Macro lenses

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by james_angersola, Sep 24, 2011.

  1. Can someone give me some advise on the sharpest macro lens. I am leaning toward the nikon 200mm macro but before I purchase the lens I want to make sure I am not missing anything. I need as much distance from the subject as possible but still have a sharp image.
    Thank You
     
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Pretty much all of the recent Nikon macro lenses are excellent. Currently I have five of them at home as I just finished testing the very affordable 40mm/f2.8 DX AF-S: http://www.photo.net/equipment/nikon/lenses/40mm-f2.8-af-s-dx-micro/review/
    Which one to get highly depends on your subject matter. My favorite is the 200mm/f4 AF-D for flowers and insects. Its main advantage is that it has a tripod collar so that it is easy to switch between horizontal and vertical compositions. Its main weakness is that AF/MF switch ring that can break fairly easily. Mine broke a few years ago and cost me $200 to fix: http://www.photo.net/nature-photography-forum/000T15
     
  3. SCL

    SCL

    What magnification do you need? I tend to agree with Shun's assessment, but unless you are working at 1:1 or so, there are other less expensive solutions, such as using bellows or extension rings with other lenses - for instance I periodically use rings or bellows with a 400/6.3 I have for other nature work....edges are soft, but center is razor sharp.
     
  4. I will need 1:1 magnification so I think the nikon 200mm macro would be best. I am a little concerned about the AF/MF switch but I will have to deal with that if it arrises.
    Thank You for all your help
     
  5. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Pretty much all modern macro lenses can shoot at 1:1. (In this case modern includes all Nikon AF macro lenses that are not zooms.) The big difference is the working distance from the front of the lens to the subject. I have posted this image showing that the 105mm macro has a lot more working distance than the new 40mm DX macro at 1:1.
    The 200mm macro will give you even more working distance at 1:1.
    [​IMG]
     
  6. So if I am understanding the 200mm would give me the most working distance?
     
  7. Yes, the 200mm Micro will give you the most working distance at 1:1. The minimum focus distance of the AF Micro 200/4D is listed as 0.5m, and the length of the lens (extension from mount flange) is 193mm, so your working distance at 1:1 should be approximately:
    500mm - (46.5mm + 193mm) = 260.5mm or 10-1/4in.
     
  8. James, I have the Nikon 105mm AF-D and 200mm AF-D macro lenses. I use the 200mm 90% of the time because of its greater working distance and because it has a built in tripod collar mount which makes it much easier to use for all shots and for switching to vertical when needed too. 99% of my shots are taken in manual focus as AF is difficult to use and control especially at 1 : 1. Both lenses are real sharp if used correctly.
    Sharpness is affected by a lot of things. With my D 300s and D 700 I try and set my f stops from around wide open to no smaller than f 11 to avoid any hint of diffraction which I have discovered to be more prevelant with DSLR sensors than with film. Diffraction is noticeable at f 22 and f32 on the 105mm and 200mm and impairs sharpness. I would not necessarily blame the lens for this.
    Joe Smith
     
  9. Mine broke a few years ago and cost me $200 to fix​
    I got tired of those $200 repairs after the rings on my 80-200mm f2.8 and 135mm f2.0 broke. So, when my 200mm f4 micro broke a few years ago, and I got it running again with Gaffer's tape. That lasted about a year, at which point I carefully cleaned it, then took some carbon fiber tape and epoxy and redid my repair, even leaving a little hole for the screw head. It's been five years, and it's doing fine.
     
  10. +1 for the 200mm AF-D Micro Nikkor
    That is the one I have and I really like it.
     
  11. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I am glad that 10 Euro bill has been on my wall for several years. Here is the 200mm/f4 AF-D version of that 1:1 set up. Michael Freeman is right, as usual, that with the 200mm macro lens, your working distance is now a much longer 25.5 cm or about 10 inches by my meanurement.
    Also notice that tripod collar on the lens.
    00ZNc3-401197584.jpg
     
  12. Great, The 200mm is the lens to get. Thank You to all who wrote in with some great advise.
    Jim
     
  13. James,
    I have two macro lenses. Nikon 105 and the Sigma 150 f/2.8. The one I do use most is the Sigma because of the greater working distance. Also, this lens has a great tripod collar and the IQ is excellent. I bought the Nikon 105 for occasional macro shots but mostly for portrait shots.
     
