View Full Version : Macro

12-12-2011, 10:19pm
I am wondering if anyone can assist in offering advice for a Macro lens or send me in the right direction to a similar forum.

I'm just wanting to know what would be the best options for Macro lens' for a Nikon D5000.....

Each time I try to focus to close on anything with my basic lens it just won't focus enough too close, so would a Macro lens be a good investment as I love taking detailed shots...and would like to improve my photos more.

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated as I am still finding my way around this site. (What I've seen so far it looks like it's going to be a great help) As it has inspired me so much already in just 2 days :)



12-12-2011, 11:27pm
Before anybody else gets to you – never discard a good second hand lens if it comes across your path and you know what you are doing about checking it out.
Never discard non Nikon lenses for this either eg Tamron 60mm or 90mm maco lenses and some sigmas lenses
If you have to have Nikon, 60mm or 105 mm or 200 mm macro lenses are available depending on how close you want to physically be to the subject. Mongo has several of these lenses but prefers the older manual Nikon lenses e.g 55mm f2.8 AI-s macro if you feel capable with non auto focus lenses. However, your model of camera will not really let you use the manual lenses very easily at all so Mongo does not recommend these for you.

12-12-2011, 11:41pm
G'day, I would ordinarily recommend for a Nikon user the AF 200mm f/4 Micro as it is one of the best macro lenses ever made, however for your consumer level body, this lens will not auto focus as it has built in focus motor, and your camera has no screw drive motor to drive it. That said even on a pro body it is a slow lens to auto focus however most macro work is best done using manual focus anyway given the narrow depth of field.

For a cheaper yet still quite good Nikon micro (Nikon call macro>micro) the AF-S 105mm f/2.8VR would suit as well. This lens will auto focus on that D5000 body, but does suffer focus breathing in the macro range, so google that and have a read.

13-12-2011, 2:50pm
Thanks for your assistance with this I shall start researching... It is really hard, when you say about the consumer body what would be a better option for that sort of lens if I were to look at getting a newer body?

13-12-2011, 4:52pm
Also look at the new Sigma 105mm and 150mm macro lenses with OS.
They are both superb.

13-12-2011, 5:12pm
If you get an upgrade, in order for lenses that have no built in focus motor (AFxxxxx in Nikkor such as the 200/4 I mentioned above - lenses WITH a built in focus motor from Nikkor will have "AF-S" in their name) to auto-focus, the body will need to have a built in screw motor, and there is no simple way to determine that from the naming convention.

In a nutshell, looking at todays Nikon bodies (that you would likely upgrade to) the only ones that do have the screw motor are;

These are DX or crop bodies, meaning the sensor gives a lens an extended reach x1.5, so a 200mm lens will be =to 300mm.
D90 - superseded
D300 - superseded
D300s - All but superseded
D7000 - Current model, due to be updated next year I'm guessing

These are FX or full frame and lenses on these bodies will show at 1:1 meaning a 200mm lens with be =to 200mm.
These are all semi-pro or full pro bodies and carry the price tag accordingly, so these would be a huge step up in not only performance, but also $$

D700 - All but superseded, replacement overdue, hopefully early 2012
D3 - Superseded
D3s - Replaced the D3, and also due for replacement sometime 2012
D3x - High megapixel body, overdue for replacement, no indication of when update will be released.

13-12-2011, 9:24pm
Thanks Wayne that is a great help, looks like my best bet is to perhaps wait until early next year in the hope that they will be updated. I am willing to pay the price tag if it is going to be worth it. I am still only photographing as a hobby at the moment but I really want to get into it more professionally as I improve. I have been very lazy lately and only happy snapping but last weekend went out especially to take some photos.
I was getting very frustrated that I just couldn't get any photos that I was happy with, so the more I practice with my "basic" camera now the better i'll get for when I make a purchase next year on a new body.

Does anyone have any tips for moving in to manual settings rather than the "auto" modes. Whilst studying photography at college I used an SLR and became very comfortable using that for 2 years but after graduating and eventually purchasing a DSLR I have become to lazy and use the "auto" settings too much.

