I’ve known that I wanted a macro lens as soon as I became familiar enough with photography to have half a clue. That was probably a little over a year ago. But, lenses don’t grow on trees, and a wide angle was a priority. I acquired my wide angle last April. I love that lens. It pretty much lives on my camera.
I’d almost convinced myself that I didn’t need a macro. Then, I went to Santa Fe and participated in the NatGeo workshop last October. And sat with a new friend, Zoe, on a short bus to Ghost Ranch. And slipped her 50mm macro onto my camera. And fell in love.
So, over the last few months I’ve been saving my pennies. Lenses don’t grow on trees…and they’re not cheap. I did a lot of research (I find the reviews at The-Digital- Picture.com to be particularly helpful) and concluded that my macro of choice was the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM. Say that with a whisper, please. With a fervent whisper. Like a child praying that Santa will come through.
My plan was to buy the lens in March, so that I would have time to learn the basics before heading to Costa Rica in April. Visions of bright green frogs are dancing through my head. I’ve been stalking KEH for a used lens, but the popularity of the Canon 100mm is obvious…used is hard to come by. I was pretty certain that, in the end, I would be buying new from B&H.
While in Portland last weekend we stopped into Pro Photo Supplies. I wasn’t planning on buying, I just wanted to put the lens on my camera body to confirm that was “the one.” It was pouring rain as we sloshed down the road (the shop is conveniently located within a 3 minute walk of the Inn at Northrup Station), but I was undeterred. I had photography on my mind.
An employee carefully set the 100mm on the counter. I picked it up, admired its heft (why are all of my preferred lens hefty???) and clicked it into place, looked through the viewfinder and….zowee! Kapowie! Yup, that was the one!
I handed the lens back, thanked the gal, and turned back to the husband. I imagine my eyes were bright-n-shiny. He asked if that was the one I wanted. Yes. He suggested I buy it.
I had the money. That was the lens I wanted. But, that doesn’t make parting with the money easy. It’s a lot of money. Then the husband said that he’d gotten his annual bonus the week before and that the lens could be paid for out of that.
So, here’s the thing: photography is not an inexpensive hobby. And, I don’t want the husband to think that whenever I want a new lens that I expect it to be paid for out of the general budget. Which is why I had been saving my pennies. Which is what I stammered out to him: “But…but…I’ve been saving my pennies…I can pay for it…” Not in the cards. I got to save my pennies and walked out of the store with a brand new shiny macro lens.
I played with it a bit when we got home last weekend. Enough to realize that the learning curve would be steep. I still don’t consider myself and expert at landscape photography, but macro…woah…that’s a whole different creature. I spent some time this last week doing a bit of research on how to approach macro. First lesson? Use manual focus versus auto.
While I’m a manual girl, I take advantage of auto focus. And image stabilization. I mean, why mess with a good thing, right? But, I noticed last weekend when I was playing with the new lens that trying to get auto focus to focus on the very small thing I was attempting to focus on was…difficult. That’s putting it nicely.
The challenge of manual focus? One must focus and also keep all of their other settings (ISO, aperture, etc) in mind. All the knowledge of that other stuff cannot fall out of ones head when attempting to manual focus.
Knowing a bit more this weekend than I did last weekend, I took myself and the macro lens out on a nature walk on Saturday afternoon. How’d it go?
That about sums it up. Good grief, I will never be the same. Did I manage to focus on that which I wanted to focus all of the time? Nope. Absolutely not. Remember that steep learning curve previously mentioned? Alive and well! Did I have a blast? Absolutely. Am I in love? Completely. Utterly. All-consuming fire.