As many of you know I’m always on a search for ways to spend less and have MORE. If you are part of our Facebook Community then you probably have seen these photos and me posting about this macro lens a million times. For that, I do apologize, but no photographer should miss out on a good deal!
When I first started working with macro photography it was just for ring shots at weddings. I used to think it was so important to have the absolute best gear out there possible, and often times it is. However, macros weren’t the case. I started out by purchasing Canon’s 100mm f2.8 (non L) macro lens. This was great, but a little clunky. It didn’t seem to focus well and I wasn’t overly impressed with the sharpness of the photos. After awhile and a little bit of reading I finally decided to upgrade to the L version of the lens. This lens averages around $1000. So there, I had the best there was for macros right? Well I found taking it out of my camera bag for 25-30 times a year for one ring photo at a wedding seemed like a bit of a waste. It’s like walking around with $1000 burning a hole in your camera bag. I sold the lens (to Chad ironically). After that I tried a series of filters, macro attachments, extension tubes, etc. I was a bit disappointed. I didn’t want to spend big money on a macro that I would barely use, but I still wanted to rock my wedding ring shots.
It wasn’t until this past winter when I started thinking back to my early days as a photographer. I remember when I was so poor I couldn’t even buy a Canon 50mm 1.8 for $100. Instead I opted to go with the old film manual focus lenses just to save a little bit of money. I began to wonder if this would apply with macros and low and behold…it did. I asked around and nobody seemed to know much about Canon’s older film and manual focus lenses. These are generally categorized as FD lenses because the older Canon bodies had an FD attachment, where our new ones have the EOS attachment.
One day I was searching around on keh.com for used FD macro lenses and I stumbled across the Canon 100mm f4 macro FD lens. It was $80 used. It couldn’t hurt, right? So I bought it. That was only a couple months ago and let me tell you – that was the best $80 I have ever spent on my business, ever!
Since we’ve discussed this in our Facebook group several times here are a few common questions people ask related to my experience with this lens:
1. Average price?
If you buy it used you can find it for between $80-150. Both price points are great deals on a macro lens. Comparibly the Canon 100mm non-L lens averages about $500 and the L version $1000.
2. What about the aperture?
Yep, it only goes as low as f4. Many of you know I like to shoot wide open. The one big exception to shooting wide open has always been with macro ring shots, you can lose so much with such a shallow depth of field when you’re that close to the object you’re photographing. I often have my macro aperture set much higher than f4.
3. What about the manual focus?
What about it? If you’re mainly using a macro to capture wedding rings and newborn toes you don’t need to worry about auto focus. The auto focus on even the newer EOS lenses is still difficult to use and not recommended when shooting macro. If you’re mainly using this for only occasional use this lens will be perfect for you. Some photographers like to use the 100mm/105mm macro lenses to shoot portraits. If you do that you’ll probably want to invest in an auto-focus version.
4. Is there a Nikon equivalent?
Of course! This is also a discontinued old film lens you will want to buy used and goes for a similar price point. You can find the Nikon 105mm f/4 macro >here<
5. Will this fit on my camera (full frame, cropped, etc.)?
Yep! If you’re using a newer Canon EOS body (which is most likely you are) you just need to buy an EOS to FD adapter. I bought a very cheap one on Amazon, brand doesn’t matter.
6. Where can I buy it?
Well after all my posts about it a lot my usual haunts for used gear are currently out. Keep an eye out for it on Ebay, Amazon, and at Keh.com or other used camera gear retailers.
7. How did you get that awesome bokeh in your photos?
Well….by getting myself a ring kit together. A friend of mine, Ashley Fisher, is an amazing photographer in St. Louis and put together a ring kit she brings to each wedding with glitter paper, beads and other props. I’ve been taking this to all my recent weddings and it’s amazing! You can find out more about her ring kit >here<
Here’s a few sample photos to show you what it’s capable of. I don’t fancy myself the best photographer, but I think these are pretty sweet.