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Forget the macro lens, get a serious compact instead!

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by TraamisVOS, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. TraamisVOS

    TraamisVOS SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 29, 2010
    Melboune, Australia
    So I am of the opinion that macro lenses are not reaaaaaally essential.

    A friend was asking which macro lens to buy for her Canon DSLR but I told her: 'fahgedabahditt'!

    For the same amount of money or less, you could:

    - get yourself a serious compact that can do a seriously mean macro at a high standard,

    - plus it will probably be smaller than or the same size as any DSLR macro lens,

    - having a serious compact for macro means you won't have to go changing lenses just for that one macro shot while you're on the move,

    - AND when you're not using the macro function on the serious compact you can also use it as a (maybe) pocketable carry-everywhere serious compact which you probably can't do with your tank of a DSLR, for all the other non-macro photography.

    Thoughts?

    Which serious compact would you buy primarily for its macro to complement your non-compact non-macro gear? I've seen some great macro photography posted by forum members here taken with the X10 and the LX7 amongst others. Is the Canon S100 still in contention? What about the new Sigma compacts? They're probably a lot more expensive to buy just for the macro function though I think.
     
  2. greyelm

    greyelm SC Top Veteran

    844
    Oct 1, 2011
    London, England
    I agree. I'm amazed by the macros you can get from the X10 & X100.
     
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  3. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Jul 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    James, I can't comment on any compacts except the Sigma's which I do own, and whilst they focus close(ish) it's far from being macro, so I think you can rule them out from the start. My old Coolpix 880 from some years ago was way ahead of them in terms of a macro capability.

    Barrie
     
  4. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Seems like the smaller the sensor, the easier it is to do macro well. The LX3/5/7 can all focus crazy close - like you have to be careful not to hit the subject with the lens close. The GRD3 was like that too, and I'd imagine any camera with a sensor that small should be as well. The X10 sensor is slightly larger but they took care and offer both macro and super macro options and its crazy good too. The RX100 and G1X, which are fine cameras in their own right, have larger sensors (MUCH larger in the G1X) and neither can focus all that closely. The only macro function I have on my larger cameras is the macro on the 12-50 Olympus kit lens, which is good enough for me, but I'll still pull out the LX7 more often for the very occasional close shot I want to do. If I was REALLY into macro shooting, I'd probably get the 60mm Olympus m43 macro lens, but I'm not much into macro shooting, so the lesser options will more than handle my meager needs...

    -Ray
     
  5. TraamisVOS

    TraamisVOS SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 29, 2010
    Melboune, Australia
    Barrie, I've always not-so-secretly wanted one of those Sigmas and I probably would have gotten one of them if they were a bit cheaper but I am disappointed to hear that. Do they not have a macro function at all or it has one that doesn't work so well?

    Malcolm - does the X10 and X100 do macros equally well or does the larger sensor in the X100 produce better images overall?
     
  6. TraamisVOS

    TraamisVOS SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 29, 2010
    Melboune, Australia
    Ray - I saw the amazing macros you did with your LX7 and it's making me a little hungry for one. I have an LX5 which served me well for a while but I thought the X10 had well and truly overshadowed the IQ until I saw your LX7 images. I wasn't really looking at the changeable lens compacts though, I was looking at the smaller fixed lens compacts which can replace or equal an actual DSLR macro lens for size, weight and price.
     
  7. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Jul 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    James

    The specs give the closest focus distance as 280mm. I've just checked with my DP2M, rough and ready hand held and it's about that, or perhaps slightly less and when in focus the subject size is about 7" in the long direction, well short of being macro in my book. An advantage with a true macro lens is the ability to be some way from your subject if it's easily disturbed. So I can photograph dragonflies from about 36" away with my 150mm Kern Paillard Yvar on a 20mm extension tube fitted to my GH2 and achieve a good sized image, more than half the frame for the insect, but be outside of the disturbance radius for the insect. The distance from the subject is likely to be a lot less with most compacts, so that factor has to be considered in your choice of camera and lens.

    Barrie
     
  8. greyelm

    greyelm SC Top Veteran

    844
    Oct 1, 2011
    London, England
    I haven't had a chance to do much with the X10 yet but I have found that with the X100 the IQ is so good that you can crop the images successfully

    Here are couple of X100 shots

    X100bee1.

    X100f4.
     
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  9. Booka

    Booka SC Regular

    83
    Jul 5, 2011
    Sweden
    Didn't even know the aphid was there when i took the photo! -Ricoh grdIII I think it focuses down to a centimeter or two.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/manyjourneys/5957250261/" title="Small?... it's all relative by booka17, on Flickr">"640" height="480" alt="Small?... it's all relative"></a>
     
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  10. Pelao

    Pelao SC All-Pro

    Jul 11, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Stephen
    Well maybe it depends a little on what your friend intends. My preference is to start at the end and work back when thinking about gear. What does she mean by macro? Is it the occasional close-up shot, or is it something she wants to seriously explore? What is the subject matter? Will she use natural light or flash or both? Is she prepared to use a tripod? What is the final output?

    What is her intention?

    Those who are really in to macro are unlikely to settle for anything that is not truly a macro lens.

    If she has a Canon body, is comfortable with it, and is remotely serious about exploring macro, then get the appropriate lens. She can always pass it on for very little loss if macro is not her thing. Why have a whole new camera to get comfortable with?
     
