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Thread: Macro lens vs Macro Filter

  1. #1

    Default Macro lens vs Macro Filter

    Does anyone know what are the advantages of a macro lens over a macro filter (e.g. X6, X7, X10)? I heard that an actual macro lens is supposed to give better quality than a simple macro filter but since I haven't tried both, I am not so convinced.

    Also, I have seen very good pics taken with a macro filter so I am wondering why people would still want to buy an expensive macro lens. Apologies for the ignorant question but any thoughts on this are welcome.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Macro lens vs Macro Filter

    Quote Originally Posted by digisnap View Post
    Does anyone know what are the advantages of a macro lens over a macro filter (e.g. X6, X7, X10)? I heard that an actual macro lens is supposed to give better quality than a simple macro filter but since I haven't tried both, I am not so convinced.

    Also, I have seen very good pics taken with a macro filter so I am wondering why people would still want to buy an expensive macro lens. Apologies for the ignorant question but any thoughts on this are welcome.
    Macro lenses is designed for close distance photography (but it doesn't mean they can't be used as normal lens). They will be superior than lens with macro filter (anything in front of lens will degrade the light quality) for macro purpose shoot.

    Regards,
    Arto.
    Last edited by Artosoft; 10th January 2007 at 12:34 PM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Macro lens vs Macro Filter

    I've been researching as well for the past few days about this topic,
    whether to get a macro lense for a close-up/macro filter..

    But here are some of the things I found out:
    - macro filter DOF (dept of field) is quite poor so you have to set the aperture to its smallest as possible. Contrary to the Macro lense

    - macro filter reduces the minimum focusing distance of the lense, which means
    you need to be so near to the subject which will scare your subject. For Macro lense, the longer the lense, the farther your subject is.. it also means that you wont scare the insects.

    - magnification ratio for macro filter is dependent on the lense. The longer the lense, the higher the magnification. Unlike macro lense is, it is usually 1:1 (life size I think)

    - one advantage of Macro lense is you can add extension tubes so that can make your magnification ratio to 2:1 (which means it will appear as bigger than life size).


    I believe There are some macro experts here in CS, so pls. do correct me if Im wrong.

    But I decided that I will get a macro or close-up filter rather than the lense
    reason being is bec I'll be shooting flowers and wedding rings in which I dont really need a very high magnification.. and also bec. of some budget constraints

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Macro lens vs Macro Filter

    Hi digisnap,

    I agree with the reasons that the others have stated.

    Have you guys considered the Tamron 90mm Macro?

    It's not exactly cheap at $600, but it won't exactly break the bank as well.

    Good pin-sharp lens. 1:1 Macro. Been using it with no problems.



    Bernard

  5. #5

    Default Re: Macro lens vs Macro Filter

    wow.. Tamron 90mm macro!.. One of the best and affordable macro + portrait lense
    very very sharp... but very very slow in focusing. so you really have to focus manually.
    Last edited by blueaquarius; 10th January 2007 at 10:08 AM.

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    Default Re: Macro lens vs Macro Filter

    Quote Originally Posted by blueaquarius View Post
    wow.. Tamron 90mm macro!.. One of the best and affordable macro + portrait lense
    very very sharp... but very very slow in focusing. so you really have to focus manually.
    Hi blueaquarius,

    yeah, it does tend to hunt little, but manual focus is good.


    Bernard

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Macro lens vs Macro Filter

    Quote Originally Posted by blueaquarius View Post
    wow.. Tamron 90mm macro!.. One of the best and affordable macro + portrait lense
    very very sharp... but very very slow in focusing. so you really have to focus manually.
    I prefer manual focus for macro. Set it to preferable distance, put eyefinder on your eye, hold camera steady, move your body front and back to focus and compose the shoot, "click"... .

    Regards,
    Arto.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Macro lens vs Macro Filter

    Extension tube can be a very good option as well...you can turn any lens into a marco lens...not like a filter which is retricted by the thread size.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Macro lens vs Macro Filter

    How much can the extension tube magnify? Is there a measurement?

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Macro lens vs Macro Filter

    Quote Originally Posted by broccoli View Post
    Extension tube can be a very good option as well...you can turn any lens into a marco lens...not like a filter which is retricted by the thread size.
    IMHO, extension tube is better than close-up filter (better way to say than macro filter) since there is no element on it. Remember, anything in light path will decrease the quality of photo.

    But, extension tube also decrease the distance between subject and front element of lens.

    Regards,
    Arto.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Macro lens vs Macro Filter

    Well, at macro distance, DOF is quite low anyway...even for a macro lens...so you would have to also stop down the lens to a smaller apeture as well...8-11 would be good...

    in terms of working distance, it works for both the macro lens as well as the macro filter, that the longer the focal length, the more working distance...I know of people using a 300mm lens with a macro filter with pretty good working distance...

    there are lenses marked with the term "Macro" (or "Micro" for Nikon) with magnification at 1:2 or less...look out before you purchase...

    anyone tried extension tubes with normal lens and macro filter?...no personal experience myself so can't tell about the results...

    one thing with extension tubes is that you would lose some light with the addition of the tube/s...so you would have to compensate by increasing the exposure...something that you would not face with a macro filter...although of course, like Artosoft has mentioned, if you add the lens element/s of the macro filter to the light path, there is the potential for a decrease in image quality, depending on the quality of the filter...

