Macro

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Talk to me about your Macros.

I have a 28-300mm, 24-70mm, but no macro.

What do I gain with a Macro?
What Macro should I get?
 
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What do you want to take pictures of? bugs? flowers?
How far do you want to be from your subject?
In general, I don't like bugs....so they are not high on the list.

I like flowers. I have been taking pictures of them in an arboretum. I can get as close as I need to most of the time. The light has not been excellent. Using a tripod is possible in one location and frowned upon in another.

I have had a few great shots and many not so great shots..
 
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I do not believe anyone here will tell you that a macro lens is not convenient. I am of the opinion that a macro lens is not a necessity.
I use my 28-105 Nikkor AF often in its "macro" function and it has done very well for me.
I have more keeper shots from my teles than from my macro lens. Extension tubes can get you closer and there are excellent close-up filters, like my 3T that I do not use now as often as I used to with film.
Canon makes similar filters.
Macro lenses are made for macro shots. They are well corrected for close distances and I have not seen one yet that was not sharp, irrespective of brand.
If you are satisfied using teles for macro photography I see no reasons to buy a macro lens. If you still want to go for a macro simply decide what focal length will be most appropriate for your work.

William Rodriguez
Miami, Florida.
 
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So far it sounds to me you have no reason to buy one. If you need to ask why you should get one it's obvious the need does not exist.
Well, I find life easier when I use the right tool for the right job. I have pounded in nails with a wrench before. It worked, but it was not an elegant solution. When I got a hammer pounding nails was easier.

Since I am taking Macro shots, it makes sense that I get a macro lens, but I am still not sure why a macro lens is a more elegant solution.

Is the macro going to give me more depth of field?, faster lens?, more detail?
Can I get closer to the target?
 
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Well, I find life easier when I use the right tool for the right job. I have pounded in nails with a wrench before. It worked, but it was not an elegant solution. When I got a hammer pounding nails was easier.

Since I am taking Macro shots, it makes sense that I get a macro lens, but I am still not sure why a macro lens is a more elegant solution.

Is the macro going to give me more depth of field?, faster lens?, more detail?
Can I get closer to the target?
A macro lens allows you to focus closer. A lot of lenses like the old Nikon 28-105 and new Nikon 18-200VR have a "macro" capability. Usually they let you focus close enough to obtain a ratio of 1:3 or 1:2. That means the image on the sensor is actually 1/3 or 1/2 life size. You can get an even larger 1:1 image on the sensor using a "normal" lens with a bellows setup, reversing rings, or with a dedicated macro lens. Some "macro" lenses only focus to 1:2, so you need to check before you buy. See this write-up for more details. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macro_photography

Usually macro lenses have a finer manual focus throw. This allows the photog to exactly nail the focus point. Obviously, when you can focus really close, you get more pixels in the image area, so you can enlarge the head of an insect to fill a PC screen or make a large print that is sharp.

The things that should affect your decision on which lens to buy are subject(s), subject size, cost, functionality. If you plan to shoot static subjects using a tripod, having VR may not be worth the cost. If you want to shoot live, moving, bugs in the field, you may find that VR is essential. For live subjects, depending on how much/fast the subject moves, a longer focal length can be of benefit.

My personal choice is the Sigma 150mm f/2.8 macro. It has an outstanding bokeh, AF focus is fairly quick for a macro, and it is a f/2.8 lens. I shoot flowers and bees or wasps. I find that the extra 45mm reach over that of the Nikon 105VR is beneficial and it costs a bit less. I also have the Sigma dedicated 1.4TC that extends my reach when needed.

The Nikon 105VR macro and older 105 macro are outstanding lenses and some people find that the ability to also use them as medium length portrait lenses, is a benefit that favors them.

I bought an old Nikon 200mm f/4 manual focus macro lens off a local guy for half the price of the Sigma. It isn't quite as sharp as the Sigma, it doesn't have AF, it only focuses to 1:2. However, the manual focus is so smooth it is like silk on silk. It is a pleasure to use, and renders excellent close-up images with wonderful bokeh.

Here are a couple of quick cropped examples done with the Sigma 150 on my D300.
Notice the hairs on the tongue in the first image.
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Well when you thinking about Macro the Tamron 90mm always comes to my mind ....it's a great lens for flowers but it doubles up as a great protrait lens also !!...Everything depends on you buget and what you want to use it for !
 
