Up close and personal, or as far away as possible?

I’m currently in the market for a new lens, but am struggling to decide what to go for next. Do we get up close and personal with a macro lens, or do I go for the really shiny telephoto zoom? I have at present the following kit:

  • Canon 350D – quite old-school now the 400D has come along, and even the new 40D is within a reasonable affordable distance; I can’t justify an upgrade though, based on my current level of talent.
  • Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 USM – standard kit lens; fairly cheap and nasty, but is the widest lens I own. It’s the USM version though (was part of a bundle from Jessops with the silver 350D).
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II – a great normal prime lens. Very sharp and exceptionally cheap. You’ll very rarely find anyone on the web complaining about this one.
  • Tamron AF 55-200mm f/4-5.6 Di II LD Macro (phew!) – another cheap lens that’s not great but does a reasonable job assuming you know the limitations. Not really a macro lens as it only does 1:3.5 at 200mm.
  • Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM – unquestionably my favourite lens. IS is a godsend, images are wonderfully sharp, constant aperture is a very nice feature, autofocus is fast, quiet, and accurate and the build quality can be easily felt. Lives on my camera permanently at present.

So the question is, do I replace the crappy Tamron with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM lens, or do I go and buy the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM macro lens for starting out in the world of macro? They’re both very good lenses and highly recommended by The Digital Picture site (one of my main references for lenses on the web).

Pros and cons of the macro

  • + It opens up the whole world of macro photography which I’ve yet to even get started with
  • + I’d have change for a Nintendo Wii, which I’ve fancied for a while (especially with Zelda: Twilight Princess)
  • – Fairly limited use other than macro work, apart from maybe as a portrait lens (although my 24-105 covers this perfectly well already)

Pros and cons of the tele zoom

  • + Undoubtedly one of the best-built Canon lenses on the planet, which I could enjoy and treasure for a lifetime
  • + Removes the need for the Tamron
  • – Expensive
  • – How much do I really need a better 200mm lens?

I’m sure I’ll be updating this as the days go by – comments welcome!


  • Sounds to me like you’ve already convinced yourself that you’re going to buy it all, and perhaps the real question is…. which will you buy first with the money you currently have going spare… if thats the case, i’d buy the macro and wii, as with this, you’ll still have the ability to shoot upto 200mm reasonably, have a macro lens that you can explore a new area of photography with and a wii that you can both play with… then once more spare money comes (can’t be that long ;o) ) you could get the replacement 200mm lens, and still have the same range although with improved quality.

    So I guess i’m saying, option 1 would give you loads more to play with which would be better from an exploration pov, where as option 2 will give you the same style shot with better quality, but you’ll essentially be taking the same shots.

  • Oooh – he’s got a point. But L glass is nice!

  • What’s wrong with the EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM? Mine’s been good for me as a macro lens, and it’s also spot-on for portraits; it has the same FOV as a 96mm lens would have on 35mm.

    100mm seems a bit long for a macro when you have a 1.6x crop (it would, however make a lot of sense if a 5D or 1Ds is on your shopping list).

  • I agree that the EF-S would probably do quite nicely, but I’m trying to avoid EF-S lenses as a FF body is on the shopping list within a reasonable timeframe. As I mentioned, I don’t need the portrait lens capability and 100mm should give me a decent working distance for macro work.

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