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Macro photography
Hello,.

I love the macro photos that people post in the dp forums and else where on the internet. I'd love to get into it, but I am clueless. Not only clueless about the lens, but clueless about how to take the pictures..

It looks like a lot of the macro lenses are fixed length ... so what's the deal, are photographers getting right up on top of these bugs and flowers or standing at a distance and letting the zoom bring them in closer?.

And then there's the question of the lenses. What would one have to spend to get a decent macro lens? And what are some good ones to consider?.

I have a nikon d60 and 18-200 (formerly a D40, kit lens, and 18-200mm, but it was all stolen and I've JUST recently replaced it - how exciting!). I love the 18-200 for it's versatility and image quality, but get very jealous of the snazzy macros I see and I'm hoping one of you experts who posts those hot macro photos could post some macro-for-dummies explanations.Thanks in advance!..

Comments (7)

Psnap wrote:.

It looks like a lot of the macro lenses are fixed length ... sowhat's the deal, are photographers getting right up on top of thesebugs and flowers or standing at a distance and letting the zoom bringthem in closer?.

For a given focal length, lets say 200mm, the difference between a 200mm macro and an 18-200mm lens at 200mm is that the macro can focus closer. Since 200mm is pretty much the longest macro available, yes you will have to get fairly close for smaller insects..

And then there's the question of the lenses. What would one have tospend to get a decent macro lens? And what are some good ones toconsider?.

I don't shoot Nikon, so I can't help you much here. Most prime macro lenses are good optics no matter who makes them. Even the third party options are extremely good..

Through the window in the wallCome streaming in on sunlight wingsA million bright ambassadors of morning..

Comment #1

I use a +2 Close up lens on my 40-150 (Olympus).. at 150mm (300 FOV on a FF). I get just over 1:1...I shoot at around 70-110 and have had good results....

Get a good one...I have a B&W NL-2 $30.00... It is a mid tier quality, but for me, it's fine...

I use f/11-16 at ISO 200/400 for faster Speeds above 1/125s.

F/13 at 92mm, 1/200s, ISO 400 (NF=Off and no Post noise reduction).

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F/10 at 82mm 1/500s, ISO 400 (NF=Off and no Post noise reduction).

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I find for APS-C and 4/3rds sensors 70mm-110mm range works great for Flowers and smallish bugs like Butterflies and bigger Bee like bugs....150mm is good for very small stuff. And, yes. you will get close...a foot or two for 1/2 life size at around 100mm +/-.

Macro photography opens up a whole miniature world to photograph..

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What I shoot with - in Profile.Arbib..

Comment #2

To shoot macro there are 3 options-get a true macro lens( adorama has the 105mm nikkor for 769 and the 105mm sigma for 409), get extension tubes, get a macro front filter or filters..

Generally speaking all regular macro lenses are going to perform the same; the difference is features likes/dislikes and cost. assuming you are talkinmg the same mm..

The macro lens lenses are in 3 mm sizes. the 50-60mm, the 90-105mm, and the 150-200mm. the higher the mm the bigger the camera to subject distance, but the higher the mm the less verasatility you have. the most common is the 90-105mm group. that is what mine is, the sigma ex 105mm macro. it gives a subject/camera distance of 2-3 for flowers depending on the sizes of the flower.



In using the macro lens you should know that they magnify the subject, but at the same time also drink light and magnify your own motion. so high shutter speeds are a must, but at the same time you are fighting an ever decreasing amount of light as the magnification increases. it is advisable to shoot at higher than normal iso. I shoot my macro at 800 + 1600 iso..

With extension tubes or macro filters all the above is the same but the whole setup is less convienient and harder to use. which is why people buy true macro lenses..

Images below were shot in the last month with my 105mm macro, all at iso800. the buterfly was iso 1600..

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Comment #3

There are a lot of ways to get into macro. The cheapest was is to use a 2 element filter like the Canon 500 filter in the diameter that fits your lens. The other inexpensive way is to use extension tubes to move the lens farther from the camera. The problem is that the 18-200 isn't the best of lenses to do either with, but it will work. You might want to try just to see is you have fun at it..

A better choice would be to get a true macro lens. A macro lens uses close range correction by moving floating elements within the lens so that it has a flat field at close distances..

Most macro work is done in manual focus, so it wouldn't matter whether the lens could autofocus with your D60 or not, but most of us use our macro lenses for other things like portrait work. AF is nice to have. So, I'd get a macro lens with in-lens motor to autofocus with your D60..

Keeping it relatively inexpensive, I'd suggest the new Nikon 60mm f2.8 AFS Micro. This is an excellent lens and sells for around $480. It has the new nano crystal coatings. After using your 18-200 you'll be surprised on how sharp an image can be..

My other choice would be Sigma's 150 f2.8 APO Macro. This will give you a little more reach when dealing with biting bugs or thorny plants. The longer reach begins to make a tripod a needed part of the kit. It's very hard to hand hold at 1:1 distances and a stabalized lens won't help. Stabalization is nearly useless in macro. This particular Sigma is starting to gain almost cult status in that it is one of the few 3rd party macro lenses that is considered by many to be as good or better than Nikon, Canon, Olympus, etc.

