macro lens comparisons

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by skip_wilson, May 25, 2015.

  1. Hello,
    I have the Nikon D 7100 and am wanting to hear peoples' experiences and thoughts with Nikon's macro 85/3.5G ED VR vs Tamron SP 90/2.8 Di VC USD macro vs the Tokina macro 100/2.8 AT-X M100 AF PRO D AF. DXO rates the Tokina higher in some areas at nearly $400 less expensive albeit without VR compared to the Tamron. Is this too good to be true? Is the Tokina lens this good or going to be updated any time soon making this lens less desireable? Are there any downsides I should be aware of before buying the Tokina without the VR? What do people think is the best of these three for macro of flowers and occasionally bugs? I might use one of these for occasional portraits, as well. Thank you. Skip
  2. Skip,
    I use the Tokina 100/2.8 on my Nikon D7100 and very pleased with this lens. Unable to comment on other lens because I have never used them. I bought the Tokina because it was rated higher and cost less than the Nikon macro. It is a great lens.
  3. I went with a used copy of the Nikon 105mm VR. It is excellent. For butterflies, the VR is quite useful since it's difficult to use a tripod.
    Kent in SD
  4. In general you can't go wrong with a macro lens. In general people use a tripod and manual focus for macro; VR and AF are less important. For other purposes (portraits etc) VR may come in handy. I'l let the other purposes decide.
  5. Is this too good to be true?
    Web reviews are mostly based in a unique test occasion and condition, and specially on brute performance. Macro lenses are usually tested at "normal" distances, like any other. (Don`t know if it is the case of DXO).
    In my experience, real life use is slightly different. I`m not that obsessed with a precise score but in the overall performance, handling, weight&size, durability, construction quality (hood included), etc. Here I`ve found that usually, better means more money.

    I might use one of these for occasional portraits, as well.
    For real macro work I tend to prefer manual focus barrels, like old Ai/AiS lenses. Once on the Live View screen, the extra smoothness of this lenses is more pleasant to use. Most of the times, the longer focal the better.
    Anyway, think that a macro specialist will focus using a macro rail; maybe you don`t look for such specialization.

    My take about VR: I find the 105VR to be a quite practical and versatile lens. The IF system is quite comfortable for everything, and the VR let you to shoot a wide variety of subjects, form hand held close ups to low light portraits. I find its optical quality (1:1, 1:2) to be on pair with some of my older "classic" MF macros, and also very sharp at portrait distances (D700). The bokeh is perfectly good. The MF ring is not as good as a real manual lens, but it is perfectly usable. I cannot tell about lenses from other manufacturers.
  6. i did use tamron 90, canon 100/100L and some old nikon stuff.
    those are all excellent.
    i like the canon 100L the most till now, havent used the nikon 105 though.
    the vr is quite usefull on the canon (guess that goes for all of them)
    vr comes in handy when shooting hand held.
    the vr on the canon is excellent.
    like with any vr, you have to wait a bit and the shot get stabilzed. you will see this as the frame doesnt shake that much anymore.
    vr only helps you with static objects.

