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Which Macro Lens Is Better?


I’m looking at Canon’s macro lenses and I don’t know which one would be best. I was looking at the RF35mm F1.8, the RF24mm F1.8, and the RF85mm F2. I really want to get those close up detailed shots of flowers/bugs/small things. I understand that their ratio is 1:2 (I think), and 1:1 is preferred but it’s the price range for why I’m looking at these ones



I have the 35mm f/1.8 and it's a great lens, small, light, great optics and the 1:2 macro is a bonus. But it's not ideal for pictures of bugs. That half life-size image is achieved at a distance from the subject of only about two inches - at which point your bug has taken fright and flown off.

Of the three lenses you've suggested, I would recommend the 85mm, you'll get half lifesize images at around five inches distance from your subject, still close but preferable, I think. It also makes a really great portrait lens.

Of course what you really want is the very wonderful RF 100mm f/2.8 L, which can focus to 1.4:1, bigger than lifesize. And you get even more separation from your subject than the 85mm. But you pay a lot more.

You haven't told us which camera you have, presumably one of the R series of mirrorless cameras judging by the lenses you're considering.

A common problem with macro photography is getting enough light to the subject. Depth of field is very limited at very close distances, it's usual to stop the lens down to get the maximum depth of field, and you need high shutter speeds to freeze your subject and a tripod to prevent camera shake. So you need high ISO setting. Many photographers will use flash, perhaps a macro ringflash, to light their subject.

Macro photography can be challenging but if you have the new EOS R6mkII, you have in-camera focus stacking which is rather wonderful. The camera takes a series of photos, changing the focus slightly between each, and then combines the in-focus parts of each photo into one aggregate shot, with the entire subject in focus. All in a couple of seconds. It's a fantastic feature, as far as I know no other camera can do the whole job in one step. And it gets little attention in the reviews, it's often overlooked which is a great pity.

R6mkII, various lenses, speedlites. Also legacy Canons going back to T90 and even A1.


Agree with JoeySnaps.  This is one of those cases where saving and budgeting for the lens that will make the difference can really matter.  The RF100 2.8L is a nice lens.  Its EF predecessor is also exceptional for bugs, flowers, etc.  The RF 100 also introduces an SA Control Ring.

If budget cannot be pushed, I'd go with the 35 or 85 depending on your other use cases.  35 if street and landscapes or 85 if you do a lot of portraiture.  

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