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Thread: Macro shooting with 18-55mm Nikor

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    Member Gunsoftheworld's Avatar
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    Macro shooting with 18-55mm Nikor

    Hey guys, I've recently got myself a new Nikon D5100 with 18-55mm & 55-300mm Nikkor lenses. I am looking to do some macro photography of flowers and insects and have noticed that neither of my lenses can give me the close up I am looking for. Am I doing something wrong or do i need to get some special lenses for macro photography?

    I was looking into extension tubes for the 18-55mm but I don't really know if it will work or what exactly it does.

    I also read up on reversing the lenses and found i needed a mount for the lenses.

    I wanted to know if anyone has tried this and found that it worked or not or what ever.


    Thanks in advance!

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    Hi Gunsoftheworld.

    Neither of the lenses you have will allow you to focus close - the minimum distance for the 55-300 is 1.4m and the 18-55 is 0.28m. With macro (and I'm not an expert!) the closer you are, the better. I'd also suggest that the 55-300 might be a better choice as it will allow greater magnification.

    Extension tubes will allow you to get the front of the lens much closer to the item you're wanting to photograph. This essentially 'zooms' you in further, and also increases the distance between the focal plane and the front of the lens - helping you overcome the limitations of the lenses.

    Another option is close-up rings. They go on the front of the lens like a filter, and contain glass to change the focus distance. I use these and don't find them to be very good, the optical quality is not great - mind you nor is the quality of the lens I'm putting them on! They are cheap though, so it might be a good way to get started.

    Haven't tried reversing lenses but looked into it for a while - decided it was too much mucking around to bother.

    If you're serious about doing macro then a dedicated macro lens is the way to go as they're purpose built - but $ is then the contributing factor!

    If I had my time over again I'd get extension tubes - they maintain the optical properties of the lens, as there's no optics in them and they're not that dear.

    Hope this helps!
    Last edited by dieselpower; 26-09-2011 at 6:08pm.

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    Gunsoftheworld's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info (especially the macro filters), I've just ordered myself a cheap extension tube and will try it out on both lenses to see how it goes.

    I think buying a dedicated macro lens will have to wait for a bit longer :P

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    Formerly : Apollo62 ApolloLXII's Avatar
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    You need to buy a dedicated macro lens. I use a Sony 50mm f/2.8 lens which has a minimum focusing distance of 20cm. Extension tubes are ok but you don't get the best results unless you buy a dedicated macro lens. Yes, they are pretty expensive. Mine cost around $800 but it also doubles as a portrait lens so it was worth the money.

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    Account Closed reaction's Avatar
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    I would rec'd a proper macro lens. Hacks like macro filters, extension tubes, reversing, etc only allow you to focus closer, they don't increase the resolving power of the lens.
    Your lens already can't resolve well enough for 1:1, IQ is further reduced by these addons, so for anything other than very very occasional use you're just wasting your effort.
    DX macro lenses are quite cheap.

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    Member bgolds99's Avatar
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    Tamron 90mm 2.8 is a great macro lens for a reasonable price. It's incredibly sharp, doubles as a great head-shot portrait lens, and is FX so is completely compatible will all bodies if you ever upgrade. Works really well on Nikon bodies.
    Just my two cents.
    Last edited by bgolds99; 01-10-2011 at 11:05am.
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    Nikon D90 & 18-55mm Kit lens, Nikkor 50mm/1.4G & 35mm/1.8G, Tamron 90mm/2.8 macro, Tokina 11-16mm/2.8, and most recently, Nikkor 70-300 VR
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    Thank for the tips guys. I still don't know how good the extension tube I ordered is going be since it only cost $6 off eBay.

    I have a hunch since no one uses extension tubes extensively that it's not going to be that great! Time to start researching on macro lenses :P

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    Extension tubes actually work better on true macro lenses than they do on a kit lens.
    The longer the tube, the closer you can get to your subject.

    Give the tube a try, you can't lose much other than the $6 you spent.
    It will give you a taste of macro, and when you get hooked (and that won't take too long), you'll go out and buy a true macro lens.
    A macro lens differs from other lenses by allowing you to focus close enough that you can get something the size of your camera's sensor, to completely fill the sensor - and be sharp from edge to edge.
    Macro lenses have what is called flat plane of focus, which means that if you are taking a pic of a flat object, it will be sharp from edge to edge (more or less).
    A normal lens has a curved field of focus so if you are talking a shot of a flat object, the edges will be blurred as the edges of the lens usually focus a bit further away at the edges of the scene compared to the focus in the centre.
    This doesn't matter for landscapes, but when you are trying to get a 2mm long insect in sharp focus, it makes all the difference in the world!
    There is plenty of choice in lenses too.
    Not only different brands, but different focal lengths too, although I wouldn't really recommend anything less than 60mm and would recommend something around 90-105mm.
    There are also plenty of good, second hand macros available too, just check on cameramarket.

    Enjoy your photography.
    It won't be long until it takes over your life......
    All my photos are taken with recycled pixels.
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom, is knowing not to serve it in a fruit salad.

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    Member bconolly's Avatar
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    I hear good things about the new 40mm DX "macro" which maybe a good future option if the macro shots turn out to be something you really enjoy. You can pick them up for under $400 (which whilst a fair chunk of change isn't quite so painful as some other options).

    BC
    Olympus OM-D EM-1, 12-40mm f2.8, 45mm f1.8, Panny 25mm f1.7

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