Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 Review – Unblurring my macroscopic heart

31 October 2018
Macro photo of a gecko by Heinrich van den Berg using the Canon EF-M 65mm f/2.8 Macro Lens.

Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

I grew up with a family of macro gear in my camera bag: The dad was the Canon 180mm f/3.5 macro lens and his beautiful wife, the 100mm f/2.8 macro. But, over time, they bred in the darkness of my camera bag and before I knew it, I had to drag not only them but all their offspring along on every trip. These included flashes, reflectors, flash cables, softboxes, a home-made macro contraption, diffusers the size of tents, and tripods that were far too heavy for the purpose.

On family trips, it was difficult to justify unpacking my camera bag to photograph macro. It was just too much trouble.

And that was what led to the divorce. One day, while packing my camera bag for a trip, I caused the breakup by leaving one of the macro lenses behind. I just couldn’t take it anymore.

Things got worse, a trial separation followed and before I knew it, I sold the 180mm lens. It was a sad time. Since then, I’ve been leaving the depressed 100mm lens in my cupboard whenever I go on trips. Broken hearts are heavy, and it was too much trouble to carry the weight of sorrow with me.

I too was lonely. I missed my macro family. Then one day everything changed. I saw her outline in the dim spotlight of a small stage on a camera shop shelf – the Canon MP-E65mm f/2.8 macro. She was young, skinny and full of zoom.. and she didn’t come with any baggage. It was just her and a set of macro flashes (Canon MT-26EX-RT) that could fasten on to her front element. No more offspring. No more assistants. No more heartache.

I carried her over the threshold and now take her with where ever I go. Now, for the first time, I have space for a macro lens in my camera bag. Now I can just grab her, fasten the flashes and shoot. No more sighs.

Lolita is the light of my life. She has unblurred my macroscopic heart.

Insect front view photographed by Heinrich van den Berg using the Canon EF-M 65mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

I don’t use a tripod as the flashes light up the subject beautifully. I’ve found that, with stack focus software, it is easy to create images with depth of field even by handholding the lens. I just photograph a stack of images with slightly different focus points and then stack the focus in Photoshop.

Guinea fowl feather from up close. Photograph by Heinrich van den Berg using the Canon EF-M 65mm f/2.8 Macro Lens.

My son picked up a guinea fowl feather and said I should photograph it, so I did. I couldn’t believe the detail! Looking at the image, I saw hundreds of wings woven into the fabric of this feather.

Macro photograph of leaf with dew drops by Heinrich van den Berg using the Canon EF-M 65mm f/2.8 Macro Lens.

Sometimes beauty is underfoot. This leaf had been shimmering in the dew for ages, three metres from where I slept every night. I didn’t notice it until I needed a photograph of dew for my new book, Moods of Nature.

Eye of insect with water droplets photographed by Heinrich van den Berg using the Canon EF-M 65mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

This lens works especially well with an open aperture to create a small field of focus.

Macro photo of poisonous horned adder snake eye. Photo by Heinrich van den Berg using the Canon EF-M 65mm f/2.8 Macro Lens.

I was busy photographing this horned adder with a macro lens, when the snake specialist who was with me said his friend had been bitten by a similar one and was dead in 20 minutes. I stopped photographing.

Moods of nature by Heinrich van den Berg.

I used the Canon MP-E65mm with the MT-26EX-RT flash for many of the images in my new coffee table book Moods of Nature.

About the Author:

heinrich@hphpublishing.co.za
South African based photographer, Heinrich van den Berg specializes in nature, environmental and travel photography. He has spent many years in the field, capturing images of African wildlife and the natural beauty of the continent. Highly acclaimed as a wildlife and nature photographer, he has won various international photographic awards. He was the first photographer to win the Eric Hoskings Award of the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year for two consecutive years. He has also won the international Camel Trophy Photographic Competition, and was one of the official international photographers for the Camel Trophy in 1998. Additionally he was the overall winner of the international Fuji Getaway Photographer of the Year award in 2005. His photographs grace numerous books, calendars, magazine portfolios and photographic products worldwide. Apart from his photographic skills, he is experienced in the field of publishing, having photographed and published 26 highly acclaimed photographic books. To ensure that the quality of images is maintained from the field to the printed page, Van den Berg is intimately involved with the reproduction and printing process – from the colour correction to the design and final production of his sought-after wildlife books. He is the founder of the publishing company HPH Publishing.

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