Canon MP-E 65

While most macro lenses double as a great general purpose lens the Canon MP-E 65mm is completely useless in any other role than that of a macro lens. But wow, what a macro lens it is! It starts out at 1x magnification and extends out to 5x magnification. With this lens you can leave those bellows, reverse mounting adapters and extension tubes behind and take this lens into the field all by itself.

The reason this lens can’t be used outside its role as a macro lens is because it does not focus to infinity. In fact, while its minimum focus distance is about 9.4 inches from the film plan, or in other words about 4 inches from the front of the lens when collapsed, its maximum focus distance is about 12.5 inches or about 1.5  inches from the front of the lens when it is fully extended to 5x magnification. The lens itself has helpful markings on the barrel to let you know the approximate focus distance from the front of the lens.

The lens is also completely manual focus. This isn’t a surprise since it’s depth of field is so shallow that to achieve accurate focus at 3x and higher you really need to use a focusing rail or some similar type of support system with this lens. Since the lens doesn’t have autofocus Canon gives it a MP (Macro Photo) designation instead of their usually EF (electro-focus) designation. It retains the -E designation indicating it still has electronic aperture control and focus lock.

Also since at most magnifications you are focusing at just inches from the lens, you also need some type of auxiliary lighting like the Canon MR-14EX Ring Lite, the Canon MT-24EX Twin Lite flash, or an off camera flash.

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