If you want to have a go at macro photography you will get the best results using a specific macro lens. There are cheaper ways to take macro shots, such as using close up filters, using extension tubes or using reversing rings but these methods are a total waste of time and result in poor quality shots that are good for nothing but the bin.
If you want to capture decent macro photos you have to use a specific macro lens. There are several macro lenses available in several different focal lengths and from several lens manufacturers. Choosing the best macro lens for your specific needs isn’t easy unless you narrow the choice down my asking (and answering) a few key questions, as follows……..
The first thing you need to sort out and identify is the type of subjects you want to take macro photos of. Arguably you can use whatever macro lens you want to take a close up photo of whatever subject you want, but using the “right” macro lens will make the job much easier, less stressful and make the whole process more enjoyable as a result. The big question is what type of macro lens is best for each subject?
The range of subjects is vast and I would categorise them in to two types, being moving and stationery. By moving subjects I mean things that move of their own free will, i.e. living things like insects, mini-beasts and other critters. As you’ve probably figured non-moving subjects are those that remain stationery, and the working distance for these subjects doesn’t matter one bit.
Where you intend to take macro shots is something you should consider, although not many people do. Arguably, you can use any macro lens for outdoor use but some are more suitable than others. If you’re shooting outside a macro lens that is super strong, robust and weather sealed is better than a macro lens that isn’t. If you’re macro photography is only going to be studio or indoor based a ‘bombproof’ macro lens may be a bit of an overkill.
Image stabilization/vibration reduction?
If your macro photography is going to comprise a lot of hand held shots and you are going to try and dispense with the tripod image stabilization/vibration control is a feature a macro lens should have. If you are going to be using a tripod for most of your macro shots image stabilization/vibration reduction really doesn’t matter. Before you go and choose a macro lens I would suggest you carefully think about whether you need this feature or not
If you are only prepared to use a macro lens that is the same brand as your camera you are restricting yourself somewhat. The main lens manufacturers make a handful of lenses so the choice is limited. For example, Canon shooters have the option of the 100mm non L macro lens, the 100mm L macro lens and the 180mm L macro lens. Those Canon shooters using a crop sensor camera also has the 60mm macro lens to choose from.
If you are prepared to use other branded and third party lenses you have the choice of Tamron, Sigma and Tokina macro lenses as well. There are some very good third party branded macro lenses out there, you just have to be open to stray away from your camera’s brand.
What is the budget?
Before getting out the credit card and ordering a macro lens you need to set yourself a budget. A budget isn’t just how much you can actually afford, it is also how much you can justify spending on a macro lens.
Very few people are in the position where money isn’t an issue, and money is a key factor when choosing any new photography equipment and not just lenses. Fortunately, there is a macro lens for all budgets so it doesn’t matter how much cash you have to spend.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.