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Macro on a tight budget - Help!

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Old Saturday 7th May 2011, 11:01   #1
cheersm8
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Macro on a tight budget - Help!

Hi all. Sorry for the cheeky post but I realy need to 'pick the brains' of BF's
macro pool of knowledge/experience.
I want a decent macro lens but I only have 200 max to spend. Second hand or new is not an issue.
I keep thinking about one of those 'cheap and cheerful' Tamron or Sigma 70-300mm 1:2 'macro' zooms.
I am blocked by a niggling feeling that,if I do, I will end up disappointed.
At the moment, I'm happily having fun taking macros of flutterbies and dragons using my heath robinson M42 (screw fit) 200mm lens with extension tubes (old and manual) which cost me 18 in total (lens,tubes and M42/eos adapter)
The three photo's attached were taken with this cheapo setup. I'm happy with the results but would not settle for less.
Could I achieve the same,consistant, results with a 70-300mm macro, and have the added bonus of autofocus?
Maybe not, so that's were (I hope) that you guys can come in.
Any opinions (through experience) as to whether those 70-300mm 'macro's' will achieve the same or better results will be greatly appreciated.
The bottom line is that, with a 70-300mm 'macro zoom' I would only ever use it in macro mode so maybe I should be looking at something else?
Added question : Are there any decent dedicated macro lenses around for the same price (used)? I reckon I could snaffle a used siggy 105mm f2.8 via ebay for a few quid over my budget.
Thanks for reading the post.
Joe
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Old Saturday 7th May 2011, 13:28   #2
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why not consider the ef-s IS 55-250, it focuses down to 1.1m and a magnification of just under 1/3 life size. It gets very good reviews and good value for the money. just over 200. Trouble with 100mm macro lens is that you have to get much closer to get the same size image compared to your current set up. Butterflies and dragons are not always willing to let you poke a lens at them from 12 inches.
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Old Saturday 7th May 2011, 13:42   #3
cheersm8
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Thanks for the pointer Rob! The plot thickens, lol. Just had a quick browse through flickr for examples of butterflies and dragons taken with the ef-s IS 55-250, and they aint bad!
At around 150 (average) second hand, it seems fairly good value also.
Edit: Just found 'em for sale at 149:00 New (with free P&P) so very very tempting.
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Old Saturday 7th May 2011, 14:57   #4
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Sigma and Tamron 70-300mm both allow half life size, rather than 1/3 of the canon, and quality is not too iffy either if stopped down.

Below was shot with the Tamron a while back...
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Old Saturday 7th May 2011, 15:58   #5
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Nice sample from the Tamron Carl. Thanks.
Interesting that you mention 'stopping down', by which, I'm infering that you mean under exposing? Or do you mean stopping down the aperture? I have found that taking a photo of all butterflies and dragons, with whatever kit/method used, all require under exposure by at least one stop. Must be something to do with 'em being so blooming shiny and reflective! Every Red Admiral that I photographed was an 'Orange Admiral' until I sussed out under exposing. lol
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Old Sunday 8th May 2011, 08:21   #6
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Working within 8 inches with a Raynox DCR250.
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Old Sunday 8th May 2011, 17:12   #7
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As has oft been said unless you want true 1:1 repro for those full frame close-ups (providing you can get that close of course) then something like the mentioned Sigma or Tamron lenses can be good starter options and offer the benefit of maintaining a good working distance to the subject while giving some good magnification.

There is a definite learning curve with a proper macro lens and takes some time to learn your way around it's quirks and TBH even though the Sigma is a very decent macro lens I'd save up the extra for the Canon 100mm f2.8 (non IS) and that is speaking from experience as I have owned the Sigma before getting the Canon. Assuming of course that is the route you want to go. If you're after the whole creature and don't mind a little cropping (ie you'd be hard pushed to fill the frame with some of the smaller butterflies) then I think something along the lines of the Sigma/Tamron is a worthwhile place to begin. And of course if a bird should suddenly present itself you have a 300mm telephoto handy at the flick of a switch.
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Old Monday 9th May 2011, 11:18   #8
cheersm8
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Thanks for the info and pointers guys. Very helpful stuff.
After a lot of browsing and a lot of thought my decision has been made.
I have now purchased a new canon ef-s 55-250mm IS and a raynox dcr-150.
With a strictly limited 200 budget available, and based on lots of photo comparisons,this combo stood out, by far, as the best bang for my bucks. Fingers crossed this set up will give me enough 'situation felxibilty' and image quality results to keep me happy through this summers butterfly and bugs outings.
Once again, many thanks for the info and help, always pays to ask on BF!
Joe
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Old Monday 9th May 2011, 16:16   #9
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I just use the standard Canon EFS 18-55mm EFS lens.At 55mm and stopped down you can get some pretty good results.Took this last week.
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