Sub $150 macro lens for Canon Rebel?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by quixotic, Jan 31, 2008.

  1. quixotic macrumors regular

    Aug 4, 2003
    San Francisco, CA
    While I would love to be able to drop a $500 on a macro lens, is there something else I can get for my Canon that's much cheaper?

    I am not a pro photographer, I just want to be able to take some good close ups of very tiny objects. Thanks!
  2. Lovesong macrumors 65816


    Sep 15, 2006
    Stuck beween a rock and a hard place
    For a true macro lens, the best you can do is about $350, getting the Tamron 90mm (here), with this rebate.

    You can go for a 50mm short macro, which is not a"true" macro, as it only goes down to 1:2 (or x0.5 mag), but it can be had for about $240 (here).

    If you're looking to go dirt cheap, look into extension tubes, or lens reversal (but make sure you have the lenses that will support this).
  3. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    Diopter lenses are cheap, extension tubes are relatively cheap, reversing rings are dirt cheap. There are trade-offs in terms of quality and ease of use.
  4. quixotic thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 4, 2003
    San Francisco, CA
    These sound like great options. I'll have to read up on them. Thanks for all your input!
  5. andrewkendall macrumors member

    Apr 30, 2005
    I have the Tamron 90mm and it's optically really nice, but build quailty is so, so. I also have the Raynox DCR-250 Super Macro, it's pretty amazing especially for the price (around $50). Check out other people's photos on Flickr: I think it may be perfect for you.
  6. nutmac macrumors 68040

    Mar 30, 2004
    Do you also need a portrait lens? Many macro lenses double as an excellent portrait lens. Perhaps you can use that to justify spending more than $150. Some of the great macro/portrait lenses include Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 USM macro ($350) and EF 100mm f/2.8 USM macro ($450).

    While there are sub-$150 3rd party lenses with "macro" designation, none are true macro (1:1 magnification, close minimum focus range, and nice-to-have macro features such as inner focus and USM). For instance, Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG macro ($130) has 1:2 magnification, over 3 feet closest focus range, not-so-great max aperture, and IMO, so so image quality.
  7. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Get the screw-in diopter "filters". The Canon brand really is the best. Canon uses two optical elements and are better then the ones made by the third parties.

    One point Nikon has over Canon. I can still use my 1960's vintage Nikon macro lens on my new DSLR. It make an image that is sharper than the CDD sensor can record. This lens sells for well under $100 today

    With Canon you can still look for something like a used Sigma lens. None of the third party lenses hold value on the used market, so take advantage of that. Maybe you can find one for the price of a new canon diopter set.
  8. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    If you want to seriously get into macro photography, I would save money (at least $200 more) and get a real macro lens. Tokina makes a great 100 mm macro lens for $400 new, Canon's 60 mm macro lens costs about $370 on bhphoto. Tamron makes a fine 90 mm macro lens as well.

    If you buy them used, you should get them cheaper.
  9. kroginold macrumors newbie

    Feb 24, 2008
    Vintage alternative acceptable?

    I too wanted a macro lens for under 150$ for my Rebel XT. There were no choices in the Canon EF or EF-S or third party lenses that fit the bill.
    My solution was to buy a vintage entirely manual lens. As I started out using a 35mm Yashika that had no auto anything, buying a lens that can only be used in full manual mode was fine for me.
    I bought a Tamron SP 60-300 macro zoom. This lens uses an Adaptall 2 mount and you set everything except shutter speed and ISO on the lens itself. I pruchased it withe original Tamron Adaptall to EOS adapter. The lens was used but in excellent condition and the Adaptall mounting adapter was new in the box. I got this from Deville Camera and Video in Jackson, MS and I happen to know that he has an identical lens is stock. ( I don't know if he has the mounting adapter though or if I have the last one) . You may also be able to find this lens and adapter at KEH, B&H, or Adorama, but the original Tamron mounting adapter is hard to find. You can buy a cheap Asian copy for 20$-40$ on eBay, but if you can get the original Tamron it is much higher quality.
    I got the lens for 128$ and the mounting adapter for 17$. Tamron's SP series of lenses were high quality professional lenses, and this lens retailed for 600$-800$ over 20 years ago (I know this because I had one of the cheaper non SP line of Tamron Adaptall lens that still cost me 300$ 25 years ago)
    I don't have the phone number for Deville Camera but they have been at the same location for about 30 years and they are very reputable.
  10. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    When people bring up the subject of cost I always remember back when I was getting started in SLR photography. I was a kid with a part time job that paid minim wage ($2.20 per hour back then) but even then I could afford things like a macro setup. Why was it affordable? Because we didn't think we needed a digital camera with "auto everything". A simple mechanical camera and lens from a second tier brand (like Minolta) was affordable even for a kid.

    You know what? You can still buy an older mechanical camera (the kind that does not reqire batteries) and a macro lens for a total of not much more than $150. Not only the good price but the image quality will be better than any DSLR you could buy today for less than $3K. (Film is by definition "full frame")

    It's the same thing with the price of phone calls. Back then I'd put a dime in a payphone. Now we pre-pay $40 a month. I don't think I ever used 400 dimes in one month. TV used to be free but now we pay $50 a month to watch even more commercials. We pay much, much more now. The marketing guys really do earn their pay.

    One of the nice features of Nikon is that they did not change the lens mount when they introduced autofocus. This means I can mix and match my older mechanical flm based equipment with my newer digital equipment, I don't have to have two systems

    If you really wanted a macro system you could buy a used body and a used lens for $150, easy. Used Pentax, olympus or minolta gear is dirt cheap and the quality is very high. You'd be surprised when you handle it and see that the build quality is very much better than the new Canon Rebels.

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