|Early March in Georgia|
Canon 40D with a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM macro lens, at f/2.8, 1/200 sec., ISO 100 ... hand held
As readers who've been following this blog might know, I've become a partisan for prime lenses, detailing my reasons some months ago in postings here and here.
Recently I divested myself of one more high end zoom in favor of two primes. The zoom is the highly regarded and much coveted Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM. This lens is, indeed, all that they say about it. I purchased it around a year ago intending to use it primarily for head shots and nature photos, but found myself favoring my primes instead --- the 85mm and 135mm for portraits, and the 300mm for nature. The 70-200 usually stayed in the case as I cast my favors upon others in my collection. Because I've been doing a lot of close-up shooting, and the zoom isn't a macro lens, I sold the 70-200 and purchased a couple of macro lenses that overlapped with the zoom in focal length.
The two macros I purchased are a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM and a Sigma 150mm f/2.8 AF APO EX DG OS HSM. (All those abbreviations are a bit intimidating.) My prerequisites were at least a f/2.8 aperture at their widest, and image stabilization, to replace the characteristics I most valued in the zoom. Canon had introduced an image stabilized 100mm macro lens in (I believe) 2010, and more recently, Sigma came out with their own image stabilized 150mm macro with a Canon mount. Both seemed to have great reviews.
|The Cat through a paint-splattered window|
Canon 40D with a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM macro lens, at f/4.0, 1/25 sec., ISO 100 ... hand held
Coincidentally, there's a great posting on composition in macro photography here that I just came across. Not surprisingly, the same general principles of composition and design apply to the specifics of macro photography. After all, a picture is a picture is a picture.
Canon 40D with a Sigma 150mm f/2.8 AF APO EX DG OS HSM macro lens, at f/2.8, 1/60 sec., ISO 100 ... hand held. Image was cropped to place the eye off center. This lens isn't just for close-ups!
Tripod mounted, the Sigma 150mm macro demanded some things from me when I tried to shoot stopped down in the relatively low light of the bath tub. First, I had to manually focus, since auto focus was all over the place on this reflective chrome plated drain cover (below). Indeed, I switched to live view on the camera's LCD, and magnified the image 10x to make sure the ridges were sharply in focus. Second, I was puzzled why the images were blurry when the camera was tripod mounted, until I realized I had the image stabilization turned on. Note to self: Turn off the image stabilization when using this lens on a tripod. Once I took care of those two details, the images were fine.
|Bath Tub Drain still life|
Canon 40D with a Sigma 150mm f/2.8 AF APO EX DG OS HSM macro lens, at f/13, 4.0 sec., ISO 100 ... tripod mounted
Drying myself off, I went upstairs and photographed a potted plant on the dining room table. With the lesson learned from the bath tub, I placed the tripod mounted camera and lens on the table with live view turned on and image stabilization turned off. I focused on the leaf, which has a wavy contour. From the image below it is clear that f/2.8 doesn't have enough depth of field to keep the contours of the leaf in focus when shooting only a few inches away.
|Canon 40D with a Sigma 150mm f/2.8 AF APO EX DG OS HSM macro lens, at f/2.8, 1/13 sec., ISO 100 ... tripod mounted|
Note razor-thin depth of field with the lens wide open
Shooting the same leaf with the same lens at f/11 greatly improved the depth of field in this extreme close-up, below. The white specks and lines are dust on the leaf of the house plant.
|Canon 40D with a Sigma 150mm f/2.8 AF APO EX DG OS HSM macro lens, at f/11, 1/5 sec., ISO 1600 ... tripod mounted|
Going outside and shooting hand-held with the Sigma lens was pleasantly straightforward. When turned on, the image stabilization did what it was supposed to do, the wind cooperated by holding its breath, and the bokeh at f/2.8 was marvelously milky ...
|Canon 40D with a Sigma 150mm f/2.8 AF APO EX DG OS HSM macro lens, at f/2.8, 1/200 sec., ISO 100 ... hand-held|
Thus far, this Sigma 150mm f/2.8 lens has been impressive. It's not just a capable 1:1 macro lens, but a formidable telephoto lens as well, with a wide f/2.8 aperture and a reliable image stabilization feature for hand-held shots.
To be continued ....