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Old 12/22/2009, 02:22 PM   #1
BlueCorn
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Now that I've got a DSLR, which macro lens should I buy?

UPS just dropped off your new DSLR, you've charged the battery and started shooting like crazy at the stuff in your tank. After downloading the pictures onto your computer you realize that they look nothing like the close-up shots so often seen in this forum and elsewhere on the board. Now what?

With the kit lens, most consumer DSLR cameras are just expensive point and shoot cameras. The ability to adapt the lens to a particular shooting situation is the primary reason to go that route. The next question is which lens to buy.

Macro photography, strictly speaking starts at 1:1 magnification. The 1 to 1 ratio means that the image that gets projected onto your camera sensor is the same size as the object in real life. Anything less than 1:1 isn't truly macro but rather a "closeup."

A number of zoom lenses include the word macro in their titles and descriptions but that's mostly marketing. Any true macro lens will be a fixed focal length; i.e. 100mm not 28-300mm. Macro lenses can also be used for non-closeup work. What distinguishes them from non-macro lenses of the same focal length is their minimum focusing distance. For example, a non macro lens of 100mm focal length has a minimum focus distance of about 5-6'. The macro version about 1'. The magnification is due to the camera being closer to the subject. We call that working distance.

There are a bunch of 1:1 macro lenses from 60-200mm. They are all capable of the same magnification but the longer the focal length, the farther you can be from your subject and still get 1:1. For most aquariums, the 100mm range is a pretty good fit. It's a good trade off of value vs working distance. (If you shoot Olympus, you'll want to be looking at their 35mm, with their 2x crop factor it's functionally equivalent.) Some lenses, like the Canon MP-E 65 can go all the way to 5:1 magnification but it's a very specialized lens.

You can't go wrong Nikon and Canon's 100mm macro lenses but there are other options if you'd like to save some money. Tamron makes a 90mm and Sigma a 105mm that are both very sharp lenses. The only drawback, to both, is they are external focusing. External means the lens barrel extends during focusing. In your garden it isn't a big deal but if you're up against the aquarium glass it can be a real hassle.

Extension tubes, and screw on adapters can be useful but don't replace the functionality of a true macro lens.


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Last edited by BlueCorn; 12/24/2009 at 11:36 PM.
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Old 12/23/2009, 12:05 PM   #2
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Macro lens buyer's guide

If I may add, I've made a list of the most commonly-used macro lenses for the Nikon mount:




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Old 01/04/2010, 12:17 PM   #3
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And they are?


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Old 01/04/2010, 06:36 PM   #4
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How bout Canon macro lenses?


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Old 01/04/2010, 10:28 PM   #5
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I use the Canon 100 mm f2.8. There is one with IS now for about a grand.


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Old 01/08/2010, 11:08 AM   #6
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Can you recommend the best bang-for-buck Nikon on that list?


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Old 01/09/2010, 02:53 PM   #7
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For the nikon List. I will go with the sigma 150mm 2.8 a lot of positive reviews


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Old 01/18/2010, 06:56 PM   #8
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Can you recommend the best bang-for-buck Nikon on that list?
In my opinion?... the Tamron 90. Also known as the "portrait macro" due to its clarity, coupled with a silky, creamy bokeh. The only drawback is that its front element sticks out when focusing, and AF is somewhat slow, but it does have a limiter switch. Other than that, it can give the 105VR a serious run for the money.


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Old 01/19/2010, 04:29 PM   #9
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Do you have a recommendation for a macro for a Pentax Dslr?


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Old 01/19/2010, 04:30 PM   #10
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Do you have a recommendation for a macro for a Pentax Dslr?
If you read the original first post, you can probably make that decision on your own.


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Old 02/16/2010, 05:52 PM   #11
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Looking at the Tamron 90 for my Nikon 5000 and I'm wondering what advantage is there to the one with the motor??? Some sites don't even list which version they're selling? I'm a DSLR newb and I'm stuck on this one. I thought the camera itself did the autofocus, so why would a lens need a motor?


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Old 02/16/2010, 08:14 PM   #12
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Looking at the Tamron 90 for my Nikon 5000 and I'm wondering what advantage is there to the one with the motor??? Some sites don't even list which version they're selling? I'm a DSLR newb and I'm stuck on this one. I thought the camera itself did the autofocus, so why would a lens need a motor?
Because entry-level cameras like the D40, D40x, D60, D5000 and D3000 don't have AF motors in the body. These cameras can only autofocus lenses that have their own built-in motor (BIM). Higher-end cameras such as D90, D70, D300, D3, etc have their own motors to drive the AF on (usually) older glasses.

To answer your question, you need the Tamron 90 with a BIM because your D5000 has no motor in the body and it will not AF the Tamron by itself.

Once upon a time, Nikon was SO BEHIND on technology that they only used (and still use to this day) the screwdriver AF, which is slow and noisy. They are now slowly catching up and has since introduced several lenses with BIM (called AF-S in Nikon speak) All newly-released Nikkors today have AF-S. The higher-end Nikon bodies still have screwdriver motors so that you can still use your OLD Nikkors. Eventually, everything in Nikon-land will have AF-S... maybe in 20 years.


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Old 03/12/2010, 01:00 PM   #13
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To answer your question, you need the Tamron 90 with a BIM because your D5000 has no motor in the body and it will not AF the Tamron by itself.
Ummm, we're talking macro photography here... you really should focus manually for this, so I don't think that a lack of an auto-focus motor would be any disadvantage in this application.


