Macro Lens Advice

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Photo Avocation
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Macro Lens Advice
7 months ago

This is my first post, so I hope this question is not too dumb. Thanks for your patience in advance.

I have a Nikon D7000 and really like macro photgraphy.  I currently have a Nikon 60mm f2.8 Af-D and a Nikon 18-200 3.5-5.6 ED. I learned that the 60 is really too short for anything moving, b/c I have to get right on top of it. I like to shoot butterflies, spiders, other bugs, birds, and flowers.  I think my 18-200 can get up to .5m, so I can use it as a macro lens. Believe it or not, I've taken some nice macros with my iphone (leaf bug, but I had to be literally on top of it), and with my wife's canon point and shoot which has a macro setting.

I'm thinking about getting a more serious macro lens used, but I have a budget of $500. The Nikon 200mm f/4 AF-D, which I'd like, is at least $1000 used and over $1200 new. I can either keep using my 18-200, or get a Nikon 300mm f4 ED AF-S used within my budget and use that both as a macro and for longer shots.

I my 18-200 is good enough, I can get a super-wide, which is also on my dream list. In that case, I'd get the Tokina 11-16.

I really appreciate any advice.

Nikon D7000
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jmiller1948
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Re: Macro Lens Advice
In reply to Photo Avocation, 7 months ago

You should look at the 105 f/2.8 micro.  The list price is $985, which is still above your budget, but I suspect you can get a good used one for a couple hundred $s less.  It is an excellent lens, very sharp.  It adds a good bit of extra lens-to-subject distance over the 60 mm.  It has a 1 ft. minimum focus distance.  It also doubles as a pretty nice portrait lens.  I have one and get amazing results with it, but I don't shoot moving subjects much as you do.  For flowers and such it is superb.

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Michael Benveniste
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Re: Macro Lens Advice
In reply to Photo Avocation, 7 months ago

Photo Avocation wrote:

I'm thinking about getting a more serious macro lens used, but I have a budget of $500. The Nikon 200mm f/4 AF-D, which I'd like, is at least $1000 used and over $1200 new. I can either keep using my 18-200, or get a Nikon 300mm f4 ED AF-S used within my budget and use that both as a macro and for longer shots.

As you might suspect, your budget is a bit tight for a "bug-hunting" macro. At $500, or just over, you may be able to find either a used 180mm f/3.5 from either Sigma or Tamron. I own the Sigma. Optically, it's excellent, but it needed rechipping in order to work with live view, and autofocus speed is best described as glacial. While I've heard good things about the Tamron, but the incompatibility with the Nikon R1 system was a deal killer for me.

Another alternative is to buy either a Tamron 70-300mm VC or Nikon 70-300mm VR and add a Marumi DHG 330 close-up lens when needed. While such combination are not as sharp as a dedicated macro lens under studio conditions, they offer more versatility under field conditions. You could also use such a close-up lens on your 18-200mm, but some "back of the envelope" calculations show you'd only reach half-sized magnifications.

If there's interest, I can try a static comparison of the Sigma and the 70-300mm VR/Marumi combo.

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paulski66
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For $500...
In reply to Photo Avocation, 7 months ago

You could get this 200mm AI-S F4 Manual Focus lens from KEH (actually, KEH Outlet on eBay).

I think if your goal is to get serious about shooting macro, then you should get a macro lens. Many macro shooters exclusively use MF lenses (or manually focus their AF lenses). This looks like a great deal and the older 200mm was a world-class macro lens back in the day.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=370957602963

ETA: With your d7000, this will meter perfectly, too.

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rcower
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Re: For $500...
In reply to paulski66, 7 months ago

i have had a number of macro/micro lenses, am currently using the 200 f/4 and 105 2.8. For insects I use the 200 f/4, I like the working distance it offers over the 105, better acceptance angles and it's got a collar. For things that aren't going to move if I get too close (flowers, etc) I use the 105. The 105 is a great general purpose lens, I'll often use as a walk around lens when I'm on the road.

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VertigonA380
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Re: Macro Lens Advice
In reply to Photo Avocation, 7 months ago

The 105G is the sharpest lens I have and I have lenses that cost 4 times more. If your the occasional macro shooter you don't need to buy a macro lens. You can get a reverse lens adapter (see google). They are really effective and you will be able to use your existing lens.

