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New D300 user needs a Macro

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by daryleg, Sep 11, 2008.

  1. daryleg


    Jan 12, 2008
    Just got my D300 this week (moved from a D70) and I love it! I sold off some lens' that I was not using and now I want to get a Macro. I will also be using it for portrait type of work. All I have right now is a 50mm 1.8 and my 17-55mm 2.8 (which is a great fit for the 300 imho). I am waiting delivery of my new Sigma 10-20, should be here today.

    I have narrowed down my macro choices to Tamron 90mm or the Sigma 150mm (mainly do to the gorgeous shots on this forum). I am leaning toward the Sigma but I have one problem, I am to lazy to use my tripod. I had an old Tamron 180mm macro but could not take decent hand held shots with it so I am worried that the Sigma 150 might still be to long to do that with. I think I would be happy with either lens for their IQ. Anyone have any experiences to share about their hand held issues with either of these lens' I am all ears :smile:
  2. rotxlk82


    Jul 20, 2007
    The Tamron 90 and Sigma 150mm are both great choices, allthough it is often said both here and elsewhere that it's hard to make a bad choice in dedicated macro lenses. I have the 150's baby brother the 105mm and it never ceases to impress me.

    I guess it depends on how much you want to spend, how you will use the focal lenght (and therefore working distance) and also if you need the HSM focus advantage of the Sigma.

    I'm not sure about your reluctance to use a tripod, in my opinion tripod work is very important to good macro images. When photographing such small subjects the margins for error are huge and I prefer to have everything nice and steady on a tripod. I would be wanting to use a tripod with either of the lenses you mentioned.
  3. I have the Tammy 90, and recommend it highly. With the D300, you can bump up the ISO and still get nice noise free images at higher ISOs, which will help you keeping your shutter speeds fast enough. This should help a lot with those blurry images made without tripods. I usually try to use a shutter speed of 1/125 or faster (instead of 1/100) when using the Tammy because of the 1.5 crop factor. With the Siggy, you would have to use 1/250 or faster and that is one whole stop. Something to think about.

    Good luck.
  4. Then I'd lean in the direction of the Tamron 90, which is one of the few non-Nikon lenses that's universally admired on the Nikon Cafe. And, unless your interest is in candids, the 90mm focal length would be more useful for portraits than 150mm. Jmho.
  5. daryleg


    Jan 12, 2008
    Thanks for the insight guys, you gave me a few more things to think about.

    Robert, I realize tripods are important, but by the time I set mine up for the right height and distance the bugs seemed to have moved on. Is there a faster way to set these things up?
  6. rotxlk82


    Jul 20, 2007
    I don't actually shoot bugs that much (more of a floral guy) so I'm not entirely sure. A longer lens with fast AF would certainly help so you can keep your distance, having good ISO performance would prevent shake.

    I guess working with the tripod is more of an effort to predict where the bugs will be, as you say getting in and doing a full setup is a bit of a rush when the subjects don't stay still.
  7. wingspar


    Mar 16, 2008
    Go for either the 90mm or the 105mm, brand of your choice, and add a 1.4 TC.

    That will give you a 90mm and a 126mm lens all in one or

    you can have a 105 and a 147 (round off to 150) lens all in one.

    I use a 1.4 TC on my 105 when I want the extra reach, and the TC turns it into a 150mm lens for that extra reach. Don’t want/need the 150, take the TC off. Something else to think about.

    If you want good macro shots, you will be forced to use a tripod in most cases. I’ve had good luck with a properly braced monopod.
  8. Nuteshack

    Nuteshack Guest

    t90 all the way, especially if you're not into tripods (i hate tripods). i find 90mm about the longest u want to handle getting in close. and as an added bonus it makes a dandy walk-about lens, focus to infinity with zero issues, lovely on skin and best in breed for bokeh. @$350ish brand new it's a -> STEAL!

    lots of example on my various flickr's but here's a few for your viewing. all hand-held.

    NIKON D200    ---    90mm    f/3.0    1/2000s    ISO 100

    NIKON D200    ---    90mm    f/2.8    1/320s    ISO 100

    NIKON D200    ---    90mm    f/3.2    1/60s    ISO 400

    NIKON D50    ---    90mm    f/3.0    1/400s   

    and of course it's crazy on floral.

    NIKON D200    ---    90mm    f/3.8    1/400s    ISO 100

    NIKON D200    ---    90mm    f/3.8    1/180s    ISO 100

    NIKON D200    ---    90mm    f/6.3    1/125s    ISO 100

    NIKON D200    ---    90mm    f/3.0    1/250s    ISO 250
  9. tfboy


    Aug 22, 2008
    Berkshire, UK
    What about the Nikon 105mm f2.8? A friend of mine has it and it's incredible both for macros and for portraits alike. It's relatively sharp wide open so good for bokeh too.

