Wide angle, very close up glass

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by monty_montgomery, Dec 28, 2010.

  1. I've been searching forums (including this one) and Google for a few weeks looking for good recommendations, forgive me if this was a recent thread and I missed it...
    I'm looking for wide-angle close up glass for Nikon DX (I have a D90). I've been using a Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 DC EX Macro which does everything, though not really anything extremely well. It's a second generation version with .2m focus distance, and I've become very addicted to this capability though the results are rather soft.
    I'd like to upgrade. Sadly... I can't find much that allows similar 'focus right up to the glass' capability. At 18mm, I could focus the Sigma to under 2" away from the front of the lens.
    I'm not looking for macro ability on a longer focal lens, I'm hoping to find a wide angle at extreme close-up for the associated depth and perspective tricks. I'm not wedded to any specific approach (though convenience is nice, I'm no pro). I'm simply at the end of what a very nice but limited all-purpose zoom lens can give me.
    [intended subject matter: photographing small/intricate machinery as diorama, in effect as if it were large architecture. I want perspective and depth that implies being more part of the scene rather than looking at it at a distance from outside]
    Thank you all!
  2. There is a tokina 35mm macro. I don't know if that's wide enough for you.
  3. Hello Breogan (wow, that's a fast response!)
    That does look like a nice choice, and fits the bill.
    Let's assume for a moment I want to go wider, so let's keep going... what else is there?
  4. The Zeiss 25mm ZF(.2) and the 24mm PC-E Nikkor allow focusing almost to touching distance of the front element. They're both expensive though.
  5. The Sigma 20mm f/1.8 EX DG has a close focus distance of something like 20cm. Its 24mm sibling gets
    to 18cm.
  6. Have you looked at the AF 10.5mm f2.8G DX Fisheye-Nikkor? If you want a different close-up view, that lens will give you one.
  7. Paul Harcourt Davies also recommends fisheyes for extreme wide-angle macro shooting. His choice on DX is the Sigma 10mm (link).
  8. Thanks All.
    Fisheyes are not what I'm looking for; I want to keep my lines straight.
    I had assumed (and you all seem to be confirming) that there's simply no wide zoom that does what I want, at least not any better than the Sigma I'm trying to better. I'd also looked at extension tubes and front diopters and decided neither were practical at wide angle. Am I correct there?
  9. Just to throw in another option, here. The Sigma 10-20 HSM ultra wide is a quite useful lens on DX. Great for all sorts of things. But it also happens to focus pretty well up close. As a very crude example (poortly lit, stupidly composed ... I'm only on my second cup of coffee, here, and have a head cold!), here's the scenario:

