Macro-adventure at El Siu Mae trail, El Espino de San Carlos, Panama (Testing Canon 180mm Macro lens)

Macro-adventure: a term coined by my friend and fellow photographer known simply as "Hakaw". As the term implies, it refers to a photographic adventure to the macro world.

In this Macro-adventure on a improvised trail that runs behind the yard of my weekends' house, I was testing a Canon EF 180mm f3.5 L Macro USM lens borrowed by Hakaw.

This lens has the longest 1:1 macro working distance of any Canon lens, with a minimum focus distance of 1.6' (0.48m) (measured from the sensor) at which it achieves the 1x maximum magnification. A much greater magnification gain can be achieved with extenders. The 180mm lens is compatible with the Canon 1.4x and 2x Extenders - increasing the magnification to 1.4x and 2x, respectively. I tested it in conjuction with both but was not convinced with the results from the 180mm + 2x combo, sharpness was affected, and I actually get better results with the 100mm L + 1.5x combo, since the 2x magnification is desirable with smaller subjects and getting closer is always better (the 100mm  L Macro lens has a minimun focusing distance of 11.8" (30mcm)).

As stated on a previous post I use a monopod for macro shots, and it comes handy with this massive lens (Canon's longest and heaviest black lens) specially if you factor in the weight of the camera, the flash,  flash bracket, etc. By the way I'm considering trying with a tripod next time because I experienced some softness on a couple of shots that might be due to camera shake.

Initially, I had technical difficulties setting flash direction since the 180mm lens is longer than the 100mm. I had problems setting it in the right direction to avoid the shadow casted by the lens, even using the Lepp bracket for off camera flash,. Maybe a more powerful flash might be helpful, next time  I should try the Youngnuo YN600EX-RT.

Disregarding the difficulties handling this new-to-me lens I have to disclose those things in wich this lens excels:
  • The longer focal length (compared to my usual 100mm macro lens) gave me more distance-to-subject working space. Especially for insects that will be frightened away at close working distances. This worked marvelously with large subjects as seen below (dragonlies, lizards, large flies).
  • The focal length also affects the background, the larger the focal lenght the more compressed/enlarged the physical area of the backgound is shown, therefore the blur is magnified. Simply put, the 180mm macro lens provide an awesome bokeh in comparison to the 100mm.
Well, that's enough technical chitchat; lets enter into the photographic material:

A dragonfly is an insect belonging to the order Odonata, the suborder Epiprocta or, in the strict sense, the infraorder Anisoptera (from Greek anisos, "uneven" + pteros, "wings", because the hindwing is broader than the forewing). It is characterized by large multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong transparent wings, and an elongated body.

True flies are insects of the order Diptera (from the Greek di = two, and ptera = wings). The most obvious distinction from other orders of insects is that a typical fly possesses a pair of flight wings on the mesothorax and a pair of halteres, derived from the hind wings, on the metathorax. Some species of flies are exceptional in that they are secondarily flightless. In this photo we can see a robber fly eating another fly.

 A "regular" Fly

 A Hover Fly that resembles a bee.

Anolis, or anoles, is a genus of iguanian (anole) lizards belonging to the family Dactyloidae. Several species of Anolis are occasionally ascribed to the genus Norops, but the validity of the Norops genus is not widely accepted.

Mosquitoes are a family of small, midge-like flies: the Culicidae. Many species of mosquitoes (as this pictured) are not blood eaters and not all of those that are, transmit disease. Also, in the bloodsucking species, only the females suck blood. Note bushy antennae and longer palps of male above vs. female below.


 This insect looks like an ant with long antennae