    But it is a bit more expensive..... :frown:

    edit: now the VR version is out, if you don't need it, then you can probably pick up a second hand non-VR relatively cheap :smile:
  10. AviSys


    Mar 31, 2008
    Placitas, NM
    For dragonflies, waiting for the new 200mm f4 AFS VR N Micro.

    (Hopefully it won't have a A-M ring that always breaks.)
  11. Randy


    May 11, 2006
    w/ the d3 you may need the 150mm
    it keeps me from getting bit
  12. rolsen


    Apr 12, 2008
    If you can stand the 300/4 AF-S with PN-11, I can assure you that it's a killer combo. My idol Ronnie Gaubert shoots with this setup and the rest is pure history..he has a site that you can find with Google.
  13. Leif


    Feb 12, 2006
    IMO you are limiting yourself if you do not use a tripod.

    There are at least three ways to get insects.

    The first approach is to find them when they are docile, which means early morning, early evening, or during cool periods. The problem though is actually finding them, and in the morning you might spend an hour searching without luck. You will need a tripod IMO.

    The second approach is to use a long lens, and go out when they are active, though early morning is better. For that you need a tripod, as the aperture will be F11 to F16, hence shutter speeds will be low.

    The third approach is to use flash with a ~100mm lens. This can be hit and miss, because the camera is hand held, and framing and composition are not easy. Plus the insects will be active, but it can be done.

    If you don't want to use a tripod, and you like portraits, what about the Nikon 105mm VR lens? VR is less useful for macro, but you could use a flash.

    BTW I never liked the Tamron 90mm F2.8 macro lens, though everyone else seems to.
  14. Leif


    Feb 12, 2006
    I hope they produce no such lens. It will be a G lens, so you won't be able to set the actual aperture. And VR will add to the bulk and price, and is of little use for close ups. Similarly AF is of little use for close ups. The current lens is more than good enough for dragonflies.
  15. AviSys


    Mar 31, 2008
    Placitas, NM
    >>>> "And VR will add to the bulk and price, and is of little use for close ups. Similarly AF is of little use for close ups. The current lens is more than good enough for dragonflies."

    We all have our experiences, experience, and requirements.

    VR can be very helpful close up. Just used it with a 105 yesterday in a very unusual circumstance where hand-held was required. Ditto AF.

    With stuff like dragonflies, where you are never even near 1:1, and where the subject is "flighty," there is little time for tripod and manual focus.

    The broad, sweeping statement that VR and AF are useless for macro is simply dead-wrong. Each feature has its place and time.
  16. Phillip Ino

    Phillip Ino

    Nov 26, 2007
    Like previously mentioned, you cannot really go wrong with any of the dedicated macro lenses that are available. I had rather good results with the Tamron 90 and D300 combo. All of these were hand held.





    However, the longer macros do offer you a good working distance over 90mm. But again, you cannot go wrong with any of the available options. :smile:
  17. rvink


    Mar 21, 2006
    New Zealand
    It is much easier to hold a shorter lens steady for macro shots. When using longer macro lenses, even if light levels are good enough to eliminate camera shake, it is very difficult to hold the lens steady enough for accurate framing. If you are going to handhold your macro lens, go for the AFS 60 micro, Tamron 90 macro or 105VR micro. The 60 will be easiest to handle and it's also the right length for portrait work, bokeh is good too. Consider the Tamron 90 if you want more working distance for macro shots, and want a bit more reach for your portraits. The 105VR is worth considering due to VR, which will be helpful for general shooting and portraiture. VR becomes less effective at close range but may still be helpful.
  18. daryleg


    Jan 12, 2008
    Thanks for everyones replies and pictures. I am going to go for the Tamron 90mm and see how it works for me. It is just to hard to beat that price and all these pictures tell the story of how great it is!
  19. Leif


    Feb 12, 2006

    According to Nikon VR becomes of limited use in the micro range.

    Actually with dragonflies there is plenty of time for a tripod and manual focus. I have often positioned a camera above a dragonfly resting on a flat surface basking in the sun, and shot off loads of photos. I have loads of photos of active dragonflies taken with a camera on a tripod. It is all about fieldcraft i.e. camera technique and understanding the behaviour of the insect. Here is one:


    As for AF, the problem is that DOF is shallow, and the AF module cannot know which parts are critical, hence it is near useless. Maybe you can demonstrate that I am wrong, but that is my experience, and similar statements are made by people like Rorslett and John Shaw.

    The only case where I can see AF being essential is in flight photos which are now possible due to modern cameras being so good.
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