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Macro lenses for a Canon Rebel Xsi

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  • #16
    Jill,

    Inkista posted a some good comments as well in her last post. I knew the 60mm was sharp, but I never saw the MTF charts. The 60mm being sharper than the 100mm is news to me. Regardless, both lenses are very sharp.

    Basically, it's going to come down to your budget and what focal length you prefer. I like the 100mm for the extra reach. I have a 85mm f/1.8 lens that I use mainly for portraits, so my 100mm is my "dedicated" macro lens unless I feel like using it for portraits. Also, inkista brought up another good point about full-frame compatibility.
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    • #17
      Here's information on how to read an MTF chart. Essentially, the higher up the lines are, the better the light transmission. Blue is for f/8, black is for wide open (f/2.8 for these lenses). Thin lines are resolution (sharpness), thick lines are contrast. And the dashed/solid lines have to do with resolution on the different diagonals. Essentially, the closer together matching dashed/solid lines are, the smoother the bokeh will be.

      Here are the MTFs as they're given on the Canon website. Please note that the EF-S lens's horizontal scale does NOT match the EF lenses' (this is the distance from the center to the edge of the frame).

      From left to right: it's the 60, the 100 (non-L), and the 100L.



      As natek313 says, both the 60 and the 100 are very sharp lenses. Nearly all macros are cut-yourself-sharp.
      Last edited by inkista; 11-03-2009, 10:36 PM.
      I shoot with a Canon 5DmkII, 50D, and S90, and Pansonic GX-7. flickr stream and equipment list

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      • #18
        Do they say what focus distance was used for the charts? Macro lenses are often much sharper at infinity than minimum focus.....a MTF chart for the lens set at infinity doesn't tell you how it performs at minimum focus. Also, f/8 doesn't tell you how the lens performs stopped down further as macro lenses are often used at small apertures. I reckon that even if you understand the MTF charts those ones are about as much use as a chocolate teapot

        From what I've seen shorter macro lenses are often sharper - the longer the focal length the harder it seems to be to make a lens focus down to 1:1. Longer lenses are often easier to use in the field though, particularly on larger insects that can fly away if you get too close. What's the best macro lens depends upon what you want to do with it.

        I find something around 100mm is a nice compromise for general use.....gives good results and reasonable working distance.
        Andrew - My pics on Flickr
        Canon 7D, 24mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.4, MP-E 65mm macro, TS-E 90mm, 100mm macro

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        • #19
          Originally posted by inkista View Post
          Just to help out on the 60 side of the argument, you can fill a frame with a clover blossom....
          Both lenses achieve the same magnification (1:1) at their minumum focus distances.....you could fill the frame the same way with either lens.

          ...although throw extension tubes into the mix and the 60mm gets the magnification advantage.

          PS your spider is an orb weaver - it looks very much like Araneus diadematus but I can't see enough detail in the adominal pattern to be sure. A view of the palps would tell us what sex it was. In the UK we call them garden spiders but I think they have been introduced to the US via ports and have managed to spread out reasonably well.
          Andrew - My pics on Flickr
          Canon 7D, 24mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.4, MP-E 65mm macro, TS-E 90mm, 100mm macro

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          • #20
            thanks everyone for your incredibly informative and helpful replies. My computer just had a dizzy fit when I finished my original reply...five minutes ago....and now I have to start again.

            You comments have given me lots of food for thought and a few more questions. Sorry if I sound like a dummy

            thanks for your comment Inkista - "60 actually is the sharper lens of the two. But it cannot be used on a full-frame body, so if you plan on someday moving up to a 5D, you may want the 100 instead."

            No doubt this may be a possibility so this is a good plug for the 100mm.

            I see from my camera specs sheet that it has a EF / EF-S lens mount. So this is all ok.

            I looked at a digital camera warehouse on the net in Australia (Canon don't have prices for lenses on their site) and I see that the Canon 60mm EF-S f2.8 Macro USM sells for $799 (Aust), the 100mm EF Macro USM for $999 and the 100mm EF F2.8L IS USM for $1449.00.

            Image stabilisation would be a good thing I presume??? Might as well go the whole hog - what's another $450??? What does F2.8L mean - specifically the L? and what does USM mean - although I see USM on all of them...

