Best Macro Lense for D5100???

Started Aug 12, 2012 | Discussions
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Jambo Taylor
Jambo Taylor Junior Member • Posts: 28
Best Macro Lense for D5100???

Just wondering if anyone can advise what would be the best Macro Lens for my D5100. I tend to use my Lumix LX3 for Macro Work so im wondering if there is anything i can do to make best use of Macro with my D5100?

The only one I know of at the moment is the Nikon 105mm f/2.8G VR Micro lens. Am not sure if it is fully compatible with the D5100 or not so any advice would be great.

Cheers!

Nikon D5100
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RSchussel
RSchussel Regular Member • Posts: 234
Re: Best Macro Lense for D5100???

There are many fine Macro lens that will work with your camera including Nikons 105mm.

for less money is the Tamron 90mmMacro. I did not like the build of it but the picture quality is excellent

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joejack951
joejack951 Senior Member • Posts: 2,682
Re: Best Macro Lense for D5100???

Jambo Taylor wrote:

Am not sure if it is fully compatible with the D5100 or not so any advice would be great.

Any Nikon "AF-S" designated macro lens will be fully compatible with your D5100. This includes the 40 f/2.8, 60 f/2.8, 85 f/3.5, and 105 f/2.8 micro lenses. The latter two have VR which can be nice for close-up hand held photography, though as you get closer to 1:1 reproduction ratios, the value of VR goes way down.

There are many third party alternatives as well. Sigma calls their internal AF motor lenses "HSM" lenses. They have quite a few options that are considered as good or better than the Nikon lenses. I haven't looked much at Tamron and Tokina options but there are a few there as well.

If you are not concerned with AF, and for true macro photography AF is not very useful, you open up the possibility of using far more lenses, many of which are quite cheap. A Nikon 60 f/2.8 AF-D or 105 f/2.8 AF-D are examples.

 joejack951's gear list:joejack951's gear list
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Steve 316
Steve 316 Forum Member • Posts: 93
Re: Best Macro Lense for D5100???

I have enjoyed using the Tamron 60mm 2.0 for the past year on my 5000. It's light and sharp and usually comes with a big rebate. It's fine if you're doing flowers and various textures, probably too short if you will shoot insects.

Since it's a 90mm equivalent, it is also ideal for portraits.

Tamron's 90mm macro, which someone mentioned and is still available, was hugely popular in the film/full frame days. This newer 60mm was their re-working of the lens for the digital age. The new lens has two benefits: brighter at 2.0, and internal focusing. The old Tamron 90mm really trombones out there.

Nikon's 60mm 2.8 focuses faster in low light but is also more expensive. You probably won't use autofocus much on macro anyway.

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jcockeri
jcockeri Forum Member • Posts: 63
Re: Best Macro Lense for D5100???

Have you considered the Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G? It's very versatile and can be used for portraits as well. I know people who actually substitute a 35mm or 50mm prime lense with this one because it's great for portraits and macro.

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dwa1
dwa1 Senior Member • Posts: 2,960
Lens suggestions highly dependent on subjects.

If you want "qualified" recommendations, then it would be best to tell us what your intended subjects will be.

Big flowers have different lens requirements than small nectaring insects. Also, it would be helpful to know whether or not you wear eyeglasses to shoot - as that can affect the need to use AF or MF. If AF is needed (like in harsh light for fast moving nectaring insects), some macros may be too slow.

There's lots of great macro lenses on the market. If you can provide better "specs", then we can provide you with some "informed" suggestions.

Wayne

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Steve Bingham
Steve Bingham Forum Pro • Posts: 23,300
You bet. However . . .

There are LOTS of other choices.
Nikon 60mm, 200mm
Tamron 60mm, 90mm
Tokina 90mm
etc, etc.

The Tamron 90mm sharpness is legendary. A best buy.
--
Steve Bingham
http://www.dustylens.com
http://www.ghost-town-photography.com

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joejack951
joejack951 Senior Member • Posts: 2,682
Re: You bet. However . . .