13-12-2011, 9:46pm
Quote Caity : Whilst studying photography at college I used an SLR and became very comfortable using that for 2 years but after graduating and eventually purchasing a DSLR I have become to lazy and use the "auto" settings too much. ,

Quote Caity : but I really want to get into it more professionally

I would say get out and take a heap more images , And Practice, Practice !! Learn the Triangle relationship between Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO , In Manual and daylight use the lowest ISO you can , Choose the Aperture you want , EG : for big or shallow DOF , Adjust your shutter speed using the inbuilt Light meter in the camera as a guide , Take a shot and check the Histogram, If need be adjust the shutter speed to suit for the right exposure , Untill this becomes a natural instinct forget about going Pro

13-12-2011, 10:05pm
Thanks William.... that's great... I know after a couple of years using the SLR it did become more and more natural the more I took, but I just feel that all I learnt back then has gone straight out the window. Once I start practicing again I hope it'll all start sinking in again.
Back in my school days I wanted photography to become more of a career path but these days after slacking off for some time I'm happy for it to be just a hobby on the side of my full time work. I'll just be happier when my photos start looking better and better the more I practice practice practice. Muchly appreciated your tips :)

14-12-2011, 3:41am
If you need some tips on getting the best out of your current body and lens line up, the the site advertisers in Tassie who run photography workshops.

Look here: http://www.tasphotoworkshops.com/

The guy that runs it will be familiar to most everyone here ;)

14-12-2011, 9:30am
What started off as an exercise to buy a new suitable doorknob to go with your current house has turned into effectively shopping for a new house altogether and refurnishing it. Of course, if you were ready to think about buying a new house anyway, then, waiting for the new Nikon new year (if it comes next year) would be wise. Good luck !

14-12-2011, 4:46pm
I reckon for maximum usability/ease of use the Sigma 150mm f/2.8 OS is the best option.

Nikon's 105VR micro is great, but the Sigma is definitely better value for money.

One thing is that it gives you a greater working distance for Macro situations(subject to lens distance), which can be important for many impromptu opportunistic situations.

For proper 1:1 macro images, AF is next to useless(at least with the 105VR lens) and to get a sharp image is too reliant on hit and miss.

Nikon's 105 is a good lens tho, don't get me wrong on this.. I have mine and if it were a bad lens, I'd have got rid of it years ago.

But if you arent' planning on using it for a lot of portrait situations, the Sigma 150 will make the better macro lens.
These two lenses sell for roughly the $900 mark and two of the better all rounder lenses.
Tamron's 90mm macro is great value for money, but has a shorter working distance compared to the other two lenses.
Nikon also has the 85mm Dx lens, but this only works on the Dx sensor format, so if you go this route, and find that one day you want to upgrade to the full frame camera format, these Dx only lenses will need to be replaced too to work fully. They will work in crop mode tho.
Sigma also has a 105mm macro lens available too. Don't know anything about this one tho. I dare say it'll work well.

14-12-2011, 9:21pm
Thanks Arthurking, that is very handy to know I really appreciate your advice. By the sounds of your advice it looks like the Sigma 150 is the way to go. I will certainly take your advice on board.

14-12-2011, 10:28pm
if you are going to be using this lens tor true macro use, I have a few small tips when choosing the lens.

disregard the speed of it. eg don't think 2.8 is going to be a lot better than a 4. With high magnification macro shots you will always be using very low apertures (high F number) 10+ often in the 20's
Of course if you are gonna be using the lens for occasional portrait work, then having a faster lens will benefit you greatly

if the option is there get VR/IS/OS. as I said in last point you will be often needing to shot at very low apertures so in order to allow you to get them high F numbers whilst maintaining a sharp photo have this feature will help you.

The longer the focal length the better for macro shots. Since you will be taking close up shots at maximum magnification the longer the FL the further away you'll be able to stay from your subject, thus not scaring it away, or casting shadows and lastly allowing your lens not to cast shadows or block the flashes light. Of course this longer FL will make certain types of other photography with the lens rather hard such as street portraiture.

