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Author Topic: Macro Lenses  (Read 1576 times)
7h3C47
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« on: February 28, 2013, 01:03:33 PM »
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Hello LL Community!

I used to be really big into flower macro photography but had to get rid of my gear.  Now that some funds have recovered, I'll probably be getting either a Nikon D7000 body, or a Canon 60D body--but I sort of want to let the glass decide.  (I used to shoot with a Sigma SD14 body and loved it with the Sigma 70mm macro lens, fyi.  I fared really well despite the terrible reputation Sigma bodies have Smiley http://www.flickr.com/photos/mr-feesh/sets/72157623749086360/)

I'm looking for some advice on macro lenses in the range of 70-105mm.  I know people rave about the MP-E65, but for what I'm interested, 5:1 is waaay too close, even with focus stacking.  I like the working distance of 70-105mm range, and hope to stick to that.

Does anyone have experience with Nikon's 105mm, Canon's 100mm, or Sigma's 105mm macro lenses (in any of their various iterations)?  Because I take so many flower close-ups, my main concerns are: sharpness at ~f/5.6, great color, and smooth bokeh.

Thanks in advance!

Edit 1: It annoys me that a lot of macro lenses offered include image stabilization (in one form or another), and auto-focus.  I understand their importance to some people, but for me they just drive up the price, and I don't *really* neeed either Sad  Are there any old-school lenses that are super sharp that don't have AF and/or IS?  I'd be completely fine with getting something used, I just care about image quality (sharpness, color, CA, geometry and so on).
« Last Edit: February 28, 2013, 10:50:07 PM by 7h3C47 » Logged
HarperPhotos
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« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2013, 01:30:22 PM »
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Hello,

I use a Nikon 60mm G macro lens on my Nikon D800E which I am very happy with. From my experience I would stay away from the older Nikon D lenses as the G versions are designed specifically for digital.

Go to the link below as Photozone have very good reviews which could help you decide which lens to go with.

http://www.photozone.de/Reviews/overview

Of course the best way is to try before you buy.

Cheers

Simon
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Simon Harper
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Rob C
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« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2013, 02:33:24 PM »
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I have a Nikkor 2.8/105 AIS (manual, obviously) which I bought second-hand; best used buy ever! I use it with the D700. It's nice to be able to have a little space between lens and subject. The old 200mm version would also be nice; I wouldn't want anything shorter than the 105mm, though.

Rob C
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7h3C47
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« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2013, 06:47:34 PM »
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Interesting.  Any other advice?

People on another forum are suggesting the Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 100mm f/2 ZF, which does look like it has breathtaking quality, however I don't quite have the $1700 budget for it.
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HarperPhotos
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« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2013, 07:00:54 PM »
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Hello,

Please donít sucked into the Zeiss marketing BS. Go out and try these lenses for yourself.

http://www.popphoto.com/gear/2008/12/lens-test-nikon-105mm-f28g-vr-af-s

Cheers

Simon
« Last Edit: February 28, 2013, 07:08:01 PM by HarperPhotos » Logged

Simon Harper
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7h3C47
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« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2013, 07:05:32 PM »
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Hello,

Please donít sucked into the Zeiss marketing BS. Go out and try these lenses for yourself.

Cheers

Simon

I have a feeling that might just happen.  Rent all of the lenses I'm considering and try them all back to back first hand, send 'em all back, and put in an order for the one I like most.
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2013, 07:50:09 PM »
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For macro work I use a Nikon 105mm f/4 AI-S Nikkor on both Canon (via an adapter) and Nikon bodies
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Ellis Vener
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Glenn NK
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« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2013, 08:19:52 PM »
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I sort of want to let the glass decide.

Does anyone have experience with Nikon's 105mm, Canon's 100mm, or Sigma's 105mm macro lenses (in any of their various iterations)?  Because I take so many flower close-ups, my main concerns are: sharpness at ~f/5.6, great color, and smooth bokeh.

Thanks in advance!


When it comes to macro lenses, I'm not convinced that letting the lens decide is necessary - practically all macro lenses are very adequate (perhaps all?).

As for focal length, my experience with flowers (groupings and closeups of stamens for example), I used a 100 mm on a 1.6 crop body with very good success.

With a FF body, the 100 was too short - perhaps partially because I'd taken about 20,000 images with the crop + 100, and couldn't adapt to being so close to the subject.  An addition, being closer worsens parallax - a problem if one is stacking.

