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Forums Lobby MASTER YOUR VISION Micro, Macro & Close-up (Public) topic #52249
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Subject: "Sharpest macro lens" Previous topic | Next topic
Rohinton_Mehta Silver Member  Mumbai, IN  Nikonian since 16th Feb 2002 Sun 08-Sep-13 02:04 PM
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"Sharpest macro lens"



Which macro lens would you consider the sharpest? I am not looking at the Zeiss due to its lack of AF and the very high price. I have a 90mm Tamron (the version without the OS) but would like a sharper lens. I understand that the Nikon 105mm is not as sharp as the earlier version.

What would be your choice? (Up to 105mm)

PS: I use a sturdy tripod whenever possible and switch off the vibration reduction feature when using the tripod.

Rohinton

  

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Replies to this topic
Subject Author Message Date ID
Reply message RE: Sharpest macro lens Scotty Silver Member
08th Sep 2013
1
Reply message RE: Sharpest macro lens liamtoh1ps
09th Sep 2013
2
Reply message RE: Sharpest macro lens mbarnes
09th Sep 2013
4
Reply message RE: Sharpest macro lens Snapshott Silver Member
09th Sep 2013
3
Reply message RE: Sharpest macro lens Rohinton_Mehta Silver Member
10th Sep 2013
6
Reply message RE: Sharpest macro lens aolander Silver Member
09th Sep 2013
5
Reply message RE: Sharpest macro lens Rohinton_Mehta Silver Member
10th Sep 2013
7
Reply message RE: Sharpest macro lens Stagecoach Silver Member
10th Sep 2013
8
Reply message RE: Sharpest macro lens Rohinton_Mehta Silver Member
10th Sep 2013
10
     Reply message RE: Sharpest macro lens Stagecoach Silver Member
10th Sep 2013
11
Reply message RE: Sharpest macro lens jrp Administrator JRP is one of the co-founders, has in-depth knowledge in various areas. Awarded for his contributions for the Resources
10th Sep 2013
9
Reply message RE: Sharpest macro lens JBD90
13th Sep 2013
12
Reply message RE: Sharpest macro lens stevelink3
07th Feb 2014
20
Reply message RE: Sharpest macro lens AartPapaya Silver Member
23rd Sep 2013
13
Reply message RE: Sharpest macro lens blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas
23rd Sep 2013
14
Reply message RE: Sharpest macro lens stevelink3
31st Jan 2014
15
     Reply message RE: Sharpest macro lens blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas
01st Feb 2014
17
          Reply message RE: Sharpest macro lens stevelink3
02nd Feb 2014
18
               Reply message RE: Sharpest macro lens blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas
02nd Feb 2014
19
                    Reply message RE: Sharpest macro lens stevelink3
07th Feb 2014
21
                         Reply message RE: Sharpest macro lens blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas
09th Feb 2014
22
                              Reply message RE: Sharpest macro lens stevelink3
09th Feb 2014
23
Reply message Sharpest macro lens f5titan Gold Member
31st Jan 2014
16

Scotty Silver Member  Ely, Cambridgeshire, UK  Nikonian since 07th Feb 2002 Sun 08-Sep-13 06:57 PM
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#1. "RE: Sharpest macro lens"
In response to Reply # 0



There isn't that much in it to be honest... if the Tamron isn't sharp enough then you should be looking at technique. If however your technique is perfect and the Tamron still isn't sharp enough then the Zeiss is the way to go.

Having used the Tamron 90, Sigma 105 and Nikkor 105 and 60mm I can honestly say that as far as sharpness is concerned they are all pretty close to each other. The difference is in the build quality.

Currently I use an old Nikkor 60mm f2.8 AFD and find it spot on for plants and insects (plus occasional portraits).

D2Xs + AF20-35mm f2.8 + AF35-70mm f2.8 + AF80-200mm f2.8

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liamtoh1ps   US  Registered since 17th Apr 2012 Mon 09-Sep-13 02:19 AM
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#2. "RE: Sharpest macro lens"
In response to Reply # 1
Mon 09-Sep-13 02:20 AM by liamtoh1ps


Rohinton,

I think Alex covered it well. I have used the Tamron 90 f2.8 macro non-BIM and was extremely pleased with its macro performance. I sold the 90mm and now use Tamron 180 f3.5 for longer working distance.

