In keeping with my motto of learning and teaching what I know (often by an"oops" or worse)I am going to present the idea of Macro photography in a short and to the point way.
"Macrophotography is close-up photography, usually of very small subjects. Classically a macrophotograph is one in which the size of the subject on the negative is greater than life size. However in modern use it refers to a finished photograph of a subject at greater than life size. The ratio of the subject size on the film plane (or image sensor plane) to the actual subject size is known as the reproduction ratio. Likewise, a macro lens is classically one lens capable of reproduction ratios greater than 1:1, although it now refers to any lens with a large reproduction ratio, despite rarely exceeding 1:1." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macro_photography
Why I share this is because I have a:
Canon EF-S 17-85mm lens: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canon_EF-S_17-85mm_lensDespite the word "macro" being present on the lens body (as visible in the infobox image), this lens is not capable of true 1:1 macro photography. (See pic below)
This little toy is about $500.00. I do shoot nice stuff with it on a Canon Rebel XSI.
So, basically, you know what is wrong so let's look at what is right.
What is a good Macro lens for a shutter-bug like us?
Canon Macro lens - 100 mm - F/2.8 - Canon EF, yes I have it too and use it with my Canon 5D Mark ll, the fireplace in the HEADER of this Blog was taken with the Mark ll.
I did use this lens to shoot the butterflies on the right of this blog, but I didn't have a Mark ll then and used the Rebel XSI.
Utilizing USM (Ultrasonic Motor), the Canon 100 Macro internally focuses very fast, quietly and very accurately. I've been questioned on the fast AF statement several times since writing this review. I've rechecked my lens and, though it takes a little time to go from 1:1 macro to infinity, it focuses very fast at normal focusing distances. The second person to question this, exchanged their lens for another - the replacement was much faster than the original lens they had received. This would indicate to me that there may have been an issue with some samples of the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro Lens. Another site visitor emailed me - they were ecstatic that a firmware upgrade to their resolved their 100mm Macro focusing speed issue. Also note that there is a discontinued non-USM version of this lens. Keep these datapoints in mind if you run into a slow version of this lens.
As you know, using digital cameras lets us see if we like the shot, if not, trash it and try again.
The idea is also to have fun. The more you shoot, you don't necessarily get better but you find out what YOU like. Take good care of your stuff but don't be afraid to take chances...reasonably.