They are sometimes hard to find. Adorama just got some in..

Nikon's 105vr Micro is also excellent and has VR, but it is getting a little more expensive at around $780 or so..

Tamron's superb 90mm f2.8 Macro is considered one of the best 3rd party macros, but it won't autofocus on your D60.

You might consider looking at KEHhttp://www.keh.com which is one of the largest used camera and lens companies in the US. A 55 f3.5 Macro is manual only but can get you started for around $79 in excellent condition. Non-AI lenses work great on the D60 and this lens has a legendary reputation. You'll have to guess at exposure but that's what the LCD is for. LOLCheers, Craig..

Comment #4

GaryDeM wrote:.

To shoot macro there are 3 options-get a true macro lens( adorama hasthe 105mm nikkor for 769 and the 105mm sigma for 409), get extensiontubes, get a macro front filter or filters..

Generally speaking all regular macro lenses are going to perform thesame; the difference is features likes/dislikes and cost. assumingyou are talkinmg the same mm..

The macro lens lenses are in 3 mm sizes. the 50-60mm, the 90-105mm,and the 150-200mm. the higher the mm the bigger the camera to subjectdistance, but the higher the mm the less verasatility you have. themost common is the 90-105mm group. that is what mine is, the sigma ex105mm macro. it gives a subject/camera distance of 2-3 for flowersdepending on the sizes of the flower.



In using the macro lens you should know that they magnify thesubject, but at the same time also drink light and magnify your ownmotion. so high shutter speeds are a must, but at the same time youare fighting an ever decreasing amount of light as the magnificationincreases. it is advisable to shoot at higher than normal iso. ishoot my macro at 800 + 1600 iso..

With extension tubes or macro filters all the above is the same butthe whole setup is less convienient and harder to use. which is whypeople buy true macro lenses..

With Close up filters.....

They are "just about" as easy as a true macro lens..AF works fine..A steady hand and practice (waiting for the wind to die down) can achieve fine results...The ONLY major difference is that around the 100mm mark, the AF range is a few inches from INF to CF..But once you know the working distance for a given FL, Waiting for the wind to stop is the longer wait, than taking a few quick snaps.....Tubes....PainBig Pain. Tripod only, and for outdoor flowers, you need to either have a wind block set up, or bring them inside, out of the wind..

Here are 5 photos I took in under 20 minutes at one location, and hand held: All with my Oly E510, 40-150Mk1, +2 CUF, and AF Center Point, ISO 400, IS/1 ON (for camera shake).

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Just Saying...Close up filters are fairly easy to use with large zooms..BUT...HIGH ISO Aperture mode on f/11-16, FL of no longer than 110mm...DoF will get too thin after that for Flowers and medium sized bugs. A REAL Macro lens is the best solution...But a Good Quality CUF is great way to test the water before spending $400.00+ on a lens...Unless you need a great portrait lens, then the Macro part is a free gift and benefit.

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What I shoot with - in Profile.Arbib..

Comment #5

If you can find one of these 'Cosina 100 F3.5 macro'. They are cheap in price. But very sharp. It is a 1:2 lens and come with a 1:1 screw on lens adaptor. It also feels like a cheap lens (Very light). Cosina makes them, But come in other flavors.

Also know as the Plastic Fantastic..

Link to the Minolta - Sony mount version review.http://www.dyxum.com/lenses/detail.asp?IDLens=236.

Shot using the 1:1 adaptor. Handheld with remote flash..

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Tim.

My Gallery - http://www.pbase.com/zippyzx3Sony A100, Minolta A1..

Comment #6

The cheapest way in from where you are now would be a 50mm f/1.8 and a BR-2A reversing ring, total cost about US$130. Since the 50mm f/1.8 is a great lens to have the additional cost for the macro part is very small..

The process is competely manual: you put the lens on the right way around to meter the aperture and shutter speed, then reverse the lens, set the aperture with the aperture ring on the lens and the shutter speed in the camera with the dial set to M, focus by moving the camera backwards and forwards relative to the object (set the lens focus ring to infinity), and shoot. You need to use RAW because exposure is a bit hit and miss. You also need a lot of light to focus accurately when the aperture is small enough to get a decent depth of field, so it only works well in bright sunlight. You can use the reversing ring technique with any lens and the reproduction ratio increases as the focal length goes down, but the fiddle factor goes up..

The bottom line is that you need to like tinkering and your keeper rate will be low, especially if you are photographing things that move. But if you like mucking around in the garden with your camera and have plenty of patience the reversing ring technique can provide excellent images and hours of cheap entertainment..

Extension tubes are more expensive (about US$70), and the Nikon ones do not meter with cameras below the D200 and cannot be used at all with G-type lenses..

'Some of the money I spent on booze, women and fast cars, but the rest I squandered' - George Best..

Comment #7

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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