If you are using AF for macro, then you could also check if your lens/camera needs any MFA (focus adjustments). I almost always use manual focus with remote trigger on a solid tripod.

Pravin.

  

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mbarnes   UK  Registered since 04th Aug 2013 Mon 09-Sep-13 10:21 PM
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#4. "RE: Sharpest macro lens"
In response to Reply # 1



> if the Tamron …..
>isn't sharp enough then you should be looking at technique.

A valid point however there may be another explanation - especially if you are of a certain age. I had the same problem until I had my eyes tested - honestly!

My optician said that its surprising how much vision can deteriorate as you age - not helped by the fact that I have cataracts developing. A new prescription sorted that out and now my pics are much sharper.

  

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Snapshott Silver Member  Richmond, US  Nikonian since 01st Sep 2007 Mon 09-Sep-13 06:34 PM
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#3. "RE: Sharpest macro lens"
In response to Reply # 0



The tamron 90 non-OS is a very sharp lens. You may have a bad copy even though I've not heard anyone with a problem. Are you using manual or auto focus when shooting macro. Most people use manual focus because it's hard to get AF to focus exactly where you want.

Have you tried live view zoomed all the way in and manually focusing the lens? I've gotten good results this way while also using mirror lock up mode on the camera a remote trigger.

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Rohinton_Mehta Silver Member  Mumbai, IN  Nikonian since 16th Feb 2002 Tue 10-Sep-13 02:03 AM
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#6. "RE: Sharpest macro lens"
In response to Reply # 3



Yes, I use manual focus while doing macro. I also lock up the mirror (though not always) or use self-timer if the object is steady.

Yesterday, I tried fine-tuning the AF on the D7000 and the sharpness seems have increased for sure. Will try the same on the D800 when I get some free time.

Thanks to everyone for responding.

Rohinton

  

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aolander Silver Member  Nevis, US  Nikonian since 15th Sep 2006 Mon 09-Sep-13 11:31 PM
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#5. "RE: Sharpest macro lens"
In response to Reply # 0



There aren't any Tamron 90mm (or 180mm) macros with OS. There are earlier 90mm Tamron macros that have no built-in motor, but the latest one does. Perhaps that's what you mean.

Alan

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Rohinton_Mehta Silver Member  Mumbai, IN  Nikonian since 16th Feb 2002 Tue 10-Sep-13 02:06 AM
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#7. "RE: Sharpest macro lens"
In response to Reply # 5



Sorry aolander, I meant VC but typed OS.

Rohinton

  

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Stagecoach Silver Member  Suva, FJ  Nikonian since 03rd Apr 2009 Tue 10-Sep-13 03:08 AM
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#8. "RE: Sharpest macro lens"
In response to Reply # 0



Are you judging the 'sharpness' factor of your images from your Tamron SOOC (straight out of camera)?

Are you using RAW or Jpegs and undertaking any post processing?

Whilst I do not own a Tamron macro but the Nikon 105 I have seen incredibly sharp images commonly produced from all manufacturers macro lenses.

Grahame

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Rohinton_Mehta Silver Member  Mumbai, IN  Nikonian since 16th Feb 2002 Tue 10-Sep-13 04:16 AM
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#10. "RE: Sharpest macro lens"
In response to Reply # 8



Grahame,

Are you judging the 'sharpness' factor of your images from your Tamron SOOC (straight out of camera)? Mostly 'yes' (with JPEGs) and 'no' with RAW. Even after sharpening, I feel that the images should have been a tad sharper.

As I mentioned earlier, I have now fine-tuned the AF and feel that the images are more to my liking.

Here is a Viper, shot using my Tamron 90mm macro lens, before fine-tuning the AF. I have worked extensively on the image to make it look sharp.


