cheaper macro lens instead of $1000 Nikon

Started Jul 16, 2013 | Questions
HappyPooPants
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cheaper macro lens instead of $1000 Nikon
Jul 16, 2013

Hi Guys,

I have ready lots of threads so far, and as usual, the more you read, the more equipment you become aware of , and the decisions become harder.

I hate to be someone who is re-posting a question, but I guess my question is more specific.

I'm about to have a baby (well my wife anyway ) and I want to get a macro lense to do some really really close photo of the eyes, so I can get some nice reflections going. But would also like a lense to double as a sharp portrait lens.

I think the Nikon 105 vr is overkill for me, since its $1000.

I'm leaning towards the Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 Lens, which you can get for $350, as it seems to be an unbeatable lens for the price (in not looking at used glass).

The one thing I still canoot figure out is if I need VR or not, if I'm planning to handhold the camera most of the time. I do have a tripod, but don't really want to lug it around .

From what I understand I'll need to shoot at 1/100 to ensure no camera shake, but also worry I'll be losing a lot of light. If I have VR I can shoot at around 1/30 .. which would make a huge difference in doors if I only want to use ambient light.

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated...
I could spend a little more for the Tokina 100mm 2.8 macro or the Sigma 105mm f/2.8 Macro EX DG, but I don't know if it's actually worth it.
Oh, at the moment I have a D600, 24 - 85 (kit lense) & 50 1.8 and a tripod.
Thanks again

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D Cox
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Re: cheaper macro lens instead of $1000 Nikon
In reply to HappyPooPants, Jul 16, 2013

You don't want to be shining bright lights or flash at a new baby.

I suggest using a close-up lens (Raynox or similar) on a standard lens, as this avoids the big loss of light given by a macro lens or by extension tubes. You also retain auto-focus and stabilisation.

(A macro lens is basically a lens with built-in extension tubes.)

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bradtort
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Re: cheaper macro lens instead of $1000 Nikon
In reply to HappyPooPants, Jul 16, 2013

I recently replaced my Sigma 105 macro lens (purchased in 2005 - No VR) with a Tamron 90 with VC.   I paid $749 + tax, but will get a $100 rebate in the mail.

Below are uncropped images of the same hover fly using the Tamron.   Close and too close.  I think the second one suffers from loss of sharpness (and that blown out wing), but shows what can be achieved hand-held with VC and a high shutter speed.   For some reason the EXIF data is lost but I recall it was about ISO 800, F 11 and 1/500th.

How much of a part VC played, I don't know.  My experience with the Sigma would tell me I couldn't get this close and this sharp with that lens.

The Tamron seems a little sharper and has better color and contrast than the Sigma.

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bgD300
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Re: cheaper macro lens instead of $1000 Nikon
In reply to HappyPooPants, Jul 16, 2013

You appear  to be shooting Nikon so, you might consider the 85mm Micro-Nikkor as well.  With the 1.5 crop factor for DX that puts you at about 130mm for a portrait perspective similar to the 135mm often used for this.  At the same time, it will give you the native 1:1 magnification for your eye reflection shots.

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HappyPooPants
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Re: cheaper macro lens instead of $1000 Nikon
In reply to D Cox, Jul 17, 2013

D Cox wrote:

You don't want to be shining bright lights or flash at a new baby.

I suggest using a close-up lens (Raynox or similar) on a standard lens, as this avoids the big loss of light given by a macro lens or by extension tubes. You also retain auto-focus and stabilisation.

(A macro lens is basically a lens with built-in extension tubes.)

yeah I was worried it 2.8 would be good enough for indoor shots without a flash.
I'm looking into the Raynox as they're fairly cheap and have seen some good shots with this..
but i've also seen some bad ones.. I'm going to try and test one in a shop.

since it's just like a magnify glass, i'm worried i will lose quality.. 
but it seems ;

-extension tube - lose light and some qaulity

-filter - lose quality.

do you think putting this on a 50 1.8 would be ok? As I don't believe I will be able to focus any closer, or am I not understanding this right?
Thanks again!

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HappyPooPants
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Re: cheaper macro lens instead of $1000 Nikon
In reply to bgD300, Jul 17, 2013

bgD300 wrote:

You appear to be shooting Nikon so, you might consider the 85mm Micro-Nikkor as well. With the 1.5 crop factor for DX that puts you at about 130mm for a portrait perspective similar to the 135mm often used for this. At the same time, it will give you the native 1:1 magnification for your eye reflection shots.

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WSSA #51 as bg5700

thanks for that, I've got a d600, so don't really wanna get a DX lens , since I can get a better Tamron for the same price, and a bigger aperture. 
going to look into lense filters a bit more

thanks

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HappyPooPants
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Re: cheaper macro lens instead of $1000 Nikon
In reply to bradtort, Jul 17, 2013

bradtort wrote:

I recently replaced my Sigma 105 macro lens (purchased in 2005 - No VR) with a Tamron 90 with VC. I paid $749 + tax, but will get a $100 rebate in the mail.