Since I had a 2.0 extender and extension tubes, I resorted to:  100 macro + shortest ring + extender + camera.  The tube/ring enabled use of the Extender (without the tube/ring, the rear element of the 100 and the extender interfered with each other).

Glenn
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NancyP
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« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2013, 08:43:32 PM »
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There are plenty of good macro lenses for both Nikon and Canon, but you might take into consideration the sheer convenience of having an articulating screen for tripod shots and low-level or high-level shots. This is a truly back-saving invention. Also, because most of my critical manual macro focusing is done on live view in 5x or 10x mode, I think that an articulating screen is much more useful than a 90 degree optical viewfinder attachment.

As far as 1:1 macro lenses go, for the APS-C format, the Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 macro lens is the one to get for copy stand work. For off-stand work with better working distance, most people go for the Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS, an earlier non-IS version, or one of the Sigma macro lenses, for example, Sigma 150mm f/2.8 with or without IS.

MP-E 65 is an "advanced" macro lens for those who want 1x to 5x magnification in the field, without having to putz with bellows. If you like to putz with bellows, Nikon has several good bellows that can be had on the used market, and one of the Nikon bellows models has front tilt/swing, I believe.

Both Canon and Nikon have excellent macro-specific dual flash systems. Or, you can cobble together your own flash brackets and diffusers, a favorite hobby of macro photographers. (How many diffuser variations can you make out of household trash? Lots!)
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Glenn NK
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« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2013, 08:56:33 PM »
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Nancy makes a very good comment with regard to the tilting/swiveling screen.  I truly wish I had one for very small low-to-the-ground flowers.

I started with a 30D (no LV), and bought an angle finder which I use with my 5II in such situations.

Glenn
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7h3C47
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« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2013, 10:34:38 PM »
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There are plenty of good macro lenses for both Nikon and Canon, but you might take into consideration the sheer convenience of having an articulating screen for tripod shots and low-level or high-level shots. This is a truly back-saving invention. Also, because most of my critical manual macro focusing is done on live view in 5x or 10x mode, I think that an articulating screen is much more useful than a 90 degree optical viewfinder attachment.

I'm going to be honest...I forgot swivel screens, and live view zoom for better focus were even features offered on modern cameras.  My Sigma was bare bones to the max.  I suppose I should probably look into bodies even further to see what features I would actually use if I manage to remember they exist.

While we're on the topic of features though, it annoys me that a lot of macro lenses offered include image stabilization (in one form or another), and auto-focus.  They just drive up the price, and I don't need either Sad  Are there any old-school lenses that are super sharp that don't have AF and IS?  I'd be completely fine with getting something used, I just care about image quality (sharpness, color, CA, geometry and so on).
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leuallen
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« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2013, 11:21:45 PM »
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I use m4/3 Panasonic, G1, GH2, and Gh3, with live view and articulating screens. If you can live with the sensor size, these are terrific macro flower machines. I get good results on prints up to 17x22. I am more after artistic expression rather than clinical sharpness and focus.

I use older manual macro lenses. Inexpensive with good quality. I originally used a Tamron 90mm 2.5 but found that in certain rare backlit circumstances the rear lens element reflected a hot spot on the sensor. I replaced that with a Tokina 90mm 2.5 which gives wonderful bokeh and is sharp. An advantage is that these lenses act like a 180mm on a full frame and give a good working distance and out of focus background. I sometimes even resort to using a 300mm with tubes to really knock out the background. I have even use a shift-stitch adapter for macro panos with good results, if no wind.

The smallness of the camera is an advantage in that in order to get the camera into position, I often use the center post of the Manfrotto 055 in its boom configuration. The less camera weight in this situation the better.

Of course the articulated screen and magnified focus is indispensable. These features were unavailable on other cameras when I originally got set up. These features are now more common on current cameras and something I would definitely suggest getting.

The older manual macros are an easy, inexpensive adaptation to m4/3.

Larry
« Last Edit: February 28, 2013, 11:25:48 PM by leuallen » Logged
Paulo Bizarro
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« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2013, 03:23:23 AM »
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I use a Canon 100 L IS macro with the 60D. Contrary to the general belief, the IS can be extremely useful when shooting handheld. For example, I shot this flower at ISO 400 handheld. It was very windy this day (this a coastal location, in the dunes), so I used IS and AI servo, as the flower was bouncing around. I wanted a high shutter speed.

