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

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37 213959 Dec 21, 2016
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97% of reviewers $954.56
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A unique manual-focus lens designed exclusively for macro shooting, between life-size (1x) and 5x life-size – at its maximum magnification, you can fill a 35mm frame with a grain of rice. Compatible with the Macro Ring Lites and new Macro Twin Lite, it eliminates the need for awkward bellows accessories for many macro shooters. The optical system uses a floating system to preserve optical quality at different focusing distances, and features a UD-glass element.


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Georg Dittié
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Registered: Dec 14, 2003
Location: Germany
Posts: 37
Review Date: Feb 17, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: build quality, IQ, range, ring flash easy to mount
you have to know what you are buying, a little bit heavy

This lens is my portable microscope and it is in my bag on any hike into nature. The lens ist only one of four neccessary parts to make successful macro images, a macro rail, a tripod and a ring flash are indispensable too.

Depth of field is incredible shallow like any microscope, correct focusing by hand is nearly impossible. With a tripod and a macro rail it's no matter of concern. The bulky barrel casts often shadows on the object, using a ring flash is a good idea !

Dont expect something like autofocus, chose the magnification and then move the whole lens with attached body an ring flash by the macro rail. That's the trick for wonderful results.

Image quality is superb, no color, no distortion or anything else.

Feb 17, 2008
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Registered: Apr 19, 2005
Location: Canada
Posts: 1405
Review Date: Feb 16, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent IQ - sharpness, colour, contrast! Great range of magnification. Build quality is fantastic. Lens collar is included. Awesome lens.
A bit long when at 5X; close working distance; needs lots of light above 3X

I bought this lens for extreme macro work and I am totally pleased with it. I managed to find a perfect 2nd hand lens, otherwise it is expensive brand new.

The image quality throughout the range of magnification is amazing. The convenience of being able to move from 1X to 5X with just a turn of the focus ring is awesome after playing around with tubes and extenders to get above 1:1.

The build quality is super. Even at 5X mag when fully extended there is no play in the lens barrel at all. The focus (mag) ring turns smoothly with just the right amount of friction built in. I would highly recommend this lens to anyone who is a macro enthusiast. I am using it with a MT-24EX since it really needs a lot of light above 2X magnification.

Lots of pics posted at:

Feb 16, 2008
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Registered: Jul 20, 2007
Location: Czech Republic
Posts: 75
Review Date: Oct 28, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,490.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: good build quality
some CA, not so good optical performance with open aperture, pentagons in bokeh are the worst thing

Perfekct lens. I have no many experiences with this lens after few days but fillings and outputs are just perfect.

Dark viewfinder with 5:1 magnification is damn problem (who haven't mp-e can try to set f/16 on other nonmacro lens and use dof-button on the body) and there are dark days in addition. But it is not easy-use lens - every one must expect it. :-)

I don't recommend this lens as first macro lens (without experiences with lighting etc. in life-size macro photography) but as final step to overreal macro photography without compromise. ;-)

Many years later

I have a lot more expectations than this lens provide. From optical performance, build quality but the worst is bokeh thanks to aperture blades.

Some photos:

Oct 28, 2007
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Doug Stetner
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Registered: Aug 22, 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 0
Review Date: Aug 22, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Amazing quality

Excellent lens although difficult to use well. It sucks light at 5x on a 20D, a full frame should be better though. With the 20d I would say ring flash needed for anything over 2x.

Aug 22, 2007
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Registered: Jan 7, 2006
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 119
Review Date: Jul 16, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $909.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Magnification 5x
Focus distance, and you need a macro flash.

Recommended to shoot jewellery, but I did (and many others) very well in shooting insects. A new world opens for you.

Do I need to say more? All handheld.

Kind Regards,

Jul 16, 2007
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James Sawle
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Registered: Jan 28, 2007
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: Mar 15, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $719.99 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Build Quality, Ease of Use, Picture Quality, and most important, the Fun / Wow factor.
A pig to focus with, especially in low light, needs the use of a focusing rail (Manfrotto 454) to get the best from this lens, and time to play, the mounting ring foot means that the lens has issues being mounted if you are using a battery grip or a 1D size of camera, but all these are minor gripes.

