A better (but stilll cheap?) macro lens than the 40mm

Started Mar 13, 2012 | Discussions
midimid
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A better (but stilll cheap?) macro lens than the 40mm
Mar 13, 2012

So I picked up the Nikon 40mm for my D5100 this last weekend at Best Buy. Going to do some amazing pictures of the cherry blossoms this coming week. But I'm considering taking it back and getting something else.

Here's why.

What I like:

  • Sharpness: Other than being my first macro, I absolutely love how sharp this lens is. Certain pictures that came out really soft on the edges with my 35mm come out amazingly sharp on this 40mm - and I don't mean just close up. Its SO much sharper.

What I hate:

  • Distance: I hate how close you have to get at 40mm. Everything must be perfectly still making only plants and stationary objects the only thing I can take macro photography of.

  • Speed: In comparison with the 35mm, I also miss the ability to take great pictures without lots of light, thanks to the difference between f/1.8 vs. f/2.8. This was particularly noticeable just taking macro pics of random things around my room. I feel like everything has to be perfectly lit to get a nice macro shot. I also have to be too careful not block out the light from getting the lens so close to everything. The hood is useless. I think at a further focal distance, this would be less of a problem.

So I'm seeing some other options. There's a nice listing here of "macro" lenses:
http://www.photozone.de/nikon--nikkor-aps-c-lens-tests

Nikon has a really nice 105mm, but its outside of my budget. I'd like to stay under $500. Sigma and Tamron have a bunch that seem to price around $400-$800. Are any of them any good?

I'd say my biggest requirement is the sharpness I get from the 40mm.

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Brev00
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Re: A better (but stilll cheap?) macro lens than the 40mm
In reply to midimid, Mar 13, 2012

It is hard to get everything you want in one lens. While most macros are slower than 1.8, the Tamron 60 on is almost as fast at 2.0. Its working distance is longer than other 60 mm lenses. It is also an if lens so there is no movement while focusing. In your price range and has a rebate. Just may not be as long as you might like, but a long macro will cost more.
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midimid
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Re: A better (but stilll cheap?) macro lens than the 40mm
In reply to midimid, Mar 13, 2012

As I'm looking around at third-party stuff, I suppose I have two questions:

  • What does 1:1 really mean? What does 1:3 mean in comparison?

  • A math question. According to the Rockwell review (which is absolutely true!):

"Worse, the front extends as you focus more closely, leaving only 1.3 inches (3.5cm) between the lens and your subject at 1:1"

So, if I get a 90mm or 105mm macro lens that can also do 1:1, what distance would I be from the object to get the exact same image?

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dbrowdy
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Re: A better (but stilll cheap?) macro lens than the 40mm
In reply to midimid, Mar 13, 2012

Lots of good info on your questions here: http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1030&thread=40833435

BTW, I think the Tamron 60 f/2 is probably a good bet for what you're looking for. The 90 might have a better working distance, but it's slower at f/2.8.

Not that I have either, but I've been reading a lot and I have my heart set on that lens.

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paulski66
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Re: A better (but stilll cheap?) macro lens than the 40mm
In reply to midimid, Mar 13, 2012

Well, one thing to consider is that lens speed tends to be a little less important with macro lenses, as you will likely be stopping down for macro photography just to get some modicum of DoF.

I've heard great things about the 40mm f/2.8, but I agree that the focal length seems a bit limiting. I have both the the 60mm f/2.8 AF-S G and the 105 f/2.8 VR; both are unbelievable lenses, but one is 2x the cost of the 40mm, the other almost 4x the cost. Personally, I think the 60mm is worth it, but you won't be getting any more speed nor gaining that much working distance.

You could look for an older used 105 f/2.8 D; you could probably find one for about $500. Or, of course, there's the 3rd party lens option. I've heard great things about both Tamrons (60mm, 90mm), as well as the Sigma 150mm if you really want to increase your range...

