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Which Macro lens to buy?

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by mikebass1, Jun 8, 2007.

  1. mikebass1


    Jun 3, 2007
    I would like to buy a macro lens. I would welcome any suggestions and what things I should consider before the purchase.

  2. Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  3. Cope


    Apr 5, 2007
    Houston, Texas
    When I faced this decision back in April, I was going to get the 105. At that time, everyone was praising the 60mm f2.8D, and that's what I went with. Do a search of the forum and you qill see some nice work done with it. No matter what focal length you start out with, you can later add shorter and longer length lenses to you collection and not have any wasted overlap.
  4. If you don't mind manual focus & exposure, the Lester Dine 105mm AiS can't be beat in terms of sharpness & boke:cool: 
  5. If you want to put a bit of distance between you and the beasties, the Sigma 150mm is worth considering.
  6. patrickh41

    patrickh41 Guest

    Dont forget, if you are going to use the lens primarily or solely for macro, then such added features as VR and auto everything will be of limited use. In the macro region most focussing is done by hand. This means you lose very little by going for a "manual" or older lens - the AI/AIS series. And as already indicated - some of the third party lenses actually rival or beat the nikkors. There is a basic 90 or 105/2.5 design from Kiron which was made under several labels such as Tokina/Lester Dine/Kiron/Vivitar Series 1 which has consistently obtained rave reviews over the years and is presently commanding fairly heavy prices on ebay (a Lester Dine is currently bid at more than $200 with 12 hours to go). Then there are the nikkors - 105/4, 55/3.5 and 55/2.8 - all of which are superb and can be bought fairly cheaply. Macro for the nikon is incredibly well served with very high quality glass.
  7. If you need to save some $ for descent reach, the Tamron 90mm F2.8 is awesome, I've owned several copies and they all perform great. Different versions, the 72EN, 172EN, and 272EN performs pretty much the same and this has been billed by Thom Hogan as the "poor man's Nikkor"

    This is safe to say one of the best Tamron lenses.
  8. mikebass1


    Jun 3, 2007
    Thanks everyone I really appreciate the information!
  9. There are many choices among the Nikons and pretty much all of them are really good. There are also several lenses fomr other brands, any many of them are getitng good reviews, however Ican't advise you on them beacuse I havent tried them

    In many way it is a focal length issue: How close do you want to get and what magnifaction do you want. You didn't give us much clues of what you want to shoot so here are some generalisations from me:

    • 55-60mm range good for flowers and can double up as landscape an portrait if you want. Here nikon has the 55mm Micro (both MF versions and somewhat rare AF) and the 60mm Micro AF. The 60mm is in the USD $300 range, considered to be very sharp and it is in my experience. The 55mm Micro AF is very close to the 60mm and very sharp. The 55 mm Micro F2.8 MF AI-S is a manual focus very cheap ($100+ range) lens, great value for the money, There are also older versions the 55mm Micro F3.5 AI-S is even cheaper and a good lens as well. Value for money? I think 55mm Micro AI-S. I have the 55mm Micro AF and love it.
    • 85mm range, This is the 85mm PC tiltshift lens. super lens, not the best to start with takes some tinkering to understand.
    • 105mm range good for flowers and bugs and such very all round micro lens., many choices here older ais versions are really good, the 105mm Micro AF is very common and a great sharp lens a bit slow in AF... The 105 Micro F2.8 VR is the newest version, handles TC's really well, good at sport and portrait as well. IMHO not as supersharp as the predessor doing Micro work but a fine all around lens.
    • Then there is also the more unusual and diffcult lenses the 105 and 135 DC lenses, the have a special feature that lest you defocus backgrounds, I have not tried these, a bit more specialised lenses I have heard many good things though.
    • 200 Micro AIS and AF. Serious micro lenses, extremely sharp, tripod only IMHO. Small critters and you don't have to be so close. The 200 Micro AF is considered by many to be the sharpest of the Nikon Micros, Mine sure is sharp.
    • Finally my favorite, the very hard to find Nikon 70-180mm Micro zoom lens, very sharp and ooh so flexible, I just love it, Getting very hard to find.
    So I suggest you think about how you want to use the lens, and then go thorugh this again and ask for some more advise on the non Nikons.

    My advice If you are starting out and have a D200 or higher class camera that can meter the old lenses I would go for a 55mm Micro AI-S to start with second choice would be a 105mm Micro AF they are readily available and very good. If you dont have a D200 or higher class camera I would exchnage the 55mm for a 60mm AF.

