Best nikon macro lens for bugs

Started Jul 22, 2011 | Discussions
Ray63129
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Best nikon macro lens for bugs
Jul 22, 2011

I have been reading a lot about taking macro pictures of bugs with my Nikon D7000 but there seens to be a lot of disagreement about the best lens to use, Many like the 60mm but some say the working distance is to close. A few seem to like the 85mm and while many like the 105mm I think $500 is about the extent of my budget. Also the 105 has a longer min focus distance but is a longer lens so it looks like you only gain about 0.5 inch working distance. All are VR, and the shorter ones are lighter. Unfortunately the 85 is only a 3.5 so I assume it won't focus with teleconverters. And that is about what I think I have learned from the posts.

Is there any other practical experience that anyone can add before I invest?

I looked at used lens and that might be possible but none of the current ones are easy to find on the used market. I also read a lot of good things about the Tamron 90 macro but it is not VR, which seem to have about equal split on opinions as to how bad that is.

So for the folks taking macro pictures of bugs, any experience/advice would be appreciated.

Cope
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Re: Best nikon macro lens for bugs
In reply to Ray63129, Jul 22, 2011

There are no "bad" macro lenses, just different focal lengths. Get a Tamron 90mm. Nikon makes an excellent 60mm, but you may find it requires you to get in too close for insects and other critters.
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crankerchick
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Re: Best nikon macro lens for bugs
In reply to Ray63129, Jul 22, 2011

I picked up a used Nikkor 105mm AF lens used for just over $400. I have seen them on Adorama for $400-$600. I really like the lens so far and am happy I chose it over the 105VR. I rented the 105VR and absolutely loved shooting macro with it, but opted for the AF version after reading Thom Hogan's review along with some others to convince myself that I wasn't losing on IQ by going with the older lens. Since this will be a dedicated macro lens, the VR and faster focus didn't seem all the important to me so didn't want to pay $900 for the VR and AF-S.

I think you'll be happier with a longer focal length. I read encouraging reviews and opinions on the Tamron 90mm and almost purchased that one.

Best of luck.

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j_brownch
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Re: DPR "Lens Talk Forum"...
In reply to Ray63129, Jul 22, 2011

Maybe you should try posting this over there. There's been a LOT of talk on that forum recently about micro/macro lenses.

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dave1812
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Re: Best nikon macro lens for bugs
In reply to Ray63129, Jul 23, 2011

Not sure why you mentioned a teleconverter in the same breath as an 85 Micro.

In any event, the 85 works fine with extension tubes.

Ray63129 wrote:

I have been reading a lot about taking macro pictures of bugs with my Nikon D7000 but there seens to be a lot of disagreement about the best lens to use, Many like the 60mm but some say the working distance is to close. A few seem to like the 85mm and while many like the 105mm I think $500 is about the extent of my budget. Also the 105 has a longer min focus distance but is a longer lens so it looks like you only gain about 0.5 inch working distance. All are VR, and the shorter ones are lighter. Unfortunately the 85 is only a 3.5 so I assume it won't focus with teleconverters. And that is about what I think I have learned from the posts.

Is there any other practical experience that anyone can add before I invest?

I looked at used lens and that might be possible but none of the current ones are easy to find on the used market. I also read a lot of good things about the Tamron 90 macro but it is not VR, which seem to have about equal split on opinions as to how bad that is.

So for the folks taking macro pictures of bugs, any experience/advice would be appreciated.

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Catallaxy
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Re: Best nikon macro lens for bugs
In reply to Ray63129, Jul 23, 2011

For bugs, the longer the better.

If you get too close they get skittish and run/fly away.

Howeer the longer the FL that you choose, the harder it is to hand hold and the less useful it is for other type of shots. VR is not very useful for macro and neither is AF, but it sure is useful for those other types of shots. Do you have a good tripod that is rated for at least 2x the weight of your camera and lens?

In your budget, the Tokina 100, Tamron 90 and Sigma 105 are all good mid-range macro lenses. Long enough not too scare most bugs and still short enough to be useful for other things.

I am not a fan of the Nikon 85 f/3.5 VR, but the price is ok.

There are also a host of older MF or used lenses like the Tamron 90 f/2.5 Adaptall, Cosina 100 f/3.5, and Nikon 105 AF that are just as good or better than the modern lenses.

Another way to get a good macro type shot is with closeup lenses mounted on a long tele. I use a Canon 500D (+2 diopter) on a 55-200 VR. I also use a Marumi 330 +3 on a 70-200 VRII. These closeup lenses screw onto the filter rings of your long lens and add some magnification. A Marumi 330 +3 or a Canon 500D (+2 diopter) is pretty good on the 70-300 VR if you have that lens.

I have also seen some amazing bug shots with a PK-13 tube on a Nikon 300 AFS. You will certainly need a tripod for this lens and bug shooting.

Good luck
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Hansa Yindee
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Re: Best nikon macro lens for bugs
In reply to Catallaxy, Jul 23, 2011

.
A few years back I picked up a Sigma 105 2.8 macro and have enjoyed
using it here in Thailand.
90% of my macro shots are hand held with some being taken with a
brisk breeze blowing the bugs and bushes around.

