Compact-Macros for DSLR filmmaking

Of the various Canon EF lenses I’ve experimented with for video use, the only one that has consistently impressed me (surprise) as an unusually good value – as a used lens on eBay – is the Compact-Macro 50mm f/2.5:

No, Canon did not pay me to say this (sadly).

Granted, we’re still referring to a lens that has aperture limitations for cine use, as – like all Canon EF lenses – the iris is controlled electronically from the camera body and cannot be de-clicked.

Yet, the lens has a beautiful bokeh, and a price range of $150-200 on eBay.

I’d say that’s a pretty reasonable expenditure for a lens that can give you images such as these – almost consistently through its range to boot:

These were taken as photos (and were the most convenient example images I could locate when writing this post), but they’re no less representative of the results the C-M 50mm yields for cine use, with exception to overall resolution.

In short, it is quite difficult to ruin a shot with it, so long as you’re not transitioning from a dark to light environment or vice-versa – which wouldn’t seem to be the most common shot to use a 50mm macro for to begin with.

Granted, the need for a lens of this kind on a shoot is uncommon, but when you need a close-up lens to emphasize the slightest detail when shooting a detective thriller, you’ll thank your lucky stars that you have it.

My only criticism – and it seems to be shared by most users of this lens – is that the focus ring is one of the worst in existence. It either feels like a cheap toy, or it binds like a cheap toy – but not enough to become a problem if you’re not pulling focus during a shot. So be it; seems to be the case with most of Canon’s lenses, save for the L-series (and even then, the L’s do not come close to the feeling of precision that one gets from most mid-range lenses of 30 years past).

-Kurt – Man with the 5D

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