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I'm looking for a macro lens for my Canon 80D. The two crop-specific offerings from Canon are the EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM and EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM. They're both on the affordable end of the price range, both feature f/2.8 as maximum aperature, and both offer 1:1 magnification, so I'm trying to figure out what differentiates the two that I can make a decision based on. Obviously, the different focal lengths come with different perspective, DoF, etc. It seems the biggest difference between the two is how close I need to be to the subject to get full magnification. In my case, that's a non-issue.

A little background: My main use for a macro lens would be to take detail photos of my woodworking projects. These would be anything from small, decorative boxes up to full sets of bedroom furniture. I'm not photographing insects or animals, which is why it's no problem to get close to the subject (which mostly negates the 60 mm lens's advantage). I'd be setting up like a full-blown product shoot, so use of a tripod and off-camera lighting is no problem, either (which mostly negates the 35 mm lens's advantage).

Assuming for a moment that both lenses offer the same image quality, what are the practical differences between using a 60 mm lens and a 35 mm lens for macro photography?

But can I assume that both offer the same image quality? The 35 mm lens includes two major features—image stabilization and an integrated ring light—that the 60 mm does not. It's also a newer design, for whatever that's worth. However, the 35 mm lens is $100 (i.e. 25%) cheaper than the 60 mm lens, despite the additional features. That makes me wonder whether it's a lower quality lens. What other reason might there be for the seemingly backward price difference?

If I can expect to get the same quality close-up shots from either lens, given my specific circumstances, I'd probably choose the 35 mm lens, since the side benefit is that now I have a fast 35 mm prime lens for non-macro use. Does this make sense?

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    Your analysis is already well thought out. Here's other characteristics to consider : background blur, perspective reproduction, image stabilisation, (video usage ?). – jihems Feb 7 at 14:39
  • I'm also eyeballing the 35mm for the same reasons (ring light, nice prime lens for non-macro use)(also, I have a 100mm macro...). – xenoid Feb 7 at 16:03
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It's difficult to evaluate lenses without using them for yourself.

I don't do any "real" macro work, but for close-up, I like 35mm on crop sensor. I've been playing around with a lot of 35/2.8 manual-focus lenses lately, and even though they're all spec'd the same, they can produce very different images. If you're open to manual focus, there are some very good, sharp, inexpensive 35/2.8 lenses that might do what you need when thrown on a focusing helicoid.

I would expect that working distance and non-macro use would be the main usability differences between the lenses you're considering. If you get a chance to try out the lenses, you can bring a sample of one of your wood-working projects to try photographing.

As for vignetting, it usually isn't noticeable unless you're photographing a plain-white, de-focused wall wide-open. If you stop down a bit or shoot real-life subjects, vignetting often disappears. It's usually fairly easy to fix in post (with flat-field correction), and it's nice to have natural vignetting for some subjects, rather than artificially adding it in post.


Seems like you've pretty much decided on the 35mm. The only thing holding you back is it costs less? I say take the win.

  • Focal length, working distance, etc. - You state they don't matter.
  • Image quality - Compare sample images at The Digital Picture.

  • Image stabilization - Advantage 35mm

  • Ring light - Advantage 35mm
  • Non-macro use - Advantage 35mm (for full sets of bedroom furniture)

  • Focusing motor - Advantage 60mm (USM > STM)

  • Background blur / portraiture - Advantage 60mm
  • Kinda, but not exactly. My question was more like: "here are the things I know will be different, but what are the things I haven't accounted for?" I don't have any experience with macro lenses, so I wanted to make sure there wasn't some major thing I was missing. As for the pricing, I was just looking to see if the lower price on the 35 mm lens was an indication of lower quality. The link to the image comparison may help me answer that. Thanks! – Gern Blanston Feb 8 at 13:35
  • It's difficult to evaluate lenses without using them for yourself. I've been playing around with a lot of 35/2.8 manual-focus lenses lately, and even though they're all spec'd the same, they can produce very different images. If you're open to manual focus, there are some very good, sharp, inexpensive 35/2.8 lenses that might do what you need when thrown on a focusing helicoid. – xiota Feb 8 at 23:05
  • That definitely makes sense. I looked at the comparison link you posted, which was super useful. Based on the images there, it looks like the 35 mm shows a lot more vignetting, but the overall review of the same lens on that site was really positive. I might see if the local camera store will let me test each of these out in store. At this point, I'm leaning pretty hard toward the 35. If not for the vignetting, I'd probably have my mind made up already. – Gern Blanston Feb 8 at 23:49
  • You can bring a sample of one of your wood-working projects when you go to try out the lenses. Also, vignetting usually isn't noticeable unless you're shooting a plain white de-focused wall wide open. If you stop down a bit or shoot real-life subjects, vignetting often disappears. – xiota Feb 9 at 2:04

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