Telephoto for macro

Started 9 months ago | Discussions thread
Michael Benveniste
Michael Benveniste Veteran Member • Posts: 4,351
Re: Telephoto for macro

A Wingnut wrote:

I would like to add a second lens for macro and I am realizing a telephoto is what I need. I Struggle to get butterflies and dragonflies a lot as a result of such a short reach. The telephoto will also give me some nice smooth backgrounds without sacrificing a lot of depth of field either.

For macro and near-macro subjects like bugs, depth of field is almost entirely a function of magnification, aperture, and format.  While at the same aperture and magnification, a telephoto can give you a bit more subject isolation, it isn't a lot more.  To my way of thinking the extra working distance is the real win.

That being said, I am really not sure what is best. I am looking at some low aperture (2.8) 200mm lenses, or a 4.5 400mm. 400mm would let me get some other wildlife, but am I sacrificing a lot for macro with the 400mm vs the 200mm?

I don't know the Sony line well enough to know which specific lenses you are looking at, but a lens like the FE 100-400mm has a maximum reproduction ratio of 1:2.85.  The FE 70-200mm f/2.8 has a maximum reproduction ratio of 1:4.  That may be less than you're looking for, and is nowhere near the 1:1 offered by your 90mm.  It's possible to achieve higher magnifications using either extension tubes or accessory close-up lenses.  I own a Marumi 330 DHG close-up lens in 67mm, which I've used with the 70-300mm lens I used to own and I now use with a Sigma 100-400mm.  Either way, you asking a lot of your lens in an "off-label" use.  I find my results to be acceptable for casual use, but not up to what I can achieve with a purpose-built macro lens.

This topic is subjective, I realize, however, how much sharper is, say, a Sony G/GM lens vs a Tamron or Sigma? I have an A7RIII, and also don’t want to make my camera come up short because I didn’t choose a good lens. How vital is that 2 (?) stops when photographing at longer focal lengths.

At this time, neither Tamron nor Sigma make full-frame native E-mount telezooms.  That will likely change in the next year or two.  While I'm quite happy with my Sigma 100-400mm, it would not be my first choice for serious "bug hunting."

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