Steve Bingham wrote:

There are LOTS of other choices.
Nikon 60mm, 200mm

The Nikon 200 f/4 Micro will not AF on a D5100.

Tamron 60mm, 90mm
Tokina 90mm
etc, etc.

There is a Tokina 100mm macro but again it will not AF on a D5100.

 joejack951's gear list:joejack951's gear list
Nikon Coolpix P7700 Nikon Coolpix AW100 Nikon D300S Nikon D3S Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED VR +5 more
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Steve Bingham
Steve Bingham Forum Pro • Posts: 23,300
Whoops

Whoops! Thanks, Joe. Looks like the D5100 needs AF-S lenses or lens with motors. (AF-S means Auto Focus Silent Wave motor.) Shades of the D40, D60, etc. Substitute the 85mm AF-S micro. I forgot about the motor thing. Sigh!

joejack951 wrote:

Steve Bingham wrote:

There are LOTS of other choices.
Nikon 60mm, 200mm

The Nikon 200 f/4 Micro will not AF on a D5100.

Tamron 60mm, 90mm
Tokina 90mm
etc, etc.

There is a Tokina 100mm macro but again it will not AF on a D5100.

 Steve Bingham's gear list:Steve Bingham's gear list
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joejack951
joejack951 Senior Member • Posts: 2,682
Re: Whoops

Steve Bingham wrote:

Whoops! Thanks, Joe. Looks like the D5100 needs AF-S lenses or lens with motors. (AF-S means Auto Focus Silent Wave motor.) Shades of the D40, D60, etc. Substitute the 85mm AF-S micro. I forgot about the motor thing. Sigh!

No problem. The only reason I bring it up is because the OP mentioned full compatibility. I even posted about the option of foregoing AF in order to open up more (inexpensive) options. Nikon's AF, AF-D, AF-S D, and AF-S lens descriptions can be a bit confusing for new and seasoned Nikon users.

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Jambo Taylor
Jambo Taylor OP Junior Member • Posts: 28
Re: Lens suggestions highly dependent on subjects.

dwa1 wrote:

If you want "qualified" recommendations, then it would be best to tell us what your intended subjects will be.

There's lots of great macro lenses on the market. If you can provide better "specs", then we can provide you with some "informed" suggestions.

I like to take pics of all sorts with Macro (flowers, trinkets, slow insects) so I guess it would be some kind of ALL ROUND macro lens. I like the Idea of having some length between me and the subject as I have to work quite close with my LX3.

Im still trying to learn about DOF so would you get a much more blurred background from creating more space between yourself and the subject and using a longer lens or would you see similar results from working close to the subject.

And the last thing......maybe a silly question.....but......Are Macro Lenses very sharp compaired to other lenses? If so then why would you not use them all the time and what advantages or dissadvantages would there be to using one for general every day shots?

Thanks again for all the help so far!!!

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joejack951
joejack951 Senior Member • Posts: 2,682
Re: Lens suggestions highly dependent on subjects.

Jambo Taylor wrote:

I like to take pics of all sorts with Macro (flowers, trinkets, slow insects) so I guess it would be some kind of ALL ROUND macro lens. I like the Idea of having some length between me and the subject as I have to work quite close with my LX3.

That's probably the number one advantage of using a DSLR vs. a compact camera for macro.

Im still trying to learn about DOF so would you get a much more blurred background from creating more space between yourself and the subject and using a longer lens or would you see similar results from working close to the subject.

You will definitely notice more blurred backgrounds due to the use of much longer focal lengths on the DSLR. You'll also become aware of the number one disadvantage of using a DSLR for macro which is the difficulty in getting enough DOF in a shot. Sometimes even stopped all the way down isn't enough, especially at or near 1:1. Focus stacking can solve this problem but that requires a lot of time and some special equipment to do it right.

And the last thing......maybe a silly question.....but......Are Macro Lenses very sharp compaired to other lenses? If so then why would you not use them all the time and what advantages or dissadvantages would there be to using one for general every day shots?