Rohinton

Attachment #1, (jpg file)

  

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Stagecoach Silver Member  Suva, FJ  Nikonian since 03rd Apr 2009 Tue 10-Sep-13 06:43 AM
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#11. "RE: Sharpest macro lens"
In response to Reply # 10



Rohinton,

The reason I asked those two questions is that at times it is not appreciated what can be achieved with a good sharpening technique.

Even with my Nikon 105VR using all possible techniques such as tripod, remote, mirror up and supposed 'sweet spot' I find a noticeable improvement after using a basic capture, creative and re-sizing sharpening process.

I have never had cause to fine-tune my AF as I always use manual focus but pleased it has assisted with your sharpness in AF.

Grahame

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jrp Administrator JRP is one of the co-founders, has in-depth knowledge in various areas. Awarded for his contributions for the Resources   San Pedro Garza García, MX  Charter Member Tue 10-Sep-13 03:27 AM
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#9. "RE: Sharpest macro lens"
In response to Reply # 0
Tue 10-Sep-13 03:28 AM by jrp


Rohinton,
The good old Tamron 90mm macro is darn good.
Any of the Micro Nikkors is superb.
You may want to peek at this review of the 105mm f/2.8G ED IF AF-S VR, with sample handheld shots.

Have a great time
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JBD90   US  Registered since 24th Nov 2011 Fri 13-Sep-13 09:53 PM
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#12. "RE: Sharpest macro lens"
In response to Reply # 9



I feel absolutely primitive shooting Manual with my Kiron /Lester Dine 105mm 2.8. But I would buy it again if I had to replace it.

  

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stevelink3   US  Registered since 21st Apr 2013 Fri 07-Feb-14 07:01 PM
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#20. "RE: Sharpest macro lens"
In response to Reply # 9



>Rohinton,
>The good old Tamron 90mm macro is darn good.
>Any of the Micro Nikkors is superb.
>You may want to peek at this
>review
>of the 105mm f/2.8G ED IF AF-S VR>, with sample handheld
>shots.

Hello, JRP.
Your statement "Any of the Micro Nikkors is superb." is most reassuring to me, as I am a D5300 user, and a "Sharpness Fanatic" (hence my choice of the D5300 due to lack of AA filter and Expeed 4 engine), in search of a very sharp Macro ("Micro") lens, mainly for small product and nature images. I've done a fair amount of research on the subject of macro lenses, and am vacillating between the 85 and 60 Micro-Nikkors. (My impression is that most of the Micro-Nikkors are quite close in overall image quality, understanding that build quality differs most, and also prefer the OEM route rather than third party (Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, etc.). My BIG question is for you Nikonians with more experience with the Micro-Nikkors: Is the 85 Micro-Nikkor sufficiently sharp to take full advantage of the high-res sensor (and no OLPF) of the D5300? Thank you for any insight you may provide! Regards,
Steve

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AartPapaya Silver Member  Hectorspruit, ZA  Nikonian since 21st Oct 2011 Mon 23-Sep-13 07:43 AM
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#13. "RE: Sharpest macro lens"
In response to Reply # 0



In general I have the feeling that my 50mm Sigma is better than my 105mm Nikon. Both are however as sharp as nails especially when using mirror up.

Aart

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blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas   Richmond, US  Nikonian since 18th Jun 2004 Mon 23-Sep-13 02:39 PM
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#14. "RE: Sharpest macro lens"
In response to Reply # 0



Assuming that your lens isn't broken in some way, it's probably not the lens. There are some sharper macro lenses, but they're only marginally so. On a scale of 0-100, the Tamron (of which I've owned two copies) is at least a 96 and maybe a 97. Eliminating the Zeiss, the Sigma 50/f2.8 AF, Nikkor 60/f2.8 AFS and 200/f4 AFD probably make it to 98 - I own the latter two and I honestly couldn't tell you which is sharper. For comparison, the 24-70/f2.8 is about a 92 and the 24-120/f4 is 88 or 90. (These aren't scientific numbers, just my estimate of lenses that I use a lot.)

