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For various reasons, my favorite lens for flower photography is currently my 55-250mm lens...Problem is this is generally speaking NOT a good lens for flower photography. I mostly use this zoom lens set at at focal length of 250 with an ISO speed of 400, an F step at 6 and an appropriate shutter speed (hopefully not less than 125).
At a focal length of 250, I can easily and nicely blur out the background so that the flower is the main attraction. Yet a Canon 55-250mm lens is optically not very good. In fact, it's fair at best.
Much better is my 50mm 2.5 macro and even a short zoom lens that I have....
However, something about a long zoom lens of at least 200mm for flowers excites my imagination...Which is why I am now contemplating purchasing the Canon 200mm 2.8 lens for a price of (choke) $800.....
I would appreciate your comments on what your favorite lens is and why????
PS I got this lens used on Ebay for less than $500 :) I also have a 70-200 mm 2.8 but it compresses the DOF more and you loose some detail on the flower because of it unless on a tripod. The 105 mm 2.8 macro is MUCH smaller and lighter so I can handhold some shots like the two examples above.
My favorite lens in general is my Nikkor 24-70 2.8. (if $800 makes you choke, this lens would surely kill you, lol) But, I mostly shoot landscapes. For flowers, I prefer my 100mm Promaster Macro. (old lens, also lovingly referred to as the "plastic fantastic") I bought it on ebay a couple years ago for $99.
One thing I've learned about zoom lenses (especially the not-so-optically-great ones), is if you back off a little from either end, you get better quality. In other words, instead of shooting all the way zoomed at 250, try shooting at 220 or 230. And, if you're shooting on the wide end, try 60 or 65 instead of 55.
My favorite lens for flower pics is the Pentax 50-135 / 2.8. I find Pentax glass to be far superior than my Nikon glass. I switched to Pentax when I went digital, saved a lot of cash, and haven't had a reason to look back.
I know what you are saying about a not so great zoom lens....the pic of the snapdragons was at at focal length of 146...(with a zoom of 55-250). I will keep that tip in mind and not go beyond 200 on a 55-250 zoom.
I mostly use my Canon 100mm F2.8 Macro lens. It's the sharpest lens of any of my Canon lenses. I even use it a lot when stitching together panoramic photos, and for portraits. I don't publish a lot of flower shots, but I take a lot.
The real problem you may have is that the minimum Focus distance for the 200L 2.8 is almost 5 Fee.t While if you went with one of the 100mm Macro lenses, their minimum focus distance is about 1 foot. So the effective magnification is much higher on the 100mm than the 200mm (working at short distances)
The 200 L 2.8 is a great lens and a bargain but may not fit the criteria for flowers but it depends on the framing you shoot at
There are two Versions of the 100mm, One is an L series for about $900 or a standard version which is still quite good and way way better than the 55-250 for about $550
Or if you want shorter lens go to the 90mm 2.8 by Tamron( I have that one)
Cheaper lenses then the original but excellent optics.
the macro lens optics are build to separate details that is way you can see the smallest detail when you make macro photography with them, they are for that reason not good for portraits.
For flowers, I generally use the Nikon 105 f2.8 macro lens, but I plan to try using my Nikon 70-200 f2.8 and especially the Nikon 300 f4 with an extension tube or Canon 500D filter in a couple of weeks during a workshop for flowers. I've been reading a lot about using the 300 this way so I'll give it a try.
For flowers, I go with a couple of different rigs depending on what I want to do.
For just plain wildflower shots, I use a SMC Pentax 50mm lens, I have 3 or 4 versions that do well, my favorite is a SMC Pentax A 50mm. (A series means it has the contacts to tell the camera what aperture it's using). I don't have any examples posted using this lens, I Have plenty shots, just none posted except on Flickr. Here's one of those
That was taken with a very old K series 50mm manual lens, not the A series. Probably made in the early 70's.
That does a very good job for things like larger wildflowers or a group of them. For tiny flowers, (the only ones I have posted so far) I use either the 50mm and extension tubes, or a Lentar 135mm M42 and extension tubes. (this also requires an inexpensive M42 adapter). I'm using a Pentax K30 camera.
Both are excellent, the 135 tends to me more difficult to focus, and either one means a tiny movement affects focus. Both the 50mm and 135 get excellent macro shots if I Can get enough light and hold still enough. For macros of flowers I can sometimes use a tripod, but most of the time I'm shooting really small flowers no more than a few inches off the ground, so a tripod won't work. I often set up with a mini tripod attached and use that to hold, while resting my hand on the ground.
This was taken using the 50mm and extension tubes, I think the extension tube used was a 26mm one.