            Thanks everyone again for your comments! I appreciate your time and effort! cheers!
            Stepping into the light - www.lifeimagesbyjill.blogspot.com/ - and - http://picasaweb.google.com/lifeimagesbyjill

            Canon G11, Power Shot Pro1 (L series 28-300), Canon EOS 450D (Rebel XSi) (18-55 & 55-250), Canon EOS 330X (film) (28-90 & 90-300)

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Jill H View Post
              Image stabilisation would be a good thing I presume??? Might as well go the whole hog - what's another $450??? What does F2.8L mean - specifically the L? and what does USM mean - although I see USM on all of them...
              Image stabilization (IS) may be a good thing for you if you plan on using the lens outside of the macro world. When you're doing macro, especially 1:1, you're going to want to use a tripod and remote shutter release, so image stabilization wouldn't help you in those cases. But, if you're going to be using the lens for a lot more than macro, then IS might be a good investment.

              The "L" is Canon's designation for "Luxury." Basically, the "L" series lenses are Canon's cream of the crop. They have superior optical quality and often come with quite a price tag.

              "USM" stands for Ultrasonic Motor. It is the motor that drives the auto-focus system. It is fast and very quiet, which is very desirable, obviously.
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              • #22
                thanks Natek. I would probably be using the macro quite a lot outside - in the bush ie forest, wilderness areas, walk trails, remote area etc etc, where I might not want to carry a tripod or it might be inconvenient to set up (I know I should be!). So in those cases image stabilisation would be good?

                Also several have mentioned that the 100 is a good portrait lens, so this would be good for me too, if I wanted to use it for that.

                thanks again for your answers.
                Stepping into the light - www.lifeimagesbyjill.blogspot.com/ - and - http://picasaweb.google.com/lifeimagesbyjill

                Canon G11, Power Shot Pro1 (L series 28-300), Canon EOS 450D (Rebel XSi) (18-55 & 55-250), Canon EOS 330X (film) (28-90 & 90-300)

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Jill H View Post
                  thanks Natek. I would probably be using the macro quite a lot outside - in the bush ie forest, wilderness areas, walk trails, remote area etc etc, where I might not want to carry a tripod or it might be inconvenient to set up (I know I should be!). So in those cases image stabilisation would be good?
                  Perhaps. To be honest, I've not tried to get 1:1 or 1:2 macro images with hand-holding the camera. At such short working distances and a 100mm focal length, slight hand movement is magnified significantly, which could easily lead to soft photographs. I'm not sure if the image stabilization would provide enough cushion. I'm not saying it can't. I'm saying I just don't know.

                  When I've used my 100mm macro for non-macro photographs, I've been able to get by just fine without image stabilization.
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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by daft_biker View Post
                    Do they say what focus distance was used for the charts? Macro lenses are often much sharper at infinity than minimum focus.....
                    No, they don't specify, but since they're shooting a test chart on a wall, I'd be willing to bet they're nowhere near minimum focus distance--you couldn't actually fill the frame with the test chart that way.

                    From what I've seen shorter macro lenses are often sharper...
                    There's also the fact that the EF-S 60 is a much newer design than the non-L 100, which is probably why Canon created the L. Crop-body lenses have sharpness advantages because they can use a smaller image circle and the rear element can sit closer to the sensor. Think of it like moving the projector nearer to the screen.

                    PS your spider is an orb weaver - it looks very much like Araneus diadematus but I can't see enough detail in the adominal pattern to be sure. A view of the palps would tell us what sex it was....
                    Thanks for the ID! Unfortunately, my doorway apparently wasn't a good enough hunting spot and the spider's moved on to a nearby tree, so I can't get another close look.

                    AS for IS, you may want to wait on reviews of the new 100L Macro, since it's reportedly using a new IS system that can also correct for back-to-front shake (typical IS doesn't, and doesn't really need to). It is, however a $1000 lens, which is generally what puts it out of the running for most folks. I've handheld my 60 (that clover shot was handheld), but I do agree that you may either need a tripod, or (alternatively) adding flash to the scene so you can use a really fast shutter speed.
                    Last edited by inkista; 11-05-2009, 06:27 PM.
                    I shoot with a Canon 5DmkII, 50D, and S90, and Pansonic GX-7. flickr stream and equipment list

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by inkista View Post
                      No, they don't specify, but since they're shooting a test chart on a wall, I'd be willing to bet they're nowhere near minimum focus distance--you couldn't actually fill the frame with the test chart that way.