Fantastic lens, Great Quality, and really Sharp. I can not fault this, I have loads of lenses, and some a lot more expensive, but this lens is the one that I enjoy using the most.

It does need a flash unit to get the most from this lens and it is not as easy to use as the 100mm Macro, but the results are truly outstanding, and so much fun can be had with this lens when the weather doesn't allow you to get out.

I really do not know how anyone that enjoys macro could not want another lens, there are issues with the lens, but nothing that you would not normally expect from a lens that offers you 5x magnification, and when you start to use that level, or anything above 3x, you really start to see some wonderful stuff, and everyday objects look so different, but insects, etc, look the best, so long as they stay still long enough.

I do not think the lack of a lens hood is an issue here, I have used the lens now for 8 months, and in that time I have never required one, the only real annoyance for me is the mounting ring foot, I use Manfrotto Tripods and head units, and with the quick release plates, the lens has to be fitted to the head unit first and then the camera, but the camera (Canon EOS-30D) will not fit on to the lens if the battery grip is on the camera, but it will fit without it, so this is only just a bit annoying, but more of an issue is with the Canon EOS-1D series, in that they will not fit at all, not using the mounting ring anyway, so when using this camera I tend to remove the ring, and mount the camera directly to the head unit via a Manfrotto 454 focus rail, this works fine, but can get a bit unbalanced, especially at 5x with the weight of the glass so far from the pivot point, to remedy this I had to get a good geared head unit, with the focus rail mounted in between this and the camera, and then even when using the flash unit as well, and at 5x magnification, you can fully control the camera and lens.

This is a fantastic lens, and if I was going to recommend any lens, then this would be it, worth it's wait in gold, and a better performer than the wife.

Mar 15, 2007
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Registered: Dec 9, 2005
Location: Germany
Posts: 45
Review Date: Sep 26, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: -impressive magnification in combination with a good handling -superb image and build quality
-expensive -a special flash is needed for "real" working -not really recommanded for "Macro newbies"

If you plan to start a trip in the world of the real small things, this lens is the ultimate tool you should not miss!

The pictures are razor sharp and brilliant, the handling is -compared with the alternatives (bellows, reverse lenses, intermediate rings, ...)- very comfortable and the build is amazing (you could feel the quality and the weight;-).

OK, the MP-E 65 has some restrictions, you should now about:
-The sensor size is the limit for the maximum! dimensions of the objects you plan to take a picture of. Paint a rectangle with 35*24mm (22*15 for APS-C) and imagine that this small part of the world is your limit (a normal flower, a whole Dragon Fly, a Butterfly or even a Hornet are to big for a complete picture)
-The maximum! distance to focus is approx. 10cm (1:1) and decrease to 4 cm if you use 5:1
-Without a special flash (eg. MT-24ex) you will not really get fun.

The MP-E 65 is a very special lens for only one very special purpose: (Extreme-) Macros. But for this it is IMO the best you could current get.

If you like, look at the bug pictures I have taken with the combination Canon 5D, MP-E 65 and MT-24ex on my website:


Sep 26, 2006
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Registered: Apr 4, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 74
Review Date: Aug 15, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, even at F/96. High quality. Easier to use than I thought it would.
The "vaccuum" design of it. It sucks so much dust in and deposits it on the sensor of the camera. I am having to clean my sensor daily now with this lens.

Great lens, probably best macro lens out there if you like extreme magnification. I am using a MT-24ex with this which is nessessary in my opinion

Hate how this lens sucks in so much dust and puts it on the sensor though, it's designed like a vaccuum when you extend it.

Here's some images so far I've done:

If anyone has any tips to using this lens or the MT-24ex flash, please contact me raptors(at)

Aug 15, 2006
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Registered: Mar 12, 2005
Location: Italy
Posts: 0
Review Date: Aug 2, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $700.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Impressive sharpness and magnification.
You must have a flash unit. Price

It's my preferred lens for capture small subjects. The build quality is excellent and the sharpness is very impressive.
To obtain best results the lens must be used with a specialized flash light like Canon twin light macro unit (MT24-EX). I also used a SIGMA ring flash and works very well, but only if you dont' try to go over 2:1.