That flower is 1/8 inch across...the size of a match head...which should give you an idea what I'm trying to get a picture of. Not easy, and I have to be very steady...that was taken using the mini tripod as a sort of mono pod. The flower is about 4 inches off the ground, I also had to lay down to get anything at all...I get some strange looks now and then but I don't worry too much about it. Let 'em think I'm crazy...I get good shots...
The main problem using the 50mm is flash. The flash shoots over the top of the flower, so I use a folded envelope to reflect it downward. I don't use the focusing ring, I lean in and out to focus, usually keeping it on infinity focus.
I never use zoom lenses at all any more, I find primes (single focal length) get better image quality every time. Thinking about selling all my zooms actually...I Haven't used any of them in over 2 years.
Favorite? Not sure..I like both the 135mm and 50mm for different purposes, and have used the 135mm for straight non macro shots too, the results were excellent. Which one to grab is always a toss up...
I use the same lens as JC, the less expensive 100, F2.8 Macro. But, I've used this lens: Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM and it's amazing! Around $1,200 or so and a great lens for portraits and other shots,
Hi all, just captured this image yesterday in my garden.... it's kind of amazing so I thought I would share... However I am thinking of buying a new Macro lens too and was wondering what would be the best for me... I don't like heavy and very rarely use a tripod for my close up shots and I use glare reducing lenses as I am often shooting into the light to catch it LOL, the one that I have distorts the edges and I don't like it... Thanks for suggestions. Cheers, Barbara
btw...I didn't know a small white spider could take down a big bee like this... and I bet the watching fly is taking notes too.
Well, I have a very good 50mm macro lens (canon)...but for me there is something magical about using a zoom lens at the focal length of 250 in which to take flower pics. It's just that the magic kind of evaporates when I see the results (esp since I seldom use a tripod)....
Some of you mention the 100mm macro and this I know to be THE LENS for flower photography.
I will come to a decision around the first of July...
thanks all for your good input.
Yes, I know you can get closer to a flower with the 100mm....the problem is that sometimes I am NOT allowed to get that close to the flowers as I shoot at a Botanic Garden which does NOT allow photographers in certain areas to get that close to the flowers.
I am desperately in need of new lenses, But I make do with the following
Nikon 50mm f/1.8
Nikon 16-85mm VR
Nikon 80-400 VR-My fourth 400mm lens
I started using vr lenses for what their name says. To stop vibration. I spent 150 days a year on power vessels and vr cleaned up the shots nice.
I retired my 100mm macro Vivitar due to fogging. It was a cheap but sharp lens and we hiked many a mile together. I did an in depth inventory of Florida plants with it.
I retired my Sigma 400mm macro, because it's not worth fixing. It was a sharp lens but had to be focused manually for best results. I did a lot of butterfly work with this lens.
The 16-85 works fine for large flowers or groups of flowers. I am not doing any true macro work now.
This was with my 16-85.
A few months ago, I gave a talk to a local Camera Club and the subject was "Macro Photography" and was about 2 hours or so long. It had a 140 slides or so. Here are 4 images from that talk and I think basically answers the question which lens is best for you. Setting aside the cost and the brand, there are 3 types of lenses that are used by most people, a short, normal lens (50mm), a medium lens (100) and a Tele-type lens (180). And then it all comes down to how you like to work and where too.
If hiking, maybe the 50 or the 100 would be the choice and if mostly on a tripod and gardens and around home, studio stuff,etc., the 180 would be the lens of choice. Now with the size and weight factor set as parameters, the only other decision is the most important, at least to me, the "working distance" of the lens to the subject. Here are the images and the associated working distances for each lens type. In the image with all three lenses, the 50mm isn't actually a 50, since I haven't owned a 50 in about 30 years, so the "stunt" lens is really a 14mm, but about the same size:
So, to me, cost and brand name aside, the working distance is the most important aspect of the lens. If you don't mind getting down in the mud to photograph the flowers or bugs and other assorted creatures, then the 50mm will work for you, if on the other hand, you find that getting close, generally scares away whatever you're trying to photograph with the 50, then a longer lens is what you should have.
And finally, if most of your Macro stuff looks like this:
@Rich, wow, thanks so much for this info. Exactly what I needed to know. I'm a very little person and packing a heavy lens is just not what I can do...as it is my back pack is heavy enough. I like the idea of the mid range I think I'm going to start looking closer at those. Thanks again I appreciate it! Cheers, Barbara
Thanks and glad you got something out of that and remember, as I mentioned at the end, if your photography looks like my flower shot, which was shot around F5.6 or even F8, that's the "sweet spot" for almost all lenses, expensive and cheap, so you really don't need to spend a lot on a macro, to create images like that one of mine,