Canon’s Macro lens lineup

Macro lenses vary according to focal length and for the magnification level they can reach; for example, my favorite is the Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro Photo, a dedicated macro lens that can shoot up to five times life-size (1:1) (see 6-24). This means if you adjust it to its maximum macro magnification level (5x), you can get an ant to literally fill your frame. It has outstanding image quality and resolution. And, because it can shoot up to .24 meter (.8 foot) from the subject, you can get very close to your subject and still be in focus.

The textured center of a Gerber daisy was captured using the powerful MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro Photo lens and the MT-24EX Macro Twin Lite (on a tripod). Notice the extremely shallow depth of field. Taken with an EOS Digital Rebel XT at 1/2 second, f/4.5, ISO 100.

Considering factors of magnification and focal length, the next thing to consider is the actual quality of the macro lens, which of course equates to its price. Of the five lenses with a macro designation in their name, Canon considers the EF-S60 to be the best entry-level model that also functions as a general purpose lens, followed by the EF-50; both of these lenses are reasonably affordable, and the EF-S60 has the most versatile range for a large variety of shooting. From there, you can move up to more specialized capabilities depending on the type of shooting you do and your budget.

For this section, I include a little more information for lenses than in the other focal length sections, because you may want to know about the specifications in more detail (for example, the minimum focusing distance).

The Canon macro lens lineup includes:

EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro

  • Focusing from infinity to one-half life-size (0.5x)
  • Closest focusing distance: .23 meter (.8 foot)
  • Optional Life Size Converter EF that allows focusing down to life size (1:1), which significantly increases working distance
  • Compatible with Macro Ring Lites and Macro Twin Lite

EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM

  • Optimized for EOS 20D, EOS Digital Rebel, and EOS Digital Rebel XT (as with all Canon EF-S lenses, check for updates — Canon updates lenses and camera compatibility frequently)
  • Closest focusing distance: .2 meter (.65 foot)
  • Compatible with Macro Ring Lites and Macro Twin Lite

MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro Photo

  • Unique, manual focus lens designed specifically for macro photography
  • Ranges from life-size (1x) to 5x
  • Closest focusing distance: .24 meter (.8 foot)
  • Compatible with Macro Ring Lites and Macro Twin Lite (eliminates need for bellows accessories used by many macro photographers)

EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM

  • Inner-focusing lens, which allows a long working distance (5.9 inches) at 1x (life-size)
  • Closest focusing distance: .31 meter (1 foot)
  • Compatible with Macro Ring Lites and Macro Twin Lite

EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM

  • L-series lens, meaning very high-quality optics and minimal aberrations caused by changes in focusing distance
  • Allows life-size (1x) images to be taken at farther distances
  • Closest focusing distance: .48 meter (1.6 feet)
  • Compatible with Macro Ring Lites and Macro Twin Lite (requires Canon Macro Lite Adapter 72C)

Category: Canon Lens Lineup, Science of Lenses

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