Hi I'm trying to help my sister who wants to get into macro photography. She has a Canon XSi.
She wants to be able to take sharp photos of ants any other small insects. I've been looking at lenses and think I know what she might like but would appreciate advice from those that do a lot of macro work.
It does not have to be a Canon lens and she does not want to spend an enormous amount of money.
Thanks so much! ^_^
As you know, I'm not a person to comment on Canon products. But it will help to further define her financial limitations. Canon has a nice 60mm macro lens as well as a 100mm macro. Both should work well with what she wants to do. You just have to make sure that it will fit on her camera. The 60mm f2/8 currently has a $30 rebate through 7/10/010. B&H has it for $392, after rebate. The 100mm is a about $800-$900. They tend to have decent resale value. I would always recommend buying a lens filter, especially for a macro lens because you are always getting close to your subject and you don't want to scratch the lens glass.
I'm sure someone out there has some macro experience with Canon cameras.
pelle, there is some reference on Amazon that states that the Canon 60mm macro is compatible with the Canon EOS XSi. I also looked on dpreview and there were numerous owners of the XSi that were looking at the 60mm Canon macro. Anyway, I would inquire with Canon or B&H Photo (directly) before I completely nixed the Canon 60mm macro, for the Sigma ... Sometimes the information on those sites is incomplete. Just a thought !
All EF and EF-s lenses should work with the Rebel. EF-s lenses will not work with Canon full frame cameras though because the rear element will exend too far into the camera and interfere with the mirror.
I have the 100mm Canon macro lens and it is a great portrait lens along with being an excellent macro lens. I have a 50mm macro lens by Quantaray (Sunpak makes it I think). It does a good job too - the minimum distance is about 1 inch. The off brand extends the barrel almost as long as the barrel to get the 1:1 magnifcation. The 100mm minimum distance is about 12 inches and the barrel does not extend out like the 50mm. The price on the Canon was nearly $900 while the off brand was around $400. The auto focus was jumpy on the 50mm so it became necessary to use manual focus when doing macro work.
Here is a photo I took of aphids with the 50mm last year and tweaked with Photoshop Elements and cropped. I used a tripod for this shot and was within an inch or two of the insects. The 100mm might be better when working with insects (fast moving insects).
You can pay some high prices for macro lenses. If you're not in it for extremely professional quality a less expense alternative is easily within reach.
I have a Canon XSI and use a reverse macro adapter ring to photograph butterfly eggs and first instar caterpillars. The depth of field gets blurry when you really zoom in...but it works well for me on the butterfly eggs.
A reverse macro adapter ring can be bought off of ebay for under $5.00. It allows you to put the 55mm lens on backwards and take macro photos of really tiny stuff.
Other than that a simple 10x magnification lens works well on getting the whole insect. Those come usually in a four pack of four sizes 1x, 2x, 4x and 10x on ebay as well. It goes at the end of the 55mm lens and lets you get good photos of flowers and insects - when they stay still, that is! She might want to try those lenses out first before making a high dollar investment.
Again, I use those magnification lenses and the reverse macro and am quite happy with them and the insect photos.
The beauty of a macro lens is it is a simple mount and also acts as a "normal" lens. No screw on anything is necessary. Reversing rings, close up filters, and extension tubes are much cheaper but everything has its pros and cons.
A little late here but better late than never.
I'm a Nikon shooter but still can give some general advise.
For living insects I would say go with a focal length of 100mm and higher for greater working distance.
You can't go wrong with OEM macro lenses, however there are also highly regarded third party macro lenses like the Sigma 150mm f/2.8, Tamron 180mm f/3.5 and the Tokina AT-X M100 (100mm f/2.8). Those are all 1:1 magnification macro lenses but with their high quality and large max. aperture the magnification can be increased with macro tubes and/or TC's if needed.