Looking into new lens

Hey y’all.

I’ve been doing macro for a little bit, and over the summer my Canon 100mm f/2.8 (non-USM) broke on me. A gear stripped inside and suddenly the AF/MF switch began to fall out randomly. Before this, it worked perfectly, but I couldn’t find any decent solutions to fixing it so I just sold it. I recently purchased a 180mm f/3.5L, but it just feels too large to be constantly bring around with me. Truth be told, I have only had it since winter began so I haven’t been able to truly field-test it, I just feel it’s too heavy and my hands end up too shaky to take any decent photos with it in my indoor trials. So, I’ve decided to list that for s4le.

While that’s pending, I need recommendations on what lens I should get next. I’m planning on getting either the 35mm f/2.8 or 50mm f/2.5 for collection work (photographing insect specimens, indoors, controlled lighting), but I haven’t really decided on what to get for field work. I’d definitely like to have a 100mm again, but I have also been considered shorter focal lengths just because a lot of the insects I come across aren’t a big flight risk (but there is always a couple bad apples)!

I’m currently considering the Tokina 100mm f/2.8, Canon 100mm f/2.8 IS USM, as my hands can get a little shaky, the Sigma 105mm f/2.8, and the Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2:1. I’d appreciate some insight into what lenses to consider, and what experiences you all have with those lenses.


I’m not familiar with Canon systems, but I have been happy with 80mm or higher for macro work in field because I don’t think it is actually easy to get that close. I prefer the 100mm ish for balance of size/weight and focal length. If I get a wider lens, I find I am cropping down a lot which is not the best. My fav (I shoot Pentax, not full frame) is the 100mm f/2.8 macro

I’ve also been enjoying their limited lens 20-40 f/2.8-4, because it has a relatively close focus distance (11") I’ve been able to get a lot of nice “macro-y” photos with it so if you wanted a more flexible lens maybe something like that is good to look at - just check the lens minimum focus distance.

A lot will depend on what camera you are using. APS-C or full frame? The crop factor is 1.6 thus 160 mm on the 100 mm lens and 288 mm on the 180mm lens. No wonder the 180 is a bit unwieldy.

The best recommendation is to get the 100 mm f2.8 L. MACRO. Equivalent to the Pentax recommended above). It has many advantages over the very old lens the main ones is that it has weather sealing and Image stabilisation. Which other lenses are incompatible with. Of course all Canon lenses lately are RF mount and that means a new RF mirrorless camera as well. The new RF 100 mm macro would be superb with much closer focusing distance and hence also magification.

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Canon still produces most of it’s full line of EF mount lenses.

APS-C. I’m currently on the T3i, but have thought about upgrading the body, but likely won’t for a while.
Does the RF mount lenses fit onto EF bodies?
EDIT: nvm I looked it up and apparently not

Not anymore, many will be or have been discontinued. There is no new EF lens for many years now.

Wouldn’t that be a limited factor if your camera body… doesn’t?

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There are plenty of great quality EF mount lenses available used for excellent prices.

No, you wont achieve the ludicrously sharp, high contrast images expected by photography enthusiasts, but you will absolutely be able to capture images of adequate quality for identification on iNaturalist or elsewhere.

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What are your main decision factors? From what I’ve read, you’re sticking with your old camera body (so EF), you like crispness (that 180 delivers that, I’m told), but you’re balancing that against weight and lens-to-subject difference and mag factor. And presumably, price.

Would you be okay with full manual focus? (You did mention you had the Laowa, right?)

The thing with the Sub C sensors in macro is pixel count. Your full frame shot in Sub C won’t have as much detail as a full frame sensor.

But then comes the reality factors of in-the-field shooting. A lot of these tiny creatures rarely will stay put for the time it takes to frame them fully so you’re looking at maybe an average of half the frame width to capture details.

And for the very tiny (say, 2-5mm) even with the best stabilization, high shutter speed and ideal lighting, motion blur starts to show up if you’re working handheld–which in itself is a reality factor. I gave up the tripod approach after the third attempted safari! It just didn’t work for me.

So what would be your ideal average capture range in terms of full frame width? What’s the smallest frame width, what’s the biggest in terms of your macro work?

And how close to the subject is your working comfort zone?

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I am at the moment still photographing with my old Canon 600D and for the macro work (and actually also animal portraits) I love my 900mm Tamron… I love it so much, I even re-bought it after my old one at some point got connection issues with the camera body. When my body finally breaks down (just waiting for it now) and I might consider a system change, I will probably re-buy it again

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I would still go for a weather sealed lens. For example there is a watertight seal between the camera and lens fitting.

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The advantages of the new mirrorless cameras are many. They are smaller and lighter (not having a mirror. Most good ones has a mechanical shutter, which protect the sensor from dirt. Auto focus can be a 100 times faster and accurate as it does not rely on a secondary expensive sensors on the prism. An old camera may have 4 or so sensors in the middle, the new equivalent camera have 1000 or more sensor points. Therefore 30 or 40 fps with focusing is now possible. They can accept old lenses, even lenses of other manufacturers easily with an adapter, because there is more space between the lens and camera. And for that reason that lens is often better performing than before. They all have stabiliser sensors- the sensor move if the camera shake.