Below are uncropped images of the same hover fly using the Tamron. Close and too close. I think the second one suffers from loss of sharpness (and that blown out wing), but shows what can be achieved hand-held with VC and a high shutter speed. For some reason the EXIF data is lost but I recall it was about ISO 800, F 11 and 1/500th.

How much of a part VC played, I don't know. My experience with the Sigma would tell me I couldn't get this close and this sharp with that lens.

The Tamron seems a little sharper and has better color and contrast than the Sigma.

For handeld thats not bad at all..! but i guess you were using a fairly fast shutter speed, so i don't believe the VR would have done anything...  
but thanks for the pics, I'm going to go to my local shop and see if I can play with some lens filters
thanks!

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HappyPooPants
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Re: cheaper macro lens instead of $1000 Nikon
In reply to D Cox, Jul 19, 2013

D Cox wrote:

You don't want to be shining bright lights or flash at a new baby.

I suggest using a close-up lens (Raynox or similar) on a standard lens, as this avoids the big loss of light given by a macro lens or by extension tubes. You also retain auto-focus and stabilisation.

(A macro lens is basically a lens with built-in extension tubes.)

After all the glowing reviews I ordered he Raynox 250... $50 used and on it's way.

can't wait to start testing and will post a few shots here on my 50 1.8
Thanks again.

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bgD300
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Raynox 150 vs 250
In reply to HappyPooPants, Jul 19, 2013

The 250 gives a lot more magnification than the 150.

The 150 is a 4.8 diopter lens, the 250 is an 8.0 diopter lens. Here are some comparison shots

Base shot

Raynox 150

Raynox 250

So, the 250 may get you closer than you want to be for eye reflections

By way of comparison, the Canon 250D is 4.0 diopters and the Canon 500D is 2.0 diopters.

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bgD300
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Re: Raynox 150 vs 250
In reply to bgD300, Jul 19, 2013

My bad, the lenscap in the picture is a Nikon 1 40.5mm lenscap.

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Gpruitt54
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Re: cheaper macro lens instead of $1000 Nikon
In reply to HappyPooPants, Jul 21, 2013

May I suggest looking a Nikon 105mm f/2.8 MF AI lens with a PN-11 extension tube. Yes, it is old school, but the image quality from these old lenses is remarkable, even by the standards of modern glass. Additionally, you can buy these on Ebay for pretty good prices.  Yes, the secret is out on these and everyone know it. So, prices are higher then they would ordinarily be.  But if you search, you can fine them at reasonable prices.

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HappyPooPants
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Re: Raynox 150 vs 250
In reply to bgD300, Jul 22, 2013

bgD300 wrote:

My bad, the lenscap in the picture is a Nikon 1 40.5mm lenscap.

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WSSA #51 as bg5700

thanks for the pics! my raynox 250 arived yesterday.. and due to the filter size, it only fits on my Nikon 50 1.8 :(...
i'm not sure about the diopeter stuff.. but I was using it last night for about 20mins (it was kinda late).. and was in my kitchen.. 
I was trying to capture a water drop falling from my tap.. but with the fast shutter speed, and trying to use a high apeture for a bigger dof .. it was really really really hard to get.
1 or 2 drops might be semi-sharp, while the others are slightly blurred.
I was trying to do eye shots.. but I think it was a little dark and I couldn't focus on the actual eye properly.. i kept getting really sharp eye lashes.. but the pupil itself not as sharp..
will have to try again on the weekend during the day to see if it's a lighting issue.. or if it's just because of my 50mm + focus distancs + dof ....
... all i can say is that it's not as easy as I thought it was going to be :(.....
Maybe I just need to fit it on my 24 - 85 lense..but because of the filter size , I think I need to get a step-up lens converter? 
Thanks for the pics!!!!

oh and to add.. the Raynox is $130 in AU, but I found 2nd hand on ebay for $50

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HappyPooPants
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Re: cheaper macro lens instead of $1000 Nikon
In reply to Gpruitt54, Jul 22, 2013

hmmm..

I was looking at the older macro 105 , but it didn't come with VR ?
I found a listing for the one you mentioned below on ebay for $400 , which is pretty cheap.. but trying to work out why it's so cheap?
I though if it had VR it was the $1000 one?

the PN tube.. doesn't this just allow the camera to focus closer?, but you will then lose some light?
Thanks for the suggestion.. and for $400 it's a decent price.. just always wary about buying 2nd hand old lenses.  
I'm wondering if I'm better off , just spending $500 for a 70 - 300 and then attaching my raynox 250 to it somehow

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Gpruitt54
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Re: cheaper macro lens instead of $1000 Nikon
In reply to HappyPooPants, Jul 23, 2013

HappyPooPants wrote:

hmmm..