    Good Luck!
  10. I normally use the macro lens for macro only although I have taken portraits with it and had to use a soft filter (shooting film). I sold the 60mm f2.8 and now use the 105mm f2.8D AF Micro Nikkor. Here's an image taken on Kauai last month:

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
  11. Here is a link to my flower shots. Most of these were done with the Lester Dine 105mm macro lens that I mentioned earlier.
  12. patrickh41

    patrickh41 Guest

    Nice flowers - that's a great lens. I have recently acquired the Vivitar Series 1 version of it for less than $50, just tried it today and it gives very similar results to the Lester Dine
  13. Tokina 100 At-x 2.8

    I am happy with mine. Being less expensive than the 105VR, need however a fellow called tripod... as all the 1:1 lenses without VR. I like it anyway.
    Some images taken today with it:
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    View attachment 99566
    View attachment 99567

  14. The 200mm Micro AF is my all time favorite and I have and have had a number of them. The many things to consider have been mentioned.
    Here are 3 samples of why I feel this way




    Good luck with your quest and enjoy the new world you will soon discover.
  15. Jeff Lee

    Jeff Lee

    May 16, 2006
    Tamron 90 is a great choice also:

  16. vettenut


    Feb 27, 2006
    Tolland CT
    Don't agree that you won't use the VR function, sometimes due to the location of a subject I can't use a tripod, other times I always have my 105 in the camera bag but don't always bring the tripod. The shot below is with the 105VR handheld @ 1/40th of a second.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    A few more Handheld.......

    View attachment 99569

    View attachment 99570

    Have fun choosing. - Jeff:smile:
  17. I have been using the Nikkor 55mm 2.8 for many years and most recently have been taking very close up pics of the 17 year periodic cicadas invading my area for 5 weeks. Of course this is a manual lens but in macro or close up work you need manual.

    I just read a number of reviews of the Tamron 90mm macro and found that every review was favorable. Some reviewers found the optics as good as the Nikkor 105 macro. So I just bought one from an ebay listing of a large camera facility. The company has an outstanding rating so I called them and bought the lens direct. If half of what I have read is true I will be extremely happy to have this mid-telephoto lens with macro ability for $320 vs. $750 for the Nikkor 105mm macro vr. The Sigma and Tokina macros in the 90 to 105mm varieties also received excellent reviews. It is looking like more and more 3rd party lens makers have really improved quality. I have been shooting Nikkor lenses for over 40 years and this is my first venture to a 3rd party lens maker and I have every confidence that I will not be disappointed. Don
  18. Jeff Lee

    Jeff Lee

    May 16, 2006
    I think you will love it. Its light but pretty tough. While I don't do portraits, I've seen a lot of them, and from the back grounds in my macros, this lens is really does "magic".
  19. The most popular choices are the Nikon 60/2.8, Tamron 90/2.8, and Nikon 105/2.8 (both VR and the earlier non-VR version). Sigma and Tokina make some very nice macro lenses, too, and if the truth be know, you could hardly go wrong no matter what you choose in this particular segment of the lens market.

    If you're interested in bugs (yuch), buy a longer focal length macro to give you more working distance... though, with patience, even the shorties can be used to catch a creepie crawlie or two.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    If your bias is towards florals and tabletop work, such as photographing items for ebay listings, buy a shorter focal length macro.

    View attachment 99572

    And if you're planning on being a macro specialist, invest in the Nikon 200/4, which is very expensive, huge, and probably the finest production macro lens you'll find anywhere. But most of us aren't specialists, and look to get double duty out of our macro lenses. They're usually good as portrait lenses, too.

    View attachment 99573

    These "which macro to buy" threads are always fun, as folks post samples from their favorite lens... but that's more about lighting and craftsmanship than the glass, because all the macro lenses all wonderful.

    View attachment 99574
  20. The 105 VR in my opinion may be the best all around marco lens available. Beyond sharp, which it is, it has so many other attributes. I had the afd but there is no comparison except for sharpness. The IF alone is worth the extra money. Beyond that there's AFS, ED elements, nano crystal coating, VR (and yes the VR does work with macro, not great at 1:1 but how often do you shoot at 1:1). The VR allows you to get images if you dont have your tripos that you wouldn't even try before. The bayonet hood is cool and it's built like a take. Teh bokeh is awesome. If you get one you'll wonder why you waited so long. It's the perfect flower lens and a great portrait lens also.
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