Thanks to everyone for the previous help a few weeks ago...
I bought a Canon SLR from MPB and now have a 18 - 55 lens and a 75 - 300. I have quickly realised though that I'm quite drawn to real closeup photography but when I look at lenses I'm not too sure what I need....the price range seems very significant!
Any guidance greatly appreciated...
Bargain basement close focus photography:
Passive macro rings (lump of metal that puts the lens further from the camera without connecting the lens electrics) and the cheap and wonderful Canon EF 50 mm F/1.8 II prime. Putting the lens further away gets you a very close focus. A set of rings might be £20 and a used 50 mm lens is about £70.
Using passive macro rings saves 10x over one that carries control signals to the lens, this means you have to focus manually and you also have to use an oddball procedure to set the lens aperture (you’ll likely want around F/8 for sanity). To do this, set the aperture in Aperture Priority mode with the lens directly on the camera, depress the “DOF Preview” button near the lens mount to iris the aperture down, then remove the lens whilst holding the button down. Voila - aperture locked in. Cowboy procedure but the hardware seems robust to it.
(I say close focus as technically macro is 1:1 magnification on (real world object) : (image on the sensor). This is about 3:1 IIRC.)
There’s an even more cowboy approach that doesn’t need the extension rings…
A great option would be to try a Raynox DCR-250 Macro Attachment, it's compatible with lenses between 52mm and 67mm diameter, only issue I've heard is people who have tried to use it with bridge or compact cameras where the lens will retract back into the body after a set time.
A few of my naturalist friend use it and have always found their photos clear and sharp, envious sometimes as they can be comparable with what I take with a dedicated macro lens.
Cost wise around £65 from Amazon, so as long as their diameter is less than 67mm or greater than 52mm it should fit. I do keep on thinking of getting one myself as it would mean 1 less lens to carry around if I was just wanted to go for a wander and still have the option of macro photography.
Another solution is to get an EF -> Pentax screw mount adaptor. This will cost a few quid and allows you to use any M42 lens. There's an awful lot of astonishingly good glass out there and it all works perfectly - you get full control of the lens, and metering still works in aperture priority.
You can then get some cheap extension rings to go between the camera and your M42 mount lens of choice. I've done some nice macro work with a Zeiss Jena 135 f/3.5 (which is also a stonkingly good portrait lens) and some extension rings, and it all costs pennies.
If you want a 'proper' macro lens, the Sigma 105mm f2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro is worth considering with regards to cost/performance.
I just Googled it and it's currently available for £309 from Clifton Cameras if bought by the end of this month.
There's a Flickr group for the lens which has photos of what it is capable of
I bought a canon EF 100mm macro lens. Focuses down to about a foot. Cost a small fortune and gets used 2 or 3 times a year. In fact, I rarely take off my EF 24 - 105mm zoom. Gets as close as I need for decent floral shots and zooms enough to take in the langdale pikes from Blea tarr. What more could you want?
As already mentioned auto extension tubes are the cheapest way to get into macro, using your existing lenses.
But if you want a more dedicated macro lens, you won't go far wrong with a (manual focusing) Laowa 100mm f2.8, which goes all the way to 2:1 magnification. Also good as an ordinary short telephoto.
I'm after a Laowa macro lens myself, but for Fuji X mount.
From what I've seen in the reviews it is produces extremely sharp punchy images, even at 2:1. It is apochromatic, so no colour fringing. Depth of field is wafer thin 2:1 at f2.8, so it would need to be stopped down (preferably mounted on a tripod) - or you could focus stack multiple images in post.
Laowa is Chinese, but don't let that put you off because it is very well put together, the barrel being all-metal construction. £469 new at Wex, which is less than a third of the price of the Canon 100mm equivalent - and with better image quality.
> You can then get some cheap extension rings to go between the camera and your M42 mount lens of choice. I've done some nice macro work with a Zeiss Jena 135 f/3.5 (which is also a stonkingly good portrait lens) and some extension rings, and it all costs pennies.
i took these yesterday using my Zeiss 135/3.5 with and without 26mm of extension tubes
close focus changes from about 1m to ~50cm. need more tubes for true 1:1 macro- tubes less effective for long lenses..
One other powerful and cheap method is to get a standard 50mm f1.8 (everyone should have one) and mount it reversed on the front of your 75-300mm tele lens. A similar setup allowed this:
... but the very shallow depth of field almost always requires focus stacking. But there's free software for that.
Like many photography sub-genres, 'macro' covers a wide range of equipment requirements and techniques, so you need to start with thinking about what you mean by 'macro'. Flowers in fields is very different to insect eyes, but neither need be expensive.
> how do you get that close (<20cm?) without it flying away?
Easy, it was dead!
Oh and for the avoidance of doubt, it was done by focus stacking about 20 images and moving the fly ~0.1mm between images. DoF can be a real challenge in macro!
there is no 1 right answer all have offered good tips in macro
photography. I’ve over 30 years working in 5he trade and I still learn every day .
let me know if you need help. Though in all honestly it’s very hard to explain things in a few words in a forum
you can do it with your 75-300 in a fashion . Extend to 300 and step back
you can do it in a fashion with your 18-55 you just need a set of close up filters
if you wish to do insects etc best with a 100mm macro
plenty of YouTube videos out there
I recently was asked to photograph some flies for a PhD student and carefully set-up ring flash, 105mm macro and a copy stand and took several quite acceptable pictures, but one of the pictures we ended up using in the thesis was taken with an iPhone. The ability to get really close to the subject combined with the increased depth of field just did the job better.
Phones and cameras are tools at the end of the day and to a degree @ often doesn’t do everything you need it to . Phone do a remarkable job these days and I’ve printed A3 no problems
I'm guessing you bought the 'L' version with IS. I have this, for a pro standard mid-telephoto/macro lens it's very good value, certainly compared to anything else with a red ring from Canon. I've used it on a 5DS and it does justice to the sensor, and also on a Fuji XT2 via a smart adapter where it becomes not only a macro but also a 150mm equivalent telephoto.
OP: There is a non 'L' version of this lens which is afaik optically of the same standard. It will be more plasticky and not weather sealed but it will be affordable.