There is a set in my flickr site just for this lens while shooting bugs.

Good luck with your decision and shooting ..;-)
.
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Shooraq
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Re: Best nikon macro lens for bugs
In reply to Hansa Yindee, Jul 23, 2011

I have a used old version of a Tamron 90mm macro that i got off ebay for $300... works great and not too shabby for insects. I just can't afford anything more than that, but that's okay, because the tamron 90 is my favorite lens!
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David Lal
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Good post Catallaxy!
In reply to Catallaxy, Jul 23, 2011

Bug macro is my thing but there is not much that I can add to your very competent answer.

I absolutely endorse that VR is not needed, and at 1:1 the camera will have to be tripod mounted and VR will be counterindicated. Autofocus again is a no-no for good macro and auto exposure, one can live without. People with lots of dosh can pay for the Nikon name on the lens barrel - the 200mm is great - but there are many good alternatives.

Many bugs are very small. Often 1:1 is nowhere near enough magnification therefore one will want to be mounting a macro lens on extension tubes or bellows, which again do not have to be expensive ones maintaining electrical connectivity with the lens. Or use other techniques such as reverse lens stacking (note: not the same as lens reversal).

There is a very recent post in the forum about the 20 year old Tamron SPF/2.5 90 which he obtained for $15 secondhand. This was a very fine lens, capable by itself of only 1:0.5 but came with a purpose made extension tube taking the reproduction ratio to 1:1. I used to use mine on Novoflex bellows and could go way beyond 1:1.

Mainly I use a combination of Tokina and Sigma lenses nowadays.

Sample: A flower beetle

(Tokina 24mm reverse stacked onto Sigma 105mm; 4.3x reproduction ratio, tripod, lots of manual flashguns, D70)

David

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mnodonnell
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Consider Extension Tubes
In reply to Ray63129, Jul 23, 2011

If you want something economical, take a look at extension tubes. It will get you in the game cheaply and if you decide to eventually invest in a true macro lens they will still be useful.
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buckshot
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I second the use of extension tubes ... images
In reply to mnodonnell, Jul 23, 2011

I use a set of three extension tubes and attach my 70-300mm VR all these are shot hand held

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Kris in CT
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Re: Good post Catallaxy!
In reply to David Lal, Jul 23, 2011

David Lal wrote:

There is a very recent post in the forum about the 20 year old Tamron SPF/2.5 90 which he obtained for $15 secondhand. This was a very fine lens, capable by itself of only 1:0.5 but came with a purpose made extension tube taking the reproduction ratio to 1:1. I used to use mine on Novoflex bellows and could go way beyond 1:1.

David

Yup that was me with the $15 tamron 90mm 2.5 adaptall.. uh hum 30 years old i think... Not lucky enough to have a tube yet but I put an old dejur 2x auto tc on it.. Being a chef I work too much but played in the garden for a few minutes I took 9 pictures hand held and found that manual was easier than expected.. They are no where near your shoots. But for my first attempt I was pretty happy...
The $15 dollar wonder with cheap old 2x tc

First 2 captures with manual settings macro

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musashi-miyamoto
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Re: Good post Catallaxy!
In reply to David Lal, Jul 23, 2011

One thought on this topic. -- shooting bugs is quite unlike shooting people. Insects are fascinating and more scientific. We have no need to empathize or feel for them like we do when we see portraits.

So, I'd use f/7 or higher shooting bugs. A broad depth of field so the hairs a few mm back are not blurred.

Essentially, I think going for a narrow depth of field is great with human portraits, but for bugs, why not get every single bristle in focus?

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sirkhann
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Re: Best nikon macro lens for bugs
In reply to Ray63129, Jul 23, 2011

Hi.

Best macro for bugs is Sigma 150/2.8.

I've tried it on 7D and it holds its ground. I'm also planning to get the new OS version soon, which gets good feedback for now. It is also compatible with Sigma 1.4x TC and you can AF with it.

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GlennW
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Re: Best nikon macro lens for bugs
In reply to sirkhann, Jul 23, 2011

Something to check is the working distance. I hope all lens on a DSLR use the same distance scale from the mark near the back of the camera. In film days this would have been the film plane. In a DSLR we are talking about the sensor. In a "close focusing" lens like the 18-55 VR kit lens you are including most of the camera body + the lens to get the about 1ft distance. The new 40mm brings this down to 6in.

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bgD300
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Re: Best nikon macro lens for bugs
In reply to Ray63129, Jul 24, 2011

I like the 105mm f2.8 VR for a couple of reasons. First of all, It's IF so the lens doesn't extend when at 1:1. Here's what I mean (taken from http://birdsnbugs.wordpress.com/2010/11/29/shooting-closeups-macro-lenses/ )

55mm f3.5 non-AI, 60mm f2.8D and 105mm f2.8 VR focussed at infinity

same lenses at 1:1 (55mm with PK-13 ring)

Another good thing is that it takes the Nikon teleconverters very well giving you a 150mm and 180mm lens (with loss of f2.8, of course) Here is one with the TC-17E II

I show more results at http://birdsnbugs.wordpress.com/2010/11/04/experimenting-with-the-105mm-micro-nikkor-with-teleconverters/

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