When you have to buy a macro and a zoom lens, what are your first choices?
November 29, 2012 2:58 PM   Subscribe

Which macro and zoom lens (one of each) would you recommend for my wife for her Canon Rebel T3 EOS 1100D? What questions should I ask her to help guide me? I know nothing about cameras... but I would like to get one or both for her for Christmas... she also knows nothing about cameras except that she would like a zoom and a macro lens.
posted by blue_wardrobe to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
whats the price range?

macro theres the canon 100mm non-L EF and 60mm ef-s for 400-600$.
(A lot of 3rd party zoom lenses have macro in the name, they are not macro lenses, true macro lenses are fixed focal length and focus much closer than a zoom would).

You might consider renting a macro before buying a specialty lens like that. there are various outfits that have them for under $100 for a week.

for telephoto theres huge variety in options from canon and others, from the cheaper 55-250 EF-S to ones pricier than a porsche.
posted by TheAdamist at 3:15 PM on November 29, 2012

How much are you willing to spend?

Googling for some combination of "Canon" "Zoom" "Macro" "Lens" "Review" "Awesome" will give you lots think about.

I've heard good things about the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro. There are better lenses, but the awesomeness/price is hard to beat.

This will probably be helpful (although I always like to cross-reference reviews with other sites).
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 3:18 PM on November 29, 2012

Okay, she shouldn't be buying a real macro lens until she knows something about cameras. Macros are generally some of the most expensive of all lenses.

The Vivitar 100mm f/3.5. Also called the "plastic fantastic" would be the only one I'd possibly recommend to somebody. No, it isn't as good as the big boys like Tokina, but it's also about 1/3 the price and punches well above its weight. Get that if you must.

As to zooms, Tamron and Sigma make good 70-300mm lenses. The Canon 70-300mm USM lens is very nice and quite affordable.

To be honest, most of the 70-300mm lenses are able to do very "macro like" reproduction of 1:3 or so, which is quite close. I would recommend getting her this "macro" and "zoom" lens and calling it a day. This thing does 1:2 reproduction and costs under $200!!!


Also, please don't let her fall victim to G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). It's so infuriating to see people with a $1000 lens taking pictures of their cat. Don't contribute to this.
posted by lattiboy at 3:22 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Rather than buy 2 lenses I would buy the nicest zoom lens you can afford and a set of macro extension tubes which are extremely cheap. What they do is move the lens physically away from the sensor which effectively turns any lens into a macro lens. How close they focus will depend on the focal length your zoom lens and how many tubes you use. With a typical zoom lens and the tubes you should be able to focus on something as far away as 18" and as close as the glass of the lens. They are great.
posted by nathancaswell at 3:24 PM on November 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

If your wife knows literally nothing about cameras except for those two facts, I'm going to suggest that blowing a huge chunk of money on a macro lens is probably overkill for her, at the moment.

I think there's a tendency for beginning photographers to think that they need a certain lens, and then they will be able to take a certain photo, but whilst that is true to a certain degree, there's also a lot more to it than that. And practice is as or more important. It's kind of like buying a learner driver a Ferrari because they know that Michael Schumacher uses it to win grand prixs. You don't need a ferrari to drive fast, and having one will not win you grand prixs.

In that spirit, I would recommend not blowing the bank on the best lenses out there at the moment, and rather getting a lens and a macro - especially Canon-branded which will really set you back - that you get her something like a Tamron or Sigma 17-50mm 2.8 lens, and then one of the Raynox Macro clip ons. Now, it's true, these are not the same as a macro lens, and frankly not as good. This said, many people would struggle to pick the different between a raynox and a cheaper macro lens, and it's a great - cheap - way to get your feet with with macro. See here for some examples of what it can do.

Purchasing a cheaper third party zoom and the raynox will give your wife photos that are probably 80% of what the more expensive lenses can deliver, without spending a huge amount of money.
posted by smoke at 3:25 PM on November 29, 2012

I have a Sigma 70mm Macro for Canon and it's excellent. By zoom, I assume you mean telephoto (which takes photos of stuff really far away). If she's looking to take pictures of birds, kids playing sports or other far away objects, a longer 75mm-300mm lens is probably best. Canon makes one without image stabilization for about $200 and one with image stabilization for $500. Buy the one with image stabilization (which helps you get sharp shots in lower light or at a longer zoom range) if you can afford it. If she's not so concerned with really far away objects, Canon's 55mm-250mm zoom has the image stabilization feature and is $300, but won't zoom as far as the other two lenses.
posted by cnc at 4:15 PM on November 29, 2012

I have the sigma 105mm macro. I really like it. Here are some sample images.
posted by sanka at 5:30 PM on November 29, 2012

I adore my Canon 85mm f/1.8. I don't have a good wide-angle lens yet (I like my Tamron 28-75, but it's not as crisp as my primes, but maybe for her that would be a good one?)
posted by pyjammy at 8:17 AM on November 30, 2012

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