PL 45mm vs 100-300mm for insects.

Started Feb 18, 2012 | Discussions thread
SteB
Veteran MemberPosts: 3,868
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Just a few notes on these 2 very different macro options
In reply to C Sean, Feb 19, 2012

Using close-up lenses on longer zooms is a very good and cost effective means to get good macro shots. I have seen some excellent insect macros on this thread and this forum taken with them. I've been recommending this as the best way for a general photographer to try some macro photography for a long time.

So why if a zoom and a close-up lens will get results, would someone want a macro lens, especially a shorter focal length macro lens like the PL 45mm f2.8?

For handholding, especially with flash, a shorter macro lens has got many advantages. Without getting into the detailis of why, it gets difficult to modify or diffuse the light enough from a flash as it gets further away. Once you get over about 10-15cm you need a very big diffuser to produce a similar diffusion effect compared to what a much smaller diffuser will produce at closer range. Also you can better support the camera/lens in awkward angles. However, the reason I prefer shorter focal length macro lens whenever possible is that it is much better for working with your subject, exploring different angles and compositions, and adjusting the lighting.

Longer focal length lenses for macro photography also have advantages. There's a longer stand off, they are easier to use on a tripod, and at lower magnification they produce more separation from the background. With a flash and handheld you are are likely to be able to capture more subjects i.e. less will fly off. Although as it's harder to work on the compositions and to get the light perfect, the better compositions might come from using a shorter focal length macro lens.

Overall, it depends on what someone's ambitions are. If they just want to get some nice macro shots from time to time, then a zoom and close-up lens might be all they need. In fact it might be the best option for them. However, if they really want to work hard on close-up composition then I would recommend a moderate focal length macro lens. Using a longer zoom with a close-up lens is a very different experience to using a shorter focal length macro lens.

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