I want to do some extreme macro work, so which lens is best for this? I think the Canon 100mm macro isn't good enough. So which lens gives great low light work plus will get me right into the eye of an insect, for example? Suggestions please.

  • Hmmm, as I thought from my research, there isn't a good super macro lens on the market. why? I think the canon 100mm is, a great lens dont get me wrong, but 1:1 isnt enough. the DOF as you say with the MP-E 65mm isnt enough and also having to be so close to your subject really means it has to be inanimate or dead. can a teleconverter be added to the canon 100mm to give it a further edge? would this work? cheers guys!
    – scb222
    Oct 11, 2011 at 19:27
  • You're almost getting into the range of photomicrography, and there is no lens that will help with that. Just adaptors. I've never tried this, but here's a link to a company that specializes in such adaptors: zarfenterprises.com. And yes, the subject needs to be inanimate or dead. At many:1 zoom ratio, it's that simple.
    – Steve Ross
    Oct 11, 2011 at 19:47
  • Please don't post an answer unless you're actually answering the question. See here: photo.stackexchange.com/faq#deletion Oct 12, 2011 at 21:31
  • 1
    @scb: It sounds like you have a distinct question to ask. I recommend using the "ask question" link in our header to ask a completely new question, allowing you to get the answers you need.
    – jrista
    Oct 15, 2011 at 7:12

4 Answers 4


Why do you think the Canon 100mm macro isn't good enough? Are you considering the L lens or non-L lens? If you are serious about eyes of insects, you probably want the Canon MP-E 65mm Macro Lens.

  • yes, do define "good enough" and why you think the Canon isn't.
    – jwenting
    Oct 10, 2011 at 6:23

No macro lens will do in low light. At macro distances depth of field is so scarce you'll probably be stopping down to f/11 or more. All macro lenses gather very little light at this setting so you'll most likely need an external lightsource.

To get up to photographing the eye of an insect you'll need to go way past 1:1 using something like the Canon MP-E 65mm. This lens is very difficult to shoot with due to the extreme magnification so don't expect results straight away, good macro photography takes years to perfect.

  • 1
    Actually some point-and-shoot cameras do fairly well in low light. They do not have a very good high-ISO performance, but one can shoot wide open at macro distances. The small sensor gives a lot of depth of field. Of course capturing the eye of an insect is far beyond their capabilities... Oct 7, 2011 at 23:41

I shot with the MP-E 65mm lens (borrowed) and own both the 100mm macro lenses (L and "non-L"). Here are my insights:

  • 100mm "non-L" lens: Great lens, autofocus can be a tad slow. Watch corners for chromatic aberration if you have very contrasty edges. Otherwise, well worth the money.
  • 100mm L lens: Incredible lens. Autofocus is snappy and the lens is both clear and sharp from edge to edge of a full-frame sensor. If you have extra budget, this is money well spent.
  • MP-E 65mm: Pretty weird lens, in my opinion. It has up to a 5:1 magnification factor. You can read a nice write up here. The biggest challenge with this lens was wedging sufficient light in because the lens was pretty much touching the subject. I've included a sample shot with this lens. You'll note how insanely shallow the DOF is even though the image was made at f/16.

So, if you want to do super macro, go for it, but this is not an easy lens to use.

enter image description here


I think you're looking for a lens which simply does not exist.

The Canon MP-E 65mm Macro Lens can take photos up to the eye of an insect, but it's not intended for low light work.

Conversely, the Canon 100mm L IS USM is a lot more practical for low light (because of the image stabilisation) but won't take the photos you want with regard to the magnification.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.