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Andre Bomhof
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The Tamron f/2 60mm is indeed worth a look
In reply to dbrowdy, Mar 13, 2012

dbrowdy wrote:

Lots of good info on your questions here: http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1030&thread=40833435

BTW, I think the Tamron 60 f/2 is probably a good bet for what you're looking for. The 90 might have a better working distance, but it's slower at f/2.8.

Not that I have either, but I've been reading a lot and I have my heart set on that lens.

Here's the photozone review:

http://www.photozone.de/nikon--nikkor-aps-c-lens-tests/680-tamron6020nikon

Cheers,

André

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midimid
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Tamron 60mm vs. 90mm?
In reply to paulski66, Mar 14, 2012

I'm seriously considering the 60mm or 90mm Tamron. Other than distance, what's the biggest difference between the two?

Both have rebates right now and the results on the Tamron 60mm thread makes it very very attractive.

Again, sharpness anad distance are key to me. Is it true that 40mm vs. 60mm won't make much of a difference? I can't imagine ever capturing a bug at either of these distances, which leans me towards the Tamron 90mm or the Nikon 85mm if it performs as well as the 60mm.

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midimid
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Re: A better (but stilll cheap?) macro lens than the 40mm
In reply to dbrowdy, Mar 14, 2012

Thanks for this!! As mentioned, really considering the 60mm now. Any thoughts on how it compares to the 90mm other than just distance?

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Brev00
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Re: A better (but stilll cheap?) macro lens than the 40mm
In reply to midimid, Mar 14, 2012

90mm is not if like the 60. The 90 is fx while the 60 is dx. I prefer the 90's manual focus and got more keepers with it at a Tamron macro event. I have seen good bug pics with both (not my priority) but, if that is your aim, a 150 or longer might be better. Trying both out would be ideal if possible.
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Chris De Schepper
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Re: A better (but stilll cheap?) macro lens than the 40mm
In reply to Brev00, Mar 14, 2012

there is also the Nikon 85mm3.5VR, which has nearly the same WD as the 105 and is a lot cheaper. Of course the Tamron 60mm has F2 and more WD than the Nikon 60mm.

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pw-pix2
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Re: A better (but stilll cheap?) macro lens than the 40mm
In reply to midimid, Mar 14, 2012

Tamron 90mm, even the old manual focus ones.
Highly regarded as a macro lens, highly regarded as a portrait lens.

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paulski66
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Re: Tamron 60mm vs. 90mm?
In reply to midimid, Mar 14, 2012

I never pull my 60mm out for bug pics. If that is your need, then go with the 90mm.

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Chris De Schepper
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Re: Tamron 60mm vs. 90mm?
In reply to paulski66, Mar 14, 2012

the 60mm tamron has the same WD as the 90mm tamron, even slightly more, so for insects that wouldn't change. The 60mm is a newer lens, faster ,but no FF

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paulski66
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Re: Tamron 60mm vs. 90mm?
In reply to Chris De Schepper, Mar 14, 2012

Chris De Schepper wrote:

the 60mm tamron has the same WD as the 90mm tamron, even slightly more, so for insects that wouldn't change. The 60mm is a newer lens, faster ,but no FF

Huh?

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Bjorn_L
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Re: Tamron 60mm vs. 90mm?
In reply to paulski66, Mar 14, 2012

paulski66 wrote:

Chris De Schepper wrote:

the 60mm tamron has the same WD as the 90mm tamron, even slightly more, so for insects that wouldn't change. The 60mm is a newer lens, faster ,but no FF

Huh?

Chris is right.

The 60mm has nearly as much working distance as the Tamron 90mm. It has the longest WD of any 60mm macro that I know of. Most macros focus breath and get "shorter" at macro distance. I read somewhere that at MFD most 80-105mm macros are around 60mm in effective FL. While the Tamron 60mm seems to be designed to avoid this and thereby has more working distance.

