Canon's $40 Super-Macro Lens

Discussion in 'Digital and Video Cameras' started by 996GT2, Feb 17, 2010.

  1. 996GT2

    996GT2 Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2005
    Messages:
    5,192
    Likes Received:
    0
    At first glance, the Canon 35-80mm f/4-5.6 seems like a very average lens, even when compared with other cheap kit lenses. However, if you can look past the plastic mount, slow aperture, and cheap build quality, this lens is by far the best macro lens out there for its price.

    A simple modification turns this otherwise ordinary lens into a super-macro lens that works in a similar fashion to the Canon MP-E 65mm. I removed the front sticker, unscrewed 3 retaining screws, and removed the front 3 elements (the AF elements). With these elements removed, the lens is focused by either zooming it in/out or by moving the camera back/forth, just like one would do with the MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens. The loss of autofocus is hardly a concern for extreme macro work, since most macro shots (especially at high magnification) are manually focused. The slow aperture range of this lens isn't much of a concern either, since most macro work is done at f/8 and beyond for DoF reasons.

    After the mods, I would say that this lens goes from around 1:1.5 magnification to ~2:1 life size magnification. Truly amazing results for something that you can easily get for less than $40 on eBay. Indeed, even dedicated macro lenses can't exceed 1:1 magnification without using extension tubes. And, to make the deal even sweeter, you still get full electronic metering and aperture controls just like you would with any other EF lens, so no stop-down metering is required.

    Here is a shot I just took with mine (I saved it at JPEG quality 7 in Photoshop, so there may be some compression artifacts). Click on the bar to see the full-size image.

    This shot was taken with the lens at 35mm focal length, which is its LOWEST magnification setting. Zooming the lens out to 80mm will allow the tip of a single ballpoint pen to fill the frame.

    [​IMG]


    This shot was taken with the lens at the 80mm focal length, which is its HIGHEST magnification setting without using extension tubes. As you can see, the magnification here is clearly greater than life size and details remain quite good. The biggest challenge is getting everything in to the DoF, which is quite small even when the lens is stopped down to f/16 or f/22. An off-camera flash is highly recommended for most of these shots...for this shot, I fired my 430EX at 1/2 power through a small flash reflector.

    *This image was not cropped. However, Photobucket has a 1MB file limit and downsized the image slightly as a result.

    [​IMG]

    The macro modification works on all 3 iterations of the EF 35-80mm f/4-5.6, as well as the USM version. The modification is the same in all 4 cases. You can either opt to remove the front 3 elements and shoot the lens as-is, or remove the front 3 elements and replace the plastic front of the lens so that you can still use a lens cap or protective filter.




    2/26/2010 Update: Minimum/maximum magnification ratios (based on the EOS 40D's sensor, which is 22.2mm wide):

    Minimum (zoom set to 35mm): approximately 0.82x life size

    [​IMG]

    Maximum (zoom set to 80mm): approximately 1.71x life size

    [​IMG]
     
    #1 996GT2, Feb 17, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2010
  2. Loading...

    Similar Threads - Canon's Super Macro Forum Date
    Canon FL 55mm F1.2 OR Nikkor 55mm F1.2? Digital and Video Cameras May 25, 2016
    Canon 7Dii doesn't let you use a flash when shooting video?? Digital and Video Cameras Apr 15, 2016
    canon powershot videos super huge file size Digital and Video Cameras Dec 25, 2011
    Canon super-zoom powershot S series lovers Digital and Video Cameras Sep 24, 2011
    Canon 430EX II or Sigma EF-530 DG Super for Canon 7D? Digital and Video Cameras Jan 16, 2010

  3. Kaido

    Kaido Elite Member & Kitchen Overlord

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2004
    Messages:
    38,481
    Likes Received:
    332
    Wow @ quality for $40, haha.
     
  4. whoiswes

    whoiswes Senior member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2002
    Messages:
    850
    Likes Received:
    0
    Any equivalent lenses/mods for us Nikon users? That's an absolute STEAL!
     
  5. angry hampster

    angry hampster Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2007
    Messages:
    4,238
    Likes Received:
    0
    Very cool! I may be doing this for wedding work.
     
  6. Aharami

    Aharami Lifer

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2001
    Messages:
    21,125
    Likes Received:
    29
    sweet! I love macro, and I'll definitely be trying this out
     
  7. 996GT2

    996GT2 Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2005
    Messages:
    5,192
    Likes Received:
    0
    Added high magnification sample pic

    I have not heard of similar lenses for Nikon, but what you could do is buy a Canon adaptor and use the EF 35-80mm on your Nikon. You'll lose infinity focus, but I don't think infinity focus is very important in a macro application to begin with ;)
     
    #6 996GT2, Feb 17, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2010
  8. rivan

    rivan Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2003
    Messages:
    9,678
    Likes Received:
    1
    Super impressive. Nice work!
     
  9. Need4Speed

    Need4Speed Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 1999
    Messages:
    5,383
    Likes Received:
    0
    can you post some more sample shots?
     
  10. tvdang7

    tvdang7 Platinum Member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2005
    Messages:
    2,222
    Likes Received:
    0
    Can you post a before picture?
     
  11. ElFenix

    ElFenix Super Moderator and Elite Member
    Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2000
    Messages:
    96,392
    Likes Received:
    239
    do you have the I, II, or III version? or does it matter?

    edit: on potn you have the III
     
    #10 ElFenix, Feb 17, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2010
  12. Lemon law

    Lemon law Lifer

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2005
    Messages:
    20,991
    Likes Received:
    0
    The criteria with macro lens are sometimes also in how far away you can focus on something and get a one to one macro. And when we are talking about stalking the mighty insect, not having to jam the lens within a few inches is a big plus.

