I think I need a Lensbaby or micro

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I have a class coming up in August if nothing else happens. My teacher is planning on us renting or borrowing lens babies or maybe micro. All I care about is creativity.
So, if ya have something to contribute, PLEASE DO!
Thanks
 
From what I have seen, unless someone has really good eyesight and the patience and the skill to learn how to get the best from a Lensbaby, the results can range anywhere from mediocre to downright disastrous. I’ve seen some blurry messes (not here on NC, somewhere else). The DOF can be very shallow and learning to get the focus just where one wants it can apparently be rather tricky, too. Richard_M is one of the few people I’ve seen whose work with a Lensbaby is really remarkable, truly outstanding.....he is the exception rather than the rule, though.

As Mitch has pointed out already, a Lensbaby is not the same as a standard macro lens. Many people consider them rather gimmicky, while others are using them with their new Nikon mirrorless Z series cameras because at least this gives them a native-mount sort of macro experience or they can use their previously-purchased F-Mount Lensbaby lenses with the FTZ adapter. (Right now Nikon does not offer any native macro lenses for its Z series cameras, which is a major reason why I chose not to go with a Nikon Z mirrorless camera when making a change from DSLR to mirrorless a few months ago.). Obviously on a regular F-mount Nikon DSLR there would not be the need for an adapter.

IMHO, Dianne, your best bet would be to go with one of the well-established Nikon micro/macro lenses such as the 60mm or the 105mm, or if you can lay your hands on one of the older ones such as the 70-180mm zoom macro or the 200mm f/4 macro..... I suspect that one of those would also be easier to rent than a Lensbaby.

If I remember correctly, the class you’ll be taking is on shooting flowers....which, indeed, usually involves using a macro lens. If you’ve never explored the world of macro photography before, it will be a delightful revelation. I have loved macro shooting for years and that is the direction in which I tend to go, time and time again. My current 90mm macro lens all but lives on the camera body, I just reach for it over and over, as that is the type of stuff I like to shoot: up close and personal, to so speak...... I think you’ll be surprised when you start looking through a macro lens!

Actually, why not go out and rent a Nikon 60mm or 105 micro/macro lens now if you can and spend some time becoming acquainted with what a macro lens can do, so that when you get to the class (if it does go on) you’ll already be familiar with what to expect when shooting in macro and how to gauge the best DOF to use, when to use manual focus as opposed to autofocus, etc., etc....
 
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As always Connie you really know how to help me out! My teacher was going to have us all go to the trade show and borrow the lens baby's. I've been wanting to explore the world of micro for quite some time - just didn't know which lens to go with - and I still don't. I was under the impression the lens baby would perhaps offer more creativity, but now, I'm starting to think it could be more of a headache. I want to buy what ever I end up choosing because quite frankly, the other 20+ students won't want to hand over the lens for someone else to have a chance at using it. AND because this class is very expensive $595 + hotel expenses I want my fair share. I'll be honest, I do like auto focus!
 
Most of the time I use autofocus when shooting macro, although there have been times when I’ve resorted to manual focus because I just couldn’t get what I wanted, and that is when Focus Peaking helps quite a bit. My old eyes just aren’t what they used to be!

When I was shooting Nikon, I tended to use the 60mm micro (macro) a lot more than I did the 105mm, but at times I wanted more distance from my subject (especially if shooting flowers outdoors and bees or bugs might be around). Will most of the shooting for this class be indoors with flowers in a vase or outdoors in a botanical garden or something, where along with the flowers there well may be insects? Or maybe there will be a combination of both types of shooting scenarios?

That’s interesting that the instructor for this class is intending for the students to go to the trade show and borrow Lensbaby gear..... I wonder if he or she has already set up a specific arrangement with the vendor(s) for that? Aside from that, I would think, then, that the expectation would be for students to arrive at the class already owning (or perhaps having rented) a macro lens? That said, it is certainly possible to shoot flowers without a macro lens; just today I went out front of my building to where a lily had blossomed and it has two buds right next to it, so I chose to use my 35mm lens in order to get in the wider perspective of the lily and the buds, having yesterday shot the lily and the individual buds with my macro lens. Many lenses are reasonably close-focusing — I remember the Nikon 24-70mm very fondly for that reason. Also there is the somewhat less expensive option of adding extension tubes to a given lens to get closer as well.

The Lensbaby lenses do offer a lot of ways to explore and express creativity, but they also have what I would guess is a pretty steep learning curve, especially for someone who has not yet worked with macro lenses at all. Actually, too, creativity comes more from the mind of the photographer rather than just from the gear...... One can be creative with any lens and pretty much any subject, actually.

