Help me pick a macro lens.

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by byKathrin, Apr 3, 2007.

  1. byKathrin

    byKathrin TPF Noob!

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    I have been using a D50 for about a year now. At the moment I have only one lens, which is a Sigma 18-50m 1:3.5-5.6 DC. I really enjoy taking close-up photos of flowers and other objects, which works fine. (see my blog) However I would like to buy a Macro lens to take this to the following level. I am orientating myself but I can't really figure out what would be a good lens to pick for these kind of photo. I have seen Zoom lenses 50-100mm that are Macro, as well as 17-70 lenses that are Macro. Can someone give me some advice?
     
  2. reshp1

    reshp1 TPF Noob!

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    Macro lenses are lenses that can focus really close, relative to their focal length, which gives you high magnification.
    Look for the magnification number in the specs, should be something like 1:1, 1:3 etc. The higher the ratio (first number divided by the second number) the greater the magnification. A "true" macro lens is 1:1, which means it can focus on an area that's the same size as a 35mm negative. With most DSLR's, the smaller sensor size will effectively give you even larger magnification. A lot of lens makers now define Macro as lifesize on a 4" print, which is more like 1:4. A lot of the zooms fall into this category, with 1:2-1:4 magnifications. You can also add extension tubes to increase maginifcation of a lens, but you lose light which may be an issue for keeping a reasonable depth of field (small aperture) and fast shutter speed.
     
  3. airgunr

    airgunr TPF Noob!

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    There are very few TRUE macro zooms. The only Nikon one is the 70-180mm Micro Nikkor. A very good lens but getting harder to find as they have stopped making it. You can still find them on KEH, Cameta, B&H, etc used in good condition.

    My personal recommendation would be to start out with a 105mm (or close to that if not a Nikon) as it is the most versitile size that gives decent working room. The 60mm is good but you just have to get too close to the subject and the 200mm is great but expensive and heavy. I love the 70-180mm but find I use the 105mm the most of all of them.
     
  4. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I think this was good argument in the 35mm days. Now, with the crop factor the 60 works very well for must subjects. And it is lighter and less expensive. I use the 60 and can't remember ever having a problem with working distance.
     
  5. reshp1

    reshp1 TPF Noob!

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    Sigma has a 70mm f2.8 1:1 macro lens that looks pretty good and has been getting good reviews. This is probably my top choice for a lens purchase unless I can find something for much less used.
     
  6. Johnboy2978

    Johnboy2978 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I've been looking at adding a macro lens to my collection as well. I narrowed down my search either the Sigma 70mm macro or the 105mm given that pentax lenses are in such short supply lately. I will probably end up w/ the 70mm as my next purchase since it will also work as a nice prime lens for portraits at that focal length. just my .02
     
  7. James79

    James79 TPF Noob!

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    I really want one of these, a friend of mine has one and loves it to pieces.
     
  8. xfloggingkylex

    xfloggingkylex TPF Noob!

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    the 100 2.8 is in stock at B&H
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/con...697&is=USA&addedTroughType=categoryNavigation


    I have been wondering though, and FMW I'm sure you can help me out here, how does a crop sensor effect a macro lens? Since a true macro is 1:1 reproduction on a 35mm lens, is it closer to 1:0.75 (greater than 1:1) reproduction using an APS-C sized sensor?

    I am looking to get the sigma 70-300 APO DG Macro lens as soon as sigma4less reopens, because I find my 80-200 lacking an not giving me the magnification that I want. Now this isn't a true macro since it has 1:2 reproduction, but with the crop would it be 1:1.7 or something of the sort?

    Thanks for the help.
     
  9. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yes, the frame cropping works the same with macro as it does with any other lens or any other composition. The focusing distance would still be what produces 1:1 as far as the lens is concerned but the APS sensor will crop it no differently than you would crop a negative in an enlarger. So the angle of view will be narrower as it would be for any other lens. The reproduction ratio relative to the the frame size would be greater than 1:1. You would get exactly the same result on 35mm by cropping the image. The most accurate way to describe it would be a cropped 1:1 reproduction ratio, I suppose.

    1:2 was the standard for macro lenses 30 and 40 years ago. One of the most famous macro lenses ever made was the 55mm f3.5 (later 2.8) Micro Nikkor which went from infinity to 1:2. The lens included an extension ring to handle repro ratios up to 1:1. So it isn't the lens that is 1:1 but really the reproduction ratio. From the lens' point of view the issue is just a long focusing range. Newer designs usually focus all the way to a 1:1 ratio.

    There is an advantage to a lens that only goes to 1:2, by the way. Since it has a shorter focusing range with less element movement, it is easier to correct in design and usually results in a slightly sharper product. Personally, I think the old 55 Micro Nikkor is a tad sharper than the newer 60mm model that focuses all the way to 1:1. Many, many Nikon shooters used the old 55 as a normal lens. Few of them use the faster 60 for that purpose today.
     
  10. xfloggingkylex

    xfloggingkylex TPF Noob!

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    thanks, i can always count on your knowledge and experience.
     
  11. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thanks for the kind remark. I guess I should mention that the 60mm I just blasted is a perfectly competent lens, even though it doesn't affect your Pentax system. It isn't too hot at infinity focus but works just fine up close. Here's a shot I made in the studio yesterday of the first Spring blossom from my wife's garden with the 60mm focused to somewhere around 1:4.
    [​IMG]
     
  12. airgunr

    airgunr TPF Noob!

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    I'm still a film shooter. I keep forgetting about the magnificaiton factor with DSLRs so that is a very good point.
     

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