Best Macro lens for bugs?

Started Oct 4, 2006 | Discussions
Thomas Karlmann
Thomas Karlmann Senior Member • Posts: 2,766
Best Macro lens for bugs?

..or flowers. Is it the 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor, the Sigma 150 or another contender? Bug hunters: Which is best?

Issues:
1. 105 Nikkor has VR; can one reliably hold the 150 steady enough like
Claypaws does?
2. Scare-bug-away-factor: Sigma has longer reach. Is Nikkor long
enough not to scare the bug away?
3. Lens optical quality
4. Is the UltraSonic focus of the Sigma up to the Nikkor's AF-S
Standards?

I presently have a 50mm macro, but by the time you get close enough to the bug to almost fill the frame, it is likely to be scared away. Does the 100mm solve this issue or do I need the 150? (For use on DSLR with 1.5 crop factor)

Comments anyone? Thanks.
--
Thom--

Jonathan StPierre Regular Member • Posts: 127
Re: Best Macro lens for bugs?

The 200mm F4 micro nikkor is the best macro lens for bugs as it gives you the longest working distance.
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Sorry for my english

PeterK52 Senior Member • Posts: 1,268
Re: Best Macro lens for bugs?

The 200mm will have a good working distance for bugs, but it is also a big and heavy lens, more than 40 ounces, which makes it hard to use handhold.
Peter

brokenz Veteran Member • Posts: 9,098
Subject, lighting conditions, and you...

Those are the three factors I think always come into play. Specifically...

Thomas Karlmann wrote:

..or flowers. Is it the 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor,
the Sigma 150 or another contender? Bug hunters: Which is best?

Frankly I prefer a shorter lens for flowers as it makes it easier for me to get the composition I need. I actually prefer a 35mm f/2.0D or 45mm 2.8P even though ultimately neither equal the sharpness (at most apetures) or contrast I can get with my Nikon 60mm 2.8D.

Issues:
1. 105 Nikkor has VR; can one reliably hold the 150 steady enough like
Claypaws does?

That's really a personal thing. I can get away with 120mm handheld at 1:2 in even decent lighting but that's about my limit. Everyone has a different limit though.

2. Scare-bug-away-factor: Sigma has longer reach. Is Nikkor long
enough not to scare the bug away?

Do either really give "significant" reach over what you are using now? What I mean...

My two main normal macro lenses are a Nikon 60mm 2.8D and a Nikon 120 f/4.5 Macro. Both focused at a repro of about 1:2 (as close as the 120mm will go) I see hardly any difference in actual working distance between the two. Reason being is that the Nikon 60mm does get slightly longer physically as you focus closer while the Nikon 120mm grows a huge amount in length. Therefore the 120mm has a great advantage if you look at only minimum focus distance (measured from the image plane) while in real use there's hardly any difference between the two in working distance (measured from the front of the lens).

3. Lens optical quality

I think you'll find few people that are unhappy with about any modern made macro lens.

4. Is the UltraSonic focus of the Sigma up to the Nikkor's AF-S
Standards?

If you are doing true macro (1:2 or greater IMO) then I hardly see why this would matter.

I presently have a 50mm macro, but by the time you get close enough
to the bug to almost fill the frame, it is likely to be scared
away. Does the 100mm solve this issue or do I need the 150? (For
use on DSLR with 1.5 crop factor)

Comments anyone? Thanks.
--
Thom--

Personally I think you'd be better off concentrating on technique more than lens. Do "you" think you can handhold a 100mm without flash? I assume without flash because if flash is in use then I could probably handhold a 200mm macro lens. I assume off a tripod also. Personally I find 60mm long enough. Not the closest I can get but a few recent shots with the Nikon 60mm...

None at 1:1 but none were cropped either.

Are you really unhappy because of working distance because of working distance or the physical size of your lens? You might be focused on the wrong thing. The 50mm you are using, it isn't that first generation Sigma 50mm Macro is it? That would be one of the few macro lenses I've seen universally criticised for image quality.
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Fit for release from a mental institution but banned from the 3-0-0-D forum since 6-2005.

maljo@inreach.com Veteran Member • Posts: 8,146
105 VR is my choice

I like the Nikon 105 mm f2.8 VR because it works so
well with the R1C1 macro flash.

maljo

 maljo@inreach.com's gear list:maljo@inreach.com's gear list
Olympus E-M1 Nikon D500 Nikon D850 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm F4-5.6 R
B Pedit Regular Member • Posts: 435
Re: Best Macro lens for bugs?

I am quite happy with the Sigma 150

One thing to consider about VR: it compenstates for rotational movement but not translational (side to side). When shooting distant objects, rotational motion is far more important. But when shooting macro, translationl movement becomes more of an issue so the VR will not totally compensate.

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Byrne

SiFu
SiFu Veteran Member • Posts: 6,311
Consider a Sigma 180...

Hi!

Perfect lens for Macro (a little less so for general shooting, because not too sharp wide open), perfect working distance; check out my Gallery for samples with this lens:

http://www.pbase.com/magma_photography/root

Regards
Alex

-- hide signature --

carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero

=> Closeup/Macro Galleries:
http://www.pbase.com/magma_photography/root

Michelle Regular Member • Posts: 326
105VR is awesome.

These other lenses are perfectly nice. In fact, the Nikon 60mm is a gem.

However, I can't go on and on enough about the 105mm VR.

Pictures taken without flash take on a whole new character. You really get on wonderfully without a tripod, which for living things is rarely convenient. The quality is just superb. It's smooth and fast and sharp. Leave it on your camera and shoot the kids playing soccer - no problem. Ditto for nice portraits, with outstanding bokeh too. Check it out.