  11. Gary

    Gary SC All-Pro

    Aug 19, 2012
    Southern California
    Gary Ayala
    Like Barrie, I haven't any experience with a macro on a fixed lens compact. I really enjoy looking at macros and I have a Micro-Nikkor and an O60mm for the OM-D for the time when I get off my lazy butt and start shooting macros. (Maybe soon, there are a few chrysalis in the backyard with Monarchs about to emerge.) But, your rational is surprisingly logical. The Canon 'L' macro is around $1000, you can get one helluva compact for that kind of money and still walk away with pocket change. The trade off with the compact is going very large and cropping, the trade off with the dSLR is money, size/weight and you gotta work hard to get good DOF.

    If she goes with a macro lens I've had some good luck with:

    Canon 60mm (APS-C)
    IMG_0226-XL.

    SP-Pod-5-HP-L.

    IMG_0736-L.

    Sigma 50mm f/2.8 macro (FF):
    Toulouse%20Latrec%20-1-HP-L.

    Gary
     
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  12. Pelao

    Pelao SC All-Pro

    Jul 11, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Stephen
    Nice stuff Gary. The first one made me smile - like he is peaking. But all of them are really well made, for what my opinion is worth. Takes effort to do a good macro, as opposed to a very close shot.
     
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  13. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    James, Barrie - there are macro adaptors for the older DP cameras. I have seen spectacular work on Flickr using them.
     
  14. Gary

    Gary SC All-Pro

    Aug 19, 2012
    Southern California
    Gary Ayala
    Thanks Stephen. I was about to add that your post had some very good points. And yes, "real" macro people, measure, tripod, flash, remote release, et al, very tedious but delivers mouth-dropping results. I am lazy, so all by hand as I stroll by.

    Gary
     
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  15. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Jul 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    Paul, sorry it's the w/e, Gloria, yes I have a Nikon 5T supplementary lens that would take the focus distance down to about 190mm. Doubtless flowers could be rendered satisfactorily and indeed I intend to experiment thus later in the year, however you'd be up against it somewhat with nervous insect subjects unless they were too cold to take flight for example. I really wouldn't try to sell a Sigma to anyone as a macro capable camera, not when compared to other models, and that's from someone who rather likes the results obtained from the Sigmas. What they do they do well, but realistically you have to admit that they are not as versatile as many other models out there.

    Barrie
     
  16. Isoterica

    Isoterica SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 6, 2011
    Yessss. I have film cameras and compact.. but I also have DSLR and macro lense/s.. I love macro, I love getting super close, I had a 55-250mm I could get close with and was NOT happy, it was NOT close enough even with extension tubes. So it all depends on how close you want to get and of course what you can afford. I have yet to get the 65mm MPE 1-5X, but I want one. We are talking half a grain of rice filling a frame here and a compact can not do that. All other shooting I could be happy with a compact, but NOT macro. Sorry to be contrary, bit it is not the same. Not at all. :) Fact.

    Oh and I have the 50mm compact macro [1:2] w/ Life size converter [1:1] * Also makes a good walk around lens, 80mm crop on a 1.6 sensor AND the 100mm USM Macro [1:1 w 160mm crop factor] *Most excellent lens, IS isn't necessary as usually you are on a tripod for serious work anyway. I have also done a lot hand held. I went for EF lenses should I want to go full frame one day rather than the 60mm macro lens but I heard that lens is a very nice lens as well and delivers 1:1. Again the 65 MPE 1-5X is my next but after 2x you need seriously lighting like a ring flash or equivalent. Magnifying lenses won't deliver the same results [I have them...] but teleconverters [1.4, 2.0] can push you even closer, so can extension tubes. And you can stack which you can, btw, do that even with a macro lens.
     
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  17. Pelao

    Pelao SC All-Pro

    Jul 11, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Stephen
    Well your hand would make a fine tripod. :cool:

    I use the same stroll-by method. I don't shoot much macro at all, but sometimes the opportunity is just there.
     
  18. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Sue
    Well... I'm not sure I would agree with you there... compacts can do excellent macro (well... closeup... they arent "real" macro) but they are a bit limited in that you *must* get super close. a "proper" macro lens may not require that.

    I have a Pentax 35mm Ltd Macro lens for my K-5, and I want to get either the Pentax 100mm WR (best for me) or the Tamron 90mm as a second choice. I've discovered that the 35mm is fine for static subjects (i.e; anything that wont run or fly away) and I sometimes want to shoot those. Some people can get close anyway, and some people shoot and crop... I like getting close, and the 35mm close focus distance is something less than 1cm. I did have a poorly regarded Tamron 70-300mm which did a pseudo macro between the 180-300 range, it wasnt 1:1, which is what the purists want. It did a very respectable 2:1 and I would consider that the shots I took with it at the time were closeups, not macros. The term is used rather loosely these days.

    So your friend could get the Tamron 90mm Macro. Its very well respected, she doesn't have to spend a fortune, and she will also have a decent portrait lens as well. Its available in mounts for Canon, Nikon and Sony, as well as Pentax.
     
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  19. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    there are definitely two opinions of macro. True macro being a 1:1 representation to real life on the sensor. Anything less is close-up photography (and the reason I sold the Fuji 60mm "macro" lens.....shame on you Fuji) and not true macro. If your friend just wants to do the occasionally flower close-up or larger insects.....any of the compacts will be good. But still I think better yet would be using some cheapo extension tubes for the Canon....at that point any lens can become a macro lens.

    Here's a great resource for photomacrographers ........ www.photomacrography.net...Front Page
     
  20. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    Couldn't agree more Barrie, just wasn't sure if you were aware that sigma had made adaptors available.

    I still think some of the macro s I did with my old canon ixus 750 are as good as ones I've done with the e-p2 and tamron sp 90mm
     
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