I'm looking for some thrifty solutions to break into macro photography and I thought I'd bounce some ideas at the experts here first.
I see 4 options here, 3 really though the last is intriguing.
1. Extension tubes. I saw these macro extension tubes (Item #14235043 at overstock.com) and thought this might be a good place to start with a very small investment. I'm sure there are better products and I'm all ears at this point. Can extension tubes give a decent glimpse into macro? (Just for reference, I currently have a d7000 with Nikon 35mm & 50mm prime f/1.8)
2. Buy a new/used macro or rent one. This is the obvious path but I'm still searching out other areas of photography and don't want to invest too much money into one area before I'm sure it's for me. That Nikon 105mm micro f/2.8G looks truly amazing. Rental may be the way to go.
3. Find someone locally here in the Twin Cites (Mpls/St. Paul MN) who would be will to show me the ropes, but I don't really know of any. I did join the Twin City Photography group so I might eventually run into someone.
The trouble with the cheap tubes and the DIY reverse mount (or any reverse mount for that matter) is that you lose metering (and AF, but that's not an issue with macro). A set of Kenko tubes is about $150 and they allow metering (and AF). Nikon tubes are strickly manual, but with a D7000 you can still meter with them. A Nikon PK-13 will get you down to almost 1:1 with the 50mm lens and more with the 35mm. I've seen the PK-13 for about $50 on ebay lately. The working distance (distance from the lens to the subject) will be close, but for more static subjects that's not a problem.
The "G" lenses you have will not work reversed as the aperture will stop down to the smallest f/stop and stay there (unless you want to shoot everything at f/22).
I live in Minnesota but I'm 200 miles north of you.
Aperture control is important on a macro lens, auto focus is not so important. You can save a bunch of money buying a used AF or AF-D screw drive lens with a proper aperture control ring. Or save even more money buying a used manual focus lens.
You can also try picking up the inexpensive Consina made 100mm f3.5 macro lens. Very cheap build quality with very sharp performance. It is no longer in production but can be picked up on ebay for less than $150.00.
It is sold under the names Cosina, Vivitar, Promaster, Phoenix and Tokina. Is available in AF and MF versions. It focus down to 1:2 on its own and 1:1 with the included diopter. There is a review of this lens on the Nikonian's site under 3rd party lens reviews.