On the surface, there’s no question about it. A 100mm macro lens would have been an excellent choice for shooting macro. The closer you can get, the better. Underwater, it’s a different story.
I was reading up on underwater macro photography and the two best options presented were the 60mm and 100mm equivalents for both Canon and Nikon (the latter has a 105mm option) and it seems that the verdict, amidst the technical mumbo jumbo is how close you actually want to be with the subject.
You can technically get the same shot with both lenses, with the 60mm being being about a foot closer to the subject. My friend Wowie told me to consider taking photos of underwater life looking at you vs underwater life in their behavior. For instance, shooting a Christmas tree worm in full bloom (below) up close will more than likely get them startled and hide inside the coral. You’re more likely to get behavior shots of the critters when you have a 100mm macro lens.
Below is an example of a squirrel clown fish slowly making its way out of an anemone. If confronted head on, I’ll be getting shots of it becoming aggressive with my camera. This was taken using a 100mm lens, cropped a bit. The “fish behavior” choice isn’t of course all-encompassing but it does make sense.
So with two days of
road reef testing for each lens, I had some realizations. It seemed to be easier to shoot with the 60mm because I could go closer to my subjects. Yeah it sounds like I’m contradicting myself but “getting close” is how I roll. Overall, it just felt more comfortable. Secondly, I had better lighting shooting with the 60mm. Attribute it to the strobe positioning perhaps, but my shots seemed more satisfying and well lit up close. It may be different with 2 strobes (I only use one), but I guess we’ll never know until I really make the leap into investing more than PHP 50,000.00 for god damned lights!
Although shooting the 100mm lens seemed more versatile I had to go with the more affordable 60mm macro lens MAINLY because of price. It cost me PHP 18,800.00 from Henry’s compared to the 100mm lens at PHP26,000.00. I looked around for second hand lenses but found that these were prized possessions and it would be crazy for a photographer to let go of them.
There’s another major difference wen shooting underwater compared to top-side. You see, I use a Canon 350D underwater and believe me, it already is tough to shoot with a DSLR. Imagine that you’re viewing your subject from the viewfinder encased in a housing plus you’re also wearing a mask. That means your eyes are roughly 2-3 inches away from the tiny viewfinder! It’s already so hard to shoot a pygmy seahorse the size of a half grain of rice, it’s already second nature to move in closer! The 60mm lens also has a faster auto focus mechanism so the difference in milliseconds matters when trying to get the perfect shot.
Let’s dive! Let’s shoot! In my next entry, I’ll show off the complete underwater photography gear. For my video gear, check this out!