_____
Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member

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stevelink3   US  Registered since 21st Apr 2013 Fri 31-Jan-14 07:52 AM
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#15. "RE: Sharpest macro lens"
In response to Reply # 14



>Assuming that your lens isn't broken in some way, it's
>probably not the lens. There are some sharper macro lenses,
>but they're only marginally so. On a scale of 0-100, the
>Tamron (of which I've owned two copies) is at least a 96 and
>maybe a 97. Eliminating the Zeiss, the Sigma 50/f2.8 AF,
>Nikkor 60/f2.8 AFS and 200/f4 AFD probably make it to 98 - I
>own the latter two and I honestly couldn't tell you which is
>sharper. For comparison, the 24-70/f2.8 is about a 92 and the
>24-120/f4 is 88 or 90. (These aren't scientific numbers, just
>my estimate of lenses that I use a lot.)

Hi Brian.
As a new D5300 user (upgraded from D5200 mainly for the new sensor with no AA (OLPF) filter), I am researching macro lenses, for product photography. I was thinking of one of the following: 60mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor, 105mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor, Sigma 70mm f/2.8, or the Sigma 105 f/1.8. Having always used OEM lenses (Nikkor for Nikon, etc.), I am quite hesitant to go with Sigma, as I've heard rumors of QC issues. So, of these, which would you say is the absolute sharpest (if one can differentiate between them)? Not doing insect work, I was leaning towards the 60mm Micro-Nikkor. Thank you sir!
Steve

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blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas   Richmond, US  Nikonian since 18th Jun 2004 Sat 01-Feb-14 05:40 AM
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#17. "RE: Sharpest macro lens"
In response to Reply # 15



I've used all of those (assuming you mean a Sigma 105/f2.8, not 1.8). The sharpest of the group is the Sigma 70mm, although the distance from first to last (the Nikkor 105) is not great. I own 5 Sigmas and two Tamrons, and they all meet my needs. A careful study of the QC issues leads one to believe that Sigma's large teles may have reliability issues, but their others tend to be highly reliable indeed. I have not cared for Tamron's lower-spec lenses, but their SP series are all excellent. I also own quite a few Nikkors, ranging from inexpensive kit lenses (18-55VR) to the 200/f4 AFD Micro-Nikkor and pro lenses such as a 400/f2.8 AFS-II. The Sigmas have been similar to the Nikkors in overall reliability. The Tamron SP's have never failed me. I can also say with some significant experience that getting Sigma to fix something is a far easier and less frustrating experience than having Nikon do a similar job, especially for us poor schmucks that aren't full-time NPS pros. I've never had a Tamron fail, but it's their service that I'd prefer.

As far as the 60/f2.8 AFS Micro, I have one of those, and I like it. It is a very sharp lens - but all of the prime macros from Nikon, Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, Zeiss etc are very sharp. I have found that the 60 is very fearful of incident light - it flares and ghosts when strong stray light hits the very exposed front element. Fortunately the hood effectively resolves the issue, but you really do have to use the hood if shooting in a bright environment. That's very little issue to me as I use hoods pretty religiously, but I know not everyone shares my obsession.

_____
Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member

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

  

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stevelink3   US  Registered since 21st Apr 2013 Sun 02-Feb-14 06:24 AM
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#18. "RE: Sharpest macro lens"
In response to Reply # 17



Brian,
Thank you very much for your detailed information! (And yes, I meant the Sigma 105 f/2.8...one of my many typos.)
Your comments about the 60 Micro-Nikkor and stray light are interesting. I do make it a point to use hoods though, so that would be a non-issue for my style of shooting. Based on your comments about the Sigma 70, I will research that one more. Apparently, Rockwall highly recommends the Tokina 90 as being outstanding as well. That said, I have always been partial to Nikon for my 35mm stuff, so am still considering the 60mm Micro-Nikkor.
BTW, I have a 35 year-old 55mm f/2.8 AI-S Micro-Nikkor that is in mint condition, except for the fact that the aperture is frozen wide open (f/2.8).
My question is, does it pay to get it fixed? It obviously only works manually (wide open) on my D5300 now, and I wonder if the newer AF-S 60mm f/2.8G ED Micro-Nikkor is any sharper?
Thanks again sir!
Steve

