunny's Gallery

member since: 11/16/2004
  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

 
Lynn R. Powers
Contact Lynn
Lynn's Gallery

member since: 9/12/2006
  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

 
John H. Siskin
BetterPhoto Member
John-Siskin.com
John's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
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© John H. Siskin
john-siskin.com
4-Week Short Course: Portrait Photography Lighting on Location and in the Studio
4-Week Short Course: Getting Started in Commercial Photography
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
 
 
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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