It is also a full-stop faster at f2, but as was noted previously this has little bearing at macro distances where most of us are up well over f8 to get DOF.

There are some minor gotchas with the 60mm. A mild yellow cast (fix with white balance or in post). Occasional focus issues. Use google of forum search to read more about it.

The big plus is that when it is used as a prime and the subject is at a distance it is 60mm f2.

The Tamron 90mm has fewer gotchas, very nice skin tones. The OP would have to be sure to get the newer version with a focus motor if they have a d5100. Skin tones are very nice. Auto-Focus speed is very slow. (use MF or the focus limiter)

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closeupfanatic
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Re: A better (but stilll cheap?) macro lens than the 40mm
In reply to midimid, Mar 14, 2012

1. You're trying to do everything with one lens, and that doesn't work, especially at low budgets. Keep your 40 for macro and get lens(es) designed for general photography for that use.

2. Macro lenses are small aperture because large apertures are useless - it's more important to have a good f/22 than f/2 in close-up work.

3. The only reason I'd take the 40G back is because it can't be reversed for higher magnifications. Get one with an aperture ring. (see http://johnsankey.ca/closeup.html for details)

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paulski66
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Re: Tamron 60mm vs. 90mm?
In reply to Bjorn_L, Mar 14, 2012

Interesting. Thanks, Bjorn...

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Windancer
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My Thoughts.......
In reply to midimid, Mar 14, 2012

midimid wrote:

So I picked up the Nikon 40mm for my D5100 this last weekend at Best Buy.

As someone who has both the Nikkor 105/2.8 and the 60/2.8 lenses I will offer my thoughts on this. AKAIK the 40mm is a DX lens while the 60 and 105 are FX lenses. This may come into play later should yo decide to go FX. On your camera the 60 will act like a 90 and the 105 will act like 157.5 mm lens.

All of the Nikkor micro lens are sharp. The working range of the 40 compared to the 60 or 105 is much shorter. I have used both lenses on different DX bodies and IMO they work very well.

To me the 40/2.8 is a good lens, and while cheaper than the 60 or 105. Personally I feel that you would be happier with a longer lens.

I personally speed is a non issue, IMO it's rare (not saying it isn't done) that you would use a micro lens wide open, so F1.8 vs 2.0 vs. 2.8 to me is a non issue.

Just my opinion though, others may and will differ.

Terry

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midimid
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The choice...
In reply to midimid, Mar 14, 2012

Thank you ALL for your replies. I spent hours reading up on all of this last night and still went to bed perplexed.

At the least, I know that my decision is between the Tamron 60mm and 90mm. Both have manufacturer rebates right now making them a steal to anything in comparison. The good news too is I bought the 40mm at Best Buy and can hold on to it for 90 days for a full return thanks to my Silver membership - as long as I can keep it from slamming into anything (this has already happened).

With that said, I think my money is going towards the 60mm. I don't think I'll goto FX any time soon - a D7100 will probably be my next upgrade. The 60mm is newer, and while the f/2 doesn't really matter, it'll be nice in situations where dusk is occurring and I don't have time to swap to my 35mm f/1.8. In general, it sounds like the 60mm can "use more light" than the 90mm. One review I read put its corner-to-corner sharpness as quite a bit better than the 90mm, which is also a concern (I love the 40mm's sharpness compared to my 35mm). These are all factors that make me turn to the 60mm.

Last question - I saw someone with a Tamron 2x teleconverter on the 60mm making it 120mm. This seems like something I might actually consider later on. But, I thought that could only be done with f/2.8 lenses?

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midimid
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Re: Tamron 60mm vs. 90mm?
In reply to Bjorn_L, Mar 14, 2012

FYI - according to here:
http://photo.net/comments/for-one-page.tcl?page_id=24182&comment_type=all

Working distance between the 60mm and 90mm is 4" vs. 4.25". That's pretty negligible, but alot better than what I'm working with now!

The Nikon 60mm is way shorter - someone says 1-7/8".

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