>I've used all of those (assuming you mean a Sigma 105/f2.8,
>not 1.8). The sharpest of the group is the Sigma 70mm,
>although the distance from first to last (the Nikkor 105) is
>not great. I own 5 Sigmas and two Tamrons, and they all meet
>my needs. A careful study of the QC issues leads one to
>believe that Sigma's large teles may have reliability issues,
>but their others tend to be highly reliable indeed. I have
>not cared for Tamron's lower-spec lenses, but their SP series
>are all excellent. I also own quite a few Nikkors, ranging
>from inexpensive kit lenses (18-55VR) to the 200/f4 AFD
>Micro-Nikkor and pro lenses such as a 400/f2.8 AFS-II. The
>Sigmas have been similar to the Nikkors in overall
>reliability. The Tamron SP's have never failed me. I can
>also say with some significant experience that getting Sigma
>to fix something is a far easier and less frustrating
>experience than having Nikon do a similar job, especially for
>us poor schmucks that aren't full-time NPS pros. I've never
>had a Tamron fail, but it's their service that I'd prefer.
>
>As far as the 60/f2.8 AFS Micro, I have one of those, and I
>like it. It is a very sharp lens - but all of the prime
>macros from Nikon, Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, Zeiss etc are very
>sharp. I have found that the 60 is very fearful of incident
>light - it flares and ghosts when strong stray light hits the
>very exposed front element. Fortunately the hood effectively
>resolves the issue, but you really do have to use the hood if
>shooting in a bright environment. That's very little issue to
>me as I use hoods pretty religiously, but I know not everyone
>shares my obsession.

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blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas   Richmond, US  Nikonian since 18th Jun 2004 Sun 02-Feb-14 02:58 PM
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#19. "RE: Sharpest macro lens"
In response to Reply # 18



To be honest, chasing sharpness in prime macros is a little like counting angels on the head of a pin. You can do it, but it's past the point of relevance in photography. Over the years I've owned something like a dozen macro lenses. I doubt that very many would be able to tell which ones did which out of a pile of 16x20 prints, other than by focal length.

> 55mm f/2.8 AI-S Micro-Nikkor ... aperture is frozen wide open ... does it pay to get it fixed?

I seem to remember paying about $100 to have a similar problem fixed on my 35/f1.4 a few years ago. About what your lens would cost to replace, but certainly worthwhile in my book. Buying anything new would cost $500+.

> I wonder if the newer AF-S 60mm f/2.8G ED Micro-Nikkor is any sharper?

It is - and I only recently sold my fully-functional 55/f2.8 AIS Micro - but the difference is frankly not all that great, in terms of sharpness. For most people, the 55/2.8 AI is the sharpest lens in the bag. On a university test it would get a 98. The 60 gets a 99. The Coastal Optics 60/f4 would get a 105, using bonus points for redefining the test (although it's a third party lens, and anyway it runs about $4500).

> Tokina 90

Tokina offers a 100/f2.8 Macro. Tamron is the one with a 90mm. They're both excellent.

_____
Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member

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

  

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stevelink3   US  Registered since 21st Apr 2013 Fri 07-Feb-14 07:26 PM
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#21. "RE: Sharpest macro lens"
In response to Reply # 19



>To be honest, chasing sharpness in prime macros is a little
>like counting angels on the head of a pin. You can do it, but
>it's past the point of relevance in photography. Over the
>years I've owned something like a dozen macro lenses. I doubt
>that very many would be able to tell which ones did which out
>of a pile of 16x20 prints, other than by focal length.
>
>> 55mm f/2.8 AI-S Micro-Nikkor ... aperture is frozen wide
>open ... does it pay to get it fixed?
>
>I seem to remember paying about $100 to have a similar problem
>fixed on my 35/f1.4 a few years ago. About what your lens
>would cost to replace, but certainly worthwhile in my book.
>Buying anything new would cost $500+.
>
>> I wonder if the newer AF-S 60mm f/2.8G ED Micro-Nikkor is
>any sharper?
>
>It is - and I only recently sold my fully-functional 55/f2.8
>AIS Micro - but the difference is frankly not all that great,
>in terms of sharpness. For most people, the 55/2.8 AI is the
>sharpest lens in the bag. On a university test it would get a
>98. The 60 gets a 99. The Coastal Optics 60/f4 would get a
>105, using bonus points for redefining the test (although it's
>a third party lens, and anyway it runs about $4500).
>
>> Tokina 90
>
>Tokina offers a 100/f2.8 Macro. Tamron is the one with a
>90mm. They're both excellent.

