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nikon 200mm micro vs nikon 105mm vr?

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by j_inalaska, Jul 27, 2007.

  1. I want a macro or micro Nikon lens. Anyone have a suggestion as to which one of these? I have a Nikon D200. I do know that one can hand hold the 105, but I am thinking that the nicer images are produced on a tripod.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. For 1:1 macro you will need a tripod for optimal IQ.

    If you want a dedicated macro lens i would suggest the 200mm/4, but be prepared to work for it. You will need a sturdy tripod with a good head.

    But if you want the ability to do 1:1 macro and also have a short and versatile tele i would probebly go with the 105/vr.

    If you can live without the nikkor logo i would seriously consider Tamron 90mm/2,8 wich i would prefer over the 105/vr for macro.

    Also the 150/2,8 Sigma is known to be a gem, seems to be quite versatile aswell.

    Both the Tamron and the Sigma is much smoother to MF, so for macro work i would most likely not choose the 105/vr
    (I recently sold my 105/vr, due to the fact i didnt use it and it had to much ca for my taste)

    Best of luck.
  3. two slow

    two slow

    Apr 22, 2006
    Talladega, Al
    I agree completely. Working distance is the main thing I would look for. Me i like to have greater distance between me and that subject. For that I would use a longer focal length like the 150mm sigma. I couldn't afford the 200mm nikon.
  4. I have the 105 macro (non-vr) and the 200 macro. I use the 200 for almost all my macro work. Lately, I only pack the 105 if for some reason the 200 won't fit in the pack. The 105 VR seems alot bulkier then the non VR version. It's already been said, for sharp macro shots, you will have to have the lens on a tripod, so VR pretty much becomes a non-issue for macro.
  5. 105mm vs 200mm micro

    Oh, gosh! Thank you for your relys. I still am at a loss.

    I do want the working distance (200mm) but am giving up the short telephoto (105mm) for those times I want to hand hold it. Would I have to move the tripod around with the 200mm? Would I need rails etc?

    Or could I get a 105mm and use ext. tubes?

    I love the take images of flowers, and bugs etc. I would mostly use a tripod and have a very hefty one with a very nice ball head.

    Anymore suggestions with more information?

    Thanks again.

    Jen in Alaska
  6. Leif


    Feb 12, 2006

    There are 3 key optical differences between the two lenses: working distance, angle of view, and maximum aperture. The 200m has huge working distance. For nervous insects a lot of working distance is a good thing and the 200mm is ideal for dragonflies etc. The 200 also has a narrower angle of view, and this makes it easier to isolate a subject against a smooth out of focus background. Lastly the 105mm maximum aperture is F2.8 which makes the image brighter and hence focussing is easier in dim conditions. Believe me, if you are taking a picture around sunrise on a cloudy day focussing is not easy.

    Now if you want to take images with natural light (with or without fill-flash) then I agree with the others that a tripod is mandatory. I have yet to see a sharp handheld macro image using natural light. Both lenses are fine for tripod use. The 200mm has the advantage of the rotating tripod collar which is extremely useful as you can rotate the camera with ease.

    If you want to take images with flash, and handheld, then I would not recommend the 200mm. It is too big and heavy, and the working distance so large that the flash will have poor modelling. For handheld use with flash the 105mm is ideal.

    There is also the older manual focus 200mm which is light, but only goes to half lifesize unaided, and is optically not quite up to the AF version. I suspect the third party ~200mm macro lenses are at least as good as the old one.

    Of course, your choice of subject will play a large role in your choice.
  7. Leif


    Feb 12, 2006
    By the way, a nice half way house is the Tamron 90mm F2.8 macro lens. High optical quality and a modest price. A perfect introduction to macro. And used by many pros by all accounts. If you do eventually decide you need a longer focal length, you can then decide between the Nikon 200mm, the Tamron 180mm etc.
  8. I agree with the above. In fact, I recently traded my mint 200 micro to Geno. He currently has it listed for sale, I don't know if it is still available. I think the 200 micro is the very best macro lens option. I rarely used mine because I also have the 60, 70-180 and 105VR. The 200 micro absolutely requires a tripod which is not convenient for my flowers and butterflies. The Tamron 90 is fantastic too. Good luck with your search. Oh and Scott Schexnadyre uses a 300 F4 with amazing results!! Check out his pbase site at: http://www.pbase.com/sschex/butterflies
  9. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Jen :

    Wow, a lot of questions to address for what you're thinking about...

