This lens is one of my necessities for close up / macro for still life (products) and staged objects in a controlled studio set up, as well as reproductions (fine art / design). Mostly I tether with a computer for remote control on tripod (with railing) and do not shoot with hand held. Focusing speed is slightly slower than my other fast lenses but it is a sharp lens.
If you are intending to shoot nature and insects outdoor, 105mm 2.8 might be the solution as many suggests due to the 1:1 focus distance and VR.
Typically a 90-100mm focal length is the right place to start for macro. The 60mm lens has a very short minimum focus distance which means you'll need to get very close to your subject. The Nikon 105 provides a bit more space between your camera and subject. It also works well with Nikon teleconverters.
The advantage of a 60mm macro lens is that it works well for environmental shots - a close subject but a background that includes the area.
Outside of Nikon, the Tamron and Tokina lenses are good choices. The Sigma 150mm lens is another option - very good but a bit bigger.
VR is useful for closeups, but more useful in the dual role as a portrait lens. For real macro use, manual focus is often used. Eric Bowles Nikonians Team My Gallery Workshops
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Mon 25-Mar-13 03:43 AM | edited Mon 25-Mar-13 03:45 AM by hijazist
As others mentioned, most Micro lenses are sharp, however, IMO this is the best of them all. I had the 105 2.8VR and while it's a very nice lens and optically excellent, it was very heavy and big which translated into less use. The 60 AF-S on the other hand is the sharpest lens I've ever used even wide open, micro or not. Basically zero distortion, very contrasty and color rendition is beautiful. The compact size means it's very suitable for micro as well as everyday "normal" shooting. Build quality is top notch without being bulky.
Indeed, if you are very serious about micro photography and want to shoot insects then the 60 FL will prove short, however, if you are going to shoot flowers, products, close ups, portrait and "normal" photography then the 60 AF-S is a gem of a lens. Add to that the price is great, especially now with the rebates.
I have had this lens (non-AFS version) for 10 years. As others have said, it is sharp. I used it with an inexpensive portable light box for a variety of purposes including friends who wanted clear images to ebay their stuff! As a close focus lens it is good for food photos and shots of small products where you want to control depth of field and have nice bokeh. For flowers and other subjects that are not timid it is great because unlike the 105 VR that I recently bought, you do not have to step too far back.
I bought the 105 because with the D800 I found myself getting too close to some subjects and then having to worry about the shadow that I cast when I wanted to fill the frame. That was much less of an issue with the DX sensor on my D200.