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Subject: "Which lens for close-up photos?" Previous topic | Next topic
Cyttorak Registered since 29th Aug 2010Sun 29-Aug-10 10:21 PM
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"Which lens for close-up photos?"


US
          

I have a Nikon D60, and use it for close-up photos. This is still-photography and my subjects are 90% of the time about 2 inches high...the remainder may be even smaller, from about 1cm high to maybe 1/2 inch. I cannot get much closer than about 12 to 18 inches to the subject without difficulty.

I'm currently using the standard 18-55 lens that came with the camera, and while adequate, it's not fantastic. I would like tighter close-ups while maintaining a sharp focus but I don't know what lens to buy.

Macro lenses are the traditional ones for close-up work, but even a 60mm lens is about $400. I don't know if 18 inches is close enough for a 60mm macro to work well. Are there any other lenses I should be considering?

  

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Replies to this topic
Subject Author Message Date ID
Reply message RE: Which lens for close-up photos?
blw Moderator
30th Aug 2010
1
Reply message RE: Which lens for close-up photos?
Cyttorak
30th Aug 2010
2
     Reply message RE: Which lens for close-up photos?
blw Moderator
30th Aug 2010
3
     Reply message RE: Which lens for close-up photos?
blw Moderator
30th Aug 2010
4
          Reply message RE: Which lens for close-up photos?
Cyttorak
30th Aug 2010
5
               Reply message RE: Which lens for close-up photos?
smartybones
16th Sep 2010
6

blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas Nikonian since 18th Jun 2004Mon 30-Aug-10 01:54 AM
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#1. "RE: Which lens for close-up photos?"
In response to Reply # 0


Richmond, US
          

You are wanting to do macro photography, but your 18-55 isn't really capable of doing that. As you have deduced, you probably need a macro lens. The Nikkor macro lenses (which are, confusingly, named Micro-Nikkors) are the 60/f2.8, 85/f3.5, 105/f2.8 and 200/f4. The 60/f2.8 AFS (the current one) runs more like $600 than $400. The 85/f3.5 is the least expensive current Micro-Nikkor (about $475), and it is capable of focusing down to about 11 inches. One thing you should know is that the specification given is the distance from the sensor, and the lens projects at least 5 inches in front of that - so the "working distance" (ie from the front of the lens to the subject) is down to about 6". At that distance you'll be able to fill the frame with about half of your 2" subject. I'm sure that's more than enough for that subject, but the one that's 1cm will not be so large - still it'll be more than a third of the frame.

One thing about shooting at these tiny distances: depth of field is tiny, so you will end up needing to stop down a lot to compensate. Otherwise you'll have part of the subject in focus and the rest blurred. At (say) f/22, you won't realistically be able to hand-hold these sorts of shots, so you will need a tripod.

If $475 + a tripod exceeds your budget, you can get into this for less, if you're willing to accept some compromises. One option is to get one of the older 55/f3.5 or 55/f2.8 manual focus Micro-Nikkors. These won't meter on your camera, but this sort of subject doesn't run or fly away, and using a tripod means that you'll have plenty of time to shoot, check the histogram, adjust exposure and shoot again until you get it right. You can get these for about $100 used, and they are really excellent lenses. The other drawback is that they don't focus as closely - although a lot closer than what you have. I shot this with my 55/f2.8 the other day as an example:


Another possibility is a set of Kenko extension tubes to use with your 18-55. That runs about $175, and it will get you about as close as the 55/f2.8 manual focus lenses or a bit closer. You'll still need a tripod, though.

Slightly more expensive yet is a Sigma 50/f2.8 AFD Macro, which can be had for about $225 used. It meters, and it will get as close as the 85/f3.5 Micro-Nikkor, but it won't AF. That's no hardship in this shooting environment either, really - most of this sort of macro work is done with manual focus anyway, even with AF lenses.

All of these macro lenses, of whatever generation and which ever manufacturer, are VERY high quality lenses. As a class, macro lenses tend to be right at the top of the heap optically, pretty much regardless of price.

_____
Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member

My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!

  

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Cyttorak Registered since 29th Aug 2010Mon 30-Aug-10 04:10 PM
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#2. "RE: Which lens for close-up photos?"
In response to Reply # 1
Mon 30-Aug-10 04:21 PM by Cyttorak

US
          

Thank you for the excellent response, and the excellent example picture. The only problem you didn't address was the issue of distance-to-subject:

I take pictures in my workspace and I don't want to have to move things around each time before shooting a pic. That is why I'm restricted to 12-to-18 inches between the lens and subject. Is that close enough for a macro, or should I be considering some kind of zoom lens?