Hi Brian.
Thanks alot for your detailed reply, sir! As for my old 55 f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor, I did check locally and can get it fixed for about $150. However, it would obviously be all manual (no AF or metering) on my D5300. And frankly, my 56 year-old eyes are a little untrustworthy when it comes to precise focus (especially to my exacting standards), so AF would be preferred, at least to get the focus in the ballpark! Also, I've now also been considering the 85 f/3.5 Micro-Nikkor over the 60, just to get a bit more minimum focus distance, for ease of lighting, and its VR for general non-macro shooting. Thank you once again!
Steve

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blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas   Richmond, US  Nikonian since 18th Jun 2004 Sun 09-Feb-14 12:07 AM
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#22. "RE: Sharpest macro lens"
In response to Reply # 21



Manual focus is a lot more useful than AF in macro work. If you can't see the finder well enough - often the case for me too - use manual focus in Live View. You can zoom that in to the point that you simply cannot miss. You might consider an older 105/f2.8 AFD Micro - inexpensive ($300) but excellent. I have one and really don't care to upgrade it to the current VR model. (Especially given the difference in price.) Of course, I don't have the problem of needing the VR to use it as a general purpose lens (I have others to fill that bill) and I also don't have the problem of needing AFS lenses for AF. I've never been much of a fan of either the 85/f3.5 or 40/f2.8 DX Micros, but I also have to admit not using them, either. (The latter is mostly due to the fact that I owned 5 macro lenses before either of them came out, so hardly needed any more!)

_____
Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member

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

  

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stevelink3   US  Registered since 21st Apr 2013 Sun 09-Feb-14 03:06 AM
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#23. "RE: Sharpest macro lens"
In response to Reply # 22



>Manual focus is a lot more useful than AF in macro work. If
>you can't see the finder well enough - often the case for me
>too - use manual focus in Live View. You can zoom that in to
>the point that you simply cannot miss. You might consider an
>older 105/f2.8 AFD Micro - inexpensive ($300) but excellent.
>I have one and really don't care to upgrade it to the current
>VR model. (Especially given the difference in price.) Of
>course, I don't have the problem of needing the VR to use it
>as a general purpose lens (I have others to fill that bill)
>and I also don't have the problem of needing AFS lenses for
>AF. I've never been much of a fan of either the 85/f3.5 or
>40/f2.8 DX Micros, but I also have to admit not using them,
>either. (The latter is mostly due to the fact that I owned 5
>macro lenses before either of them came out, so hardly needed
>any more!)

Brian,
I appreciate your comments and your expertise on macro lenses! Though I was briefly considering the Sigma 105 f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM macro, as a site called techradar ranks it virtually equal to the 105 f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor), I actually seem drawn to the 85 VR Micro-Nikkor for several reasons, not the least of which is price. But perhaps the main reason is that the test images taken with the 85 and the Sigma or Micro-Nikkor for that matter, were so close in terms of sharpness that I feel that I can approach the 105 Micro-Nikkor's level of sharpness via careful post processing. Additionally, I think I would make use of the VR for general (Non-Macro) work, when off my tripod. In any case, I remain quite pleased with the performance of the 16-85 Nikkor on the D5300...Very sharp indeed! Thanks again!

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f5titan Gold Member  HILO, US  Nikonian since 12th Jul 2006 Fri 31-Jan-14 08:56 AM
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#16. "Sharpest macro lens"
In response to Reply # 0
Fri 31-Jan-14 08:57 AM by f5titan


I've used the (often maligned) MF55mm f3.5/2.8 Micro Nikkors for many years and have always achieved great success alone, with extension tubes and PB6 bellows units on film and digital bodies.

"Great things are not done by impulse but by a series of small things brought together." Vincent Van Gogh

  

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