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Macro lens vs Macro Filter

    Quote Originally Posted by theRBK View Post
    ...one thing with extension tubes is that you would lose some light with the addition of the tube/s...so you would have to compensate by increasing the exposure...something that you would not face with a macro filter...although of course, like Artosoft has mentioned, if you add the lens element/s of the macro filter to the light path, there is the potential for a decrease in image quality, depending on the quality of the filter...
    Errrr.....,

    AFAIK, all macro lenses do have lose some light on macro/micro distance. For example: at macro/micro distance for 1:1, f/2.8 become f/5.6.

    Regards,
    Arto.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Macro lens vs Macro Filter

    all macro lenses do have lose some light on macro/micro distance ??
    How come macro lense manufacturers does not mention that ??

    I know all manufacturers always tells you that extension tubes/rings will reduce the exposures from 1 stop or 2 stops...

    are you sure or not? maybe you are too close to the subject that you almost cover the natural light...

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Macro lens vs Macro Filter

    Quote Originally Posted by blueaquarius View Post
    How come macro lense manufacturers does not mention that ??

    I know all manufacturers always tells you that extension tubes/rings will reduce the exposures from 1 stop or 2 stops...

    are you sure or not? maybe you are too close to the subject that you almost cover the natural light...
    most macro f2.8 lens will go down to f3.5 or sometime even worse when they get closer to the subject.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Macro lens vs Macro Filter

    Thank you for all those who shared their expertise and experience. It has been a big help. I did not know about the third option (extension tubes) until now. I used to think the only way to do macro is to use a macro lens or a macro (close-up) filter. Anyway, I just went down to CP and looked at close-up (macro) filters and extension tubes. Did not look at macro lens cause budget is tight. The tubes offered better close-up capability compared to the filter at arguably better quality because there are no glass elements.

    After some (acually a lot) of trial shots, I finally settled on buying the extension tubes. The quality is indeed very good and I have so far taken hundreds of test macro shots. The only disadvantage I see is you do lose a bit of light when using extension tubes. The solution is to compensate with longer shutter speeds and bigger aperture at the expense of depth of field. Another technique I found is to use flash so I can decrease the aperture size to increase the DOF. Unfortunately, if I do this my now super long lens tends to cast a shadown near the bottom of my picture. I now think I need a better flash with diffuser that can be controlled separate from my camera. Either that or I have to stick to taking macro pictures in good lighting conditions.

    Oh well, who ever said photography was a cheap hobby

    Thanks again to all the CS'ers who gave their input.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Macro lens vs Macro Filter

    Quote Originally Posted by blueaquarius View Post
    How come macro lense manufacturers does not mention that ??

    I know all manufacturers always tells you that extension tubes/rings will reduce the exposures from 1 stop or 2 stops...

    are you sure or not? maybe you are too close to the subject that you almost cover the natural light...
    My nikkor 60mm f/2.8 Micro AFD lens' operation manual state about it. The camera compensate automatically the lost of light (unless you are using M shooting mode) because camera light meter metering the light after the lens (TTL), so you don't notice it.

    Regards,
    Arto.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Macro lens vs Macro Filter

    Quote Originally Posted by digisnap
    Does anyone know what are the advantages of a macro lens over a macro filter (e.g. X6, X7, X10)? I heard that an actual macro lens is
    supposed to give better quality than a simple macro filter but since I haven't tried both, I am not so convinced.
    Using macro accessories is alternate and cheaper way to achieve macro results.


    Quote Originally Posted by digisnap
    Also, I have seen very good pics taken with a macro filter so I am wondering why people would still want to buy an expensive macro lens. Apologies for the
    ignorant question but any thoughts on this are welcome.
    Yes, macro accessories do produce good quality shots.
    Pro
    - Cheaper cost. No need to purchase additional lens just for macro and make use of your existing telephoto lens.
    - With IS lens, you can have IS macro setup allows you to handheld your setup with good results at slow shutter speed like 200mm@1/60sec
    Con
    - Shallow DOF, much shallower than dedicated macro lens
    - Limited focusing/working distance
    - Loose infinity focus

    The macro setup is usually depend on the type of macro photography you are taking.

    For instant to take a closeup of butterfly like plain tiger. We know it is shy, active and it likes to rest on flower or leaf. It is not easy approach near them if you use a short macro lens like 50mm or 100mm macro. However, using a telephoto lens like 70-200mm, 100-400mm or 300mm with extension tube or 180mm macro, you will stand higher chance. With IS, you can take flexible angle to get better composition with slower shutter speed as mentioned.
    Last edited by megaweb; 11th January 2007 at 10:59 AM.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Macro lens vs Macro Filter

    Thanks for the info megaweb. Very useful. Was thinking of buying a smaller lens for better DOF. Now it seems a longer telephoto will do with my extension tubes.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Macro lens vs Macro Filter

    Quote Originally Posted by Artosoft View Post
    Errrr.....,

    AFAIK, all macro lenses do have lose some light on macro/micro distance. For example: at macro/micro distance for 1:1, f/2.8 become f/5.6.

    Regards,
    Arto.
    yah, but was talking about macro filter...the one I have doesn't seem to have any noticeable light reduction...

  20. #20

    Default Re: Macro lens vs Macro Filter

    May i know what brand you are using? Also digisnap did you get an extension tube of a specific length?

    Quote Originally Posted by theRBK View Post
    yah, but was talking about macro filter...the one I have doesn't seem to have any noticeable light reduction...

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