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Thread: Flash or macro?

  1. #1
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    Flash or macro?



    Okay, I know this might be an unorthodox question, but if you had roughly the amount of money to buy a new EF 100mm f/2.8 or a 580EX II, but not both, which would you buy?


    I already have a 17-40 L and a 28-135 (which came with my 40D) so I have the 100mmfocal length covered, but I don't have macro capability. I have found myself becoming fascinated with shooting flowers lately, so the closeup perspective along with a deeply blurred background has me fired up. To be honest, I haven't been blown away by the 28-135's sharpness, and the fact that it is only f/5.6 at the long end makes it tough to get good shallow DOF. Also, light gathering has occasionally been an issue, when handheld at least.


    On the other side of the coin, there's the flash. My camera already hasa built-in flash, which I haven't really used that much. Alas, the few times I've used it, I haven't been impressed with the resulting images. Is it because the built-in flash isn't good enough?I don't know. Reality is that I'm probably just not skilled enough yet at flash photography to make the shots come out like I envision them, but I suspect a better flash would give better results.


    One of the things I do with my camera is use the 17-40 for interior architectural shots of finished systems for work. If I do get the flash, I need one that can trigger multiple flashes in umbrellas (eventually). That is why I am looking at the 580EX II instead of the 430EX II.Well, that and the fact that the 580EX II works directly with the camera for flash settings, etc., and apparently the 430EX II doesn't.


    I look forward to the input!

  2. #2

    Re: Flash or macro?



    that is definitely a weird question..


    i'd say go with the macro, but i only say that because you didn't mention already owning any prime portrait lenses, and the macro can make an incredible portrait lens. i've gotten some incredible people and product shots with this lens.


    flash takes a lot of time to get used to, so buy that when you're ready to learn about lighting, and you'll also need to buy a diffuser (the gary fong lightsphere is my favorite:http://store.garyfonginc.com/lsu-cloud.html).

  3. #3

    Re: Flash or macro?



    I was faced with that exact same choice. I bought the 100mm macro, and am sooo happy I did. If I need a flash I use my old 540ez on Manual. Works great for macro too (with a Lumiquest Promax Softbox). I've decided to only spend my limited funds on glass. Besides, go with fast lenses, and reduce your need for a flash. A 50mm 1.4 perhaps?

  4. #4
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    Re: Flash or macro?



    I've got both but I got the 580EX first. Fill in flash especially with portraits was something I never did until I got the 580EX. It's great to brighten up the shadows in faces and bring out subtle details in expressions. Having a powerful flash with bounce capabilities and a built in diffuser is great to open all sorts of creative options.


    Then I got the 100 2.8 macro to zoom in on flowers and insects. No bug or flower in the garden is safe and the results from the lens is outstanding. Then I decided to shoot bugs and flowers with the 100 2.8 macro and the 580EX deflector to bring out subtle details in flowers and insects. And the combination works great together!


    Best advice I can give you is to decide on what you want to do first, get the first item, and when you can afford the second item, get that too.

  5. #5

    Re: Flash or macro?



    Wow. I am face with the exact same decision.... I am very unfamilar with Flash photography at the moment, so I am leaning towards getting the Macro lens first. I agree with the person above, what do you want to do first?





    Any suggestions or advice on flash photography anyone?

  6. #6
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    Re: Flash or macro?



    Obviously, it depends on your needs.


    Having said that, I woud get the macro. I use my 100mm f/2.8 macro all the time, and it is on a very short list of my favorite lenses. As others have said, it doubles as a great portrait lens (a little slower than some would like for portrait, but I find f/2.8 adequite... and its very sharp)


    I'm biased, though. I'm not fond of using flash. Other people get great results, I do better with natural light.


    The other possibility would be to get the flash, and take flower pictures with extension tubes.



  7. #7

    Re: Flash or macro?



    I've been through a similar scenario, although the budget was spread over a couple of months...I ended up being able to get both a flash and a macro lens for a little over $500.


    A better flash will make a world of difference once you learn how to use it. Heck, I still haven't really learned to use mine and my results are already a lot better. But I'm not convinced you need a 580EX II...first of all, the 430EX II does support E-TTL metering, which allows the camera to control the flash output. Second, if you get a 430EX II now, you can get a 580EX II later and have the 580EX II fire the 430EX II remotely once you have both. Finally, there are used 580EX Is out there for about the same price as the 430EX II...it's not quite the best of both worlds, but it's pretty nice.


    Second, have you considered the EF-S 60mm macro? I just got one of these yesterday...it's crazy sharp, and 60mm is plenty long for flowers. If you're upgrading to full-frame soon, forget it, but it's another less expensive option...



  8. #8
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    Re: Flash or macro?



    I had sort of the same issue and went with the 580EX. Family and friends now expect that I will be the "guy with the camera" at events, and to meet expectations I needed a decent flash. I guess the moral is; look at all of your photographic needs before you buy.


    Larry

  9. #9
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    Re: Flash or macro?



    Here's a shot with the 100 F2.8 macro and the 580EX Flash. The camera/flash was set on manual with the diffuser extended and the head set for bounce. Settings were ISO 640, 1/200 sec, F14, 5D MkII.


    [img]/cfs-file.ashx/__key/CommunityServer.Components.UserFiles/00.00.00.22.66/IMG_5F00_3405cr.jpg[/img]

  10. #10
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    Re: Flash or macro?



    Wow! I am glad I raised my hand. It seems like some of the rest of the class had the same question!


    I was kind of leaning towards the macro lens, too.


    Here is an example of a shooting style I like, and I have some questions to follow:





    EOS 40D, EF 28-135@ 135mm, f/5.6,ISO 200 (either that or 400),1/60, handheld


    In this shot, I can already tell that some of the cluster is starting to get out of focus. Is this because the aperture is already too wide at 5.6, and therefore the DOF is too compressed, for this particular shot? If so, do I need to be shooting from further away with a longer lens instead?


    Can someone post orpoint me to shots using the 100mmf/2.8 so I can see the effect of shooting with this lens at different apertures? I'll also check Bryan's review again, as I am sure he has shots with it.


    P.S.I don't know what I am doing wrong, butthe picture here is only the left 2/3 or so ofthe original. How do Ifix it? (Nevermind. Duh.)

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