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Tokina 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 AT-X 107 AF DX Fisheye

atx107dx
Review Date: Apr 24, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Versatile zoom. Works on both full frame and crop sensor body, at least for Canon. Fairly sharp wide open, VERY sharp stopped down. Solid build.
Cons:
None that matters.

IMO, THE default choice for fisheye whether you have full frame or crop sensor body, and especially if you have both.

It's a very strong and solid lens. I dropped mine on the pavement from about a meter high (3 ft) and nothing was damaged apart from a little scratch on the cap.

Very highly recommended.


 
Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro Photo

mp_e65_28_1_
Review Date: Oct 18, 2009 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros: Excellent sharpness and other image qualities, relatively compact considering the alternatives like bellow or stacks of extension tubes, great build quality.
Cons:
Doesn't go below lifesize, no focus confirmation so the accuracy of the focus depends on the sharpness of your eyesight.

It's been slightly more than a year since I got this lens and I'm as amazed by it now, if not more than I was back then.

Now, people will probably get this lens mostly to shoot bugs since there aren't many other subjects at this size that are interesting enough to shoot. Unless they are dead, you will need to be fairly mobile and since you focus this lens by moving closer or further away from the subject, I really can't recommend a tripod+focusing rail. They're just too slow to set up and use. Your subject could raise a family and grow old before you finish setting up. :D

Many MP-E shooters including myself have found no problems with shooting this lens handheld. What you need to shoot this lens handheld is simply a flash bracket, a flashgun (430EX or 580EXII) and a diffuser. I use a Lumiquest softbox though many use their own DIY solution.

This is the kind of result you can expect to get with this lens once you get used to it.

@5x magnification,
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3413/3257671055_719e019dd6_o.jpg
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3434/3965460497_6d27a3cd8d_o.jpg

@3x magnification,
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3469/3936418555_747c40c2c1_o.jpg

Persevere and you'll get the result you want.


 
Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro Photo

mp_e65_28_1_
Review Date: Oct 11, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: It lets you go above lifesize up to 5x magnification to fill the frame with those extra tiny subjects, convenient, sharp images, comes with a tripod collar and it looks cool.
Cons:
Can't capture all of the subject in the frame at 1:1 if it's bigger than your sensor size. No focus confirmation.

If you shoot macro a lot and if you've ever wished you can go above 1:1 when encountering a tiny subject, this is the lens for you. On the other hand, if the subject is bigger or longer than your sensor, you won't be able to fit it in the frame at 1:1 with this lens.

It's capable of producing some very sharp images though at the high end of the magnification, you will have to choose between DOF and diffraction. Eg. At 5x magnification, f/2.8 will have much less diffraction but the DOF is only 0.048mm whereas f/16 will give you 0.269mm DOF but the diffraction is much more noticeable. If you don't want to compromise the IQ, you will have to do focus stacking.

Here's a couple of examples to illustrate DOF vs diffraction @ 5x.
@ f/4 & f/5.6
http://www.flickr.com/photos/7873166@N02/2933537189/
@ f/8 & f/11
http://www.flickr.com/photos/7873166@N02/2933537189/

It's not an easy lens to use since there's no focus confirmation or even manual focusing in the usual sense. You simply choose the magnification, get the subject in focus and shoot. The accuracy of the focus depends on how sharp your eyes are. Dedicated macro flash like the MT-24EX or MR-14EX will help immensely when shooting handheld. With a tripod, you will need a macro focusing rail.

This is not exactly a cheap lens and being a specialty lens and the only one of its kind, it's kinda hard to say if it's a good deal or not. Personally, I've never regretted getting it.

Last of all, this lens when equipped with a macro flash looks like a gadget out of some sci-fi show, specially when fully extended. It will attract attention, specially kids so keep it out of their reach.


 
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM

ef_100_28_1_
Review Date: Sep 28, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: VERY sharp and excellent image quality. Lens doesn't extend to get to 1:1.
Cons:
None.

It's not just "sharp for a non-L lens", it's sharp for ANY lens. If you're just macro beginner, this really is your best choice and as mentioned, it's also great as a portrait lens.

As for tripod collar, it really depends on how you shoot macro. I shoot handheld almost exclusively so I don't consider it a necessity and while I did buy the lens hood, I hardly use it as well.