Macro options for D5100 with kit lenses


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Jan 12, 2012
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I have owned my D5100 for a few months now, and would really like to get into macro photography.
I have tried to go as close-up as possible with the kit lens (18-55mm), but after taking shots of a few bugs, I have decided to buy Nikon 105mm micro and started saving up.

My problem is that the lens costs around $1200 in Australia. That would take me at least several months of serious penny pinching.

I want to know if buying Kenko extension tubes and using them with my other kit lens (55-300mm) would be a reasonable option for the time being (until I save enough money for 105mm). How would this lens perform with extension tubes? Is this lens (f/4.5-5.6G) too slow to be used with extension tubes? Would the extension tubes require a faster lens?

Also, Nikon's 85mm micro is about $450 cheaper here. Since I only have a DX body, do you guys think it might be sufficient, or should I definitely save up for 105mm? (I won't be upgrading to an FX camera any time soon, although I don't rule out the possibility in the future.)

Your feedback would be appreciated.:blushing:
I use my Kenko set with a nikkor 55-300mm DX lens and I really like the results. I have never used a true macro lens so I can't compare them and I'm sure a true macro lens would be better, but I like the results I get with my setup.
Hi Netskimmer. Thanks for the reply.

It's good to know that the 55-300mm lens works OK with the extension tube. That means I don't have to wait for months to try macro.

I might order the Kenko tomorrow.
I've not used that kit lens, but have achieved acceptable macro results with a number of options;

- Extension tubes.
- Reversing ring (I think best)
- Magnifying filters

I now have a Nikon 105 Macro, which I think is worth the investment as the optics are a bit better, has a fairly fast aperature and VR, but you can stil get good results with the above in the mean time.
There are other excellent less expensive macro lenses than the Nikon 105mm. Check out the Tokina 100mm, Tamron 90mm and Sigma 105mm. I have the Tamron, seen excellent shots from the Sigma and have read the Tokina is a very sharp lens. The Nikon does have IF which is a plus.

One of the great things about Extension tubes is that they can be used with a macro lens to get greater than 1:1 magnification. I've heard that all the issues one tends to have with macro (narrow DoF, close max working distance, camera stabalization, ect) tend to get magnified as well which makes things tricky but doable. This means your tubes won't become useless once you eventually do upgrade to a true macro lens.
Wow, thank you very much for all your comments.

To PDP: It's good to hear from someone who owns the 105mm that alternatives such as extension tubes can still produce good results. I will look into the reversing ring option.

To Jriepe: Yes, I have heard that the Tamron 90mm is very good. The fact that the barrel extends was something that concerns me a little bit when using the lens to shoot bugs (would it scare them off?). I could get this lens for around AUD600, which is half the cost of the Nikon 105mm. My local camera shop stocks that product, so I might go down there and ask them if I could try both of them in-store.

To Netskimmer: Thanks for another reply. I'd love to go more than 1:1 magnification to shoot bugs! I've ordered the Kenko. After reading your comment, I thought it is definitely worthwhile having those tubes.

To 365: Thanks for the video link. I am a total beginner, and seeing how much effect those tubes can have was very intriguing. Looking at the difference between the normal and macro lenses, the use of extension tubes now makes so much more sense to me.

To digital flower: Yes, I cannot wait to get hold of the 105mm. I will save up diligently for the next several months. I will check third-party options as jriepe suggested, but the 105mm is definitely one of my dream lenses.

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