    So OP, can you tell us, at maximum 80mm focal length or alternately a 1:1 Macro point,
    how far the lens is from the subject.
     
  13. Aharami

    Aharami Lifer

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2001
    Messages:
    21,125
    Likes Received:
    29
    that is a very good point. curious to know as well
     
  14. Maximus96

    Maximus96 Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2000
    Messages:
    5,388
    Likes Received:
    1
    interesting....
     
  15. Flipped Gazelle

    Flipped Gazelle Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2004
    Messages:
    6,666
    Likes Received:
    3
    Similar surgery should be possible on any # of lenses for Nikon. I know of several Pentax uses who have performed 996GT2's procedure on lenses, with similar success.
     
  16. 996GT2

    996GT2 Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2005
    Messages:
    5,192
    Likes Received:
    0
    Sponge @ around 2x life size:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/morganyang/4366520901/in/photostream/


    As far as working distances go, you have about 2 inches from the front of the lens at any magnification setting. Not the best working distance, but if you want more you can put back one of the 3 elements that were removed to get about 5-7 inches of working distance with a slightly lower maximum magnification.
     
  17. rudder

    rudder Lifer

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2000
    Messages:
    19,344
    Likes Received:
    58
    fellow forum users.... this is horrible advice! I would advise against doing this modification you will waste your money.

    well not really... but by the time you figure out this is a sweet deal, I will have already found one in stock.
     
  18. troytime

    troytime Golden Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2006
    Messages:
    1,996
    Likes Received:
    1
    can anyone find any info for doing this with a nikon lens?
     
  19. jpeyton

    jpeyton Moderator <BR> SFF, Notebooks, Pre-Built/Barebones
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2003
    Messages:
    25,244
    Likes Received:
    2
    Buy a cheap older Nikon manual focus prime lens (50mm, 35mm, 28mm) and a reversing ring. Hacking yourself a cheap 1:1 macro setup isn't hard for any brand of camera. Just beware of the usual limitations: manual focus (typically by moving the camera back/forth), very short working distance, you need to stop down the lens quite a bit to get decent depth-of-field, and the whole process almost necessitates a tripod or set of macro-focusing rails.

    If you want a point-and-click macro setup, you're still better off with a macro lens.
     
  20. 996GT2

    996GT2 Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2005
    Messages:
    5,192
    Likes Received:
    0
    A dedicated macro lens doesn't exactly give a "point and click" macro setup though. The close-focus nature of macro photography means most shots are taken at apertures smaller than f/8 or f/11 for sufficient depth of field, so a tripod or off-camera flash is required to sufficiently light the subject. Back when I had a Tamron 90mm 1:1 macro, taking close-up shots still required many of the same procedures as the modified 35-80mm. The only differences were that the Tamron had a tad more working distance and maxed out at 1:1, whereas the modified Canon 35-80 gets to beyond 2:1 without any extension tubes.
     
  21. extra

    extra Golden Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 1999
    Messages:
    1,941
    Likes Received:
    0
    Or hit up deal extreme for $9 extension tubes and voila . . lol... but yeah, that mod is one of the more well known examples, it's pretty cool.
     
  22. Lemon law

    Lemon law Lifer

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2005
    Messages:
    20,991
    Likes Received:
    0
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    But it somewhat misses the point, with cheap extension tubes you lose both auto focus and all electronic communications with the camera, but with the 996gt2 mod, the only thing lost is auto focus. But some automatic aperture and shutter speed is retained.
     
  23. 996GT2

    996GT2 Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2005
    Messages:
    5,192
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yep. Losing automatic aperture=stop down metering. Which really SUCKS when trying to do macro work since the viewfinder gets very, very dark at the actual aperture the image is taken at. Which means by the time you've focused and stopped down the lens to meter, you can see hardly anything in the viewfinder.
     
  24. angry hampster

    angry hampster Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2007
    Messages:
    4,238
    Likes Received:
    0


    My $100 extension tubes allow aperture control and metering as well as autofocus?
     
  25. Flipped Gazelle

    Flipped Gazelle Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2004
    Messages:
    6,666
    Likes Received:
    3
    Can you expand on that? I think I'm missing something...

    With my Pentax M 50 lens, which is entirely manual, the viewfinder image is still quite bright even when stopped down to f/22.
     
  26. 996GT2

    996GT2 Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2005
    Messages:
    5,192
    Likes Received:
    0
    Most lenses made within the last 30-40 years (even manual focus ones) maintain automatic aperture, meaning that the aperture stays at f/2 (or whatever the max aperture is) until a moment before the shutter opens. Then the aperture lever stops down the aperture for proper exposure. This is sometimes true even when using old lenses on modern DSLRs...for example, the Nikon D300 can offer auto-aperture in A and M modes with most older Nikkor manual focus lenses.

    If you lose all contact with the lens (whether it be mechanical or electronic), the lens will not stop down by itself before the exposure and you must stop it down to meter.

    Try this on your DSLR: set a lens to f/22 and press the DoF preview button. That's how dark the viewfinder looks at f/22. It's even a bit darker for macro b/c of the close subject distance reducing the effective aperture of the lens.
     
    #25 996GT2, Feb 20, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2010