What would be considered essential equipment for macro work other than the camera? . Alonq with equipment please provide suggestions and/or reccomendations. Below is a list I would like info on and of course anything I might have forgotten.
Tripods Flashes Bellows (only if they work with N80) Extension Rings (only if they work with N80) Film Books Other little tricks of the trade that you have picked up.
You have asked a pretty open ended question. The equipment you'll need will be very dependent on the subjects you are photographing, the amount of magnification you will need, the lighting you prefer, and last but certainly not least, your budget.
A sturdy tripod is a must. I recently purchased a new Bogen 3221WN, and I would highly recommend it. The Bogen 3021 is a bit cheaper and is a very popular model. For me, the only downside to these tripods are their weight - they are a bit heavy if you plan to go hiking with them.
Since you are using an N-80, you will be limited if you plan on using a bellows or extension tubes since the N-80 won't meter with them. My recommendation is that you get a good macro lens and then add other accessories as you need them. A Nikon 60mm or 105mm micro lens will get you to 1:1 without additional accessories. You might want to pick up a used manual focus body to gain metering capability if you find that you need to use extension rings or bellows to get additional magnification.
Perhaps Scott or someone else on the board can recommend a good flash setup since I typically use tungsten lighting for my macro photography. Scott's ringlight setup looks pretty nice and would be a relatively inexpensive way to get into closeup photography.
With your N80 - I'd at least start with a nice inexpensive AF Micro Nikkor that can go 1:1 by itself like TD mentioned... You can find some for around $200.00 in great shape. This can open your door to macro work, if flowers are something you were thinking about... Move up to tripods and additional lighting later...
These were taken with my N80, Micro 55 2.8 AF (for sale!) and the pop up flash (sunflwrs). The N80's pop up flash works quite nice for this type of work...
Actually Tad, the Kenko AF extension tubes maintain metering. I don't have any experience with bellows, though.
I don't know what your financial situation is Dave, but I always start with the least expensive path to quality results, although this sometimes requires a little more intervention from the user. After looking at your profile, I would recommend a good 2x converter, a 7 element design, which is usually around 100USD, I think, and hook it up to your 70-300 in macro mode. (The converter also can be used for telephoto use, which extends its usefulness. Stick to f8-f16 for sharpness though.) Use Aperture priority, f16. Of course, you will need to use flash.
If you don't already have a flash, consider an all purpose unit and an SC-17 cord. (Again, you get more usefulness across the board.) I don't know what the closest focus distance of your lens is, but if it's at least a foot or so you can use the flash in the hotshoe, or even the built in flash if the film speed allows it. Remember, f16 with a 2x converter requires the same light as f32 without a converter. The off-camera cord allows you to hold the flash in one hand and move it around for the most effective, or creative, angle.
If money is no object, or macro is your only interest, definitely go with a macro lens. ---scott
Thanks Scott, it's nice to know that the Kenko AF extension tubes will maintain metering with the N-80. Too bad Nikon still hasn't made their own AF tubes. Have you had any compatibility problems with the Kenkos? My brother used Vivitar manual extension tubes and had occasional trouble getting the linkage between the tube and his lens to actuate when he tried to take a picture.
I would add a cable release (mechanical or electronic, that would work on your camera body). Working near life-size in available light (not flash situations) most often than not would bring down your shutter speeds. Macro images are magnified images and this magnifies vibration from all sources considerably, even fingertip tremors. A cable release is essential, in my opinion.
I have the Bogen 3047 pan/tilt head on my tripod. Relatively inexpensive, and I like it. If you prefer a ball head, look at the Bogen 3038. If you prefer a ball head and have lots of money, look at the Arca B1 or the Kirk. Look at these threads over in the tripod forum for some additional info: