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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Wellington, NZ

    First Macro Lens?

    Hi everyone-

    I was thinking of experimenting with taking some macro shots, nothing fancy, just wanted to explore that side of photography a little, especially seeing things like threads in shirts or flakes of rust on a bolt etc that we usually ignore or gloss over in everyday life. What do people recommend as a first or 'starter' macro lens? Ive read about a few, but have little experience in judging what would actually be useful. A couple I researched:

    Nikon 60mm (2.8) - Ive read alot of positive reviews about this lens, just curious if it isnt too short for general use, even on my DX body. Also similar length to a lens I currently have, the 50mm 1.4g, so its 'non-macro' uses would be limited.

    Nikon 85mm (3.5) - About the same price, early days so not many reviews, longer length, and has VR, though most of what I read suggests VR is of limited use in Macro. Of course its not a horrible thing if the lens has a general use capability outside of just Macro.

    And advice or suggestions would be really appreciated.

    Thanks so much.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Northern Colorado, USA
    One main issue with any macro lens is the working distance to achieve its best ratio, in this case 1:1. The longer the lens, the less close to your subject you have to get. OTOH, the 60mm works on both FX and DX. The 85 will work on FX but in DX mode, which is much lower resolution.

    Other choices would be to get the 105mm VR, though it's more money, or a set of closeup filters. Canon makes a set, and you mount the filter on the front of a normal lens to get a magnified image (so brand doesn't matter, only filter size.) I'm not sure Nikon is currently making a set.

    If you have a D300, you could also consider an older, used macro lens such as the 55mm AIS lenses. They have a max 1:2 ratio, but you can get 1:1 with an adapter. I have the f2.8 version, and manual focus is the way manual focus should be, creamy smooth. These lenses are manual focus only, and will not meter on Dxx series cameras.
    Eric Lund
    Nikon D200
    Nikkors: 17-55mm f2.8, 18-200mm f3.5-f4.5 VR, 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 VR, 35mm f2, 50mm f1.8, 55mm f2.8 AI-S micro, 105mm f2.8 VR micro
    Other Lenses: Tokina 12-24 f4, Tamron 75-300mm f4-5.6 LD macro
    Stuff: Nikon SB800, Nikon MBD200, Gitzo 1327 Tripod w/RRS BH-55LR Ballhead, Sekonic L-358 meter

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    What camera and lenses do you already own. There are a few ways to start out with macro that are pretty inexpensive.

    First extension tubes (which you can also use later with a macro lens)

    Also consider a screw in Canon 500D to use with your existing glass. The nice thing about this is that it is much smaller than a lens and you are likely to always have it with you in your camera bag. I use one of these as well as Nikon's 200 f/4 dedicated macro lens.
    Nikon D3, D300, F-100, 10.5 Fisheye, 35 f/1.4, 50 f/1.4, 85 f/1.4, Zeiss 100 f/2, 105 f/2.5, 200 f/4 Micro, 200 f/2 VR, 300 f/2.8 AF-S II, 24-70 f/2.8, 70-200 f/2.8, SU-800, SB-900, 4xSB-800, 1.4x and 1.7x TC
    (2) Profoto Acute 2400 packs w/4 heads, Chimera Boxes

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Adelaide, Australia
    tamron 90 is best bang for buck and it is a good portrait lense as well!
    Nikon D7000 - Nikkor AF-S 70-200vrII f2.8 | Nikkor AF-S 105vr f2.8 Micro | Nikkor AF-S 16-85 | Nikkor AF-D 35mm f2 |Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro | SB-700 | SB-600


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    I would go the extension tube route myself to start with. It's way cheaper than buying a dedicated macro lens that you may decide you have no use for AND they can be used with every lens that you own.
    If you want to see what extension tubes can do have a look at some of Rich's (Rawpaw) latest shots.
    If you are determined to get a lens then the 60mm or 90mm Tamrons would be worth serious consideration.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Head north 'til you smack a polar bear, then crank it back 50 miles.
    I asked the same question here a few months ago, and while the extension tubes looked good, I decided to go with a Sigma 50mm. Its a little short, but it was inexpensive and takes sharp macro shots. It was a good "experimenter" first lens for me, and I will be upgraded to either a Tamron 90mm or a Nikon 105 in the future.

    Edit: I went the _really_ cheapskate route and bought a manual focus Sigma f2.8 from eBay. Its been perfect for me to see if I really wanted to dig deeper into macro shooting.
    Last edited by DiamondSCattleCo; 01-05-2010 at 08:25 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Wellington, NZ
    Thanks all for your replies, and apologies for not listing my equipment. Im using a D90.

    The extension tubes do look like the most cost effective route, though sadly that doesnt involve feeding my craving for a new lens. Ive been reading up a bit on them, apparently the Nikon ones dont work with either the DX or G lenses, which are all the lenses I have. I poked around both Amazon and B+H, there seems to be a set of 3 from Kenko for $160 that are generally popular and well received. Of course $160 begins creeping up a little bit on the $500 price of a macro lens, but I suppose the tubes give a lot more flexibility in their ability to use any lens and different size tubes.

    Thanks again for pointing me in the right direction.
    D7000. Nikon 24-70mm 2.8, 70-200mm VRII, 16-85mm, 50mm 1.4G, 35mm 1.8G. SB 600.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by DiamondSCattleCo View Post
    I asked the same question here a few months ago, and while the extension tubes looked good, I decided to go with a Sigma 50mm.
    Is that a macro lens?

    "A coward dies a thousand deaths, a soldier dies but once."-2Pac

    A bunch of Nikon stuff!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Maryland's Eastern Shore
    I do not think you will be able to fully stack the Kenko tubes on your 35,
    and use on the 18-105 is also limited. Your 50 will give you plenty of combinations
    to try to get dof you want for certain subjects. They are a blast to shoot with.

    Been considering a Macro lens myself, keep going back and forth which length.
    If you need to satisfy lens lust, consider a used Nikon 60mm for the things you
    mention unless bug shooting is on your list. If you resell Nikon glass you do not take a big $ hit
    - Rich

    Nikon: D50, 18-70mm, 50mm, 70-200vr
    Kenko: 12mm, 20mm, 36mm Ext Tubes
    Manfrotto: 486RC2
    Benro: A-327 tripod

    My Flickr Photos Here

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Terra Australis Incognita
    Thronson, wallet burning a hole in your pocket!

    For static macro subjects and larger flowers 60mm may be fine. For bugs on a DX body I like my 90mm Tammie (bought with Ssil's help). It is unbelievable for face shots of people too as he alluded to.

    I like macro enough I may eventually upgrade to a 105VR since handholding is a must for my topics. My tripod sees minimal use compared to what I'd expected.

    PS, if I still had a 45kg wife, I might buy a portrait lens, not a macro lens BTW.

    The small size of these may not help but here are 3 tammie shots. Within a week of getting the Tammie, I started replacing the 18-200, I suspect you may do the same with your 18-105. You're starting on a slippery slope.
    Last edited by Dread Pirate Roberts; 01-06-2010 at 04:35 AM.
    D800, D300, D90, 24-70 f2.8, 70-200VR f2.8, 300 F4, 105 micro, 16-85VR, 50mm 1.8, Tammy 90 macro, 70-300VR, SB900, 2xSB600, MB-D10, 055XPROB 322RC2. New computers to run photoshop faster. C&C always appreciated. PhotoGallery
    Pressing the shutter is the start of the process - Joe McNally ... Buying the body is the start of the process - Dread Pirate

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