I was looking at the older macro 105 , but it didn't come with VR ?
I found a listing for the one you mentioned below on ebay for $400 , which is pretty cheap.. but trying to work out why it's so cheap?
I though if it had VR it was the $1000 one?

the PN tube.. doesn't this just allow the camera to focus closer?, but you will then lose some light?
Thanks for the suggestion.. and for $400 it's a decent price.. just always wary about buying 2nd hand old lenses.  
I'm wondering if I'm better off , just spending $500 for a 70 - 300 and then attaching my raynox 250 to it somehow

Lens Review: Nikon Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8 AI-s

http://matthewdurrphotography.com/2013/04/01/lens-review-nikon-micro-nikkor-105mm-f2-8-ai-s/

I think these old lens do a pretty good job. The review above describes the 105 AI and also the PN-11 extension tube. Yes, the PN-11 tube is like other tubes, except the PN-11 has a tripod mount which allows you to change the balance of the lens, tube, and body.

I just sold a 70-300 because of its lack of light gathering.

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HappyPooPants
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Re: cheaper macro lens instead of $1000 Nikon
In reply to Gpruitt54, Jul 23, 2013

Awesome stuff!!

I have noted this lens down, and for $400 2nd hand, it sounds like a steal.
still thinking , i have around $500 for my next lens. and a zoom would be more useful instead of a 105 macro..

but I'm still not %100... it's so hard deciding on what to get!

decisions.. decisions..

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HappyPooPants
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Re: Raynox 150 vs 250
In reply to HappyPooPants, Jul 27, 2013

as promised here are my test results ..

All photos taken with

-D600 , 50mm 1.8 G .

-DX CROP mode

Photo above of a $2 AU coin.. it's 2cm in diameter

ISO 200, f 7.1 , 1/200 .
this shows just how hard it is to get a good DOF with the raynox

ISO 800, f 3.2 , 1/4000 .. little grainy.. but best i can do for now

still trying to get a good clear shot of such a small drop, but think I need a zoom lense

ISO 200, f 6.3, 1/200 .  my eye.. one of the main shots I really want to get, i did slightly enhance with lightroom (clarity).

So as you can see, with on a 50mm I can get 'decent' macro shots, but not amazing.
I think i need to use it on my zoom ( 24  - 85 ) , but need to get a step-down ring as the raynox won't fit. 
I'm hoping at 85 (in dx crop mode) I'll get enough zoom to really fill the frame.

would love to hear feedback , or tips with trying to get a water drop & human eye.
Thanks again

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Cliff Fujii
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Re: cheaper macro lens instead of $1000 Nikon
In reply to HappyPooPants, Jul 29, 2013

Are you sure you need a macro lens?  If you have a 50mm, you can spend $40 and purchase a reversing ring.  Put your 50mm on you camera backwards and you have a great close-up lens.  Of course, you would have to set everything by hand but it's not really hard to do.  If you are interested in do macro photography later, then I would recommend either the Nikon 105mm f/2.8G micro Nikkor or the Nikon 105mm f/2.8D micro Nikkor.  I have used extension tubes, bellows (with an EL Nikkor lens), close up lens, and reversed lens and by far, the reversed lens is great for those on a budget.  There is little distortion like you would get with a close-up lens and you get great magnification.

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HappyPooPants
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Re: cheaper macro lens instead of $1000 Nikon
In reply to Cliff Fujii, Jul 29, 2013

Hi Cliff,

I actually purchased a raynox 250, and already done some tests..pretty happy with it so far on my 50, but waiting on a step-down ring to put it on my 24 - 85 lense.

I've also included some test pics with the raynox in a later thread..see http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/51877507

Yeah I didn't like the idea of putting lens backwards, as I was worried about the back element being un-protected ;).

thanks

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Cliff Fujii
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Re: cheaper macro lens instead of $1000 Nikon
In reply to HappyPooPants, Jul 30, 2013

I'm glad to hear that you are happy with the Raynox.  Reversing a normal lens is an old way to get macro performance out of lenses that were not designed to be Macro Focus lens.  I used to reverse my 50mm f/1.4 Ai on my Nikon F2AS in the 70's.  It works great and Nikon even makes a reversing ring to allow this.  I was told that the rear element is pretty tough especially those with a coating on them.  It's just for $40, you can have a great macro lens.

Good luck with your gear.

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HappyPooPants
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Re: cheaper macro lens instead of $1000 Nikon
In reply to Cliff Fujii, Jul 30, 2013

yeah , my camera is too precious at the moment (it's still new), so I won't take any risks..

but thanks.

do you have any advice on using a macro lens without VR?
I was considering getting the Tamron 90 in the next year... its only $300.. but wondering if VR is that important when doubling the lens as a portrait lens?
Thanks,

David

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