As I suggested earlier, you really might want to rent a macro lens or two for a week or so, whatever the rental periods may be, and spend time at home shooting with it (or both of them) to get more of an idea about what shooting with a 1:1 macro lens involves, what focal length works better for you, and how creative you can be with it.... At any rate I think you would be expected to arrive at that class with a macro lens anyway, whether you own it or are renting it. As I said earlier, shooting with a macro lens is a whole new and delightful experience -- go for it!
 
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I wanted to dip my toe on the macro world, but wasn’t sure if I wanted to invest in a lens. I spend $140 and got a NISI closeup filter. They recommend using it on a normal lens with a range between 70-300mm. I have used it on a 70-200 and it works great.
 
Ah, thanks, Eric and Todd, for the reminders about the other options -- third-party macro F-mount lenses, a closeup lens/filter that screws into the front of a lens with the right thread sizes, and extension tubes...... I'd forgotten about these even though from time to time I have indeed used those options myself and still do from time to time.

To summarize for Dianne: there are options here:

1) a dedicated macro lens (in Nikon F-mount, the currently available ones from Nikon are 60mm and 105mm). Third-party options include F-mount lenses by Tamron and Sigma (don't know much about the Sigma, but I have seen a lot of good comments about the Tamron 90mm macro)

2) a set of extension tubes which can be connected to lenses you already have and which will bring your subject closer to you (Kenko has always been the brand of choice for me but I understand that Meike (sp?) is highly regarded, too.

3) a closeup filter/lens which screws into or snaps onto the lens and again brings the subject closer to you (Raynox, NISI, and others; also Canon has offered a couple of really good ones in various sizes as well; not sure if those are still available now. Nikon used to have the 5T and the 6T years ago, too, but unfortunately discontinued them at some point.)
 
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Joined
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Most of the time I use autofocus when shooting macro, although there have been times when I’ve resorted to manual focus because I just couldn’t get what I wanted, and that is when Focus Peaking helps quite a bit. My old eyes just aren’t what they used to be!

When I was shooting Nikon, I tended to use the 60mm micro (macro) a lot more than I did the 105mm, but at times I wanted more distance from my subject (especially if shooting flowers outdoors and bees or bugs might be around). Will most of the shooting for this class be indoors with flowers in a vase or outdoors in a botanical garden or something, where along with the flowers there well may be insects? Or maybe there will be a combination of both types of shooting scenarios?

That’s interesting that the instructor for this class is intending for the students to go to the trade show and borrow Lensbaby gear..... I wonder if he or she has already set up a specific arrangement with the vendor(s) for that? Aside from that, I would think, then, that the expectation would be for students to arrive at the class already owning (or perhaps having rented) a macro lens? That said, it is certainly possible to shoot flowers without a macro lens; just today I went out front of my building to where a lily had blossomed and it has two buds right next to it, so I chose to use my 35mm lens in order to get in the wider perspective of the lily and the buds, having yesterday shot the lily and the individual buds with my macro lens. Many lenses are reasonably close-focusing — I remember the Nikon 24-70mm very fondly for that reason. Also there is the somewhat less expensive option of adding extension tubes to a given lens to get closer as well.

The Lensbaby lenses do offer a lot of ways to explore and express creativity, but they also have what I would guess is a pretty steep learning curve, especially for someone who has not yet worked with macro lenses at all. Actually, too, creativity comes more from the mind of the photographer rather than just from the gear...... One can be creative with any lens and pretty much any subject, actually.

As I suggested earlier, you really might want to rent a macro lens or two for a week or so, whatever the rental periods may be, and spend time at home shooting with it (or both of them) to get more of an idea about what shooting with a 1:1 macro lens involves, what focal length works better for you, and how creative you can be with it.... At any rate I think you would be expected to arrive at that class with a macro lens anyway, whether you own it or are renting it. As I said earlier, shooting with a macro lens is a whole new and delightful experience -- go for it!
Well, I have decided I'm going with a macro over the lens baby. I hate manual focus - my eyes are not as sharp as they used to be and quite frankly, I've been wanting a macro for a while. And the fact you mentioned the 60mm, I'm gonna start hunting for one - hopefully a good used one. I'm emailing my teacher after this to tell her I won't be using a lens baby. I don't want to spend what this school costs and not enjoy the experience. We'll be going to the arboretum for a day, then I think the rest of the time is spent in class with cut flowers but I could be wrong. I feel lost with no matching bands, no MX, now I just do photography for our CMA and enjoyment - having to relearn ENJOYMENT. Thanks Connie for being such a sweet, knowledgeable friend! HUGS
 
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I have chatted with 3 friends - and Arlington Camera - all have recommended the 105 Macro over everything else. SO, B&H has a used one for $359 with a rating of 9+ I've ordered it. I can hardly wait to get it and start learning how to use it to its' advantage. Stay tuned.........
 