Lastly be cautious when choosing a Macro lens, some call them selves "macro lenses" but don't actually offer 1:1 magnification
an example of this is the Sigma 70-300mm f4-5.6 DG Macro

Good luck and looking forward to your posts in the future :)

14-12-2011, 10:53pm

disregard the speed of it. eg don't think 2.8 is going to be a lot better than a 4. ...... /QUOTE]

Even tho this advice is common sense, it's basically null and void by default in that almost all modern macro lenses are made with f/2.8 max aperture values nowadays anyhow, and as AF is handy to have for when not using the lens as a macro lens, on a D5100 an older, slower non AF lens will be more cumbersome to use.
(so from this we probably safe to assume that the OP is looking for a new modern lens)

There are very few macro lenses that are not rated at f/2.8, and there are a few that are rated at f/2(Tamron 60mm and some very expensive Zeiss lenses)
There is also the slower Nikon 85mm f/3.5 Dx lens referred to earlier.
99% of all other modern fully D5100 compatible macro lenses are f/2.8 anyhow.

Even tho Cyza said that you will be generally using very small apertures, a peculiarity with these f/2.8 macro lenses is that even if you set it to fully wide open and try to shoot at very close in distances, the lens itself automatically reduces the size of the aperture, and the widest aperture value available is technically something more like f/5 anyhow!
That is, at a focus distance of approximately 3m or so, the f/2.8 max value of most macro lenses starts to diminish.
By the time you are focused in nice a close, the aperture value may be more like f/4-4.5 or so ... and as you get closer it closes up even more again.
So expect this to happen with whichever lens you get for your D5100.

(as a side note, I think I remember that there are very few macro lenses that don't work in this manner, and the Nikon 200/4 micro is one of them :confused:)

Some camera/lenses will be honest and indicate this through to the viewfinder info, others may not.
All Nikon macro lenses and bodies will indicate the true f-stop value, the Sigma 150/2,8 also does, as does the Tamron 90/2.8.
(I'm not use how other lenses communicate actual aperture values through to the camera body tho)

Finally, even tho it is true that at very close in distances you may tend to shoot stopped down, this is not a strict rule!
For creative purposes, you may want to shoot wide open(even tho as already said this wide open setting may not be the widest open aperture listed in the lenses specs anyhow!), and another by product of having this larger aperture value lens is that both the viewfinder and the LiveView images you see are just a tad brighter.

Slammin Sammy
21-12-2011, 5:14am
Hi Caity,

In response to your original post, and with a tip of the hat to mongo's doorknob to house buying comments, I would recommend you have a serious look at the 85mm AF-S DX Micro that arthurking83 mentioned. It will work well with your D5000, will shoot 1:1 at close distance and is reasonably priced. You needn't go without a $500 doorknob whilst saving up for a $6,000 house!

BTW, your camera and this (and other) excellent DX lenses available will take fine photos you'll be amazed at. I know many pros who shoot DX too, with great results.

21-12-2011, 11:15am
In general tho, with the shorter focal length macro lenses is working distances.
The 85mm Dx lens is surely capable and is definitely good value for money, even tho it's not the best macro lens available out there.

The MFD of the Nikon 85mm lens is 28cm(from the front of the lens) to produce 1:1 and while this sounds like 'enough' in some cases it's not really.

The MFD of the Sigma 150mm is 38cm to produce the same 1:1 ratio.

If your subject of interest is small insects and stuf like that, they will be more likely to zoom off or run away the closer you get. So even tho the 85mm is a capable lens, there is more likelyhood that it will scare the bugs away, and hence 'not get the shot' more often.
That extra 10cm of distance between subject and lens is mor elikely to get the shot.

Also, as you get closer to the subject lens shading is also a problem. That is the physical proximity of the lens to the subject shades it from the available light environment. There are ways around this and is usualy not a problem, but when it is, again you find yourself in a situationwhere you miss shots due to the gear used.

