Best macro lens

Started Apr 6, 2013 | Discussions
johanna5683
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Best macro lens
Apr 6, 2013

Hi, I have a Nikon d5100 and I was wondering if anyone can recommend a good macro lens? I want to photograph small insects, spiders, etc... very close up shots. Thanks!

Nikon D5100
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happysnapper64
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Re: Best macro lens
In reply to johanna5683, Apr 6, 2013

Just about all macro lenses are good & sharp. The things to considder are how close you need to be to achieve the 1:1 ratio that gives proper macro images. As a rule, a 50 or 60mm macro lens will need to be very close to the object, bug or whatever, in order to achieve this. This is called the working distance. On longer macro lenses, like 90-105mm this "working distance" is usually greater. This distance is cut down further if a lens hood is used. Some macro lenses also extend when focusing, which can scare some bugs away. The 90-105mm are the most used macro lenses, as they can achieve macro focusing at about 6-9". I would look for one in this 90-105mm range.The Sigma & Nikon 105mm have image stabilization, useful if shooting small objects hand held, the Tamron 90mm is also well regarded. Of these 3 only the Nikon does not extend when focusing.

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lee uk.
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merops
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Re: Best macro lens
In reply to happysnapper64, Apr 6, 2013

I have the Nikon 105 VR and use it mostly for 'walk up' handheld photos of insects. It's a lovely lens.

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David Pastern
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Re: Best macro lens
In reply to johanna5683, Apr 6, 2013

Several things:

1) depending on what you'll want to photograph, focal length is a good thing to consider.  Butterflies, damselflies and dragonflies will benefit from a longer focal length and greater working distance.  I personally use a Sigma 150mm and can recommend this lens.  You can get away with a 100mm lens, but your stalking abilities on the more nervous insects will have to be well honed imho.

2) all macro lenses are optically very good.  Ignore the marketing BS.

3) longer lenses are heavier.  They also require a higher minimum shutter speed to avoid camera shake.

4) IS is a waste with macro imho.

Dave

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happysnapper64
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Re: Best macro lens
In reply to David Pastern, Apr 6, 2013

David Pastern wrote:

Several things:

1) depending on what you'll want to photograph, focal length is a good thing to consider.  Butterflies, damselflies and dragonflies will benefit from a longer focal length and greater working distance.  I personally use a Sigma 150mm and can recommend this lens.  You can get away with a 100mm lens, but your stalking abilities on the more nervous insects will have to be well honed imho.

2) all macro lenses are optically very good.  Ignore the marketing BS.

3) longer lenses are heavier.  They also require a higher minimum shutter speed to avoid camera shake.

4) IS is a waste with macro imho.

Dave

Dave, I respect your opinion, & in a number of cases I do find that my 3yr old second hand 100mm f/2.8 Canon non IS, does a great job hand held, as long as I keep the SS well up. As I have a slight tremmor in my hands, I would welcome the use of IS on many occasions, especially if the objects I seek are somewhat hidden in the foilage of a bush or hedge etc, where they are in shade. Most who don't have my problem will probably manage without IS though.

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rjjr
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I love the IS
In reply to happysnapper64, Apr 6, 2013

happysnapper64 wrote:

David Pastern wrote:

3) longer lenses are heavier.  They also require a higher minimum shutter speed to avoid camera shake.

4) IS is a waste with macro imho.

Dave, I respect your opinion, & in a number of cases I do find that my 3yr old second hand 100mm f/2.8 Canon non IS, does a great job hand held, as long as I keep the SS well up. As I have a slight tremmor in my hands, I would welcome the use of IS on many occasions, especially if the objects I seek are somewhat hidden in the foilage of a bush or hedge etc, where they are in shade. Most who don't have my problem will probably manage without IS though.

In my Canon EF 100mm L IS macro.  I used the Canon EF 100mm and EFS 60mm for several years (the 60mm was my walkaround) and don't regret trading them for the 100L.  I find the IS is very useful. I rarely use a tripod so the hand-held keeper rate is much improved with the IS.

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ormdig
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Re: Best macro lens
In reply to johanna5683, Apr 6, 2013

Hi Johanna, I have used a Nikon 105 f/2.8 vrll on a D90 and now on a D800. It's very sharp and I find the vr to be very helpful. It's a lot of fun to use on bugs and flowers and also makes for an interesting walk around lens. On the D5100 it makes for a very decent mid-tele and the f/2.8 is quite useful in low light situations.

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happysnapper64
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Re: Best macro lens
In reply to ormdig, Apr 6, 2013

great captures & at pretty low SS also. Well done.

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D Cox
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Re: I love the IS
In reply to rjjr, Apr 6, 2013

rjjr wrote:

In my Canon EF 100mm L IS macro.  I used the Canon EF 100mm and EFS 60mm for several years (the 60mm was my walkaround) and don't regret trading them for the 100L.  I find the IS is very useful. I rarely use a tripod so the hand-held keeper rate is much improved with the IS.

It depends whether it is you moving or the subject. Flowers are almost always in motion, and insects tend to be blown around with whatever plant they are on.

IS would certainly be good on a very still day.

As to the original question, Nikon have always made excellent macro lenses so it seems sensible to use a Nikon lens on a Nikon camera. It doesn't have to be a new one.

The Sigma 70mm has a high reputation.

For an indoor studio setup, I prefer to use a Nikon enlarger lens on a bellows. It is more flexible and with a good bellows you get some tilt and shift. A rigid tripod or copying stand and some kind of remote control are needed.

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rjjr
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Re: I love the IS
In reply to D Cox, Apr 7, 2013

D Cox wrote:

rjjr wrote:

In my Canon EF 100mm L IS macro.  I used the Canon EF 100mm and EFS 60mm for several years (the 60mm was my walkaround) and don't regret trading them for the 100L.  I find the IS is very useful. I rarely use a tripod so the hand-held keeper rate is much improved with the IS.

It depends whether it is you moving or the subject. Flowers are almost always in motion, and insects tend to be blown around with whatever plant they are on.

IS would certainly be good on a very still day.

Of course the most basic principles of photography still apply. One must still exercise patience and use a shutter speed appropriate for the subject.

What I really like about any IS is the stillness of the viewfinder image when shooting handheld so I can better concentrate on the subject.

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