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Thread: Help with choosing a macro lens please?

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    Ausphotography Addict feathers's Avatar
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    Help with choosing a macro lens please?

    Was looking at buying the Sigma 105mm macro or the Sigma 150mm macro for my Nikon D800
    The difference is over $400 dollars for the latter.
    Q. Is there enough difference or advantages to justify the extra cash?
    Want to use it for portrait as well as macro.
    Cheers!..

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    A macro lens will have a “closest focus distance” where the subject will be 1:1. That is, a 5 mm long insect will appear as a 5mm long image on the camera sensor.

    Which lens of the two has the longer “closest focus distance”? Some insects get spooked if you get too close, so it can be advantageous to have a longer “closest focus distance” so you can work the insect at that longer distance.

    Hand holding the camera/lens/flash for long sessions in the garden or field can lead to fatigue, so lens weight and general bulk may be another factor to consider.


    Cheers

    Dennis
    Last edited by nardes; 04-02-2014 at 7:05am. Reason: added a further comment

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    Thanks Dennis

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    Always learning Ionica's Avatar
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    Don't want to complicate things, but if you want the extra distance the Tamron 180ml F3.5 macro lens has had good reviews also.
    http://www.dpreview.com/products/tam...ron_180_3p5_di.
    Have been considering this one myself.
    Constructive critique of my photos is welcome and appreciated.


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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    one thing to be careful of(in terms of technical specifications) is not so much the minimum focus distance, or MFD(close focus distance .. same thing) .. but more important is the minimum working distance of the lens.

    What happens as some lenses focus closer, is that they shorten the focal length .. that's how the manufacturers get these macro lenses to focus close AND create lenses that are internal focus.

    In the old days of lenses in general, and macro in particular, was that lenses used to grow really long as you focused closer.
    Longer focal lengths more so than shorter ones .. but in general you had pretty good working distances from the front of the lens.

    I think the elder type Tammy 90/2.8 ... not the newer one with VC .. has a good sounding MFD in that it sounded reasonably long at about 30cm, but as the lens extends forward to achieve macro magnification, the distance from subject to front of the lens starts to look quite small This lens also has a design where the front lens element is deeply recessed too tho!

    This doesn't mean that the lens is no good .. tried it and is very good to excellent!

    But the problem with short MWD values is that light shading can be an issue to account for.
    That is, as the front part of your lens gets closer to the subject, you can block out quite a substantial amount of light sometimes.

    Having said that, there is also the issue of trying to find such information too tho .. most manufacturers don't publish it .. but you can estimate it to a reasonable level.

    Sigma 105OS macro lens length = 126mm + distance to film plane = 46mm total distance = 172mm
    MFD of this lens = 312mm. Therefore MWD of the lens (for 1:1 obviously) will be 312-172 = 140mm

    Sigma 150OS macro lens length = 150mm + distance to film plane = 46mm total distance = 196mm
    MFD of this lens = 380mm. Therefore MWD of the lens (for 1:1 obviously) will be 380-196 = 194mm

    You can see you get 54mm more working space between front of lens and subject in using the 150mm macro.

    BUT!!! if you tend to use the lens hood as well(which I tend to do a lot on my Nikon 105VR!) .. be mindful of the length of the lens hood too.

    ** (just found some specs re the lenses with hoods attached .. the 180 is 40mm longer with hood .. so it still gives a 14mm advantage)


    The reason I mention all this, is that it's really annoying to have to occasionally need to remove the lens hood from the 105VR as shading on the subject is so easily seen sometimes.



    In terms of using the lens at 1:1 .. I doubt you'll see much difference(other than those extra 54mm of space to your subject without using a lens hood).
    They're both going to be as sharp as each other .. give or take a few hairs here and there.

    If you're just chasing insects around the garden .. I think the even greater working distances differences may be more obvious .. in that it won't scare all your favourite little bugs off as you try to get closer.
    @ 150mm(as opposed to 105mm) you already are closer.

    If you can justify the extra $400 expense .. always go for the longer macro(it's generally more of an advantage).