It's very hard to actually use AF when your shooting a bug, the camera always wants to hit the closest object, and if you use a point AF you have to make sure the lens calibration is spot on, it doesn't take much to shift the focus from a bugs head to his leg.

If your in the market for a 300 F4 I'd wait for the new one, try it, focus (manually) in live view by zooming in. If your still not happy, reverse it.

If you want a good general lens (will do some great portraits too) and a great macro get the 105 F2.8 and some kenko extension tubes.

I have also seen some good samples from other makes too and hopefully someone might post some shots from the Sigma 150mm as well.

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VertigonA380
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Re: For $500...
In reply to rcower, 7 months ago

Hi,

Just wondering how would you compare the two Nikons for sharpness and global illumination?

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Photo Avocation
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Re: Macro Lens Advice
In reply to Michael Benveniste, 7 months ago

Thanks very much! With your comment on the 18-200, do you mean that I'll only get to 2:1 instead of 1:1? Would the 300mm f4 not work as a macro? The 300 is appealing bc I can use it for bugs, birds and such when I can't get close. Happened a lot to me in Costa Rica where I got some great dragonfly and spider shots, which I had to crop much more than I wanted to. Would the 105 f2.8 work as suggested? My other alternative is to save for the 200mm f4 macro and just buy the tokina 11-16 I've been eyeing. Sorry- I think I'm a bit all over the place...

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ormdig
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Re: Macro Lens Advice
In reply to Photo Avocation, 7 months ago

Hi, like the others posters have said the 105 is an excellent lens, very sharp, good contrast (which some don't like for portraiture, but I do) and makes an interesting walk around lens, very versatile. I have a few close up images in my gallery taken with it. I don't know if you can find it used for $500 or not.

If you are really strapped for money you might just want to wait. The 18-200 is a decent close up lens, I used it for several years until I could afford a dedicated macro lens and it is surprisingly sharp at close distances as you know if you've been using it. If you don't get in a hurry something will come along in your price range.

Check out the macro forum. Some fantastic photographers inhabit that forum and some don't use real high end equipment but they know how to get some stunning images and some have blogs detailing their setups. Well worth looking at for ideas.

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axcentphoto
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Re: Macro Lens Advice
In reply to ormdig, 7 months ago

Yup, I agree with every one about the Nikon 105 f2.8 VR. I would try to get it 'refurbished' at the Nikon Store or perhaps at Camita. You'll love it...Good luck

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Cope
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Re: Macro Lens Advice
In reply to Photo Avocation, 7 months ago

See if you can find a used Sigma 150mm 2.8 Macro in your price range.

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Photo Avocation
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Re: For $500...
In reply to paulski66, 7 months ago

Thanks! I just looked up the  Nikon 200 MF lens. I read that it's primarily an FX and film lens. Is this true? I also read that it has some color fringing at macro distances. Maybe that won't matter since the DX image will be cropped? Unlike the newer 200mm (which I cant afford at the moment), max macro ratio on older MF 200 is 1:2 (200mm Af-D is 1:1).

several have suggested the 105mm 2.8 (have to check on price, which will likely be more thaN $500).

Thoughts?

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dwa1
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Sigma 150 for butterflies...
In reply to Cope, 7 months ago

Cope wrote:

See if you can find a used Sigma 150mm 2.8 Macro in your price range.

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I agree with Cope.

I use the Sigma 150 f2.8 (non-OS) macro extensively for butterflies and other nectaring insects. This is on DX (APS-C) sensor bodies - D300. Some bfs are very skitterish at times so you'll need the reach (focal length). I shoot with 2 bodies each mounted with a lens. The Sigma 150 on one and a 70-300 lens (VR or VC) on the other.

The Sigma 150 f2.8 macro is well regarded among the advanced photog community. I also use it for many other wildlife subjects - even BIF. Once you shoot with a fast prime lens like this you will be spoiled for sure.

btw... It's great that you told us what your subjects will be and what gear that you already have. This really helps people provide you with "targeted" feedback and ideas.

Hope this helps and good luck with your decision.

Wayne

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Michael Benveniste
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Re: Macro Lens Advice
In reply to Photo Avocation, 7 months ago

Photo Avocation wrote:

Thanks very much! With your comment on the 18-200, do you mean that I'll only get to 2:1 instead of 1:1?