As with everything in photography, there are compromises.

Compared to a "normal" lens of similar focal length, macro lenses will tend to have smaller max apertures. Just in the Nikon lineup, you'll find the 35 f/1.8 and the 40 f/2.8 micro, the 50 f/1.4 and 60 f/2.8 micro, the 105 f/2 DC and 105 f/2.8 micro, and 180 f/2.8 and 200 f/4 micro. In all but one of those instances (the specialized 105 f/2 DC), the macro lens is also more expensive.

Compounding the slower aperture is the "bellows effect" that all macro lenses are subject to. As you focus closer, less light reaches the sensor reducing the effective aperture (for exposure purposes only, the physical size of the aperture and therefore the DOF are unaffected). For exmaple, at 10 ft to infinity, the 105 f/2.8 micro will display f/2.8 as the max aperture. By 1:1, the max displayed value is f/4.8. Not only does this slow down your shutter speeds but it also makes AF lock more difficult.

Speaking of AF, there's another drawback to macro lenses. Because of the shallow DOF at high magnification, the focus throw on these lenses is quite long. This makes for sometimes painfully slow AF especially when the lens misses the first time and has to rack back and forth. Some macro lenses have focus limiters which reduce this drawback.

Finally, macro lenses (at least internal focusing designs) can make for difficult framing due to the fairly drastic change in focal length as they rack from infinity to 1:1. It's usually far easier in close-up photography to set the lens manually to the desired reproduction ratio then move the lens until the subject is in focus. At 1:1, this is pretty much the only way to work.

If you've never worked with a true macro lens before consider renting one to see what they are like to work with. If nothing else, you'll find out before purchasing what kind of focal length works better for you. There's a huge difference working with a 40 vs. a 200mm macro lens.

 joejack951's gear list:joejack951's gear list
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Jambo Taylor
Jambo Taylor OP Junior Member • Posts: 28
Re: Lens suggestions highly dependent on subjects.

Spot on that mate, thanks for the help. Im defo gona look at getting one rented first before making the dive! As im finding out......nothing is straight forward in this world of DSLR's......for me anyways, so your input goes a long way. Cheers again!

Now it's back to UNDERSTANDING EXPOSURE by B.Peterson

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dwa1
dwa1 Senior Member • Posts: 2,960
Re: Lens suggestions highly dependent on subjects.

Jambo... joejack951 (and others) provided some great feedback for you. Renting is a great idea. Nothing like "hands on" experience before you buy. Consider going to a local camera shop too and trying out a few in the store.

I have the Tamron 90 2.8. It was my first macro. I also have the Sigma 150 28. (non-OS version). This has become my "go to" lens for all sorts of butterflies, bees, floral close-ups and even some birds when they get close enough. The glass is superb. I hope to someday replace the Tamron 90 with the Nikon 105 2.8 micro. Also, I understand that the newer OS version of the Sigma 150 has slightly faster AF than the non-OS version. The Tamron 90 has very slow AF and hunts a lot. But it's very light weight, it switches from AF to MF quite easily and the glass is excellent. It should balance nicely with your D5100.

Sigma has announced their new 180 2.8 OS macro. When that comes out you may find more used Sigma 150 lenses on the market. You could possibly get one of those for a good price.

Since you are used to the great DOF with a P&S sensor, DOF may be your biggest "challenge". When you are close to your subjects with a DSLR and macro lens, the DOF is so limited that you may not get the image that you were hoping for. You can stop the lens down, but then you will lose shutter speed. If you have a longer focal length macro (150 to 200), then you can increase DOF by moving back from your subjects. Some of the Nikon bodies have a "DOF preview" button. Not sure about your D5100.

Hope this helps and good luck in your macro world endeavors.

Wayne

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_sem_
_sem_ Veteran Member • Posts: 4,713
Re: Lens suggestions highly dependent on subjects.

Jambo Taylor wrote:

Im still trying to learn about DOF so would you get a much more blurred background from creating more space between yourself and the subject and using a longer lens or would you see similar results from working close to the subject.

