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Best Nikkor lens for macro???

Susanne Friend , Oct 26, 2004; 10:26 p.m.


I am hoping you folks can give me a good recommendation.

I have a Nikon F90s, and the lens I use most is the Nikkor 80-200 AF- D zoom, but it just doesn't get as close as I need. I am interested in creating gallery-quality ultra-close ups of tropical flowers on infrared film, that I will then hand-color for resale in local galleries (I live on the Big Island of Hawaii). I have been researching cost-effective methods to do macro, have been watching lenses on eBay I am particularly interested in the Nikkor 105mm AF-D macro lens, in either f/2.8 or (ideally!) f/2.0, but...the cost is very high. The Nikon 60/2.8 AF macro lens is more reasonably priced, and perhaps it would do a good job....and what about the Nikon 85mm F1.8 D-AF??? I've read all the specs on all of these lenses, but there's nothing like getting the advice of an end-user!

My question to you: would a close-up lens set or a set of three extension tubes do a comparable job to the lenses that I mentioned? If not, which lens would you recommend?

Anyone have one for sale?

Thanks so much!



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Raymond Petty , Oct 26, 2004; 10:47 p.m.

First thing I would do is purchase John Shaw's "Close-Ups in Nature". He talks extensively on Nikon options for Macro photography.

Jeff Lu , Oct 26, 2004; 10:50 p.m.


the 105mm 2.8 micro is great...if you really want to do macro work, it's a good choice...you can get it used in excellent condition for around 450 i think

Gary Woodard , Oct 26, 2004; 10:54 p.m.

susanne, well first off, from one who has done a fair amount of macro photography, autofocus is useless in closeup work, with such limited depth of field in most cases, you will want to visually focus on the part of the image you will want in focus, old school i guess but you will get images which you have chosen the point of focus, not the lens, I would stay away from the 55mm to 60mm range, and stick with the 105's the nikon 105mm 2.8 AIS is sharp as a tack and will serve you well.

Richard Meyers , Oct 26, 2004; 11:15 p.m.

I agree with the comment about auto-focus and closeup work but you may want auto-focus for other activities. Assumming your flowers are 1" across or larger, I think you should consider either the 55mm, 60mm or 105mm macros. They are the most common so prices are more reasonable. The 55mm is a manual lens.

To answer your question, using extension tubes or closeup lenses with your 80-200 probably won't get you as large an image as you want. Plus the 80-200 zoom is adequate at best for closeup work. Most of the lenses you mention are some of Nikon's best glass so I think you would be happy with any of them.

I would also suggest you might want to consider the used depts. at B&H Photo (NY) and KEH.com as good sources for used lenses as you have a recourse if you are unhappy.

Good luck! Sounds like a great idea.

Roland Vink , Oct 26, 2004; 11:31 p.m.

The AF 85/1.8 focuses to 0.85m, which is close enough for a head-shot, but not for macro shots of flowers. The AF 105/2 is a very expensive optic. It will focus to 0.9m which allows for tight head shots but not macro. Both these lenses are mainly used for portraiture. You can use extension tubes with these lenses but it's not an ideal solution.

The AF 60/2.8 macro is a very sharp lens, but it's not good for flowers. It has very short working distance - you'll find you have to get very close and risk touchng the flower or putting a shadow across it.

The AF 105/2.8 is a better option as it allows more working distance. It's a very sharp lens for normal work and macro. The cost is not high compared to an 80-200/2.8 ED lens, but if you want to save you could try to pick up a nice used lens - try ebay or www.keh.com.

I often use my 105/2.8 with a PN-11 extension tube. This has a tripod mount which makes the lens and camera *much* easier to handle for ultra-closeups. With the tube, you obtain magnifications from 1:2 - 1.6x life size. The tube also allows you to rotate the camera from horizontal to vertical which is often useful for framing.

You could also consider the manual focus 105/2.8 or 105/4 micro lenses. They are both very good lenses and will cost less than the AF version. THey only focus to 1:2 compared to 1:1 for the AF version. With the PN-11 tube you can go from 1:2 - 1:1 life size. These lenses work well on the F90s - you will loose matrix metering and the aperture read-out in the viewfinder but will retain center-weighted metering and aperture priority which is perfectly good for this type of shooting. They also have slightly more working distance than the AF version which can be useful at times.

Mohamed Alam Eldin , Oct 27, 2004; 12:27 a.m.


Try to find a used Nikon 70-180mm macro its your answer.

Best regards


KL IX , Oct 27, 2004; 02:40 a.m.

Susanne -

In the SUBJECT, you wrote: "Best Nikkor lens for macro???" However, in the body of your post, you wrote: "I have been researching cost-effective methods to do macro."

There are a lot of times in life where "BEST" and "COST-EFFECTIVE" are nutually exclusive. I'm not saying this ie necessarily one of those times, but keep that in mind.

IMO, if you really and truly want THE BEST Nikon Macro lens, it would have to be the 200mm/f4.


Vivek . , Oct 27, 2004; 03:52 a.m.

Search the Nikon forum.

Bernard Miller , Oct 27, 2004; 07:07 a.m.

Please also consider Sigma's and Tamron's macro offerings, if price is as important as quality. They are cheaper than the Nikon, but are probably every bit as sharp--I once owned the Sigma, and was very impressed with its image quality.

I'd stick with something around the 105 mm length. That is a nearly ideal length for portraits as well, although using a macro lens to do portraiture is not the easiest way to go.

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