    as soon anything moves (grass moved by wind ) vr wont help you anymore.
    however, it will allow you to use longer shutterspeeds and you might be able to follow the motion of your subject.
    it depends on what you are shooting but i find the 100mm range to be quite nice.
    however as i am searching for snakes in lakes of vienna, i know there are some, i am thinking something longer might be better ;)
    i guess you cannot go wrong with any of those.
    however from your choices listed above i would recomment the tamron.
    borrowed it from a friend and found it to be at least as good as the canon L.
    it doesnt extend when zooming and that is very important.
    i dont know if the tokina does it.
    however compared to the canon L the tamron is build from cheaper plastic and does feel a bit "cheap-ish".
    not an issue one should be overly concerned with.
    go for the Tamron SP 90/2.8 Di VC USD
    this is me using the 1dx, canon100l and mr 14ex during the dayjob (selfportrait).
  7. I've got the Tokina; amazing good lens at the price. It really is that good. On a D7100 to get pixel sharpness you probably need to stop down a bit (I use(d) it on lower MP bodies), but generally I cannot find optical flaws with this lens. Out of focus rendering is outstanding - absolutely fine for portraits.
    AF can be slow, and using the focus limiter can be quite needed; VR/VC can be useful (mostly for the non-macro shots), but generally I do not miss it much. The lens balances well on the slightly larger/heavier bodies, so I think with the D7100 it should also be fine; this can lessen the need for VR to some extent. But, the importance of VR is a personal call, and budget related too, I guess. The AF/MF 'clutch' on the Tokina works very well for me (easy to switch to MF); the MF focus ring feel is good for a modern lens, and has hard stops - it is a pleasant lens to use manually.
    It's a bit an unknown gem, the Tokina, and not sold in too many places; if you can find it at a low price I'd jump on it.
  8. An often asked question, the truth being that most modern macro lenses are incredibly sharp and used with care will provide stunning results. Live View is your friend zooming into the important parts of the image so that you can get them critically sharp using manual focus for static subjects.
    This link shows a small part from an image that I took locally last Saturday morning of a Forget Me Not (Mysotis) flower growing in the wild, I focused on the flowers with Live View and took it with a Sigma 150mm lens on my D800, you would hardly know how small the actual flower is in reality when viewed like this.
    The issue really is what you intend to use the lens for, on DX a 100mm lens is exactly the equivalent of my 150mm lens on FX, which gives you plenty of space to work, which is good for flowers and insects. A Sigma 105mm whether the newest OS model or the one before that which I also have is also an excellent lens and surprisingly good at infinity too but I think the Tamron or Tokina would give you very good results too, just comes down to getting the best deal that you can.
  9. I've heard very good things about the Tokina. I own the previous version of the 90mm Tamron, without VC, which suffers a bit from chromatic aberration (colour fringing) - it also has a very inset front element, which means there's much less working distance than there could be. The new version is supposed to be better on the colour fringing front. Historically, the older Tamron was thought of as slightly sharper than the Tokina, at least stopped down, but there's very little in it. It also doubles as a short portrait lens - I already had the 135 DC lens, so I decided I was better going shorter rather than nearly matching the focal length with a 105mm macro. I've mostly heard slightly unimpressed talk about the 85mm micro-Nikkor, but I've no personal experience since it's not a full-frame lens. Some vibration reduction is handy at moderate distances, but you need a trick kind (as Canon have in their 100mm macro) at shorter ranges where translation has as much effect as rotation.

    I'll second Allan's recommendation of the 150mm Sigma, which is an excellent lens if you can stretch to it. That's a lot of working distance on a crop sensor, though, and for portraiture it's much more tempting on FX than on DX - it replaced my 135 DC when I'm not wheeling out my 200 f/2.

    That said, for flowers and insects, maybe none of the above. You might want to err on the wide side (such as a 40mm or 60mm macro) for flowers so you actually get some context in the shot, unless you prioritise not treading in the flower bed. For live insects, more working distance is often better - a lot of people seem to like shooting dragonflies with a 300mm f/4, which has decent close-focus. For something very small, this may be less of a concern. Oh, and unless you're trying to track flowers moving in the breeze or (like me) you're impatient, don't fuss too much about autofocus - there are some very good manual focus macro lenses out there. Good luck.
  10. Am I correct that the Tokina macro 100/2.8 AT-X M100 AF PRO D AF will autofocus (when I need) with the Nikon D7100 as well as full autoexposure with the Nikon D7100?
  11. Hi Skip. Yes, it will autofocus on a D7100. If you've not seen it, there's a review here (on an older camera). The Tokina has screw focus rather than an internal focus motor, so it would not autofocus on the D5x00/D3x00 series and other low-end cameras without a focus motor in the camera, but the D7100 has a motor built in and can drive this. It behaves like a Nikon AF, but not AF-S, lens. Don't be surprised if autofocus at the closest macro distances is a bit iffy, though.
  12. I thank all of you for your experiences and opinions. They have helped me make my decision to purchase the Tokina macro 100/2.8 AT-X Pro D AF lens. I'll be back, again, reading the forum, learning a lot from all who take the time to share their expertise with those of us, like myself, who are serious photo enthusiasts. A great network. Skip

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