Confused about macro lenses.

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Syndac, Aug 31, 2007.

  1. Syndac

    Syndac TPF Noob!

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    Hi, I'm a bit confused. I've been trying to learn about macro lenses but without ever using one I'm finding it difficult to decide which one I need. I currently have a Nikon D50 and my goal is to come up with closeups of small bugs and stuff like this:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/5/5a/DSC_3541.JPG/800px-DSC_3541.JPG

    I've seen a bunch of different macro lenses and was wondering which would be best suited for closeups (with a limited budget in mind), and how much of a difference an extension tube would make.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Syndac

    Syndac TPF Noob!

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    I just realized that I didn't really clarify what I'm asking in my post. I'm looking for a macro lens with the largest possible magnification and I'm reading mixed articles about whether to get something like a 50mm or 100mm lens. Any feedback would be appreciated.

    Thanks.
     
  3. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    A longer lens will have a greater magnification...but what really makes a lens a 'macro' lens...is the ability to focus on somthing that is very close to the lens/camera. A 50mm macro is smaller, lighter and less expensive than a 100mm macro...and it probably focuses closer to the subject (allowing it to get that 1:1 ratio for true macro.)

    This may create a problem though...because it can be hard to shoot something when the front of your lens is only a couple of inches from it. First of all, the camera & lens may block the light getting to the subject and if you are shooting small animals, they may be scared away. A longer lens give you more working room between the lens and the subject.

    Extension tubes are used with just about any lens...and the basically allow the lens to focus on something closer to the camera/lens. Which allows you to get closer, which makes the subject bigger in the image.

    Yet another option is diopter filters...or close up filters. They are basically magnifying glasses that go on the front of the lens. They are much cheaper than a true macro lens but the image quality isn't on par with a macro lens either.
     
  4. Funky

    Funky TPF Noob!

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    I use a 300mm for shooting macro. but then again at that focal length your shutter speed needs to be higher(on my lens anyway), so its only a good choice if its for outside photography. I think Big Mike has the right idea though :D
     
  5. Syndac

    Syndac TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the response. If I understood you correctly my best bet would be to grab a 100mm macro lens with an extension tube? That way I'd get the maximum magnification possible.
     
  6. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    When shooting macro...your DOF will probably be razor thin...so you may want to use a very small aperture like F22. That of course means that your shutter speed will probably be way to slow for hand holding. So when you are shooting macro, it's a very good idea to use a tripod....we well as a remote (or the self timer), and set MLU (mirror lock up) if your camera has that option.
     
  7. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    If you are buying a macro lens, you won't need the extension tube. By buying the extension tubes...you can basically turn any lens into a macro lens.
     
  8. TCimages

    TCimages TPF Noob!

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    Certainly buy a dedicated macro lens. Just make sure it offers 1:1 macro at a minimum. Also, I think it's important that it allow you to focus to infinity. A 100 mm macro lens makes a nice prime for portraits.

    Extension tubes can provide greater magnification, but can be tricky to use. I started with these and got some great shots, but nothing beats a dedicated lens.

    I'm a Canon shooter, so I'm not sure if Nikon offers a lens like Canon that allows you to take 1x-5x shots. I have seen amazing shots from the Nikon 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Micro which I would recommend, but I'm not certain of it's magnification.

    I love to shoot macro and my advice would be to get an external light source (flash) and learn how aperture affects DOF (you may already know this). Master these two, and you can get some amazing shots.
     
  9. Syndac

    Syndac TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the help, that clears up a lot. :mrgreen:
     
  10. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Well one thing I can say if you can spend a little money the longer lens you buy the better off you are going to be. If you are trying to shoot bugs long lens will give you the abilty to shoot them in macro without having to be right on top of them.
     
  11. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Syndac may I suggest if you're on somewhat of a tight budget to look for a used Nikkor 105mm AF D f/2.8 Macro. The lens itself is fantastic for macro work, and fairs well too for portraits and I have even used it for sport photography. It was just replaced by the 105mm AF-S f/2.8 VR Macro which is about three times the price.
     

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