Affordable Micro lens, is this good?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by marco_de_biasi, Jan 27, 2014.

  1. Hi there,
    tight budget, around $150. I'm looking for an acceptable micro lens for a friend of mine, I saw this one:

    price is in the range, but have no idea how good it is.
    I need it for a D3100, mainly to take around, I don't think it will be used on a tripod or with a release shutter.
    Subject can be: nature (insects, flowers) or interesting textures. I was gonna tell her about also an extension tube, maybe a combination of lense+extension?
    Thanks for any help.
  2. Second hand Tamron 90mm ?
  3. +1
  4. This lens can go down to 1:2, it's not a great performer though. It will AF on the D3100 according to description, which is something most 2nd hand lenses will not do. And the viewfinder of the D3100 isn't the most pleasant for manual focus.
    The problem is that you're really better off spending a bit more (something like the 85 f/3.5 DX Macro), and saving up longer might be more worth it. As a temporary cheap option, check for screw-in macro diopters instead. Those will cost a lot less than this lens, and allow your friend to save up for a good long-term solution instead.
  5. Macro photography = tripod, cable release, flashes, patience, time.........
    Macro lens is not very much a necessity for macro photography.
  6. +1 Wouter.
    What lens does your lady friend have already?
  7. I don't know what lenses you have but you can turn just about any lens into a macro lens with inexpensive extension tubes as you have already considered. What lenses do you currently have?
  8. The Nikon 28-105 is in your price wheelhouse and is pretty good. No focus motor though.
  9. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    If you want an affordable macro lens for your D3100, consider the Nikon 40mm/f2.8 DX AF-S macro. However, even that is almost twice as much as the $150 Sigma lens. Whether a 40mm lens meets your needs is another issue.
    True macro lenses are designed for close focusing. I have the Nikon 24-120mm/f4 AF-S VR. It can focus very close, but at close range, it is nowhere as sharp as my 105mm/f2.8 macro lenses. In other words, you can use extension rings, but it is not as good.
  10. Not for $150 micro/macro lenses are not designed to acceptable,they are pretty expensive you may find a very beat up lens for that price try KEH they may have a used bargain condition lens?
  11. for flowers and still things... nothing beats an old used Nikkor 55mm f3.5 or f2.8 AI. very cheap, in that range. You have to guess exposure (no AF, no metering) but believe it or not, they'll work great for you.
    For insects, you need a whole lot more, mostly in terms of knowing how to handle the insects.
  12. None of the standard telephoto to normal zoom lenses that I know of that claim "macro" capability are true, 1:1, macro lenses. However, depending on what you mean by macro, they may serve reasonably well as "close focus" lenses. Good enough for flowers and teddy bears, but not for closeups of insect eyes, etc.
    If you want "real" macro, something like the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 mentioned is an excellent lens at a reasonable price. Otherwise, a close focus zoom can serve quite well.
    Also, cheaper alternatives include simple +diopter ('filter') lenses, or more sophisticated work with bellows or extension tubes with a reversed prime lens. Start at , but Google™ is your friend.
  13. The Vivitar/Samyang/Phoenix 100mm macro had mediocre build quality, but superb performance. These can be found very cheap on eBay, KEH, etc.
  14. I should have mentioned another route:
    there may be used, older Nikon-mount macro lenses (Nikon sometimes calls them "Micro" for reasons best known to them) that will work on your camera body, but check the compatibility chart at . MF, as such, is not such a problem, since most real macro work calls for the accuracy of manual focus - it's just too hard for the AF to figure out what YOU want in focus. As you get closer, the need for a tripod or other holder becomes greater, too.
    However, as you will note in the chart and its footnotes, the D3100 is not the most flexible of Nikon cameras in accepting older lenses. Check your manual and the chart above, before going that route.
  15. For that kind of money, I'd think your best bet would be a 55mm AI or AIS macro lens, and using it in full manual mode.
    It's more work that way, but a much better macro image than that Sigma can do.