If I could achieve the same sharpness at 18 inches as you have in the example pic, that would be ideal.

***edit*** Actually, I just looked up the specs for the 55mm f2.8 micro, and I think that will work. Minimum focus distance is .9 feet, which equals 10.8 inches. That's just about what I want.

Thanks again!

  

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blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas Nikonian since 18th Jun 2004Mon 30-Aug-10 04:47 PM
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#3. "RE: Which lens for close-up photos?"
In response to Reply # 2


Richmond, US
          

> Minimum focus distance is .9 feet, which equals 10.8 inches. That's just about what I want.

Just remember that 10.8 inches is measured from the sensor plane. The lens is about 2.5" and there's an inch or so between the sensor and the lens flange, so the subject will be about 7" from the front of the lens.

If you want more working distance, you need to use a longer macro lens.

> should I be considering some kind of zoom lens?

No, zoom lenses in general are not macro lenses. (The exception is the Nikkor 70-180/f4-5.6 AF D Zoom-Micro-Nikkor, but it runs about $1500.)

---

Remember that the 55f/2.8 AIS Micro (my lens) doesn't meter with your camera.

_____
Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member

My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!

  

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blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas Nikonian since 18th Jun 2004Mon 30-Aug-10 05:15 PM
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#4. "RE: Which lens for close-up photos?"
In response to Reply # 2


Richmond, US
          

> If I could achieve the same sharpness at 18 inches as you have in the example pic, that would be ideal.

Somehow I missed this before. I shot the above example at a distance of about 4-5 inches. The working distance - what you're concerned about - is mostly a function of focal length. If you need 12-18 inches of working distance for your smaller items, you NEED a long focal length, such as a 180 or 200mm. Unfortunately, there are two problems with those: first, they're expensive (the superb Sigma 150/f2.8 HSM is the least expensive at around $800, and the even better 200/f4 Micro-Nikkor is twice that), and secondly, because they are long and relatively large, they tend to be tripod-bound, too.

> If I could achieve the same sharpness

Believe it or not, I hesitated to post that originally, largely because it really isn't very sharp, and it really isn't representative of what that lens can actually do...

_____
Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member

My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!

  

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Cyttorak Registered since 29th Aug 2010Mon 30-Aug-10 10:30 PM
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#5. "RE: Which lens for close-up photos?"
In response to Reply # 4
Mon 30-Aug-10 10:34 PM by Cyttorak

US
          

I looked up the specs for the 55mm f/2.8 (the f/3.5 specs weren't published anywhere I could find), which is where I got the .9 feet focal distance from.

As far as I know, the difference is only in maximum aperture...since I'm already working at f/11 to f/22, the maximum is not a limit I'm likely to run into. I hope that's the only operational difference. Metering won't be too much of a problem since I have a static setup, where the lighting is constant...I'll just set it in manual and the exposure should remain relatively constant (depending on the brightness of the subject).

I went ahead and bought one off eBay; the f/3.5s ran about $60, and the f/2.8s ran about $120. Price was a big factor for this, which at this point is just an experiment. I think it will help my photos though.

Once again, thanks for the help.

  

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smartybones Registered since 15th Sep 2010Thu 16-Sep-10 05:28 PM
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#6. "RE: Which lens for close-up photos?"
In response to Reply # 5


GB
          

Welcome to the macro world....

Macro photography can be expensive and until you get the hang of it can be a nightmare with a lot of regret on how much you have spent on glass...

The DOF you have to work with is tiny. A matter of one or 2 mm, lighting, manual focus...agggghhhh nightmare.

However, there is an alternative.

I bought a set of close up lenses from eBay. A 1x 2x 4x and 10x all in a nice wallet thing. They only cost me £10. The lens themselves crew onto a standard lens. The quality of the final output is not the best, but what can you expect for £10. Never the less the results are acceptable.

Here is a few of my efforts I have done with the 10x close-up lens on my 18-55mm kit lens on my D40.

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4111/4970740212_9952e51d3f_b.jpg

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4146/4960664645_43bfca40ae_b.jpg

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4088/4961232260_861d9486a1_b.jpg

you can take a look at more of my macro stuff on flickr here

http://www.flickr.com/photos/smartybones/sets/72157624761115109/

all my phots were all taken with a cheap £10 screw on close up lens.

The trick is manual focus, wide aperture, fast shutter, slowly rock back and forward taking plenty of shots... one of them will be in good focus

Once you have a good technique then spend out the extra hard-earned money that should be your children’s inheritance on some expensive kit.

  

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