    As for portraits .. both focal lengths work well ... 150mm on Fx is actually quite easy to do given enough space to work with.
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
    {Nikon} -> 50/1.2 : 500/8(CPU'd) : 105/2.8VR Micro : 180/2.8ais : 105mm f/1.8ais : 24mm/2ais
    {Sigma}; ->10-20/4-5.6 : 50/1.4 : 12-24/4.5-5.6II : 150-600mm|S
    {Tamron}; -> 17-50/2.8 : 28-75/2.8 : 70-200/2.8 : 300/2.8 SP MF : 24-70/2.8VC


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    Quote Originally Posted by Ionica View Post
    Don't want to complicate things, but if you want the extra distance the Tamron 180ml F3.5 macro lens has had good reviews also.
    http://www.dpreview.com/products/tam...ron_180_3p5_di.
    Have been considering this one myself.
    Thanks for that info,... checked it out, and as much as it sounds like a winner,.. weight, and more so price are a dampener.
    Cheers

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    one thing to be careful of(in terms of technical specifications) is not so much the minimum focus distance, or MFD(close focus distance .. same thing) .. but more important is the minimum working distance of the lens.

    What happens as some lenses focus closer, is that they shorten the focal length .. that's how the manufacturers get these macro lenses to focus close AND create lenses that are internal focus.

    In the old days of lenses in general, and macro in particular, was that lenses used to grow really long as you focused closer.
    Longer focal lengths more so than shorter ones .. but in general you had pretty good working distances from the front of the lens.

    I think the elder type Tammy 90/2.8 ... not the newer one with VC .. has a good sounding MFD in that it sounded reasonably long at about 30cm, but as the lens extends forward to achieve macro magnification, the distance from subject to front of the lens starts to look quite small This lens also has a design where the front lens element is deeply recessed too tho!

    This doesn't mean that the lens is no good .. tried it and is very good to excellent!

    But the problem with short MWD values is that light shading can be an issue to account for.
    That is, as the front part of your lens gets closer to the subject, you can block out quite a substantial amount of light sometimes.

    Having said that, there is also the issue of trying to find such information too tho .. most manufacturers don't publish it .. but you can estimate it to a reasonable level.

    Sigma 105OS macro lens length = 126mm + distance to film plane = 46mm total distance = 172mm
    MFD of this lens = 312mm. Therefore MWD of the lens (for 1:1 obviously) will be 312-172 = 140mm

    Sigma 150OS macro lens length = 150mm + distance to film plane = 46mm total distance = 196mm
    MFD of this lens = 380mm. Therefore MWD of the lens (for 1:1 obviously) will be 380-196 = 194mm

    You can see you get 54mm more working space between front of lens and subject in using the 150mm macro.

    BUT!!! if you tend to use the lens hood as well(which I tend to do a lot on my Nikon 105VR!) .. be mindful of the length of the lens hood too.

    ** (just found some specs re the lenses with hoods attached .. the 180 is 40mm longer with hood .. so it still gives a 14mm advantage)


    The reason I mention all this, is that it's really annoying to have to occasionally need to remove the lens hood from the 105VR as shading on the subject is so easily seen sometimes.



    In terms of using the lens at 1:1 .. I doubt you'll see much difference(other than those extra 54mm of space to your subject without using a lens hood).
    They're both going to be as sharp as each other .. give or take a few hairs here and there.

    If you're just chasing insects around the garden .. I think the even greater working distances differences may be more obvious .. in that it won't scare all your favourite little bugs off as you try to get closer.
    @ 150mm(as opposed to 105mm) you already are closer.

    If you can justify the extra $400 expense .. always go for the longer macro(it's generally more of an advantage).

    As for portraits .. both focal lengths work well ... 150mm on Fx is actually quite easy to do given enough space to work with.
    Thank you so much for such a detailed explanation,.. all makes a lot of sense. Will go with the 105.
    Much appreciated
    Cheers

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    It looks like the 150mm is an “Apochromatic” design or “Apo” and from the Sigma website for this lens:

    “APO (Apochromatic)
    In order to attain the highest quality images, the APO lens has been made using special low-dispersion (SLD) glass and is designed to minimize color aberration”.

