A bleeding heart and the tale of the Nikon 60G (samples)

Started May 10, 2011 | Discussions thread
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M4cr0s
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A bleeding heart and the tale of the Nikon 60G (samples)
May 10, 2011

Recently acquired this lens after literally years of pondering what macro lens to go for. So many good options in my price range. The Tamron 60, 90 and 180, the Sigma 50, 70, 105 and 150mm, the Tokina 100mm, the Cosina-Voigtländer 90mm and more.

The questions of minimum working distance/focal length and internal focusing was probably those that did give me most headache. Factors such as sharpness, edge-to-edge and minimal distortions was not really of any concern as I think pretty much all offerings are adequate in that department if used correctly.

In the end I got to the following conclusions:

  • I wanted an internally focusing lens because of better handling, balance and less risk for clumsy me to slam the front element into something.

  • I wanted a relatively short tele somewhere in the 50 to 70mm range. True, it means a shorter minimum focus distance, but it also makes handheld floral shots doable considering the typical framing I'm after. I'm tall, but there are limits to how high I can reach above the ground. Also, a longer lens means the need for higher shutter speeds and frankly, I've never really been that comfortable with long lenses above 100mm-mark. Longest thing I own is actually the 105DC.

  • Reasonably good AF, preferably SWM, yet still a good, smooth focus ring for MF.

  • "Future proof", as in FX (I shoot DX).

  • Weight and size no larger than actually being portable in my interpretation of the word. No reason buying a lens you never bother to take with you. My bag and shoulder limit tend to be at around 600-700 grams per lens. I never got friendly with the 70-200 2.8s for instance.

  • Price, well I was pretty much willing to fork out anything up to around 1k $, even a little more. The 105VR wasn't out of the question.

So, in the end I figured the 60G fit the bill, at least in theory... Whats my impression owning it for a little while?

It's a tight, well-built little lens with great sharpness and very good color rendition. I see some claim the AF is subpar, much due to the lack of a focus limiter. Compared to a lot of lenses I've owned and used it's fast and silent, yet logically it takes a little while to travel from near to far. Minor adjustments in distances beyond macro are very fast and gives an impression of certainty. At least with the D7k, haven't tested it on other bodies yet. Adequate for sports? No idea, wouldn't bring this lens anyway

In practical shooting I have really no complains to make, be it for macro or general photography. This lens is near perfect in every part of the IQ-department, except some slight vignetting which I suspect would be a bit worse on a FX body than my humble DX-sensor. It's perfectly usable as a portrait lens too, although I myself prefer something that's a bit more kind to the "victim", because it will show all there is to show, even wide open.

The bokeh (yeah, I'm one of those..) is fairly smooth and pleasing at 2.8 and distances beyond the typical close-focus-range (most lenses look great in the bokeh department as long as you focus close enough). I actually had to check after I bought the lens to see how many aperture blades it has, found it's 9. In other words, round OOF highlights. From what I'm able to judge it generally renders perfectly acceptable OOF areas. Better or worse than other lenses at the same aperture? No idea, but I will do a comparison just for fun with my Voigtländer 58mm 1.4 @ 2.8 one day (this lens has a somewhat nervous bokeh before you close down to F/2,5-2.8, like so many other fast 50mm's).

Oh well, enough chitchat! Some samples. First a couple of hand-held florals from a bright but overcast day.

"Leutenants Heart" in Norwegian, "Bleeding Heart" in English (Lamprocapnos spectabilis). Shot wide open, which was F/3.2 at this distance.

Muscari (Grape hyacinth). Shot at F/11.

An unknown type of bug, sitting on what I think is "Cowslip" (Primula Veris).

Then a couple in typical portrait distances. A black dog isn't ideal to show off detail, but at least no animals was harmed!

Shikko the dog, enjoying park-life. F/2.8.

Shikko the dog again, also F/2.8.

Finally, a landscape-shot. F/8.

Final thoughts? I'm not at all out to claim this lens is something extraordinary, a must-have or something like that. I suspect you can't really go wrong with any of the different macro-lenses available today, as long as you're aware of their quirks and use them correctly. Still, I think the 60G deserves careful consideration from potential buyers looking for a lens in this range because to my eye and experience it does the job very well and is perhaps one of the more balanced offerings, suitable for more than just macro use. Be however aware, that you'll need to get very close to get 1:1!

Mac

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