it's time for a Macro...which?

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Dec 13, 2008
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Alexandria, Va
I'm ussing a D-80, it's outdated, but it's my 'old faithful'. I recently got myself a Tamron 18-270mm and am very happy with it, and decided that I would go for a Tamron Macro.

I originally wanted to get the 90mm, but I see that they offer a 60mm as well. Which would you prefer and why? I'm still kind of leaning towards the 90mm due to the built-in motor...

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/330643-USA/Tamron_AF272NII_700_SP_AF90mm_f_2_8_Di.html

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/652142-USA/Tamron_AFG005NII700_SP_AF60mm_f_2_DI.html
 
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I have the tamron 90 mm and it is very sharp.Focus is very slow ,but overall it is a nice lens for the price.But ,if you have the budget ,go for Nikon 105 f2.8 or even the 60mm macro is really good.
 
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Jan 17, 2008
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Kinda depends on what type of macro work you are planning on doing. If you are shooting subjects where working distance is important, then something a bit longer will be useful. The Nikon 60 gets lots of good reviews around here, as does the Tammy 90. The Tamron 60 is a bit faster at f/2, which would make it a good portrait lens on DX.

I have a Tokina 100 and it is a great lens for the price if you are thinking about other brands.
 
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I think the 90-105mm range is the most versatile.

I have three macros: 55/3.5 AI, 85/3.5VR, and 200 f/4 AF-D. Of the three, I use the 85 by far the most. My subjects are primarily wildflowers.

And if you have no immediate plans to go to a full-frame camera, I suggest you consider the Nikon 85/3.5 VR micro. I had a Tamron 90 and sold it in favor of the Nikkor. I think it's a better lens, but it is DX.
 
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Working distance and magnification are the trade off. Longer ones do not get the 1:1 subject to image magnification and short focals have to be too close to the subject so lighting is difficult.

Auto focus is not recommended for close work in either case.

I have both 60 2.8 , 60 2.8N, 65 elmar, 135 and 90 Leica lens heads which I use on a bellows with Leica to Nikon adapter. All make stunning photos.

Internal focus lenses lose focal length as you focus closer anyway and you end up with a 105 2.8 that ends up 70mm at 1:1.

The previous one , the 105 2.5 Ai , goes down to around 90 mm.

The other difference is longer focals show less background angle so distractions are are easier to control.
 
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The first version of the auto focus Nikon 105 F2.8 lens used isn't real inexpensive, but it has great IQ in both DX and FX (& film) formats. It even works great with the Kenco 1.5 teleconverter (the one that's not real expensive) for both telephoto and macro use. It goes 1:1 by itself and bigger than life size with the teleconverter. The auto focus speed is very fast and can keep up with professional wrestlers in dim light venues at distances of 5-20 feet away. It doesn't have VR and it also is a screw drive lens which may limit it on certain cameras and uses.
 
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Seems like everyone pretty much agrees; 1) most macro lenses have excellent IQ; 2) subject matter and working distance are key factors in the decision; 3) 90-105mm is most versatile.

I'm a macro junky, and use 55/2.8, 60G, 105/2.8VR and 200/4 macros. I also use extension tubes, bellows and TCs to increase magnification. One of my favorite old toys is the 500/8 reflex that focuses to 1:2.5 - another is an 80mm tilt-shift lens on extension tubes.

Dealing with the world on a close-up basis involves all the issues you deal with in photography - exposure, DOF, perspective, etc. they just make some issues like DOF seem more significant and others like perspective seem less.

I don't believe there is a "one best solution" to macro, anymore than there is a best solution to anything in photography. Selecting tools is part of what the photographer adds in terms of vision and creativity. Approaching macro with a 100mm lens, is like approaching street photography with a 35mm or portraits with an 85mm (full frame). A great place to start and some photographers never need anything more or different.
 
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This is probably the only time I'll praise a non-Nikkor lens. However, I have a Sigma 150 f/2.8 Macro lens and it is great. I wanted the 150mm working distance for insects.

There are very many ways you can get Macro-range photos (as mentioned by the previous poster). Only one is to buy a macro lens.

You can reverse a shorter (50mm or lower) lens. You lose all auto features, but most macro work is good for manual controls anyway.

You can also add extra spacer tubes onto a shorter lens. The amount of light is divided and lost this way, but you get more magnification. The ratio of your extension tubes to the focal length of the lens is key, so this is almost useless on my 150mm macro, but is helpful on my 50 and 55mm lenses. (this picture used many extension tubes and a 55mm lens -- Cyclops on some Spirogyra)
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

This one is a "100% crop" of a captive mosquito and a different set of lens/tubes:
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


So to make a short story long, nearly all macro lenses are really good.

If you are scared of your subject, or if your subject is scared of you, then go for a longer lens.
If you are getting up close and personal with inanimate objects or something that does not move when you get close, then any of the shorter lenses will be great.
 
