Looking for a "cheap" MD/MC macro lens.

Started Mar 7, 2013 | Discussions thread
WaltKnapp Forum Pro • Posts: 13,857
Re: Looking for a "cheap" MD/MC macro lens.

Richie Beans wrote:

You are correct, a legacy macro is lighter than a zoom and is a better lens for hi-mag imaging. The OP's author drifted into zooming macros like the 35-70 which, despite it's macro capability, is not a macro lens.... not by a long shot, sorry to confuse the issue. Same for the bokeh issue, I was discussing bokeh in terms of the mentioned zoom (versus wider primes), not macro lenses.

That zoom has no macro capability.  What it has is slightly closer focus than a ordinary lens.  It would be called a closeup lens if marketing was being even slightly honest.  But it's really not designed for closeups, it's optimized and calibrated at infinity focus, same as regular lenses.

Macro lenses are designed and calibrated for optimum IQ at their closest focus.  And if they are being honest in putting on a macro label then the lens should be capable of shooting at 1:1 magnification at least.  At 1:1 magnification the image of the subject on the sensor will be the same size as the subject itself. Macro photography extends from it's lowest magnification at 1:1 up to about 40x that, at which point one would switch to photomicrography.

Now, for shooting insects and wildflowers as the OP seems to want to do, you do need quite a bit of magnification.  In fact even 1:1 macro magnification may not be enough for the smaller flowers or insects.  And, yes the insects do run away when you get too close, for some insects you may need to be way far away to have much hope of not spooking them.

My recommendation for insects and wildflowers is to compromise with a true macro lens of about 100mm focal length (that's true optical focal length not equivalents or such). Even this is a compromise for working distance, but will cover more closeup and macro insect/wildflower shooting than anything longer or shorter. The cheapest way to get that is likely to use a old macro lens designed for use on bellows or extension rings.  Use of such is entirely a manual operation, no AF, even exposure metering may or may not work. And it will end up being awkward and bulky and almost require a tripod for every shot. If you spend more money and go for a modern macro lens in this length you can have some usable AF and good exposure metering in a more compact package.  There is a lot to be said for saving your money until you can buy into something modern.  (and that's not MD/MC lenses)

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