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Macro Options

(I wrote this a long time ago, based on my short experience with macro. Hope you find it useful. Please feel free to add/correct. Below, I have attached some macro images I have taken using these methods)

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Your macro method really depends on your intent and your budget. Do you want to shoot:
1. close ups of flowers (inanimate objects, usually well lit)
2. bugs/insects (keep moving, light and working distance important)
3. really tiny things like very tiny bugs or bug eyes (magnification & light)

I don't think anyone can tell you what you must get - but I'll try to give the pros and cons of different methods.

1. Extension tubes: depending on the type of tube you choose, you will lose (a) focus - no big deal, (b) metering - bigger deal, but still workable, (c) diaphragm coupling - without this it will be hard to compose/focus, cos you must really step down to get good dof on your macro shots, but you need to be able to focus/compose wide open. The more expensive choices like nikon AF/kenko tubes will probably preserve (a), and most surely (b) and (c). The old nikon K tubes and the real cheap chinese made tubes will not give you a,b or c. old nikon PK series tubes will give you (c). Look this up if you plan to get old tubes off ebay:
http://mir.com.my/.../photography/hardwares/classics/nikonf2/macro/index1.htm

with wide lenses, you will get more magnification. with long lenses, you will be able to focus closer, so you will get a little magnification and also good working distance. Suitable for butterflies etc. If you have G lenses, forget it - you cannot set the aperture manually. Cheap options from $5-$30.

2. Reverse rings: good magnification with wide primes, but very short working distance. You could easily smudge/dirty/damage your lens. I'd advise against reversing your regular prime. You can get old cheap primes for reversing off ebay. they don't even have to be nikon, just match the filter size to your reverse ring filter size. You can get cheap chinese reverse rings off ebay that work quite well. Again, not good for G lenses. (you could also get reverse coupling rings, and reverse mount a prime on your zoom, preserving auto metering.) Cheap options ~$5

3. Close-up filters/diopters: preserves all auto features, allows you to focus very close - Easiest solution, sufficient magnification... but really... whats the fun in that?? emoticon - wink working distance may be an issue. very good for flowers etc. Cheap options ~$10-$50

4. Macro lens - probably the best general purpose solution - good magnification, good working distance, lens doubles as a good portrait lens. You could buy old used micro lenses off ebay to save money. Cheap options ~$50 and above

In the end, macro photography is usually a combination of these approaches. Experiment and see what works best.

btw, did you know you could try macro photog right now, without spending a penny? First, put your saved penny on a table and light it well. set your camera to M mode, and shutter speed to 1/200 or less (Adjust ISO depending on light). just hold your 18-105 in reverse against your camera lens mount (try not to shake), with lens at 18mm. use your finger to hold back the diaphragm lever in the back so it is wide open. move back and forth until penny is in good focus, and click.
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Joined
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Micro lenses ( Micro = small, Macro=large ) are made to get the utmost resolution in the close range on a flat field. Great if you do copy work. Great if you do flowers and need the utmost detail. Do not forget flowers are three dimensional, not two, so some of the advantages of micro lenses are lost. They also hold detail into the corners which will not matter with flowers.

Their ability to focus close is very handy.

Zoom lenses are probably the worst compromise for close work and I would not use one if I had a choice.

Longer focals allow you to be a little further away, but the big advantage is the angle of view is more narrow so there are less background elements that are distracting.

My tools of choice are 100 2.8 Leica R with Nikon mount conversion. 90 or 135 4.0 Leica RF lens on bellows or short focus mount and Camera Quest R to Nikon adapter. Zeiss ZF 100 2.0.

You are not going there, so I suggest a 105 f4 or 2.8 Micro Nikkor. $400 to 500. Tamron 90 2.8 is very good optically.

105 2.8 VR Micro Nikkor is a very good lens, top drawer. The big disadvantage is elements shift inside when you focus close so you end up with a 70 mm lens, which is not what I want. That internal shifting keeps size and weight down. That is why I favor my 135 Leica lens head. Stays 135mm or longer wherever I focus. The old bellows lenses for Nikon are costly and scarce for this reason.

I also put Elpro close up lenses from Leica R on a 105 2.5 Nikor or 135 3.5 Nikkor. Convenient solution for quick field work. At 5.6 sharp they are sharp corner to corner and I have the advantage of not changing lenses on a digi slr outside risking dust inside.
 
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