  14. The 200mm takes great photos, but really needs to be tripod mounted for best results. Although the macro purists may cringe at this, I find the 105mm VR to give consistently useable results when handheld.
    Your original post asked for the sharpest macro lens - well, in my opinion the 85mm PC (original version, I haven't had the chance to used the newer PC-E lens) pips both the 200 and 105 in ultimate sharpness. It only goes to 1:2 without tubes however.
    Chris
    00ZNga-401279684.jpg
     
  15. 200mm Macro, longer working distance, but very limited depth of field, basically requires a tripod (in my personal experience at 1:1 ratio for sharp images albeit with incredibly limited depth of field you should be shooting at least 1/500 shutter and F/8 aperture).
    105mm F/2.8 is every bit as sharp but the added VR and half the focal length make hand holdable shooting a realistic possibility. If I didn't get the 200mm F/4 at a really good price, I would own the 105mm.
    If you absolutely need the longest possible working distance, I understand the 300mm F/4 AF-S with extension tubes is unbeatable in quality & working distance. I've owned the 300mm F/4 and was very impressive with its image quality at minimum focus distance (which is already very close), but I can't speak for use with extension tubes.
     
  16. Ok so now I will look into the 105mm 2.8 Handholding is a definite plus but in turn I would lose the working distance.Time for more research.
    Thank You again to all who offer some advise.
     
  17. Sorry I forgot I am going to look into the PC-E lens I have never considered one of these lenses.
    Thanks Again
    I will keep everyone posted.
     
  18. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    For any macro work, if you intend to hand hold the camera, unless you can solely use electronic flashes to freeze vibration without ambient light, you should not even mention lens sharpness.
     
  19. I will be using a nikon R1C1 for flash. Sometimes with a tripod and sometimes without if possible
     
  20. I've had some success with hand holding the 200mm AF-D lens at between 1:2 and 1:1 but only with use of flash, usually I use the lens at f/16 or f/22 or f/32 to get sufficient depth of field with the shutter speed at 1/250. Normally I will use at least a monopod to reduce the inevitable camera shake.
    I use an SB-900 with a Ray-Flash http://www.ray-flash.com works fairly well and has the plus that it puts out much more light than the R1C1 set of 2 SBR200 flashes.
     
  21. I have the Sigma 150 + 1.4x tc. Would that give the same or approximate distance and the 200 micro? It's a great combo btw and less expensive that the Nikon.
     
  22. James, the Nikon manual for the 105mm VR macro lens discourages the use of the VR function for macro purposes especially at close distances. Download the manual from www.nikonusa.com for this lens before you buy it. I know that many get great shots hand held with this lens, but its purchase as a macro lens is not on my agenda. That is why I own the older 105mm AF-D version of this lens. Joe Smith
     
  23. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    When you are really close to the subjsct around 1:2 or 1:1, the depth of field is extremely shallow, even though you stop down to f11, f16. If you hand hold, any back-and-forth movement will immediately get your subject in and out of focus. That is why for that type of close ups, we typically set the camera on a sturdy tripod and use live view to fine tune the focus manually. No VR can compensate for this type of focusing error. Therefore, if you hand hold, you are throwing all the lens optical quality out the window.
     
  24. > I will be using a nikon R1C1 for flash. Sometimes with a tripod and sometimes without if possible
    R1 may not be powerful enough for key flash at longer working distances, especially if you use diffuser screens or large bouncers to soften the light. If you want to use key flash when shooting handheld with a long macro, the flash pulse may be too long to prevent blur near max power. See this hummingbird hawk moth with diffused pop-up flash at max power (Tamron 60/2) as an illustration of flash pulse duration...
    http://www.dpreview.com/galleries/5124716672/photos/626339/dsc_2556_dxo_
     
  25. The Tamron 180mm is excellent and a lot cheaper. The Sigma 150mm is quite nice as well.
     
  26. A few years ago I had some extra(?) cash to get an addition to my 60 and 105 mm Micro Nikkors. I had intended to get the 200 f/4 but became intrigued by the glowing reviews of the then recently released 85mm f/2.8 PC Micro Nikkor. As they were about the same price (expensive), this was not a deciding factor. Previously, if I needed great working distance I would use my 300 f/4 with extension tubes and/or a 1.4X TC. So, I went with the 85 tilt/shift, and I am glad that I did. That lens has been so much fun to use and has taught me so much about macro photography that I am sorry that it took me so long to get one. And, as for sharpness, it is next to none!
     

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