DoF (and absolute blur) is practically about the same with short and long macros, at the same magnification and F-stop, mostly thinner than one'd wish.

Relative blur increases with focal length, as a different frame of the background at a certain distance is included in the image. Due to this, short macros provide more impression of depth, while the long ones provide better subject isolation.

The free working distance is roughly proportional to the focal length; still the Tamron 60/2 has 10cm but the Nikkor 60/2.8 only 5cm at the same max 1:1 magnification.
Handholdability is better with shorter macros.

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John E Fox
John E Fox Regular Member • Posts: 238
Re: Best Macro Lense for D5100???

I've just bought a Sigma 150mm f2.8 macro lens - excellent.
Bought it second hand, it's the Mk1, unstabilised version.
Longer lenses get you further away ffrom your subject, avoiding
shadows and disturbances.

John Fox

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Jim Lucier
Jim Lucier New Member • Posts: 9
Re: Best Macro Lense for D5100???

I use the Nikon 40mm/2.8 micro as a standard lens that doubles as a great micro. It yields sharp images and good color saturation. It does lack VR and the autofocus does not work for close ups but for the money you can't beat it.

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Catallaxy
Catallaxy Veteran Member • Posts: 3,704
Re: Best Macro Lense for D5100???

The Tamron 90 is well regarded and inexpensive, and newer models with AF on the D5100. The Tamron has a neutral rendering with smooth bokeh (better for portraits) it is fairly light weight and not very bulky.

The Sigma 105 (non OS) is comparable to the Tokina and Tamron, but is more expensive. There is also an OS version of this lens, I think, but I have not seen reviews yet. I think this lens AFs with the D5100.

The Nikon 105 VR is a good lens, but is expensive. Some are wowed by the lens, loving its high contrast. The biggest downside is the very high price.

The Sigma 150 f/2.8 (non OS) is a legend. A very nice lens. The reviews that I have seen of the new Sigma 150 f/2.8 OS show that it is not as sharp as the original and it is heavier too.

The Nikon 85 f/3.5 is a decent macro with VR, but it is not very impressive when compared against the competion. The focal length is just barely, barely long enough for insects and the VR is not very useful for true macro.

I would stay in the middle range for now. The shorter macros are good for flowers, but they will not do insects very well. The longer macros are great for everything, but are not easy to hand hold. The middle lenses ( around 100mm) are the general purpose macros.

You can also find reviews on photozone.de, lenstip.com, slrgear.com and nikongear.com

I would go with the Tamron 90.

Note that there are a slew of good macro lenses that do not AF on the D5100. AF is not as important for macro, but it is important if you intend to use the lens for other things. And all macros are sharp. All of them (although the newer ones from Sigma with the OS function seem to be less sharp than others according to the reviews).

Short macros: Tokina 35, Nikon 40, Sigma 50, Nikon 55 f/3.5, Nikon 55 f/2.8, Nikon 60 AFS, Nikon 60 AF-D. Tamron 60 f/2, Sigma 70 f/2.8

Intermediate macros: Nikon 85 f/3.5 VR, Tamron 90 (at least four or five models from the original f/2.5 version that I own to the new f/2.8 versoin that has a lens motor for AF), Tokina 90 (Bokina), Tokina 100, Sigma 105, Nikon 105 (at least three models over the years), Zeiss 100, Voigtlander 125, Voitlander 90 (not a true 1:1), Kiron/Phoenix 105.

Long macros: Sigma 150 (both with and without the OS feature), Sigma 180, Tamron 180, Nikon 200 (two versions).

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Catallaxy

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petekandu
petekandu New Member • Posts: 1
Re: You bet. However . . .

I use the 200MM f4 nikon lens on my D5100 and as I always use manual focus on macro work AF does not matter to me.  I have not that good vision as I am now 80, but I use back focus and magnify it 10x and they almost all come out tack sharp. back focus is an excellent trick to know. Just go to live view select a single focus point and blow it up and you can see exactly what is in focus and adjust acordingly

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