Advice for what to look for in Macro lenses

First, this forum is great!! I am gathering materials to set up a DSLR scanning set up to give to my Father for Christmas (and I’ll help him) to scan old family negatives and slides. I have already ordered the Essential Film Holder. But I’d like advice for getting a macro lense.

He has a Canon T3i (18 mp, APS-C I believe) and I have a Sony A7C (24 mp/ full frame).

  1. Would the Sony be MUCH better than the Canon for scanning? If there isn’t going to be a huge difference, I’d rather set up the Canon. But if I need to spend more than $300 for the lense, I’d rather invest in the Sony.

  2. What should I look for in a macro lens for the Canon?

  3. Focal Length: It seems like a longer focal length is preferred, but what range is suggested?" 50? 100?

  4. Auto Focus: Does it need to have auto focus, or is a manual focus lens fine? I saw some talking about controlling focus via tethering…which I’m guessing wouldn’t work with a manual lens (he he).

  5. Used glass: Is there a reason I shouldn’t buy a used macro lens from B&H or someone?

Thank you for your time and help!


I scan 645 and 35mm negatives with a Canon EF 100 USM Macro (the old model and used with EOS M6 and EOS 5DIII cameras) which you can still buy new for USD 600. Getting a Canon EF lens opens the door to using the lens on the Sony with an adapter.

Other than that, I propose you look for a lens with

  • close-up magnification (reproduction ratio) allowing to use the lens without extension tubes
    (“Macro” in a lens name does not necessarily mean that the lens is good for close up work)
  • tripod mount ring (less strain on the bayonet mount, easy use of the camera for other shots)
  • qualities that let you use the the lens comfortably

Thanks Digitizer!!! I hadn’t thought about the adapters. Two birds, one stone.

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Sigma 105mm f2.8 1:1 macro DG DN

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