I might take a macro class for “tide pools” in the next month or so. Do you have recommendation for middle of the road macro lens? – Chad
Background: Chad shoots with a Canon 1.6x crop sensor camera, so my suggestions are based on his setup.
For macro lens selection, it matters on your price range. I always tend to go for the best lens I can, knowing they don’t get updated as quickly as cameras. The cheapest version is the standard 100mm Macro http://amzn.to/HgU3aM . The next up, and the one I would suggest either renting from some place like Borrowlenses.com (located there in the Bay Area and they can drop ship the lens to a local shop near the Bay Bridge or to your house) is the 100mm L lens http://amzn.to/HheCEi . This is a professional level lens and high quality. You do get more when you pay more, for lenses.
One more option, if you won’t be using a tripod that often, is the 60mm Macro http://amzn.to/HjjgT2 (it’s actually cheaper than the 100mm). This has the advantage of showing less camera shake (remember, there is this rule when figuring out if you will cause camera shake http://thecareyadventures.com/blog/2011/a-rule-of-thumb-to-help-stop-photo-blur-31-days-to-better-photography/).
I would highly suggest renting a lens for the workshop and seeing if it works for you. Someone like Jim will be able to help you get the most out of it and if you don’t like it after that, then another option is in mind.
In that vein, go with the 100mm L for $25 for the 3 day weekend. Maybe even throw in the 60mm rented as well and you can compare them side by side. That will run you another $20 for the weekend. $45 for a weekend of shooting with them both (plus tax and shipping, unless you pick it up in downtown San Francisco) will tell you which one works best for you and if the extra cost is worth it.
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If you are in the Bay area and looking to learn more about Macro photography, I highly suggest looking into Jim Goldstein’s workshop in May http://www.jmg-galleries.com/blog/workshops/#tidepools_photo_tour