Good copy lens for shooting oil paintings?

Started Feb 1, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Lee de Paris
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Good copy lens for shooting oil paintings?
Feb 1, 2012

I'm a painter primarily, I work "en plein air", which means on location, in oils on canvas panels. I'm looking for a good lens to document my paintings. The paintings are mostly small, 12x16 inches and smaller, the biggest painting is 3 ft x 4 ft. I've been documenting my work mostly outside on a sunny day, but shooting in the shade with ambient light. Or I shoot on a hazy day in the open. I have a small studio that's 13 ft square, where I can set up lights, but so far I'm getting more accurate color outside in daylight.

So here are some choices I'm considering for my D90 from what I've read:

Autofocus lenses:

Nikon 60mm micro f/2.8- most often picked for copy work, designed for copy work.
Tamron 60mm macro f/2 - a little faster.
Tamron 90mm macro f/2
Nikon 50mm f/1.8 prime lens

Nikon 85mm f/1.8- this lens has amazingly low distortion, less than most macro lenses, only 0.03%
Nikon 40mm micro f/2.8- cheapest Nikon micro lens, good walk around lens too.
Nikon 85mm micro f/3.5- too slow for me I think for other uses than copy work.

Manual focus:

Nikon 55mm micro f/2.8 AIS -won't meter though
Nikon 55mm micro f/3.5 AI- won't meter, but inexpensive.

Voigtlander 58mm f/1.4- not a macro lens, but interests me for portrait taking, and it will meter on a D90. I like prime lenses a lot.

The other uses I would have for the lens are:

-I'm a dancer, I take photos of fellow dancers, usually in dimly lit rooms. Contra dancing specifically, sort of like square dancing. I think the 85mm/1.8 might be good here.

-I do some portrait painting, and document my subject with camera, but mostly I work from life. I often do figure drawing with a group, and I'm a ways back from the model.
-Artistic fine art photography, black and white, etc.

Budget: $400 or so, so used is okay.

I'm currently using a Tamron 17-50 f/2.8, but also have a Nikon 35mm/1.8 AF, and a 50mm/1.4 manual focus. I find I'm typically shooting at the 50mm end of the Tamron. I didn't list anything over 90mm, because it will be too zoomed out to do copy work in studio.

Thanks for any suggestions or experience with above.

Nikon D90
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