    Versatility is a determining factor on a lot of levels. IMO, probably the most versatile macro lens made by Nikon is the 70-180mm Micro-Nikkor, although the VR function of the 105mm gives it an edge for some handheld/walkaround shooting without the use a tripod and good head. The older 60mm and 105mm AI lenses have a great rep for versatility in walkaround shooting, but they're MF, which might not be to your taste.

    Operating distance is probably the next factor to consider. The 200mm has the win here, although the 70-180mm comes close. Obviously, 105mm, 90mm, 60mm, and then 55mm fall in maco working distance with the focal length.

    Magnification on the various lenses can be addressed, to some degree, by extension tubes or diopter close-up lenses. There are a number of schools of thought on the use of these accessories - I've had good luck with each type.

    But price is one of those things that plays into any conversation on lenses. The 200mm, 70-180mm, 105mm VR Micro-Nikkors all cost a good bit of coin. Some alternatives to think about are the Lester Dine Kiron 105mm AI lens, the 55mm f/3.5 Micro-Nikkor (non P-C), or the 60mm Micro-Nikkor f/2.8 AF.

    Given that much macro is done in MF, I personally recommend looking for either the 55mm or the Lester Dine Kiron lens. I have both and each has some wonderful characteristics to shoot with (and the Lester Dine's were such that I traded my 105mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor AF away a bit back).

    The other (relatively) inexpensive alternative to consider is shooting with a reversed lens using a BR-2 adapter. Some high magnifications are possible, but this is a much planned and more contemplative approach to macro work. Once you have the BR-2, you can purchase (again, relatively) inexpensive MF lenses to use. If you do a search on reversed lens photography here in the Café, you'll find some exemplary shots. All of this assumes, however, that you're willing to work wholly MF for your work.

    And, if you read posts like mine or Crystall's, you'll quickly realise that macro/micro shooting eventually means owning several such lenses (and I haven't touched on Macro-Nikkor or Zeiss Luminar lenses on bellows for shooting some really really tiny things !). A good friend of mine was talking with me about this subject, and she just rolled her eyes asking, "John, just how many macro lenses do you really need ?"

    "Many," I answered.

    Those are a few ideas, anyway... :wink:

    John P.
  10. mikhailr

    mikhailr Guest

    To increase working distance for Sigma 150mm F:2.8 Macro I puchased Sigma TC14 (the combo became 210mm F:4). I can see no Image qaulity degrading so I have been using the lens with TC only for macro shooting since.

  11. Just to ad another thought...There is more to handling than weight (in my opinion). I've never held a better balanced, better lens than the 200AFD (optically unmatched in my experience). I do use it on a tripod almost all of the time, but when I do hand-hold with a flash its a joy to handle. I only do that for stationary subjects though. For moving critters, hand-held I find the Nikkor 300 f4AFS, Sigma 150, and 180HSM's to be much more effective tools due to their fast AF. In the 90-100 range I prefer the Tamron 90, Tokina 100 (newer), and Kiron 105 to the 105VR. I've found them to be better performers at mags closer to 1:1. Not that the VR is a poor lens...its just my preference for what I do based upon my experience. As has been said in just about every "which macro?" thread...there are no bad ones. Pick your focal length, ponder your application, figure your budget, and get one. We all have our favorites, and for folks with only one...well, that's the best one there is...and they might be right!
  12. Doug


    Jan 17, 2006
    East TN
    I want a giant Canon 500D for my 200-400VR, talk about working distance! ha. Some of this depends on your definition of what you want to shoot. Myself, I am not a close up bugger, I am not a stamen artist, so really fine detail ultra close stuff isn't my thing. For me macros is a beautiful flower shot, certainly easier with 105 VR, or 70-180 micro. I can also do nice VR with Canon 500D on my Leica 14-50mm.
  13. I use the same combo. I ditched my Sigma 105mm F2.8 and Nikkor 105mm F2.8 VR for that lens. I found that 105mm is too short for real macro work. IMO, Sigma 150mm F2.8 with TC 1.4x is best for macro work.
  14. Leif