Joined
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TX originally from Louisiana
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Ah, thanks, Eric and Todd, for the reminders about the other options -- third-party macro F-mount lenses, a closeup lens/filter that screws into the front of a lens with the right thread sizes, and extension tubes...... I'd forgotten about these even though from time to time I have indeed used those options myself and still do from time to time.

To summarize for Dianne: there are options here:

1) a dedicated macro lens (in Nikon F-mount, the currently available ones from Nikon are 60mm and 105mm). Third-party options include F-mount lenses by Tamron and Sigma (don't know much about the Sigma, but I have seen a lot of good comments about the Tamron 90mm macro)

2) a set of extension tubes which can be connected to lenses you already have and which will bring your subject closer to you (Kenko has always been the brand of choice for me but I understand that Meike (sp?) is highly regarded, too.

3) a closeup filter/lens which screws into or snaps onto the lens and again brings the subject closer to you (Raynox, NISI, and others; also Canon has offered a couple of really good ones in various sizes as well; not sure if those are still available now. Nikon used to have the 5T and the 6T years ago, too, but unfortunately discontinued them at some point.)
WHOOPS! I have kendo extensions and a Conon 500D filter. I guess I could have spent more time playing with them, but got frustrated. I have a 105 ordered.
 
I loved my 60mm Nikon macro -- Used it for tabletop photography, macros of flowers and such, etc. It got much more use than the also excellent 105mm macro. I found it easier to handle physically, too, than the larger, bulkier 105. Both are good lenses, you can't go wrong with either of them.

The thing I like most about macro shooting is that I can do it any time I find an interesting subject, and in the wintertime when I'm in the house much of the time due to cold weather, there's always something to shoot, or I've been known to buy flowers specifically for the purpose of shooting them!

I've been shooting a lot of macro over the past several months, primarily because when I got the new camera we were heading into winter and then of course just as spring came along, so did COVID-19 and the shutdown and stay-at-home orders. I am doing a 52-Weeks project this year and anyone who has looked at it has noticed the predominance of macro images.....I just seem to be wired that way!

Shooting with a macro lens can definitely stir up the creative juices and you'll find that you can shoot a lot more than just flowers and bugs! Lighting is important, too, when shooting macro and right now I am using continuous lighting with either LED panels or an old Photek lamp since I haven't gotten around to getting new flash lighting for my new gear. That said, for the most part I tend to use natural light as much as possible, too, and some images I have shot in my bedroom on top of my dresser, which is conveniently placed under a window which gets great afternoon light. Strategic use of a reflector or a mirror works well for controlling the light, too. Sometimes I use the kitchen for shooting flowers, too, as I have good lighting in the kitchen much of the day as well. Most of my macros are shot on the dining table with either foam core or some kind of fabric draped behind the subject in order to block out views of my living room and again to control the light somewhat.

When I was shooting bubbles for my "Bubble Earth" project a few months ago, I had to get really inventive with setting up the lighting and wound up putting a small table upside down on my dining table, then supporting my large LED Lightbox on the four legs of the table, as I needed a large source of somewhat strong overhead light and earlier strategies hadn't worked out well. That was a fun project! Another thing that is a bit easier to set up is using food coloring dripped into a tall clear container with a mixture of glycerine and water.... the subject needs to be backlit for this, of course. The images that result can be fascinating.

You might want to see if you can find a book or video on macro photography, too, as that could be helpful for you, especially in the beginning. Enjoy!

Your posts just came in -- congratulations on ordering a 105mm!! It really is an excellent lens.
 
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GRRR. now I'm getting confused. I can't complete the order for the 105 until 9:45 tonight. SO I can still think about the 60. I've heard I'll get more out of the 105 and that's what got me on it. I believe the 60 will strictly be macro. Around here, people use the 105 for portraiture as well as macro. Now I'm off for our CMA bug run. Yep, taking the Nikon.
 
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I have the Nikon 105mm, f2.8 AF-S VR lens. It's really a nice macro lens which is sharp and easy to use. Even has VR for those times you want to hand hold. I don't often shoot macro, but I'm impressed whenever I use this lens.

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The primary similarities and differences between the 60mm and 105mm options:
  • The 105mm can be used for both macro and non-macro photos (not just portraits) suitable for that focal length; the 60mm can also be used for making non-macro photos, but probably would be used less for them than the 105mm lens.
  • When photographing live animals, the 105mm focal length allows the lens to be a bit farther away from the subject, making it less likely that the animal will be scared away by the camera and photographer. Even so, I don't know enough about macro animal photography to know whether an even longer focal length is usually preferred because it allows the camera and photographer to be even farther away.
  • The 105mm focal length, as an average length typically available in macro lenses, serves as a good starter length before perhaps moving on to the shorter and longer focal lengths.
  • The 105mm focal length is better for subjects that require larger magnification than provided by the 60mm length; the 60mm length is better for subjects that require less magnification than provided by the 60mm length.
 
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