A macro toy

I’m sure subconsciously that one of the reasons I finally took the plunge on a DSLR camera is that accompanying any good camera is an endless supply of accessories.  At least this gives me something to waste my hard earned money on.  Seriously, for people with a gadget problem like me, it isn’t enough to be happy with a camera and kit lens.  You also NEED additional lenses for specialized uses, an external flash, a tripod, extra batteries, travel chargers, multiple memory cards, filters, and something to carry around all your camera swag in.  You know, for starters.  It can add up quickly, especially for those of us with impulse buying problems whenever a great deal comes around.

Well, a great deal came around.  A couple of weeks ago I saw a sale on a lens that I have had my eye on for a while, and I bit the bullet.  Of course, the deal was in the USA, so I bought the lens, had it shipped to my parents, and then had them ship it here.  Even with all the shipping costs and the additional UK import tax (topic for another day), the lens was significantly cheaper than if I had bought it here.  Someday I’ll grow up and be an adult and buy stuff in my own country, but for now, thanks Mom and Dad for helping me with a great deal!

On to the lens, the Tamron SP 60mm f/2 Di II Macro AF.  I have been looking for a macro lens for a while to shoot close-up shots, and I went with this one because it may have dual functions.  The magnification is listed at 1:1, but has been tested even better than that at 1:0.91.  Basically, this just means that I can get really close pictures of subjects.  The dual function part comes in with the maximum aperture of f/2.0.  The 2.0 value means that this lens can let in more light and is “faster” than my zoom lens, which is f/3.5 at best.  And the fast aperture combined with the the 60mm fixed focal length means that I can also use this lens for portriats and in low light situations.  You know those professional pictures with the subject in focus and everything else a nice blur?  I may be able to take those shots with this lens, once I figure out how to use it.

On to some sample shots.  I used the two objects in the picture above with both of my lenses, the Canon 18-200mm zoom and Tamron 60mm prime.  The piece of paper is the size of a credit card and has different sized text, and the coin is worth 5p and is the same size as a dime.  This set of images is meant to show off how good the macro feature on my new lens is.

This image was taken with my zoom lens completely extended, and this is as close as I could get to the subject and still stay in focus.  I might have been able to get closer with better lighting and adjusting some settings on the camera, but this should be fine for the point I’m trying to make.  Actually, for a lens with such a large focal length range, I’m pretty happy with this result.

Of course it doesn’t compare to the macro lens.  You may wonder why some parts of the image are in focus, while others are not.  This has to do with a very short depth of field, and me holding the lens right above a piece of paper that isn’t actually flat.  When focusing this close, a difference of 1mm or less can put something out of focus, which definitely affects the type of shots I want to take.

Again the first example was taken with the zoom lens, and again I didn’t take the time to get the best picture possible.

The difference in this case between the two lenses is very noticeable.  It almost looks like I put a box around the letters in five pence and blurred out the rest of the coin.  I promise, no alterations to this image, just me trying to hold the camera still after a few glasses of wine.

This next subject is a berry that happened to be in good light one sunny afternoon.  I also took comparison shots with the zoom and macro lenses to show both how close I can get, but also how much the background blurs.  As with the images above, I’m actually pretty happy with the way the zoom lens performs for this picture.  The berry is in focus, and the background is out of focus, making for a good shot.

Of course I can get much closer and blur the background more with the macro.  I actually had to laugh at myself while taking this one, because it was difficult to hold the camera still enough to get the right part of the berry to be in focus.  I guess I really do need a tripod.  (maybe a birthday present?)  This shot was taken with the aperture wide open, so the blurry leaves that you see in the zoom lens picture look like blurry green blobs in this one.

I’m really happy with my new lens, and can’t wait to use it more in the wild. Hopefully I’ll take some good portrait shots as well as close-ups to share on Foto Friday sometime.  And I actually think I’m good on buying camera gear for a while, I should probably save the money and instead take the time to learn how to really push the equipment and creativity I have.  Well, except for that tripod, I’m still waiting on a good deal.

Tamron SP 60mm f/2 Di II Macro AF

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