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Seems like everyone pretty much agrees; 1) most macro lenses have excellent IQ;
i think part of the reason people rave about the IQ on macros is the simple fact they are usually short-medium prime lenses. as most people are used to zooms covering that range, they might not appreciate just how well optical engineers have refined their designs for these kinds of applications.

i never thought i'd find another lens that would be on par with my oldschool 105/2.5, but then i bought myself the nikon 105/VR micro about two years ago.

it just blows my mind. simple as that. you'd have to be shooting something like Agfa APX25 super fine grain B&W film or Velvia to really be getting the most from the optics.

i've actually put my beloved, battle scarred and venerable 80-200D away in my lens cupboard in favour of the '105 as my general purpose short tele. the 'macro' rarely get's a true workout in my routine assignments, but the lens is used almost constantly.

my camera dealer described it as The Prince of Nikon Glass and that about sums it up.

if you can spring for one, you will not be disappointed and you'll be using it for the next 20 years and more (it's a tank).
 
Joined
Dec 13, 2008
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Alexandria, Va
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #12
I thank you all for your input, really helps a lot. I will check out the t-90mm closer and compare it to the Tokina 100mm...they seem to be more in my budget than the Nikkor 105...
 
Joined
Dec 13, 2008
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Alexandria, Va
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #13
So I ordered myself a Tamron 90mm from B&H (tax return money is a blessing, no doubt!).
They're closed for holiday, and once they reopen I'll be back in school and too busy to get down there...that's why I ordered.
But anyway, I'm also thinking of an extention tube set. Are the tubes an almost imperative tool for macro (like the current shots of spiders, dragons, and eyes in the macro section)?
 
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Apr 29, 2010
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I use the Tamron 90 macro with Kenko extension tubes all the time. Sometimes you just need an extra inch to your subjects, and the extension tubes do the job wonderfully. Moreover, they are just hollow tubes, so they don't affect your IQ at all.
 
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I have the Tokina 100 and it is a wonderful lens. The only drawback is the lack of VR. It's ok for macro, but I would use it more for other applications if it had it.
 
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Have the 60 2.8N and 105 2.8 VR and have used them both on DX and FX. I find them very well made and make beautiful pics.
Those two lenses are my normal working kit + a wide or two. They work well close or far, 2.8 to 11.

The longer the lens, the more working distance between lens and subject and the more narrow the angle of view so distracting background elements are better controlled.

Third party lenses are generally not as well made, although optics may be decent. The electronics may also be obsolete when you buy the next camera. Then you get a paper weight.

Auto focus and VR generally are not used in close up work
 
Joined
Dec 17, 2008
Messages
2,296
Location
Maryland USA
I'm ussing a D-80, it's outdated, but it's my 'old faithful'. I recently got myself a Tamron 18-270mm and am very happy with it, and decided that I would go for a Tamron Macro.

I originally wanted to get the 90mm, but I see that they offer a 60mm as well. Which would you prefer and why? I'm still kind of leaning towards the 90mm due to the built-in motor...

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/330643-USA/Tamron_AF272NII_700_SP_AF90mm_f_2_8_Di.html

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/652142-USA/Tamron_AFG005NII700_SP_AF60mm_f_2_DI.html
Go for the Nikon 85VR Micro. Awesome lens and has internal focus unlike the Tamron 90.
 
Joined
Mar 11, 2010
Messages
1,044
Location
Texas
Seems like everyone pretty much agrees; 1) most macro lenses have excellent IQ; 2) subject matter and working distance are key factors in the decision; 3) 90-105mm is most versatile.

I'm a macro junky, and use 55/2.8, 60G, 105/2.8VR and 200/4 macros. I also use extension tubes, bellows and TCs to increase magnification. One of my favorite old toys is the 500/8 reflex that focuses to 1:2.5 - another is an 80mm tilt-shift lens on extension tubes.

Dealing with the world on a close-up basis involves all the issues you deal with in photography - exposure, DOF, perspective, etc. they just make some issues like DOF seem more significant and others like perspective seem less.

I don't believe there is a "one best solution" to macro, anymore than there is a best solution to anything in photography. Selecting tools is part of what the photographer adds in terms of vision and creativity. Approaching macro with a 100mm lens, is like approaching street photography with a 35mm or portraits with an 85mm (full frame). A great place to start and some photographers never need anything more or different.
Good post, all around.

To expand on the first part, it's worth remembering that in the old days, 50-60mm lenses were largely used for flat-field copy work (copy stands, etc.), 90-105mm were good general purpose tools, and 150mm+ was a bug chaser. No one uses macro lenses for much copy work anymore (though there are exceptions), but the shorter lenses are still handy as cross-over "normal" lenses. I still think that 90-105mm is the most versatile, even with the DX crop.

Fortunately, most macro lenses are sharp, and it's hard to make a bad choice.
 

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