105 mm f2 (DC) as a macro lens

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by tempest_connolli, Sep 19, 2010.

  1. I was thinking of trying some macro photography, but did not want to buy a dedicated lens since I already have a decent 105mm lens. What is the best way to convert a 105 mm f2 (DC) to a macro lens?
    Would you use extension tube, a TC or one of those screw on close-up lenses, or some combination of the three?
  2. I would try it with a set of extension tubes. You would probably get good image quality but probably not as good as a dedicated macro
  3. Another big drawback is that unless you use a dedicated macro lens, you lose a variable magnification ratio . The extension tubes will work but will limit you to a single ratio depending on the tubs/s used. So if you see a flower or insect & you want to get the whole subject in the frame, it may not be possible depending on the amount of extension used. With a true macro lens, all you have to do is turn the focus ring & the ration changes as the distance to your subject does....Plus there is still field curvature with this lens that a true macro won't have, making the edges less sharp. What camera will you be using it on?.
  4. Scott, I thought focussing is possible with extension ring. You can't reach infinity though. The camera will be DX.
  5. Focusing is possible but not like a macro lens would provide
  6. Generally, the best way to go is a combination of tubes and good quality achromat (two element) closeup lenses. I've used the 85mm f1.4 that way before, and occasionally, the 135mm f2.0 DC. But really, the only reason to do stuff like that is if you want a "funky macro" picture, very shallow DOF. You say you're "thinking of trying some macro photography". I assume you want to try something other than just "funky".
    • A used 55mm f2.8 micro-Nikkor is very easy to find. They go for $100-200 on the bay or at a legitimate used lens dealer like KEH. That's an essentially distortion free, razor sharp lens that can focus from infinity to 1:2 (0.5x magnification, or a 32x48mm subject). And a single 27.5mm extension tube will take it down to 1:1.
    • A Canon 500D 72mm achromat goes for about $120, new, and almost never appears on the used market. It gives you the magnification range from 1:4.8 to 1:2.8. So you miss the ranges from 1:7.7 to 1:4.8 and 1:2.8 to 1:2 that you'd get with a real macro lens.
    • A set of three Kenko extension tubes, 12, 20, and 36mm, goes for about $160 new, and again, almost never appears on the used market. You need a set of three tubes for the 105, because its focus range is small, and it takes a lot of tubes to cover the whole focus range.
    Focusing will drive you crazy. Ignoring the 55mm (which is still the lens I'd recommend starting with). It takes 52.5mm of extension to cover the range from infinity to 1:2 (half size) macro on a 105mm lens. The older macro lenses have that built in, turn the collar of the 105mm f2.8 AIS micro-Nikkor, and the lens elements really do move 52.5mm, so it will focus all the way from infinity to 1:2 just by turning the ring. A newer one will go from infinity to 1:1 by turning the ring, effectively 105mm.
    In comparison, the 105mm f2.0 DC only has a 13.6mm focus travel. When you use tubes or lenses, you cover a different 13.6mm "slice" of that 52mm range from infinity to 1:2, or the 105mm range from infinity to 1:1.
    A 105mm DC with a 500D diopter gives you two small focusing ranges:
    • infinity to 1:7.7 without the diopter
    • 1:48-1.28 with the diopter
    A 105mm DC with a set of three tubes, 12, 20, 36mm gives you lots of small ranges. You're always taking things apart and putting on different tubes.
    • infinity to 1:7.7 without any tubes
    • 1:8.8 to 1:4.1 with the 12mm
    • 1:5.3 to 1:3.2 with the 20mm
    • 1:3.3 to 1.2.3 with the 12 and the 20mm
    • 1:2.9 to 1:2.1 with the 36mm
    • 1:2.2 to 1:1.7 with the 20 and the 36mm
  7. [​IMG]
    Thank you Joesph for the technical explanation...I knew someone would be able to explain it better than I could....One other point to mention is the OP only says a DX camera. If he goes with a 55mm Micro Nikkor (good choice unless it has an oily aperture problem), he won't have metering unless he has a D200 or better body (not that that's a deal killer because it isn't, it just limits him more). If he wants photos of small insects, a 105 or greater FL would be preferred to give additional working distance so as not to scare off the subject matter...Many options & many limitations are involved when shooting macro. If he has any intentions of pursuing it, he needs to know what they are before spending his money...
  8. Getting a macro lens is the best solution, but look at third-party lenses like the excellent Tamron 90mm as well as Nikon.
    However, a good way to dip your feet into the stream is simply to buy plus diopter lenses. They work surprisingly well if you get good ones (still much cheaper than a new lens), and have the advantage of not affecting light transmission, so your lens will focus in much closer without getting very dark and slow shutter speeds.
    The plus lenses are often sold in sets. +1, +2, +3 etc. Probably 3 'filters' is as many as you'd want to stack without seriously affecting image quality (more complex filters with a couple of elements go up to +10, e.g., link)
  9. The +1,+2,+4 diopter sets that you see on eBay & other sites are really not that good at all. They are single element diopters & irregardless of make, not very good quality. The double element versions (such as the Canon 500D mentioned above) are much better (although more expensive). Nikon made double element versions (3T,4T,5T & 6T) but they have to be bought on the used market nowadays & are only in 52 & 62 mm thread sizes (3T &4T are 52mm, 5T &6T are 62mm thread). Olympus makes the MCON 35, which can be found in various filter sizes as can the Canon...There are other doublets as well
  10. Thank you for all of your reponses. Joseph, the technical information your provided is most helpful. I have one ring right now: something called E2 and it has a plunger. I also have a TC16. I realize the E2 is too short to do much, but I'm thinking of trying them to see what happens. I also do have a Tamron 90mm macro, but I want to get rid of it to raise money for other pursuits (and to reduce # of lenses as a matter of principle).
  11. FWIW, Bjørn Rørslett mentions in his lens revew that Nikon 6T diopter (62mm diameter) can be used on Ai-s 85/1.4 as well as AF 85/1.4 without vingnetting even though both lenses has larger filter threads (72mm and 77mm respectively). Although he didn't mention the format, chances could be that DC 105/2.0 also allows this diopter without vignetting especially because you are using it on the smaller DX format. Just a wild guess, though.
  12. honestly, if u have a tamron 90mm macro, use that instead of the 105 with mods to make it macro. you will get better image quality, and have much more of a range incase u want to shoot non macro.
    if u still want to sell it, and its nikon mount, ill buy it. email me at JSchnee87@live.com

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