Michelle

Olivia T. BvG Senior Member • Posts: 1,103
Re: Best Macro lens for bugs?

I find that the longer the focal length, the better it is, as you won't disturb the bugs that easy. The 150/F2.8 EX Sigma should be good(heard many good things being said about that lens). The 105 VR can be good too if you use it with a teleconverter. I often use the 200mm end of my tele-zoom for that purpose and then crop to taste. I am currently looking at the 150/F2.8 EX Sigma myself as the next macro lens(love that 105 VR lens too though).

Thomas Karlmann wrote:

..or flowers. Is it the 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor,
the Sigma 150 or another contender? Bug hunters: Which is best?

Issues:
1. 105 Nikkor has VR; can one reliably hold the 150 steady enough like
Claypaws does?
2. Scare-bug-away-factor: Sigma has longer reach. Is Nikkor long
enough not to scare the bug away?
3. Lens optical quality
4. Is the UltraSonic focus of the Sigma up to the Nikkor's AF-S
Standards?

I presently have a 50mm macro, but by the time you get close enough
to the bug to almost fill the frame, it is likely to be scared
away. Does the 100mm solve this issue or do I need the 150? (For
use on DSLR with 1.5 crop factor)

Comments anyone? Thanks.
--
Thom--

GLP Veteran Member • Posts: 3,661
Re: Best Macro lens for bugs?

I've had reasonably good luck using the Sigma 28-200MZ @ 200mm. Gary

Chubly Senior Member • Posts: 1,959
Re: 105VR is awesome.

If you had to pick between the 60mm and the 105mm VR what would it be?

Michelle wrote:

These other lenses are perfectly nice. In fact, the Nikon 60mm is
a gem.

However, I can't go on and on enough about the 105mm VR.

Pictures taken without flash take on a whole new character. You
really get on wonderfully without a tripod, which for living things
is rarely convenient. The quality is just superb. It's smooth and
fast and sharp. Leave it on your camera and shoot the kids playing
soccer - no problem. Ditto for nice portraits, with outstanding
bokeh too. Check it out.

Michelle

Thomas Karlmann
OP Thomas Karlmann Senior Member • Posts: 2,766
Re: Subject, lighting conditions, and you...

Sorry for my errror in the original post -- I own the Nikkor 60mm f2.8.

I notice that some of the bug shots you posted were Praying Mantis and Japanese Beetle. These bugs seem to allow you to work closer than others.

I have difficulty with butterflys in my area -- the wild ones. I simply cannot seem to get closer than 15-20 feet before they fly away. (Unless I go to the zoo where they have butterflies that will land on you)

I always seem to notice that most bug shots I see posted were taken with a longer macro lens.

I do have the 70-200 f2.8 VR lens, but I think this will limit my in terms of closest focus distance.

Perhaps this helps.

-- hide signature --

Thom--

Thomas Karlmann
OP Thomas Karlmann Senior Member • Posts: 2,766
Using that reasoning....

Would the CCD-shift mechanisms fare better for translational movement, such as the Sony a100?
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Thom--

Michelle Regular Member • Posts: 326
Re: 105VR is awesome.

Chubly wrote:

If you had to pick between the 60mm and the 105mm VR what would it be?

Well, I'd still pick the 105VR.

However, that's NOT because I think it's any sharper than the 60, because frankly I don't think it is.

It's just that I like the longer reach and I like to photograph insects and it is rarely practical to set up a tripod in those circumstances.

My 'keeper' insect shots have increased exponentially since getting the 105VR. I'm very pleased and impressed with the lens.

Michelle

B Pedit Regular Member • Posts: 435
Re: Using that reasoning....

Would the CCD-shift mechanisms fare better for translational
movement, such as the Sony a100?
Thom--

I know nothing of the design of the Sony. However, for non-macro photography, the angular motion would be the largest factor in producing blur by quite a margin.

Another issue in macro work is that the depth of field is so small; any camera motion along the camera-subject axis will affect teh critical focus. VR will also not deal with this. My solution is to use a tripod for all macro shots (a monopod might also help in pursuit of fast bugs).

-- hide signature --

Byrne

Rick Morgan Regular Member • Posts: 181
Re: Best Macro lens for bugs?

I have a Tamron 180 f/3.5 macro which is worth considering; excellent optics and excellent working distance at a cost much lower than the 200 nikkor (which, naturally, I covet).
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Rick

Jorge Barrantes Contributing Member • Posts: 593
Re: Best Macro lens for bugs?

I recently acquired a nikon 200mm F/4 AF and I am starting to learn micro photography. I am blown away by the detail reproduction of this lens, not only on micro but on regular photos aswell. however, you will need to get a solid tripod, the lens is heavy and and at 200mm any slight movement will create motion blur.

Peter Clark55 Regular Member • Posts: 325
Re: 105VR is awesome.

Just took a few shots of a preying manta in my Provence, France, garden with the D200 and my new Nikon 105 vr micro lens. Very pleased but must learn how to use it properly. The focus is not very deep and you must focus on the insect head. Peter.

Thomas Karlmann
OP Thomas Karlmann Senior Member • Posts: 2,766
Praying Mantis

Peter:

You are lucky to find a Mantis. Also, Mantis do not seem to be afraid of humans or cameras so you can get close.

Good shooting!
--
Thom--

Thomas Karlmann
OP Thomas Karlmann Senior Member • Posts: 2,766
Great Shot Jorge

How do you set up the tripod before the bug flies away?
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Thom--

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