Aug 2, 2006
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Registered: Jun 15, 2006
Location: Kuwait
Posts: 416
Review Date: Jun 23, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,150.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: every thing, sharp , amazing colors , the best thing is that macro photography is all about manual handling no need to advance tech.

i can't express my love to this master piece Smile get it don't miss it

Jun 23, 2006
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Registered: Dec 2, 2005
Location: Japan
Posts: 5
Review Date: Feb 1, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: THE ultimate macro lens (welcome to the world of 5X magnification and more); 'L' quality build; work perfectly with Canon 1.4x and 2x TCs (the latter increase the magnification)
quite expensive, manual focus, hard to handheld when using high magnifications, specialized flash unit (MR14EX or MT24EX) almost required for handheld use.

I bought this lens to shoot very small insects. It's a very specialized lens and I am absolutely amazed by the results.

Yet, for newcomers in macro photography, a standard 1x magnification lens is perhaps more appropriate.

Highly recommended.

Feb 1, 2006
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Registered: Aug 18, 2002
Location: Germany
Posts: 6183
Review Date: Jan 22, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Magnification of course, huge focus ring, stable foot, image quality
Foot interferes with camera and flash bracket sometimes

Okay, if you're looking for this lens, you probably know what to expect. This is a highly specialized macro lens. It focuses from 1x lifesize to 5x lifesize (and it does nothing else). So if you are looking for a more versatile lens, I'd recommend the two Tamron macro primes.
But if you really want to get close and personal, this is the lens for you. It can do what no other lens can do, and it will show you a whole new world. No matter what you are shooting, flowers, animals, products, this lens will take you closer and reveal detail you cannot see otherwise. That's what it was made for, and this is what it does superbly.

That comes with a price, of course. Focusing is very hard, especially in the field, and more so with moving subjects. DOF is extremely thin - you are close, and you deal with huge magnifications, and shallow DOF is the tradeoff. That said, this lens does everything to make focusing easier, it has a smooth, big focus ring that's a dream to use, even if you are used to the already great ring of the Tamron 180/3.5! And you can (and should) attach a good macro rail to the foot. What makes focusing really difficult is the lack of light - the more magnification, the more extension, and that means your viewfinder will get very dim when you increase magnification. In the studio, you can get around this by using lamps, obviously, otherwise, a flash with focusing light might help. I have to say you do get a feel for focus after a while, and it gets easier. A series 1 camera will obviously help too as the viewfinder is bigger and brighter.

Speaking of light: A flash can come in handy, but that doesn't mean that this lens *needs* a flash. No doubt, when dealing with moving objects, you will want a flash. But if your subject is stationary or light is abundant, shooting with available light delivers very pleasing results.
As I don't really like the rather flat lighting a ring flash produces, and as I don't like the price of the Canon twin flash, I have bought a Wimberley macro bracket to use with my 420EX. That works great - using a diffusor, you can produce very evenly lit shots because your subject is so tiny and the background isn't exactly spacious either. And using the flash tilted to the side, you can even produce dramatic rim lighting or, if you place the flash behind your subject, even backlight. When chasing critters, I appreciate the simplicity of the one-flash-setup very much, too, and the Wimberley bracket is a dream to use as it's both reasonably sturdy and versatile on and off the tripod.

That leads us to tripods: At high magnifications, you will notice that even slight wind or someone walking in your studio (in a massive German house! Smile ) will cause the image in the viewfinder to wobble. My cat has ruined a shot because she had wrapped her tail around a tripod leg. So you really need a good tripod and a great head. I'm happy with my Gitzo and the ArcaSwiss head.

A gadget I also found incredibly helpful is a remote release. Touching the camera quickly results in slightly OOF pictures, especially when you're working with shallow DOF. Apart from that, an angle finder might help you find the focus.

Oh, I almost forgot the most important part - the image quality is excellent. That's not easy for such an extreme lens, but Canon did a great job here. OOF backgrounds are smooth and pleasing, and in focus areas are crisp. That is, if you did everything right, if you stopped drinking coffee, did your yoga lessions, and purged your mind of all thought!

