Between the two of us, Debs definitely has a more of an eye for detail, which means she’s much better suited to macro photography. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the finer details. It’s just that, if I’m honest, I don’t have the patience that she has. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing since, if we’re out shooting together, we end up capturing a much broader perspective of the world around us.
After noticing that Debs was reaching the limits of what she could do with our regular glass on her Canon R7, I started to research macro lenses, starting of course with Canon’s RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro. As much as I would have loved to have bought this lens (or even the RF 85mm f/2 Macro), spending between $1,100 and $2,500 for what is essentially a specialist lens, was stretching our gear budget a little too far.
And yes I know that those particular lenses would also perform well as portrait lenses, but we don’t shoot enough portraits to justify them in that way. All of which lead me to finding this little beauty.
TTArtisan 40mm F2.8 APS-C Macro
Now I have to be honest, at around $200, I was a little sceptical about this lens, but figured that for that price, it was worth taking a punt. As it turns out, I think it was money well spent.
First off, it’s a compact, solidly built lens, all metal, with no plastic in sight, not even the lens cap. It’s fully manual of course (not surprising given the price) and the focus ring has a nice smooth action. The aperture ring feels good and has a surprisingly satisfying click as you stop up and down.
Now some may baulk at the thought of a manual focus lens, but with focus peaking and/or digital preview zoom in modern mirrorless cameras, nailing focus is surprisingly easy.
So how does this lens perform? Based on the image below, I would have to say pretty damn well. This was captured in Rotorua’s Redwoods Forest (Whakarewarewa) with natural light. Debs even had a little breeze to contend with.
Now I’ve never had a chance to shoot with any of Canon’s RF macro lenses so I can’t make a truly objective comparison. No doubt Canon’s 100mm macro would produce a better result, but with the TTArtisan’s 1:1 magnification compared to the Canon 85mm lens’ 0.5x magnification, I think it would be a close call. And even if the 85mm macro was better, would it be nearly $900 better? I suspect not.
So if you’re a Canon mirrorless shooter looking to get into macro, we can highly recommend this lens as a good starting point. But let’s address the obvious question. Although this lens has an RF-mount, it’s an APS-C lens, so what does that mean if you have a full frame camera like an R6 or an R5?
Using an RF mount APS-C lens on a full frame body
Let me preface this next section by saying that the following photos are by no means portfolio worthy and are not intended to demonstrate the quality of the TTArtisan lens. These were simply some quick test shots I took using the lens on my Canon R5 so you get the idea.
The TTArtisan is a 40mm APS-C lens, which equates to a 65mm lens on a full frame body, but since we have a larger sensor we have the issue of some serious vignetting. Bear in mind that this is only at the infinity end of the lens’ focus distance, and the closer you focus (which is kind of the point of this lens anyway) the less of an issue this becomes.
In the example below, there is still some vignetting in the corners but since I’m getting the full output of the sensor (8192 x 5464), there’s lots of room for cropping in post.
Alternatively, in the case of the R5, you could enable the 1.6x crop mode which resolves the vignetting issue but will give you a cropped in view and a lower resolution (5088 x 3392) which obviously means less room for cropping in post.
Either way I do think this lens performs well on both the R7 and the R5 which means that when we’re out in the field together, Debs and I can swap bodies without too much hassle which I suppose is one advantage of using the same RF mount on both sensor formats.
If you do decide to buy the TTArtisan 40mm macro lens, let us know in the comments how you get on with it.