  16. The old Tamron 90mm macros in Adaptall 2 mount are excellent lenses. In fact there is one on eBay for for Nikon AI mount for $165. I'm not permitted by policy from posting a direct link, but if you just put this in eBay's search engine you'll find it:
    "Tamron SP Tele Macro 90mm f2.5 Adaptall 2 Nikon AI"
  17. I didn't do a lot of macro-photography, and am no expert, so keep that in mind.
    When I wanted to try out if macro was for me, I had a lot of fun with my cheap-ass 50mm/1.8, and a reversing-ring that enabled me to turn that that 50mm around and mount it 'the wrong way'. It exposes the back elements of the lens, and if those get damaged it will seriously affect image quality, but since the lens is the cheapest nikkor available, I thought it was a risk worth taking.
    I looked them up on B&H's site, but I'm sure other shops have them as well;
    And with step-up/-down rings you can use lenses with other size front-threads as well. Though I'd stick to a small and light one just to be on the safe side...
  18. Just be sure you don't get "pre-AI" or "non-AI" lenses which can be inexpensive, but require modification to use on your camera.
  19. You can use non-AI lenses on a D3100. A D3100 doesn't have an AI tab to get in the way.
  20. Are you sure? The table at the Nikonians site linked to says "NO!".
    I'd sure check it out, and never, ever force it. If it doesn't go on easily, don't.
  21. You can use a cheap reversing mount to attach say a 50mm normal lens to your body via the filter thread. To protect the rear element cut the bottom out of a rear lens cap to use as a bumper as you are likely to be close to the subject.
    Try different focal lengths this way to find a working distance you are happy with.
    I own the Tamron SP90 f2.8 Di and the Micro-Nikkor 105mm Ai-s, they are both outstanding but my vote goes to the SP90 as it is a stellar portrait lens too.
  22. on that budget, i almost think you're better off with a point and shoot with built-in stabilization than the sigma. while it can do 1:2 macro (only at 300mm, it appears), it has extremely cheap build quality, which makes it very light and thus subject to camera shake. which means that at telephoto lengths, you're gonna have to raise the shutter pretty high, while still maintaining deep DoF. also, you can expect a lot of distortion and chromatic aberration from a cheapo lens. not an optimal situation if you're trying to do handheld macros. a lens with a shorter focal length will be more stable and less subject to camera shake at extreme magnification. but an inexpensive P&S has the benefit of close-focus and built-in DoF due to smaller sensor. a stabilized one might allow you to take blur-free close-up images handheld. this fuji, for instance, has a stabilized lens, 40x optical zoom, and focuses to within 1 cm. of course, a dedicated macro will offer better IQ and less distortion, but then you also have to address the stability/camera shake issue as well as camera compatibility and possible loss of AF.
  23. Wow, thank you all for helping I wasn't expecting so much help!
    I'll go through all the replies, as it seems there's a lot of information on these pages.
    In the meantime, the lens on the D3100 is the lens kit, the 18-55mm.
    I thought to the extensions tube but I forgot about the diopters. That could be a good solution actually as will be faster to use than the extension.
    But first I'll read all your replies. Thanks a lot.
  24. The 18-55mm has quite a good close focus already @ 55mm. Is it the VR version? I'd be tempted to actually go down the route you thought of way back at the beginning....Extension Tubes! No extra glass to get grubby or scratched.
    Bizarrely Nikon don't make a set. However, Kenko and Polaroid do make Auto AF and Metering tubes. There seems to be a quality issue with the much cheaper Polaroid set, so go and try a set in the shop first! Experiment with the tubes, ie different tube lengths at different zoom settings. I'd reckon the thin or medium tube @ 55mm will cover most of your friends needs. You loose infinity focus, but the image quality will be as good as your original lens. The exposures will get a bit longer so be aware of camera shake and maybe bump-up the ISO.
    NB. Manufacturers call tubes 'AUTO' when they only allow Auto Exposure Metering not Auto Focus aswell. Check for both. Macro is often done in manual focus, but having the AF option is handy...:)
  25. Richard, Sigma make two versions of that lens; the "standard" version that you've linked to, and a far better "Apo" version for just a little more money. The Apo version can be recognised by a red ring around the front of the lens barrel, and has much better optical quality. Unfortunately, both versions of the lens suffer from poor build quality and the zoom mechanism in particular is quite delicate and liable to breaking. So I'd strongly recommend you look at something else, or at least go for the Apo version.
