Is it a big deal to have VR and AF on a macro/micro lens?

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I am contemplating getting a Nikon macro/micro lens, all the latest offerings have the VR mechanism. The are good alternatives such as older AF-D lenses or even older manual-focus optics.

I used to own the now-famous Kiron 105mm f/2.8 macro lens about 25 years ago when I was a Canon shooter, I liked that focal length but wonder if it may be too long in the DX format. The 85mm f/3.5 VR appeals to me for many reasons, none the least is I don't want or need a pricey macro lens like the 105mm VR.

The 60mm f/2.8 VR AF-S is too short for my needs - I think.

How critical is it to have VR and AF for macro work? I never had those options in the late 80's, but I have always readily accepted technology if it improves my images.

Thoughts?
 
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If you are going to do serious macro work, then it means tripod (and base ISOs). In this case, AF and VR are just bells and whistles that you are probably not going to need. You would be better off investing in a good sturdy tripod.

Now if you are going to use the lens off the tripod then both AF and VR could be helpful.
 
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Use flash also.
Won't hit the low shutter speeds that would result in blurry images. :smile:
 
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How critical is it to have VR and AF for macro work? I never had those options in the late 80's, but I have always readily accepted technology if it improves my images.
AF does work pretty well most of the time, not a big issue (you can always turn it off). You are not always at 1:1 distances, and AF is great most of the time.

Both short and long have advantages. On DX, 105mm is x1.5=157mm, which can be too long for DX for a 18 or 24 inch wide tabletop scene, since you may have to back away 7 or 8 feet, and there may not always be space in some rooms. 60 mm works great for tabletop scenes.

But for more extreme closeups, the working distance of 105mm becomes more like only 6 or 7 inches (in front of lens), which is often much better than only a couple of inches. Shooters of bugs do like 105mm, thinking the slightly greater distance does not scare their prey as much.
 
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I find VR to be more of a bells and whistles kind of thing on any lens. I’ve had the 60mm D lens for years, and I got caught up in all the hype about the 105 VR and bought one. Great focal length for bugs, and a great lens, but I just don’t get anything out of the VR. For static objects, I use a tripod. I just tend to try and keep shutter speeds up.

The only way you will know if VR will work for you on a macro lens is to buy one and use it. It’s a popular lens, so it will be easy to sell, but VR can be turned off.
 
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You might try Kenko tubes on your other lens, Nikon tubes will not AF. The 60 mm I found too short for many bugs and dragons, but an excellent lens for smaller creepys and other work. Half my micro is shot with a 70/200, gives good stand off range for dragons and butterflies, and trap shoots very nicely, for the smaller things. I use the 60 mm with a video lens taped to the front, and get 4X and 6X.
 
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I love the Nikon made of DX 85mm micro/macro:

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f2.8 is not important in macro as you usually shoot around f22.

Steve
 
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If you are going to do serious macro work, then it means tripod (and base ISOs). In this case, AF and VR are just bells and whistles that you are probably not going to need. You would be better off investing in a good sturdy tripod.

Now if you are going to use the lens off the tripod then both AF and VR could be helpful.
+ 1.

William Rodriguez
Miami, Florida.
 
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Steven, I love those images you created with the Nikon 85mm macro - they look excellent. Seems that may be the lens I'd get, the 105mm VR is double the price and not that much more "intimate". I can try playing more with the long end f my 16-85mm zoom and attach the 500D and see if I find the working distance to my liking.
 
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I have both the 60 and 200 macro, both AF. If you are photographing moving insects, or somthing else moving, AF helps considerably. I'm not a true fan of VR, as I often find it takes a bit of time to function, and thereby delays my shots. If I'm shooting something static, I always use a tripod. But I'm also an "old school" photographer, have been shooting as a professional since long before AF started, and perhaps it is why I don't use VR so much (I only have two VR lenses).
 
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I just get frustrated when I try to use autofocus for a close-up shot. VR on the other hand is a true advancement for anything that is shot with a hand held camera.
 
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No AF system is going to focus correctly close up. VR works very slightly close up and becomes just about useless at 1:1.
 
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I use both the AF and VR on my 105 for almost every shot and many, if not most are near 1:1. That includes a lot of shots with one or more tubes. But I generally shoot outside and almost never have a tripod.
 
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No AF system is going to focus correctly close up. VR works very slightly close up and becomes just about useless at 1:1.
I beg to strongly differ, I use AF a lot and it works well trap shooting.


Full Frame / 60 mm 2.8 and 56mm of Tubes, AF

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I played around, yesterday, with my 500D on the 70-300mm VR. I found some challenges to shooting hand-held, especially when the light is soft, often requiring slow shutter speeds (1/30th second) with a reasonable aperture of f/11 - even that is not always enough DOF, of course at ISO 100.

The D80 just does not have great higher ISO performance, I see now why people use the newer models at higher ISO's and get wonderful shots.

VR does work well at those slow shutter speeds, but I am thinking I may try to use flash for hand-held work - I can dial back the SB-800 to say 1/4 power on manual output and shoot at two feet or so, use the softening dome and see if I can more satisfying results. I am guessing I could shoot at f/11 or f/16 without too much fuss.

The issue with flash is some people think it's too "studioized" and unnatural.

I did get some decent results, this is the best of the 80 or so files I tried.

 
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The general opinion does seem to be that VR for close focus imagery is counter-productive. I shoot only Sigma macro lenses and as Sigma introduces OS to their macro line I "upgrade". I find OS (VR) immensely helpful in many close up situations.

Keep in mind that most of the images we call macro images are not macro at all. They're close focus images. The closer one to gets to 1:1 or beyond patience is needed but VR does work. See the very nice TomP image in post #18.
 

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