Disadvantages is they are expensive, especially newer technology sensors with a very fast readout speed so that they do not show rolling shutter effect (straight lines become curved). Perhaps good is looking up Dpreview.com. They have camera buying guides for different prize range and use cases.

This might make a good epitaph.


Omg I love that xD

My Pentax k50 had the aperture control issue after six years of use (solenoid problem). I fixed it once but it came back. I thought about mirrorless since i needed one around holidays 2020; but i couldnt bear the cost of lens upgrades too. So I went Pentax KP. I just cant get over how amazing the weathersealing is and so that invokes the decision too, its legendary for a reason as I am sadly good at testing regularly due to being a total klutz.

My main decision factors are weight and focal length. I’m sure whichever lens I decide on will be crisp, but my 180mm is just significantly too heavy. My budget is probably $600, $700.

I don’t have the Laowa, but it is something I was considering. I don’t usually use MF since in the wild the subject is often moving, and I definitely don’t trust myself that much lol. So I’m not super certain on the Laowa. Honestly, I’m mainly considering the Canon 100mm 2.8 IS USM. My 100mm worked absolutely fantastic, it’s a genuine shame it decided to randomly break. I’m lucky that a lot of the time my subjects decide to freeze instead of flight. The only reason I’m not as seriously considering someone like Tamron or Sigma, or any other third party is because I’ve heard that they just don’t compare to Canon/Nikon lenses. I honestly don’t believe that is true, but I’m not sure I can just get a lens to play with it just yet.

I wouldn’t mind changing bodies, but I just don’t think I have the budget for that + the new lens just yet.

About the sensor, I was honestly considering a change to a manufacturer with a smaller sensor that is dedicated to macro photography, as most of my photography is macro. Someone like Olympus, probably. I was considering just dropping getting a new lens and getting a TG-6, since it’s all around a good camera, and is apparently pretty good for macro.

I’m not sure on how close I’m comfortable with. I’m unfortunately really bad at lengths and scale of things so I can’t remember any sort of estimate. Maybe two feet?

That’s the main reason I’m considering the 100mm 2.8 IS USM. It’s weather sealed. Occasionally I end up in the rain, so it’d be a great thing to have. I try not to go outside when it’s pouring out, but if I end up in a sprinkle then I want to be fine.

You mentioned the TG-6. I picked up a TG-5 in July (used) and it’s what made me decide I wanted to get into macro further. And it’s a very impressive field macro machine. Totally weather proof (and waterproof to 50 ft), very shockproof, fits into my jean pocket, has RAW, 4k video (invaluable for swift moving macro sprinters) and even built-in-stacking. And it looks like (at least from a reasonable distance) like small, relatively inexpensive compact point-and-shoot that compared to a full DSLR, does not seem worth trying to steal.

There’s a few design cons: you can’t change batteries without it coming off a tripod (too close to mount), and there’s really nothing but a token optical zoom (4x) but the worst for me is low-light, full zoom and the well-known purple haze effect that’s hard to predict. Even so, I love this camera and I still take it with me everywhere because of its lightweight and size – and almost instant setup to catch shots of any tiny ‘pleasant surprises’ I come across.

For me, the icing on the cake was that it saved to RAW and that it was supported by DxO PureRaw, my first stop denoiser for RAW. This lets me shoot far into the upper reaches of the ISO range which, in effect gains me some real opportunity extensions (you can also get a flash diffuser or a led front ring).

Eventually though, I needed something with more flexibility in the super macro, especially something that would give me more distance between camera and lens-end.

But, being a low-budget pensioner, I studied for a cheap alternative to a dedicated macro lens for my DSLR (an old Sony Alpha). In the end? In September I went for an old used bridge camera that didn’t have RAW, nor 4k video, but it was still very light and small enough to fit into my jacket pocket. Even with the macro extender, the Raynox-250, which I bought and attached to this little camera using an adapter I found. The whole package–camera, Raynox, adapter, ring–set me back about $200 (USD). And wow, three months later I have had a lot of fun.

As I’ve mentioned in another post, it’s been a lot of fun and for me, a most affordable adventure. Here’s a link to a sample gallery of some of my better shots from the setup I described. (I am hoping to eventually put together a more complete site to show others how to do this.) I’d love to hear your feedback on these.

I know the optics and tiny bridge cam/sub-c sensor of an old low-cost bridge camera are not as razor sharp as a dedicated macro lens on a good full sensor DSLR, but for me, this was the economy ticket that got me in the sandbox I wanted to play in.

And with that kind of ticket price, if a sudden, unplanned downpour or drop into a puddle wrecks the gear, I will not be happy – but I won’t be devastated either.

Maybe it’s not for you, but for my camera-bag toting and in-field lens-changing avoiding bias (and limited budget), it’s been great!

If you plan to take only one lens when you’re out in the field, I think a macro lens within the range of 60mm~100mm will do best, covering a large range of subjects. It better be an auto-focusing one because many creatures move fast and never stop. In addition, 100mm and longer lens suits photographing with daylight while short lens like 60mm or 50mm suits photographing with flashlight.

Check out the sigma 180mm f5.6 macro apo. It is incredibly light. The only issue is that it doesn’t connect well with a Canon DSLR (it was made for film SLR). However, if you are using a mirrorless body, it would not be an issue. If you are using a Canon DSLR, I would recommend any of the AF lenses you mentioned above, and a Raynox 250 to go with it