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by Russell McMahon

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I want to be able to take pictures like this:

macro bug picture

This was taken at 2×, but the lens costs over 1000 and has no autofocus. Is there a lens that can take pictures like this for less money, preferably with autofocus? It doesn't have to be as high quality but they still need to look sharp.

My camera is a Canon 60D

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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

You can answer questions like this by going to one of the major online camera sites, B&H Photo or Adorama and using the lens-browsing tools they provide. Here's a search that gives you a list of current offerings:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?mxp=1000&ci=274&mnp=100&Ns=p_PRICE_2|0&N=4293344976+4291570227+4277998926+38

Basically, you've got a ~ $300 option, a $450 option, and a $600 option, all of different focal lengths. The cheapest one offers 1:2 magnification and the others 1:1. The more expensive models are also nicer in other ways — for example, the 60mm has a circular aperture, for nice bokeh stopped-down. All three autofocus, but for real macro work, you probably want to focus manually very carefully anyway.

These are not 2:1 lenses, but you can get good results even with 1:2, and even without a macro converter — I've not used one of those, but reports I've seen show that you can often get better results just cropping extravagantly.

But there's another possibility which may be even better and quite likely cheaper — extension tubes.

You could also expand the search to third-party macro lenses, several of which are excellent, especially for the price.

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2  
And at those magnifications, you don't want to be using the focus ring on the lens (or the autofocus, even if you could) to achieve focus, since that changes the magnification factor as well. Setting the lens for the size you want, then using a geared macro focus rail to move the camera is the best solution, but other, less well-controlled methods of moving the camera (a horizontal column or wheels on a tripod, or -- if you like to run with scissors, swaying your body to work hand-held with a flash) will also work. –  user2719 Apr 1 '11 at 5:17

People have listed a few options for 1:1 as there are plenty. So if you have a 1:1 macro lens coupled with a 2x teleconverter, you'll get to a 2:1 macro as you describe above. That will probably be a less expensive option.

What I will caution you on, however, is not to expect miracles from autofocus in extreme macro. Basically, you're dealing with a razor thin depth of field and that can be very, very, challenging for a camera to hit with the AF system. My feeling is that you're going to need a lot of luck and a monstrously steady hand to avoid focus hunting or missed focus if you're trying such shots with AF.

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+1 for AF being of little use –  fmark Mar 30 '11 at 11:12

If you get a Sigma 105mm EX-DG macro, which is around £300, you'll be able to get 1:1 magnification, and as your camera is a cropped sensor model, you'll get the benefit of that. Cropping the image further in post will allow you to fill the frame with smaller subjects, enabling you to get similar results to your example. The AF on the Sigma is quite slow, but the Canon equivalent costs twice as much.

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