What macro-lens should I buy?

Latest Posts Photography Forums General Photo Chit Chat What macro-lens should I buy?

This topic contains 12 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Astaroth 6 years ago.

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  • #92325


    Hi :)!

    For some years, I’ve tried to explore the world of macro-photography through a 70-300mm TAMRON. I think it’s a good lens for first steps in this world.

    However, I think now it’s the moment of increase my gear with a new macro-lens. I’m interested specially in insects and I had thought to spend about 500€. I want to view the smallest detail but I don’t want that the insect escapes flying… so I think large focal distances are better.

    I’m shooting with a Nikon D7000 and I’ve been studying the next options:

    – TAMRON 90mm F/2.8
    – Nikon 60mm F/2.8
    – Lester Kiron 105mm F/2.8
    – Sigma 150mm F/2.8 (maybe too much expensive)
    – Nikon 105mm F/2.8
    – Tonika 100mm F/2.8

    Could somebody help me with this decision? Could somebody suggest me other options?

    Thanks so much to that great community of wonderful photographic experts of Light Stalking :)!

  • #92654


    @astaroth – I am not a Nikon shooter and have not used any of the lenses you mention. However, I do use a Canon 100mm/2.8 macro that I expect is similar to some of the lenses you mention. It is a great lens – shoots at 1:1 magnification which is good for a lot of macro work, is a nice focal length that gives some distance to the subject, and is reasonably fast which means it also makes a good portrait lens with the shallow depth of field and distance from subject. It focuses quickly so has other uses than just macro as well. I expect that many of those observations apply to the similar lenses you have listed.

    I also use some vintage glass that I adapt to my Canon 5Dii – and you might want to consider this approach as it is a lot less expensive – all manual focussing, but the old lenses can be adapted to provide focus confirm which helps a lot, and macro is often manual focussing time anyway.

    I have adapted an old Takumar 100/4 macro screw mount that I used for years on my Pentax Spotmatic film cameras. It only magnifies half as much as the Canon 100mm, but has terrific bokeh and other advantages.

    I also use an old Canon FD 50mm macro, with extension tubes and a reversal ring – this lens will not focus to infinity in any configuration on my camera, but optically it is wonderful. When used in reverse, it also gives more distance to the subject and this kind of approach might address your concern about scaring things away. I also use it on an old bellows unit, which will get me a 5X magnification, but with this combination you pretty much have to set up where you think the bugs will be and wait for them to come into view – it is too cumbersome for chasing around with, and prone to blocking the light as it is usually quite close to the subject. The effective f-stop at full magnification is also, I am guessing, in the f-90 to f-100 range, so would be well supplemented with the right kind of flash (I only use it for still subjects and use long exposures with natural light). I got all of this kit for less than $150, but from several sources.

    The other lens I have, which also is very nice is an old Nikon 50 (or is it 55?)/3.5 micro.

    You might want to look also at reversing one lens in front of another – it can be quite an inexpensive approach resulting in high magnifications. I have not tried it, but have seen many examples of terrific photos taken this way.

    And, you could try extension tubes on a longer lens – I use several of them on a Takumar 200mm lens to get some decent magnification from a distance. That is a very serviceable arrangement, and the tubes could be used with other lenses if they are all compatible. If you have not used them with your 70-300 you might want to see if someone can lend you a set, or if you can try a set out to see what you can do that way.

  • #92807


    Hi @ehpem :D!

    Thanks so much for your attention and advices :)!

    I’ve hear good words about Canon 100mm f/2.8… but “I’m Nikon” (as its advertisements says, hehe). I haven’t got old stuff (I’ve started in photography a few year ago) and I don’t like so much to buy second hand things…

    As you suggest, I’ve thought to use extension tubes in my Tamron 70-300mm. I think you could obtain a good magnification, but its quality is a little poor.

    Finally I’ve opted for buy the new version of Tamron 90mm and a kit of extension tubes. I’ve been watching pictures taken with this gear and I like them so much! I’ve spent about $750 in all (with the old Tamron version, it would be $400… I was thinking about that option during some time). I hope to make profitable my inversion :p!

    Thanks for your analysis :)! I hope share with you my first macro-experiments soon.

  • #92808


    @astaroth – I have read a bit about the Tamron 90mm, and it sounds like a very nice lens. I hope it works out well for you. I just spent an hour or two with my 100/2.8 trying to get closeups of insects on the move in the sun. Now I am nice and warm, and waiting for the card to download, in the hopes of some useful shots. Have fun, it will be interesting to see what you get.

  • #92816


    I want see that insect pictures you’ve taken :), @ehpem !

    I’m excited waiting for my new gear. I’ve had some troubles with the send, but I hope to have the lens for next weekend and the tubes some days after. You will have news from me then :)!

  • #92817

    tom dinning

    Hi @astaroth. Long time no speak.
    Good to see you out and about.
    If you want the very best its the icon of macro, the Nikon 200mm f4. Trouble is its big and heavy but you won’t get better glass anywhere.
    All the Nikon macros are good. If you get a focal length around 100 mm or so you get a bit more space between you and the subject which comes in handy for light and scaring things away.
    Most macros are at least 2.8 these days so don’t go for anything else.
    I bought a 105 mm sigma a while back and it has great clarity but it fell to bits.
    That’s the problem with the generic brands. They have good glass but lousy construction. Not built to last or go through the mill.
    Pay the extra and get the Nikon. You’ll be able to pass it on to your grandchildren.

  • #92848


    Hi @tomdinning :)!

    My work doesn’t allow me to have any free time for do anything… The eternal discussion: money for gear, or time for enjoy it. My photographic activity (and my presence in forums as this) has been decreased in a drastic way.

    Firstly, I thought I should to buy a telephoto lens, because to be near of the insect is a very complicated task. I usually was shooting with my TAMRON 70-300mm (always at 300mm) and I’ve seen a lot of flying insects to escape for my quickly. However, looking for information in the infinite net I could read about a lot of people who they use short focal distances (even 50mm) for macro-photography of insects with very cool results.

    I’ve read very good comments about Tamron 90mm (about the optic and manufacturing quality). The old version is a “classic” very appreciated by a lot of nature photographers. It “only” costs about $365 in eBay. The new version includes some improvements (I’ve found it for less than $700).

    The Nikon that you suggest seems very good, but it’s over my initial budget (it seems to cost about $1200). My grandchildren will have to save for it!, hehe.

    By other hand, Is possible to shoot without tripod for macro photography? With 300mm at f/5.6 I’ve always used tripod, but maybe with f/2.8 it is not mandatory. In this case, a f/2.8 would be better than a f/4. Shoot without tripod lets to you more opportunities for composition and approach.

    Thank so much for your advices, @tomdinning :)! Nice to chat with you again :)!

  • #93539


    Hi :)!

    Thanks to everybody for your advices. As I promised, I bring some picture taken with my new TAMRON 90mm (I have not got the extension tubes yet).

    I’m happy with this first test, but there are a lot to practice from here :).

    Thanks and greetings!

  • #93586


    And, as a “bonus track”…

    Taken yesterday in the afternoon.

  • #93757

    Rob Wood (Admin)

    Wow. Impressive.

  • #93840

    Karen Amendola

    Woah…Jeff Goldblum never looked so good!

  • #94087


    Hahaha, I had to have been director of photography of “The Fly” :p!, but I was only a three years old child then :p!

  • #94562


    The video of the session :D! (Nikon D7000 + TAMRON SP 90mm).


    I love this lens :)!

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