    Generally, you may see colour fringing with non-Apo lenses (achromatic) whereas with Apo lenses, the use of low dispersion glass theoretically brings RGB wavelengths into the same plane of focus, thus reducing or eliminating colour fringing.

    Cheers

    Dennis
    Last edited by nardes; 04-02-2014 at 8:48pm.

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    Oooops!... Meant to say, I,m going with the 150mm
    Cheers.

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    OK.
    Now that you've decided on which lens, and having chosen the 105 and it being cheaper, if you still have 'a spare' $400 or so, I'd highly recommend the Nikon R1 speedlight system if you want to go chasing insects in the garden type of macro photography.

    This system of 2 flashes costs about $500ish from most online grey sellers.

    Basically two small itty bitty flashes that mount to the front of the lens(via a ring). They can be controlled easily via the D800's onboard flash in wireless mode.

    I've had thought on getting a set myself too .. just keep running out of money going to other purchases!

    Note that you don't need the R1C1 system with the separate controller .. much more expensive.


    just a thought.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nardes View Post
    It looks like the 150mm is an “Apochromatic” design or “Apo” and from the Sigma website for this lens:

    “APO (Apochromatic)
    In order to attain the highest quality images, the APO lens has been made using special low-dispersion (SLD) glass and is designed to minimize color aberration”.

    Generally, you may see colour fringing with non-Apo lenses (achromatic) whereas with Apo lenses, the use of low dispersion glass theoretically brings RGB wavelengths into the same plane of focus, thus reducing or eliminating colour fringing.

    Cheers

    Dennis
    That definitely would make it the one to choose then,.. Cheers

  11. #11
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    I have the Sigma 150mm f2.8 APO DG and I think it is an exceptional lens.

    It also doubles as a short telephoto, particularly when paired with a 1.4 T/C which gives you a 210mm lens.
    Cheers
    Kev

    D600 : D7200 and too much stuff to list

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    Quote Originally Posted by nardes View Post
    It looks like the 150mm is an “Apochromatic” design or “Apo” and from the Sigma website for this lens:

    “APO (Apochromatic)
    In order to attain the highest quality images, the APO lens has been made using special low-dispersion (SLD) glass and is designed to minimize color aberration”.

    Generally, you may see colour fringing with non-Apo lenses (achromatic) whereas with Apo lenses, the use of low dispersion glass theoretically brings RGB wavelengths into the same plane of focus, thus reducing or eliminating colour fringing.

    .....
    Sigma is probably allowed a fair amount of leeway in using that design designation ... but I'm pretty sure that any Simga lens is far from APO.
    (well at least true APO).

    APO lenses (that is true APO lenses) cost a small fortune!

    While the results I've seen in the 150mm lens reviews and (available) image samples, it shows almost no colour fringing whatsoever, that in itself doesn't make the lens APO.
    The 105 displays very similar colour fringing renderings too to the point where it could also be labelled APO by Sigma.

    But a true APO lens will not display any colour fringing .. not just extremely low amounts.

    FWIW tho ... Simga's macro lenses are way ahead of Nikon's 105VR in terms of colour fringing (and I think are probably sharper too).

    Also! if you have the finances for it .. I think as a dual purpose macro/portrait lens, the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 VC lens may serve better as a portrait lens too.

    I generally prefer to favour the bokeh of Tamron lenses over Sigma lenses.

    Not that Sigma's have bad bokeh(out of focus rendering).
    In fact both Sigma's have nice bokeh .. I just think Tamron usually do it slightly better(smoother) with their 90mm.

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    I have been using the Sigma 70mm F2.8 macro on a D7100. I find it produces really sharp images with good color clarity. Only complaint that I could make is that in manual mode with the camera tiled down vertically there is a little bit of lens creep. I'm not overly concerned with bokeh and such like as I generally photograph against either a black or white background.

    http://i1274.photobucket.com/albums/...g?t=1396242143

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