    Feb 12, 2006
    John: You gave excellent information but Jen should note that the 70-180 achieves a close focus in part by reducing its focal length as described here by Riccardo Polini:


    His graph shows that in terms of working distance it is more like the 105mm than the 200mm. I must admit that it is a very tempting lens.
  15. fmario

    fmario Guest

    I was looking for a macro lens and considered both 105mm from Sigma and Nikkor. I also thought of 90mm from Tamron but when I went to FNAC they told me that the best choice was the Tokina (which they were not selling!)
  16. It is unlikely that folks could tell the difference between shots taken among those three (especially prints)...having owned all three.
  17. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Leif :

    True to a point. I've shot with both, and the 70-180mm has somewhat more distance in my experience, although I'd freely concede that the 200mm has more distance for shooting.

    Probably the best overall review of the 70-180mm lens that I've seen is that of Thom Hogan : Thom's Take on the 70-180mm, especially his commentary about where the compromises of the zoom micro are worthwhile and where they detract from the lens' performance.

    Again, a great deal depends on what a photographer wants in their macro lens along with the depth of their pockets. The latter is usually the largest determining factor, as most of us would likely own several of the high end macros to be used as necessary for our shooting. I do think that some of the "lesser" lenses (please note quotation marks made here !), particularly the Lester Dine Kiron 105mm and the Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/3.5 compensating lenses, provide superior performance per dollar spent.

    John P.
  18. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Excellent point !

    I think that once a photographer gets into these lenses, the performance becomes more a facet of the skills of the photographer than the lenses particularly. Each of the various lenses noted can provide wonderful and spectacular results.

    Where the difference comes in with the better macro lenses usually relates to the working distance, and then the specific field conditions (e.g., tripod/head combo, positioning, light levels, etc.). Even the working distance issue can be addressed in some cases by patience and care by the photographer.

    For the most part, I've found that the primary and greatest limitation of my macro/micro shooting has been... me. :redface:

    John P.
  19. Let me first say that I really don't have enough experience with macro (or micro?) lenses to speak knowledgeably on the subject. But you've probably guessed that I am going to try anyway.

    During one morning of the recent Ron Reznick workshop in New Mexico I had the privilege of using John Palmer's (PJohnP) 70-180, Ron Reznick's 200 micro, and also his 105VR micro. They were all a joy to use, and I got some remarkable images with each of them.

    But at the end of the day, when I went through all of my shots, I found I was just as happy with some I got with my 50mm f/1.8. Now I'm not into true macro photography, but I've decided that for my purposes, the "nifty fifty" with a Canon 250D diopter, or my 18-200VR with Canon 500D will serve me well for close-up photography.

    But I don't rule out someday acquiring a Nikkor 200/4 micro.:wink:
  20. Hi Jen...
    I too was asking the same questions as you have. It took me quite a while
    to make the decision. I purchased the 5T and 6T closeup lenses and used
    them on my 70-300 ED lens. Some really nice shots, but I had to get sooo
    close to the subject.

    After a lot of research, reading and seeing what others produced, I purchased
    the Sigma 150 macro about a month ago. And I am awaiting the sigma 1.4 tc
    to use with this lens. (both used) I like the lens, but we have had so much rain I haven't used it as much as I would like. I do like the lens.

    It is not one you want to handhold, however.

    There are so many choices, I took the plunge. This 150mm length also allows
    you to shoot other than micro as well...

    You also mentioned a ballhead. After much aggravation at trying to use a
    ball head: adjusting the movement up and down, and side to side, and then
    manual focus the lens, the bug moved...duh.
    But I have put the lens on my wimberley sidekick, and I am going to be trying
    this combination out.

    (I would like to know more about the use of a rail or something on the ballhead
    which might cut down on the amount of knobs I have to adjust. I think I will post this to ask for info now.)

    Just some additional thoughts...
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