You'll only get to just over 1:2 (half life size) with the 18-200/Marumi 330 combo.

Would the 300mm f4 not work as a macro?

I've never tried the 300mm f/4 AF-S, but I've seen some wonderful "bug hunting" done with this lens with and without accessory close-up lenses. With a Canon 500D, you get very nearly to 1:1, and with the Marumi 330 you can get to almost 1.23:1.

Unfortunately, the only 300mm f/4 Nikkor you're likely to find for anywhere near your $500 budget is the older 300mm f/4 AF. While I own and use that lens, it's much less desirable for close-up work due to its longer minimum focus distance and use of an 82mm filter thread.

The 105mm VR is an excellent lens as well, but is also a budget buster.  The shorter working distance makes it less desirable as a bug hunter, but a little easier to use indoors.  I haven't used the latest incarnations of the Tamron 90mm nor Sigma 105mm macro lenses, but from what I've seen they too are at least excellent.

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Photo Avocation
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Re: Sigma 150 for butterflies...
In reply to dwa1, 7 months ago

I just found a used Sigma 180mm 3.5 apo EX macro for $500? Thoughts? It's not as fast as the 150 2.8? Anyone know how it compares to the 150? I still have the alternative (for the same. $500) for the older Nikon 200mm f4 ais MF.

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labalaba
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Re: Macro Lens Advice
In reply to Photo Avocation, 7 months ago

I own the 105/2.8VR micro, the 55/2.8 micro, the 300/4 AFS, the 70-300VR, and have used the 200/4 micro, and a number of other lenses.  Longer focal lengths are immensely useful for photographing butterflies and such.  They are also harder to handle and use than shorter focal lengths.  The 300/4 AFS is excellent for close ups of butterflies and larger bugs, although it does not go to 1:1.  This is a big heavy lens that you will not carry around casually.  Although they are coming down in price, I don't think you will find one used for $500, however, and the older, cheaper 300/4 versions are not as good.  None of the 70-200/70-300 options are as good at short distances as a macro lens or the 300/4 AFS.  I would not bother with these zoom options, I don't think you will be satisfied with the image quality.  The 105/2.8VR is an excellent lens.  It is, maybe, pricey for what it is, and I am not sure it is worth it to own both the 105 and 60mm focal lengths.  If you can get one used or refurbished for $500, and/or sell your 60, then by all means go for it.  There are other cheaper options around this focal length from Tamron, Tokina, Sigma.  They are optically good but you don't get AF-S or VR and they will be less useful for non-macro purposes.  You may still consider them.  As others have said, there are macro lenses in the 150-180mm range.  Although cheaper than the Nikon 200/4 micro, these are still big, heavy, expensive lenses, and I am not sure you will find one under $500, but they might be good options.  So you see there is no free lunch.  You could also try one of the better close-up filters on any lens in the ~200mm focal length range, some people get good results this way.

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Cope
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Re: Sigma 150 for butterflies...
In reply to Photo Avocation, 7 months ago

Photo Avocation wrote:

I just found a used Sigma 180mm 3.5 apo EX macro for $500? Thoughts? It's not as fast as the 150 2.8? Anyone know how it compares to the 150? I still have the alternative (for the same. $500) for the older Nikon 200mm f4 ais MF.

I don't know anything about the 180.  My advice is to keep looking for the 150.  You will find one.  I liked the 60, but as mentioned, it doesn't let you get close enough to insects.

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labalaba
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Re: Macro Lens Advice
In reply to labalaba, 7 months ago

The more I think about it, the more I think you may be best off trying a 100/105 mm macro lens at first.  150/180/200mm macro lenses are pretty different from your existing lenses and maybe you should move towards such a lens in stages, unless you have already been able to try them and know what you are getting into.

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Janoch
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Re: Macro Lens Advice
In reply to labalaba, 7 months ago

I disagree...

Just get the old Sigma 150 and be done with it. You'll never part from it... used mine on D300s (DX) and now on the D800 (FX).

And it's still great!

Also absolutely lovely as a non-macro lens btw.!

Happy hunting!

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paulski66
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Re: Macro Lens Advice
In reply to Janoch, 7 months ago

Janoch wrote:

...

Happy hunting!

This last phrase should never be uttered when referring to a macro lens, btw...

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