Canon’s EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens; An APS-C Lens That Lets You Get Closer Page 2

Fortunately, shooting distance is not always the bugaboo we assume with bugs and other tiny critters. Good macro technique (see sidebar, "Take Control Of Your Macro Subjects") will win out with most critters and you can still find many "cooperative" bees and beetles that will let you get within 8"--butterflies may be a trickier matter.

Spider's Web

This fortuitous encounter came as I was moving into position to photograph some flowers outside the gate. I noticed some filaments on the plant and followed them to this beautiful spider web. Then it was only a matter of finding the best angle to bring out the delicate strands by available light. That also limited depth of field, so I couldn't hope to get the entire web in focus. I only wish the spider had been there, but he was probably off making another movie.

Performing In The Real World
In the past, I'd worked almost strictly by available light, but with the advent of TTL flash, I reinvented myself with the addition of TTL macro flash lighting. The EF-S 60mm Macro, like other of Canon's macro lenses, was designed to accept the MR-14EX Macro Ring Lite and MT-24EX Macro Twin Lite directly, so you're not encumbered with the need to add adapters. That's a plus, since it facilitates mounting the flash to the lens in response to the moment. And the ringflash went on this lens the moment I field tested it.

Crisp Detail

With focus set on the face of the clown figurine in this f/5.6 exposure, the EF-S 60mm Macro captures crisp, clean detail, which compares favorably to pictures made with my own Canon 100mm Macro.

But we're not here to talk about macro flash, at least, not specifically. We're here to talk about the new 60mm Macro lens. Canon's website says this lens is "optimized for digital SLRs (with) special coatings to minimize reflections and flare." While the lens did produce good color saturation, on at least one occasion, with strong backlighting, flare was apparent, reducing the depth and intensity of the shot (a lens hood is not provided, so none was used, though use is advised). But aside from that, the lens provided a crisp image in the viewfinder to help with critical focusing. In actual photographs, I did find that some pictures benefited from a sharpness boost with Photoshop's Unsharp Mask. The problem may have been due to diffraction after stopping down to f/32.

Here's a worthwhile note: You can attach either EF12 II or EF25 II extension tubes to respectively achieve up to 1.28x and 1.61x magnification. However, you cannot use the older EF12 and EF25 versions with this lens (they're not EF-S compatible). Manual focusing is recommended.

While I prefer working with my 100mm Macro lens, I would be just as happy with this newer glass. I can't see a Digital Rebel or EOS 20D user, especially one who is new to macro photography, complaining with this lens' performance. And certainly compact size and light weight make it ideal for travel. In the past, I would often just go around with a macro lens on my camera. It was great practice learning to "see macro." However, don't make the mistake of thinking that a macro zoom will deliver the same results. You need a true macro lens for those dramatic close-ups, and the EF-S 60mm Macro will allow you to come nose to proboscis with that honeybee feeding on the blossoms in your backyard.

Out -Of-Focus Highlights

Even stopped down to f/5.6, the EF-S 60mm Macro produces near circular out-of-focus background highlights.

Take Control Of Your Macro Subjects
At a given camera-to-subject distance and lens aperture, depth of field decreases with increased focal length. However, at half life-size to life-size magnification, depth of field barely exists for any macro lens and you have to focus on what's important to the picture. With most wildlife, that's the head, notably the eyes. On insects feeding on nectar, that may also include the proboscis. With butterflies, the wings may take priority. Stopping down does help, but not a tremendous amount. And stopping down too much may lead to diffraction and a perceived lack of sharpness.

Flash (notably the MR-14EX Macro Ring Lite and MT-24EX Macro Twin Lite) will let you stop down to achieve the necessary depth of field. But flash may be even more important for the control it gives you over the subject and camera movement, by freezing motion. The likelihood of blur in available-light shots (through camera shake or subject motion) is increased the closer you get. In other words, with increasing magnification, blur is also magnified.

Even if you've got blur licked by means of the tools at your disposal, you still need a steady hand and a steady subject. If you don't maintain a firm stance and a solid grasp on the camera, involuntary body movement may spoil framing or focus. A tripod may help, though I find it confining, preventing me from jockeying for the best position. But then along comes a breeze that throws a branch out of focus, so you wait for a lull. And while you're waiting, hope that the subject hasn't moved on. It's all doable, with practice--and patience.

With skittish wildlife, the trick is to move slowly and quietly, and not to stir up your surroundings (such as neighboring branches). With some small critters even casting a sudden shadow is enough to frighten them.

Finally, when shooting macro, it's best to switch to full manual focusing and set magnification (reproduction ratio) first, and to then physically move in toward the subject with the camera.

For more information, contact Canon U.S.A., Inc., One Canon Plaza, Lake Success, NY 11042; (800) 652-2666, (516) 328-5000; www.canonusa.com.

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