If you are a macro addict, you will very likely end up buying this lens. And I can tell you I love it. Every serious macro addict probably is also a masochist, and this lens really puts the pain into painstaking focusing. So what's not to love? :D

Jan 22, 2006
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Registered: Dec 16, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 248
Review Date: Jan 19, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $800.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Amazing images, easiest way to achieve high magnification macros shots.
Doesn't focus beyond about 5 inches and DOF is non-existent. Only goes to f16, many other macro lenses stop down much more because of the need for greater DOF.

It's amazing, and it sucks. This lens can do things nothing else in your bag can come close to, but you pay a heavy price in setup time, accessories and patience.

As others have stated a ring flash is mandatory. I've tried two flash options so far but I'm still not really satisfied. A panel flash does ok, but unless you have a bracket that is adjustable it a little limiting. A standard ring flash works pretty well, but after using it for a while all your shots begin to look the same. The lighting is always exactly the same and you can't control the look very well. I have yet to try the Canon twin lite ring flash, but I suspect this is the best solution for this lens (but of course it isn't cheap). This would give you ring flash style illumination while still giving you creative control of your lighting.

I've also found a macro rail to be very helpful since getting proper focus and control of DOF with this beast is probably just as difficult as being a marksman in the Olympics. First you hold your breath, then you notice that your heartbeat is throwing off your focus... and I mean badly. In some cases I get frustrated and just fire five shots hoping one will actually be in focus (I knew that 4 GB card was good for something).

One other small annoyance must be mentioned. This lens will not focus beyond about five inches. It seems like a small thing, but it can be very frustrating to miss one of those quick shots when your lens won't focus out that far. I sometimes carry a second body just so I will have something that can take a quick shot, but of course this can get heavy.

However after all your patience and struggles you can be rewarded with some stunning images. Nothing short of a microscope can get this close, and yes it's difficult to use, but at this scale, nothing else is easier. So if you want to get really close, this is the only game in town.

Jan 19, 2006
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Registered: Feb 20, 2005
Location: Brazil
Posts: 15
Review Date: Nov 19, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: perfect results in extreme macro, sharp
Nov 19, 2005
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Registered: Dec 5, 2004
Location: Australia
Posts: 4
Review Date: Nov 10, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Built like a tank, lovely resolution, 5x
read comments below

This lens is great but its also frustrting.
Its working range does not allow you to use this lens freely, you really need to set up lighting or use a ring flash to get anything reasonable from this lens.
Dont get me wrong, the lens needs a lot of patience to get the shots you want, and in my style of shooting, if your not quick, you will miss the shot. I suppose this lens has its uses...not for me however. Also the tripod collar is pretty badly designed, try using it on a 1 series camera..oops Canon what were you thinking? apart from that the lens build and feel is superb. Not for me however. Give me a 180 Canon or a 150 Sigma any day over this lens. Ithink for those who want to go 5x and have ALL the accesories needed {heavy tripod, proper lighting, cablerelease, etc} this will be an ideal lens.

Nov 10, 2005
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Sprout Crumble
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Registered: Jun 5, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 444
Review Date: Jul 2, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Opens up a whole new world and you'll never look back. Beautiful build, fabulous image quality. Nice integrated solution.
Nothing that isn't inherent in the whole concept really. It does what is possible extremely well. Expensive. (I was lucky getting a two month old one on eBay)

What a wonderful lens!

Has really opened my eyes to the whole concept of high magnification macro photography and made it accessible to use in the field. I'd be lying if I said it was a doddle to use, its not. Its certainly not a first macro lens and most would get far better use from one of the many superb macro lenses in the 90-180mm range from Tamron, Sigma or Canon.

As said by others, it can be frustrating to use because of the very shallow depth of field but that applies equally to any combination of reversed lens/close-up filters or extension tubes and this lens is a smooth integrated solution designed specifically for the task.

As also said before, a macro flash is essential; I use an MR-14 and its a nice compact unit thats easy to hand-hold as well as being reasonably priced (half the MT24 here in the UK).

Please, if you have any interest in this kind of photography, buy this baby. You won't look back.

Jul 2, 2005
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Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro Photo

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
37 213959 Dec 21, 2016
Recommended By Average Price
97% of reviewers $954.56
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating

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