  26. +1 on the 55mm f3.5 or f2.8 macro lenses. Manual focus and exposure on the D3100, but that is appropriate for macro work. My 55mm f3.5 has excellent sharpness on a D800 for landscape work.
  27. i owned one of these lenses a good while back. nothing good to say about it. pretty disappointing right through its range, avoid!
  28. All right, after reading all the advices, I'm narrowing this down to these options:
    - She could use a diopter, easy, inexpensive.
    - She could go with a reverse lens, still inexpensive, easy to set up (she's got already an old Nikkor 50 1.8)
    - Last option, she could buy a better lens, either a really good one or a used one.
    As for the good, new lens, I don't think she'll go that way due to the budget.
    I followed your advices and looked on Keh and also that eBay Tamron.
    Here's what I've got now:
    - Tamron SP Tele Macro 90mm f2.5 $177.50 (shipment included)
    - NIKON 28-105mm 3.5-4.5 D MACRO ZOOM AF lens $134.00 (shipment included)
    - Nikon 55 F3.5 MICRO AI BGN $72.00
    - Nikon 55 F2.8 MICRO AIS BGN $79.00
    - Nikon 35-105 F3.5-4.5 MACRO AIS EX $45.00
    I've to double check about mounting compatibility about the last three, if I'm not mistaken they should work.
    At this point I would take into account the chance to borrow the lens from her now and then and use it on my Canon as well ;)
    I'll let her know about the options, but what do you guys think about the lens choices?
    Anything good among the old lenses I posted here, or they're no-go and if it has to be a lens then it's only the Tamron?
  29. Look for a used Micro Nikkor 55mm manual focus lens. Might be in your price range, and, though 20+ years old, is very sharp. (check for good condition and operation). I am happy with mine.
  30. art tyree,
    is it the one I posted above?
    Nikon 55 F2.8 MICRO AIS BGN $79.00
    (Bgn from Keh are usually good enough btw)
  31. Do not buy the Tamron SP 90mm f/2.5 version. It only focuses to 1:2 and is now an extremely old design. The AF is slow and clunky, and the focus ring is prone to creep if used vertically in manual focus. Later versions of this lens have an f/2.8 aperture and focus to 1:1. The f/2.8 lenses are all round a better bet and have superior optics. Beside which, the price asked for that old f/2.5 version is a bit cheeky IMO.
    Re reversing rings: Have the people recommending these for use with a prime lens ever actually used one? Because you cannot focus a prime unit-focusing lens when reversed. It has a fixed focus distance that cannot be shifted through use of the focusing ring; the focusing ring merely moves the lens barrel while the optics remain where they are. Although use with zooms and IF lenses is feasible, it's still not terribly versatile and will probably leave a 'hole' in the focusing range between normal and reversed use.
    So your cheap, useful macro options remain: MF 55mm Micro-Nikkor (either f/3.5 or f/2.8 version are both excellent); AF extension tubes or a Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 macro lens. While "diopters" are also useable the image quality is a bit compromised.
    PS. Ignore the word "macro" when used in connection with any zoom. It's used in the hyperbolic sense of meaning "close focus", and close focus can mean anything from 3 feet to about 18 inches in this context. In other words it's a lie, and the lens generally has no true macro ability at all.
  32. Thank you for pointing that out Rodeo Joe.
    Then I think I'll tell her to choose either the extension tube or the 55mm.
  33. I'll just add that any fixed macro lens is going to be better than any zoom "macro" lens in image quality.
    The choice between 55mm and 90/100mm macros is based on your intended subjects. For flowers, insects and still life studio shots the longer focal length is better as it provides more room between camera and subject. Conversely, a 50/55m focal length is better with larger objects if you don't have a lot of space to work with.
    I own both the Sigma 70mm macro and the Tamron 90 f2.5 Adaptall 2, both of which are excellent (though the Tamron is better wide open at close-up distances) and which I switch between depending on how much room I have to photograph.
    As for Rodeo Joe's comment, Tamron over the years has made many different 90mm macros. I have this one:
    and it is excellent. But as it's not autofocus I'm not sure which version you're speaking of.

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