The ideal macro lens is something like a 300mm focal length where you shoot from a greater distance to alleviate the issue of scaring critters off, and other such issues. But again, longer focal lenghts create other issues such as unwieldyness.

Never seen or touched the 85 Dx lens, but I have my 105VR lens and have compared it to the Sigma 150 and even considering the longer focal length of the Sigma lens, it feels no different to the 105 Nikon in terms of handling.

The specs of the 85mm are indeed smaller than the 105VR so this has to be taken into context, and you will find the 85mm to be easier to use and handle than the 105, but I have a few lenses of the 85mm's dimensions and to be honest the difference is not really all that much, so I'd expect the 85mm to feel quite similar to the 105mm once you're in the situation of actually shooting.

One thing that the 105mm definietly needs tho is a tripod collar.
This is where the Sigma shines, as it has an excellent collar design.
Most macro will be done on a tripod and the inclusion of a tripod collar is one of the most important items on a macro lens of this size.

I just ordered $400 worth of sliding plates, extension plates and other paraphanalia to mount to my tripod ballhead just to compensate for the lack of the tripod collar on the Nikon 105VR lens.
Of course this is not specifically for use on the 105mm lens, but can also be used for all my other gear, but it is the infuriating nature of the Nikon lens that prompted me to spend all this money on this quick release plate gear.

This is why I recommended the Sigma 150. longer working distance and tripod collar will make for a better overall experience.

21-12-2011, 12:51pm
Caity, have a look at this forum, http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/index.php , if you want to go further with macro. There's a vast amount of experience and expertise there.


21-12-2011, 4:00pm
Just to amplify what Arthurking says, I have both the Canon 60mm macro and the new Sigma 150mm macro with OS, and I only use the 60mm in the studio taking product shots, as my studio is so small you could't swing a rat in it, let alone a cat, and the products are things like handbags and such.

For taking macros of flowers and insects, the Sigma is my favourite lens, even using it handheld.
It isn't the smallest or lightest lens, but it's quite Ok to handhold, and the image quality is just spectacular, as is the bokeh.
I wish my other large Canon lenses had such a good tripod collar too, as it's easy to adjust and very easy to remove without having to remove the lens from the camera, like my Canon ones are.
I've only seen one test report on the Sigma, and they reckon it's one of the sharpest lenses they've ever tested.

One of my brothers-in-law has the Canon 100mmL macro, which is reputed to be one of the best macro lenses, and he also reckons the Sigma is better, and that's from someone that says he'll never buy any lens unless it's a Canon. He's now saving for the Sigma.

22-12-2011, 10:22pm
Looks like the Sigma seems to be more of what I am looking for.... I still have a lot to learn so I shall keep researching about the collar and sliding plates as I have no idea about all this too! Shall try to find the best one for me for the best value also. Maybe someone in the family will be kind to me this Christmas and donate to my macro lens fund :-)
Thanks for all

17-01-2012, 2:40pm
Each time I try to focus to close on anything with my basic lens it just won't focus enough too close, so would a Macro lens be a good investment as I love taking detailed shots...and would like to improve my photos more.



Macro lenses aside, if you are just interested in getting closer to your subject with standard lenses have a look at extention tubes. I have a set of Kenko tubes - 3 off 12mm 24mm & 36mm (from memory). They do limit your focusing range but great for getting closer to your subject.

20-01-2012, 11:34am
As Smylie, try some ext tubes. I've used them on a 70-200 with wonderful results. Manual focus only takes practice.

Best regards

14-02-2012, 11:27am
Hi Caity I use a 90mm tamron macro lens on my D5000 and also on my D7000 and its terrific and a hell of a lot cheaper than the nikon macro flicker has a group dedicated to this lens . I'd suggest that you go there and check them out look at the results and see what the users have to say.

14-02-2012, 9:33pm
Thanks Steve. I appreciate your advice... I checked out a few photos on that Flickr site and they look amazing. Also great info on the auto focus motor etc which I was interested in. Thanks once again I shall keep this one in mind when I can get around to making a purchase. This seems to be most helpful advice so far with the photos for examples etc. cheers