    D200 with Sigma 10-20 sitting on a tripod, pointed at a small CAT5 coupler that's under two inches long. We're at 10mm, focused as up-close as I can get the camera to confirm focus using its built-in rangefinder dot. The near corner of the object is just over four inches from the glass. Here's what the scene looks like:
  10. And here's what the D200 was seeing. This is the full frame. You preserve your rectilinear shot, can get nice and close, and also have a very versatile lens for interiors, walk-about, and whatnot.
  11. monty, i just picked up the tokina 35/2.8. it focuses very close--5.5 cm. i'm still evaluating it, but i think it could be a very useful lens. it's particularly suited for handheld macros in AF mode; with a typical tele macro lens, you need to be on a tripod to prevent vibration at longer focal lengths. not so with the tokina. it also doesn't lose that much aperture in close-focus applications--the f/ number changes to 3.2 wide open at 1:1. and its frighteningly sharp, as one would expect. i plan on using it for food shots. if you want to go even wider, the sigma 24/1.8 does 1:2.7 and focuses to 18cm.
  12. Having looked at reviews of the Sigma close-focus primes (the 20 and 24mm f/1.8), the consensus seems to be that they're also soft at the edges and not really all that much 'more lens' than the Sigma macro zooms. Aside from the subjective reviews, the MTF data seems to support that conclusion. Is this conclusion correct (in the humble but correct opinions of the forum's esteemed members :)
  13. if they were better wide-open, they would be more popular. you may want to wait for them to be updated and optimized for better performance at wider apertures. however, if that happens, they will lose corner sharpness, which, apparently they have when stopped down. it's not rocket science, it's just simple physics. if you look at the Sigma 30, it was optimized for open apertures and in the process lost corner sharpness and close-focus ability. the other thing about the W/A Sigma primes is, they are fairly big--as big or bigger than tamron 17-50 for example. in the meantime, if you want a sharp lens which can focus very close and is wider than a typical macro on DX, the tokina 35 is the one.
  14. I'm not convinced working close with a wide angle lens will achieve what you want - a tabletop photo that has the look of a full-sized scene. That's a matter of perspective and depth of field. There is a current fad to emulate a tabletop look in a real scene by distorting the DOF using a tilt-shift lens to limit, rather then extend DOF. The actual DOF is the same, regardless of focal length, with the same image size (e.g., in the viewfinder) and f/stop.
    A zoom lens is never going to give as good results in closeups as a prime lens, and presents technical difficulties when used with extension tubes (no longer parfocal with zoom). Secondly, any lens shorter than about 60mm for a DX or FX camera will be a retrofocus lens. A subject focal plane at or behind the front lens is a distinct possibility.
    You are probably more likely to achieve your goals with a macro lens, which will be sharper at close range and close down to as f/45 or smaller. You will lose sharpness to diffraction, but that's probably secondary to the gain in DOF. You will also find that you get a more "realistic" perspective with a longer lens, say between 85mm and 200mm. To further this illusion, establish a point of view close to the "ground level" of the model (which is easier if you work further away).
    My personal choice would be an Nikkor 85mm T/S Macro. If even more DOF is needed, there are digital darkroom tricks which allow you to "focus stack" several shots.
  15. What about the Nikon 28/2.8 Ai-S? Close focus distance is 20 cm, same as your zoom. You lose autofocus, but IMO it's sharper up close than at a distance. Plus it's cheap, and really, really small.
    D200 • ISO 640 • Nikon 28/2.8 Ai-S • ƒ/4.0 • 1/50th
  16. I too was going to recommend the Nikon AI-S 28mm f/2.8. A gorgeous lens, just amazing results up close.
  17. PS If you DO go that route, keep in mind that the 28/2.8 AI-S is a different lens, optically, from the Ai version. Do not go for the Ai -- go for the Ai-S only. (For one thing, it focuses 1 cm closer). There are two ways to spot an AI-S lens right away, one is by SN, and the other by the color of the numerals signifying the smallest aperture: on AI-S lenses that number is orange BOTH on the upper part of the lens barrel and on the small number set under the ridge that appear in your VF.
    For Serial Numbers, use this great site: http://www.photosynthesis.co.nz/nikon/lenses.html
  18. intended subject matter: photographing small/intricate machinery as diorama,
    How small is "Small" ??
    Maybe you could have a look at a Sigma 8-16 mm ? ( depending on the previous xpression of small...)
    There's a nice review of Andreas Mannessinger here : http://manessinger.com/tag/sigma-8-16mm-f4-5-5-6-dc-review
    I myself have a lot of fun with this lens because of its exagerated perspective possibilities, combined with a very very sharp picture., but it's not a macro lens in the sence of "Macro" ( does this make sence at all ?)...
  19. Ai-s 28/2.8 is great, but if you need to go wider, Ai(-s) 20/3.5 with K1 ring is known to be the great combo so long as you can live with the clumsy stop-down metering method "and" without the disabled automatic aperture fuction.
  20. BTW, I think the other differentiating feature of the Ai-S 28/2.8 is that the Ai-S will focus closer at 0.2m, the E, Ai, and AF versions will only focus as close as 0.3m.
  21. i would think that 'intricate' goes hand in hand with 'close-focus.'
    so let's compare, shall we? the 8-16 focuses to 24cm, which is 4cm closer than the 18-50 2.8 macro (and also closer than the tokina 100 macro, the tokina 11-16 and 12-24, the sigma 15-30 and the nikon 105 vr macro, the same as the sigma 10-20 and just slightly closer than the nikon 10-24). however, the 18-50 does 1:3 while the 8-16 is only 1:7, and the 10-24 is 1:5. i don't think there's an UWA which has better magnification than 1:5, btw. so ultrawides aren't especially good when it comes to close-focus. therefore, i would tend to agree with edward that the 8-16, while incredibly wide for a DX lens and quite possibly a lot of fun, may not be the right tool for the job.
    another candidate might be the nikon 28-105, which can do 1:2 macro, but only at 50-100mm with macro switch engaged.
    i think we can see where this is going: if you want wide+close, you don't really have a lot of options.
    AFAIK, the previously-mentioned Tokina 35 macro is the closest-focusing lens out there, though its min. focusing distance is 5.5 inches or 14cm--not 5.5 cm, as i erroneously wrote--which is almost 2 inches closer than the nikon 60 AF-S and sigma 50/2.8 macro and also significantly closer than the nikkor 28/2.8 AI-S. it's also the widest true (1:1 capable) macro available for DX, so there you have it. it's also a lot less expensive than the 8-16 or any of the PC lenses, if that matters.
  22. What about the 14mm f2.8? Maybe the 14-24/2.8 (I have not checked the specs).
  23. Macro is one field where compacts with their smaller sensors are ahead of DSLRs.
  24. I agree that a point and shoot will do wonders with close ups.
    Barring that, here's my kludge of the month.
    18-35mm Nikkor on a Vivitar 2X Macro Focusing Teleconverter on a Nikon D200. (You lose AF tho.)
    For scale, the board is 3.25" x 3.75". Each IC is 1.0" long. From lens front element to the close corner of the orange capacitor is 1.25". Shot with off cam flash @ 18mm and @ F22, for max DoF (damn the diffraction.) This is a dirty, DVM board removed from service, but it's as close to SimCity I have in my junkbox. I'm not sure if this is the effect you are looking for?
    I'n sure there are many better ways, but to illustrate some mechanical problems at work I use either a P&S or this silliness.
    PS ... Everyone should have that teleconverter (made in Nikon and Canon mounts). Long discontinued, but one gem of an amazing device. I use it a lot for closeups of flowers. It's my poor man's macro, and it goes from infinity to 1:1.5. Read up on it.
    Jim's crazy thoughts
  25. john, as i said earlier, most ultrawides don't focus all that close. the 14-24, which wouldn't be as wide on DX as the 8-16, focuses to 28 cm or 11 inches, so that would be worse than the 8-16 and far worse than the tokina 35 or a 50 or 60 macro. the 14mm focuses to 20 cm or 7.9 inches, which is pretty good, but still not as close as the short macros. Neither lens is cheap, however, or even reasonably priced, though you could always rent if it's not too long a project. but even if you went with the 14mm, you'd have a 1:7 max magnification and no way to get to 1:1 since it doesn't have threads for attaching close-up filters. i'm starting to think the solution might be using a macro or T/S lens and stitching shots together, panorama-style.
  26. One easy and inexpensive to do this wide angle view, close up is to use the kit zoom. Yes the 18-55 kit lens. Add to that, an inexpensive but should be high quality +4 or more diopter filter. On a DX system, at 18mm setting, this should yield a field of view of about 24mm and 70mm or less of working distant. The thickness of the diopter matter a lot. The trick for best result is to optimize the power, thickness and the number of elements.
  27. Still not clear for me wether "Makro"is the goal, or extreme perspective close-up , that's why I posted the question > How Small is " small/intricate machinery" < ?
  28. Hello, catching up after a few days away...

