105mm VR Micro w/1.7x TC on FX

Joined
Feb 10, 2007
Messages
537
Location
MA
I have this lens since it first came out and it was used naked very often in DX format. With the DX crop factor multiplier, this focal length seem to work very well with all type of close up and macro except for small insects. Having switched to FX last year, it spent a lot of time in the closet.
So I'm on a quest for a long focal length macro lens. I've been lusting over the 200mm f/4 all week. However, the lens is a 15yr-old design and I have a gut feeling that Nikon will announce an update by the end of the year. I was also considering the Sigma 150mm f/2.8 but I know it would be not enough for what I want to do. And base on today's shooting, this lens is totally out of my list.
I took the 105mm coupled with my 1.7xTC for a test today. I get really nervous every time when I have to use the 1.7x TC. On a 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, it degrades the IQ and sharpness significantly. But coupling it with the 105mm gives me an effective focal length of 180mm. This is perfect! I can have a rough idea of what the 200mm is like.
I did not expect much at all with this combo. I took it for a test at shooting dragon flies. To my surprise, it performs quite nicely stopping down(f/11-f/16). I will sit tight and wait for the 200mm f/4 update announcement.
Here are some samples from today's test. These are ISO 400 and above, some are ISO1600. Handheld since I didn't want to lug the tripod around.

1/320s f/9.0 at 180.0mm iso400
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1/320s f/11.0 at 180.0mm iso400
View attachment 217047
1/400s f/9.0 at 180.0mm iso400
View attachment 217048
1/200s f/11.0 at 180.0mm iso400
View attachment 217050
1/320s f/13.0 at 180.0mm iso1600
View attachment 217051
1/125s f/14.0 at 180.0mm iso800
View attachment 217052
1/250s f/11.0 at 180.0mm iso800
View attachment 217053

A note on DOF on FX:
If you're going to see a decrease in DOF going from DX to DX anywhere, you going to see it doing closeup/macro work. It is apparent that I'm struggling with DOF in these pictures. Having to stop down to f/13 and keeping my shutter speed up forced me to bump up the ISO. Heck, even at f/13, I couldn't get the whole dragon fly of the ones that perch pretty much co-planar.

A note on AF and VR with this combo:
VR does work but I don't really know how much helps I get from it. VR was on for all these shots.
AF does work but it's a joke! It hunts up and down, up and down, at a turtle pace. Yes, even on a D3, the 1.7x TC slows the AF of the 105mm down to a crawl. But to me, the 105mm VR never had a super-fast AF in the first place. Well macro suppose to be manual right?

I hope you guys enjoy my findings and the samples from this combo. Any comments or critiques on how to take pictures of dragon flies are welcomed.
 
Joined
Dec 25, 2007
Messages
1,855
Location
New Orleans area, Louisiana
Nice images. VR does not work or is not helpful for macros. Almost begs to use a tripod, but it is a pain to use when you are chasing critters like these. Atleast a monopod may help. Also, the FX bodies can handle high ISOs well, so that should not be a problem.
 
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