                      There's also the fact that the EF-S 60 is a much newer design than the non-L 100.....
                      Aye, they'd need a pretty wee test chart to do a worth while chart for macro right enough

                      As for the newer lens being better.....I thought that about the Nikkor 105mm with VR. It was much newer and a fair bit dearer than my Canon 100mm but I was dissapointed when I tried it. The VR was a waste of time for anything approaching macro (Nikon only claim it works down to 3m) and it wasn't as sharp on a tripod so I gave it a miss.

                      Wouldn't mind a go with the 100mm L but i'm far more interested in a TS-E 90mm on extension tubes at the moment
                      Andrew - My pics on Flickr
                      Canon 7D, 24mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.4, MP-E 65mm macro, TS-E 90mm, 100mm macro

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Jill H View Post
                        What does F2.8L mean - specifically the L? ...
                        Just to expand on what nate said, the f/2.8 is your maximum aperture--it's the widest the lens can be opened.

                        While Canon's marketeers say the "L" stands for luxury, some of the technicians say it stands for "low-dispersion glass". Most specifically it means that at least one element of the lens is made of flourite or UD (ultra-low dispersion) glass. This glass has a lower index of refraction, which kind of makes it do the opposite of what a prism does in terms of color separation . This special glass element typically means better chromatic aberration control, and better contrast which appears as better sharpness and richer colors.

                        In practical terms, when you see a Canon lens is designated as an L lens, assume its pricetag is at least $1000, and that it will be big and heavy with good build quality. It may be weather sealed and/or offer IS, but that's not a given. And it will have the widest maximum aperture for the given focal length(s). It will have a red ring around the end of the lens, and if it's over 200mm, it will be white.

                        Originally posted by daft_biker View Post
                        Wouldn't mind a go with the 100mm L but i'm far more interested in a TS-E 90mm on extension tubes at the moment
                        Mmmmm. Tilt-shift goodness. Oh, so very fun. I will say, though, that mastering tilt has probably been the hardest thing I've ever had to learn, photography-wise, and I'm probably still not there, yet. If you've never used movements before, I'd highly recommend reading these two articles at Cambridge in Colour:

                        Tilt-Shift Lenses: Perspective Control (Shift)
                        Tilt-Shift Lenses: Depth of Field (Tilt)

                        And possibly the chapter on movements in Ansel Adams' The Camera.
                        Last edited by inkista; 11-06-2009, 08:15 PM.
                        I shoot with a Canon 5DmkII, 50D, and S90, and Pansonic GX-7. flickr stream and equipment list

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by inkista View Post
                          Mmmmm. Tilt-shift goodness. Oh, so very fun. I will say, though, that mastering tilt has probably been the hardest thing I've ever had to learn, photography-wise, and I'm probably still not there, yet. If you've never used movements before, I'd highly recommend reading these two articles at Cambridge in Colour:

                          Tilt-Shift Lenses: Perspective Control (Shift)
                          Tilt-Shift Lenses: Depth of Field (Tilt)

                          And possibly the chapter on movements in Ansel Adams' The Camera.
                          Thanks for that. I've done some reading and looked at enough pics to be champing at the bit to have a go. I'd love a Hartblei 120mm makro but it's 3x the price of the Canon 90mm

                          I saw something that said the 80mm you have is much cheaper though....might have to look into that one in a bit more detail as it might be a useful stepping stone to this. How's the 80mm on tubes?
                          Andrew - My pics on Flickr
                          Canon 7D, 24mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.4, MP-E 65mm macro, TS-E 90mm, 100mm macro

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                          • #28
                            The non-Zeiss glass Super-Rotators used to be cheap, but now on eBay, they're close enough in price (~$800) that you should probably just go for a Canon TS-E instead, if you can afford it. The Macro lens you're looking at is one of the Zeiss-designed lenses, iirc.

                            OTOH, the Arsat/Arax tilt-shifts are still relatively cheapish, and are nowhere near as fugly.

                            I've never put the 80 on tubes. I'm mostly shooting fountain pens with it, and haven't needed the close-up capability.
                            I shoot with a Canon 5DmkII, 50D, and S90, and Pansonic GX-7. flickr stream and equipment list

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