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Old 03/18/2010, 08:34 AM   #14
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hey guys, is the Nikon 85 micro worth considering? Seems to be priced right at around $500. I thought, when I looked a year ago, the 105 was around $600-$650, but now they seem to be well over $800. Ouch.

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Old 03/21/2010, 07:49 AM   #15
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I have recently acquired a Nikon D40 camera. It's not the best, I know. However, it is for me. Considering I only paid $200.00 for the camera that has hardly been used but a handful of times.

Anyways, the camera came with a Nikon DX AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm lense. I am looking into getting some more lenses for my beautiful device here. So, I am wanting to get into some micro photography, but I'm a little unsure of which macro lense would be the best bang for the buck.

Any suggestions anyone?

Thanks!


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Old 05/08/2010, 09:39 AM   #16
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I have a Canon D10, and a 100mm Macro lense. I do a lot of top down shots of my corals, and with the 100mm Macro it is perfect for close up. What I would like to get now is a lense that will enable me to get colony shots that is close but not so close that it crops out portions of the colony. Say I want to take a picture of a 6" favia that is 5" below water. What lense is the right lense to get the whole thing in focus without being too close?


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Old 05/13/2010, 08:31 PM   #17
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debating between nikon 105mm macro, or 60mm... i know the 105 is overall a bit nicer of a lens, and it gives you a bit more working room with it's minimum focusing distance, but how much of a difference does this make for reef tank photography? Is the extra telephoto like coverage a hassle, or a blessing? Is it worth the extra money?


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Old 08/03/2010, 09:29 AM   #18
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If you read the original first post, you can probably make that decision on your own.
Yes, the first post is definitive and excellent. That being said I use both the nikon 60 and 105 (but not to shoot tanks) underwater in a housing. Although these are both AF lenses, I always use them on manual focus.


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Old 10/15/2010, 06:13 AM   #19
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Ummm, we're talking macro photography here... you really should focus manually for this, so I don't think that a lack of an auto-focus motor would be any disadvantage in this application.
I understand your point but if you are trying to shoot a moving fish then autofocus is helpful.


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Old 10/18/2010, 10:10 AM   #20
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I also would have to agree on the sigma 150 f2.8 since I own that particular lens.
for the money its a great combination on quality and price.


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Old 11/07/2010, 08:13 AM   #21
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I have a canon rebel and a solid tripod and remote

can someone please recommend a lens for taking pictures of single zoa/paly polyps inwhich I can get the camera up against the glass and polyp against the glass on the other side.

I would also like to have the ability to take a picture of maybe 10 polyps max on a perfectly sized l.r rubble that matches the 10 polyp size with the same lens if possible I'll also be able to move the colony close to glass along with the camera

I'll be shooting in manual mode

this is the lens that I was thinking of buying:

100 ef 100 mm f2.8

will I be able to get the same clarity and result with a lesser lens?

and will paying a extra few hundred $ benefit me if so what lens? and how?

trying to fill the whole picture with just 1 single zoa/paly up to around 10 zoa/paly's only.


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Old 11/07/2010, 04:06 PM   #22
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Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro Photo Manual Focus Telephoto Lens


http://www.adorama.com/CA6528AFU.htm...rce=rflaid3925


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Old 11/20/2010, 05:21 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joel A View Post
debating between nikon 105mm macro, or 60mm... i know the 105 is overall a bit nicer of a lens, and it gives you a bit more working room with it's minimum focusing distance, but how much of a difference does this make for reef tank photography? Is the extra telephoto like coverage a hassle, or a blessing? Is it worth the extra money?
+1. I would like to know if it would be better to get 105mm or lower? Also if its a matter of money, would you go Nikon with shorter working distance, or less expensive make with a longer distance? Looking for a lense for a D300 if anyone is shooting on one and has some pointers on their favorite.


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Old 11/21/2010, 01:39 PM   #24
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In the Canon camp I have both the 100mm and the mp 65mm. The 65mm is without a doubt the king of macro lenses, but it has many limiting qualities and disadvantages, depending on the subject. It has no focus (it has a zoom ring to adjust the zoom level). The max focal distance is a few inches at 1:1 and nearly touching the lens at 5:5, the image through the viewfinder is incredibly dark requiring a modeling light. The apertures it uses are so small that a ring flash is mandatory for nearly any shot other than direct sunlight on a still subject. The depth of field is paper thin. If you can cope with those limitations there is no other lens I have seen that can rival the quality of pictures it can produce. The 100mm is a nice lens that also can be used as a normal 100mm. In use as a macro lens it has everything you want for aquarium macro: Price is reasonable, has a focal distance that is usable for shooting in an aquarium, very sharp image quality, on larger apertures it can be used without a flash, has auto focus. There is a 180mm L macro that is more expensive and has a longer focal distance than the 100mm at 1:1 but its heavy and big.


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Old 11/21/2010, 02:17 PM   #25
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There is also a new 100mm macro L lens with IS that looks awsome. here is an exerpt from the DP review "Just occasionally a lens turns up which delivers such implausibly good results in our studio tests that I have to go back and repeat everything, double checking all settings to make sure I haven't done something wrong. The Canon EF 100mm F2.8 L IS USM Macro is one example; but in this case when I repeated the tests, the results were if anything slightly better. There's little doubt that, all round, this is one of the very finest lenses we've seen - optically it's superb, and operationally it works very well too, with fast and positive autofocus, and one of the most effective image stabilization systems currently available. Throw in the high build quality, including dust- and splash-proofing, and it all adds up to a very desirable package indeed."


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