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Old Dec 20, 2010, 7:10 AM   #11
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Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Adelaide, South Australia
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As you indicated your budget is $400 - that is putting a limit on the number and type of lens(es) you can buy. This doesn't mean you can't have a decent outcome in terms of photographic quality.

Perhaps for one 'all round' lens solution: the Canon 60mm f2.8 macro, or the Tamrom 60mm f2 macro lenses will suit you well. That is, where they are a 'one lens for both scenarios' solution.

However if you really want a 'better' level for both portrait and macro, there will be compromises made. For example, as already mentioned - if you want a macro that has greater working distance, the 60mm can be a bit short (e.g. scare away insects). Or if you really need 'very blurred' background, even a 60mm at f2.8 has limits.

I have both the Canon nifty 50mm (purchased over 5 years ago) and the Canon 100mm f2.8 (purchased earlier this year). If I were to keep one lens, it would be the Canon 100mm f2.8, because it can do 'both' for my purposes well. While on my Canon 7D (or Canon 350D) although 100mm is a bit long for indoor portraits, most of my portrait photos are outdoors. And to me the longer working distance is preferable (while still being hand holdable in some situations). I know the Canon 180mm macro is really great, but it is too expensive for me to warrant for that type of photography.

Furthermore, I prefer the bokeh / background blur possible from the 100mm as compared to the Canon 60mm macro. The 100mm can work very well for outdoor portraits. Some people complain that the focus speed is 'slow' - but I find mine is actually snappy, I really don't need more speed for a macro or a portrait. Really can't see how people call it slow. While the new 100mm macro (L with IS) is faster, not so important to me.

The 50mm f1.8 (nifty fifty) has given me good head/shoulders portrait photos, especially if you know the subject. It's quite sharp wide open, and very sharp around f2.5 onwards.

Finally, I have used my Canon 28-135mm as very adequate "poor man's zoom" - for many portraits and camp photos over the years. It even served to take good macros of flowers (not really good enough for insects or 'flower parts'). I've found the 28-135mm to take great portrait photos between 70mm and 110mm wide open, and even at 135mm at f5.6 it's fine (just looses the tiniest bit of sharpness in the last 25mms - only really crucial for pixel peepers). Stopped down to f7.1 or f8 at 135mm it acquires real sharpness again.

Attached is a photo of yours truly (me) taken by the nifty fifty at f2.5 (remote shutter - on a tripod). The photo is critically sharp, but that's hard to tell from this 'web scaled-down' version.

Hope my post might also help. Regards

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