I can highly recommend this lens with the 60D. Also very useful is the rotating screen for shooting low to the ground. Really, I can not imagine a macro lens more useful, high quality, and flexible than this one. The IS is also very useful for non-macro photography.
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Dustbak
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« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2013, 03:42:11 AM »
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An extremely versatile Nikon lens is the 70-180 zoom macro lens. Not being made anymore you have to find one second hand.
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7h3C47
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« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2013, 09:03:28 AM »
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I use a Canon 100 L IS macro with the 60D. Contrary to the general belief, the IS can be extremely useful when shooting handheld. For example, I shot this flower at ISO 400 handheld. It was very windy this day (this a coastal location, in the dunes), so I used IS and AI servo, as the flower was bouncing around. I wanted a high shutter speed.

I can highly recommend this lens with the 60D. Also very useful is the rotating screen for shooting low to the ground. Really, I can not imagine a macro lens more useful, high quality, and flexible than this one. The IS is also very useful for non-macro photography.

This is good to know.  The perfectionist in me tends to not shoot unless the wind has settled and the tripod is set up, but it's still something to keep in mind.
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #15 on: March 01, 2013, 10:47:15 AM »
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This is good to know.  The perfectionist in me tends to not shoot unless the wind has settled and the tripod is set up, but it's still something to keep in mind.

Hi,

When you wait for the wind to settle, you won't get many outdoor macro shots. Flash may be required to freeze subject motion and camera shake with the extreme close-ups, but a macro lens with AF will at least allow to track moving stuff and get/keep it in focus:


Canon EF 100mm f/2.8, Auto-focus, no-flash

Cheers,
Bart
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7h3C47
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« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2013, 11:22:59 AM »
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Hi,

When you wait for the wind to settle, you won't get many outdoor macro shots. Flash may be required to freeze subject motion and camera shake with the extreme close-ups, but a macro lens with AF will at least allow to track moving stuff and get/keep it in focus:

Cheers,
Bart

I meant more that I have developed a particular shooting style which includes manual focus, a tripod, a remote, and a lot of patience.  It has worked well for me so far as you can see in my original post. It might not sound like an appealing process to you, nor most, but I think the phrase "to each his own" suffices here Smiley
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BobDavid
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« Reply #17 on: March 02, 2013, 09:43:45 AM »
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Per Simon Harper's advice, I purchased the Nikkor 60mm G macro lens for use with my Nikon D800. It is a fine lens, nicely corrected, good flat field geometry, fine sharpness. I am interested in adapting a high-end enlarger lens (between 75mm and 135mm) so that it can be used on the D800 expressly for critical copy work. In terms of off-the-shelf solutions, it's hard to beat the Nikkor 60 G.
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HarperPhotos
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« Reply #18 on: March 02, 2013, 03:15:01 PM »
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Hi Bob,

An alternative to the Horseman VCC system I use with enlarging lenses could be from Zoerk

http://www.zoerk.com/pages/p_mfs.htm

or this

http://www.ebay.com/itm/SCHNEIDER-KREUZNACH-COMPONAR-75mm-f3-5-ENLARGER-LENS-W-FOCUS-MOUNT-NIKON-MOUNT-/230932915183?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item35c4aca3ef

Cheers

Simon
« Last Edit: March 02, 2013, 03:31:55 PM by HarperPhotos » Logged

Simon Harper
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John Koerner
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« Reply #19 on: March 03, 2013, 03:59:15 PM »
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This is good to know.  The perfectionist in me tends to not shoot unless the wind has settled and the tripod is set up, but it's still something to keep in mind.

If you're looking solely for image quality, and you're using a tripod for your macro work (as most quality macro shooters do), then I would forget about the 100-105 mm range altogether and go with 180-200mm macro lenses.

For starters, you get more distance between you and the subject, which means your background bokeh will be much smoother and creamier than a 100mm can possibly deliver.




Regaring the IS (or VR) of some of the newer 100/105 mm macro lenses, these are really for hand-held fieldwork, involving moving subjects like insects and such, where lighter weight (IS and flash use) can really come in handy.

But if you're taking your time composing artistic shots of flowers, which pretty much just sit there (as do some butterflies/insects, etc.), and if you're using a tripod, then you have no need for IS at all, and the heavier weight of a 180-200mm won't matter.

Finally (regarding flash), I certainly haven't seen a flash shot that compares to the subtle pastel-like colors of the best macro shots taken in optimal natural light. But that is just my opinion. Good luck.
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