    > "Monty, How small is "Small" ??"

    Depends. My use case is vague and variable. I make many things,
    though 'between one and ten breadboxes total size' is usually about
    right. Many of the things I make are very small, some aren't, but
    either way I have a perhaps tired fascination with photographs set
    inside the machine, and I often partially disassemble what I'm
    working on to momentarily sneak a camera in.

    Most of my photographs are dead dull and any ol' lens will do. I'm
    thinking of that 1% of photographs I'd like to make (and often failed
    at making in the past) that are challenging or weird. I used to use
    my wife's old Olympus C5050 (great if annoying camera!) until the sensor died
    for the third time, and I'm also trying to recapture some of what that
    little bugger could do, but with somewhat higher quality equipment.

    >"i think we can see where this is going: if you want wide+close, you
    > don't really have a lot of options."

    Yes, I was afraid of that.

    >"What about the 14mm f2.8? Maybe the 14-24/2.8 (I have not checked
    > the specs)."

    This lens would work... beginning to get into somewhat more serious
    [and fragile] equipment that I was hoping to avoid. The big bulb
    lenses scare me as I am, frankly, a clumsy fool, and working around
    sharp pokey bits of metal.

    >"Macro is one field where compacts with their smaller sensors are
    > ahead of DSLRs."

    I'm coming to realize that. I hate the small sensors though. I've
    spent far too much of my life writing denoising filters to ever want
    to rely on one as indispensible again :p

    > "Still not clear for me wether "Makro"is the goal, or extreme
    > perspective close-up"

    Yes, sorry not to answer that question sooner. I'm definitely after
    extreme perspective close-up and not macro. Macro is comparatively

    Thank you all for your comments. I'm happy you've taken so much
    time for a confused amateur indulging in naive photographic cliches :)
  29. With 24x36mm film, I was very happy using the 24/2.8 with extension rings. On DX-sensor, I've been helping myself with a 20/3.5 - see attached image. I suppose you can guess the scale of an average Lego minifigure and acorn..
    A friend of mine got good results with the Sigma 20/1.8.
  30. I'm definitely after extreme perspective close-up​
    Nikon made an extreme perspective close up lens (aka: EC-1) for its 8mm R8 movie camera long ago. It is about a +14 diopter with a 52mm tread. On a D90, it will get u small sensor digicam like perspective (~30mm) when used with a 24/2.x, 28/2.x, 35/1.x, and 50/1.x nikkors.
  31. I make many things, though 'between one and ten breadboxes total size' is
    . I'm definitely after extreme perspective close-up and not macro​
    Monty, this might make a Sigma 8-16 a nice candidate i think ... :) ( and all other ultra wide zooms like a nikon 10-24 for that matter.. ).
  32. Nikon EC-1
  33. Ditto to the comments about decent quality from digital P&S cameras, e.g. ...
    Tom M

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