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Photography Question 
Kathy L. Pollick
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/14/2005
 

Macro sizing Lenses


I want to get a Macro for doing flower detailing, bugs & small, closeup objects. I see there is a wide variety of macro lenses out there. What is a fairly versatile macro, but still superb quality... 50mm, 100mm 200mm... I have noticed the higher the number the way more expensive the lens. Also, there was another number listed, 2.8, etc... which of these is the best? Thanks for the help.

9/12/2005 10:14:59 AM

 
Kathy L. Pollick
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/14/2005
  Anyone know anything about the following macro lens?
AF 150/2.8 APO MACRO EX DG HSM FOR MINOLTA MAXXUM (72MM)

9/12/2005 10:45:53 AM

 
Michael H. Cothran

member since: 10/21/2004
  Most major manufacturers offer three different focal length macros in the 50-100-200mm ranges. I own all three of Nikons, and have specific uses for each one. I believe them all to be the best lenses Nikon has ever produced.
If you could only choose one, I would suggest the 100mm macro, especially for flowers, bugs, etc. For the same subjects, I would choose the 200mm macro, but only if you could afford it. Either is better than the 50mm in the respect of DOF - more specifically, the LACK of DOF, which makes your subject pop out more, and the narrower field of vision of the 100 & 200mm lenses also helps.
The 50mm is best suited for small products, objects, and widgets, where you need/want more DOF. I would not recommend it for serious outdoor Nature macro work at all. Period!
In regards to the 150/2.8 macro - who makes it? Macros lenses normally contain all the technical state-of-the-art widgetry a manufacurer can install, so they are usually top drawer lenses. If your 150/2.8 is made by a known manufacturer, I would accept it as being perfectly ok. It sounds like a good compromise between the 100 and 200mm macros.
By the way, my favorite of the three is the 200mm. It is awesome for flowers. I use the 105mm Nikon for jewelry shots, and the 55mm Nikon for other studio product work. The 105mm also serves double duty outdoors for Nature macros as well, including flowers. I am sometimes torn between which to use outdoors, the 105 or 200, but whichever I choose, I am always pleased with the perspective of each.
Michael H. Cothran
www.mhcphoto.net

9/12/2005 1:14:32 PM

 
Justin G.
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/13/2004
  And also if i'm not mistaken...lets just say for examples sake that all have a 1:1 ratio (pretty common). the 50mm range would make you get really close to it, the 100mm range a tad farther away, and the 200mm range the farthest away, but all would still aquire the 1:1 ratio. for clearer illustrations, i'll use some random numbers for examples. to get the 1:1 ratio with the 50mm you'll have to be lets say 4 inches away, where you could get the same 1:1 with the 100mm at 8 inches away and finally purely for example once again the 200mm at 16 inches away. the longer the focal length, the farther from the subject you have to be so you wouldn't be disturbing the wildlife or whatever you're shooting. hopefully I didn't confuse you. and michael if i'm wrong just say so, so that I dont mislead people.

9/12/2005 3:07:06 PM

 
Kathy L. Pollick
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/14/2005
  So let me get this right. If I want to photograph a grasshopper's eyes, (as an example)it would be best to use the 200mm for distance sake so as to not scare the subject. But, if I'm going to photograph the very center of a flower or maybe a ladybug in the center of a flower, I could use the 50mm, allowing me to get closer, but both effects will be the same? Showing minute detailing you might not see with the naked eye....?

9/13/2005 6:01:58 AM

 
Michael H. Cothran

member since: 10/21/2004
  Justin & Kathy -
Yes, you are both correct. With a 200mm lens, your subject-to-camera distance will be greater than with the 50mm lens, BUT the subject matter will be the SAME SIZE at any given magnification level. However...
There are other important issues to consider, one is the PERSPECTIVE - With a 50mm lens, you will see a wider view of the background, and it will be more in focus. Not necessarily a good thing for flowers, bugs, etc. With the 200mm you will have a narrower angle of view, and less DOF. The 100/105 would represent a compromise between the two.
For flowers, bugs, etc, the 100 or 200 is much more desirable. The 50/55/60mm is just too short, and not very flattering to the subject.

Now, there is also one other issue to consider - versatility.
A 50mm lens is considered a "normal" lens - it sees the way a human eye sees. It is the most versatile, all around, general usage lens made. So, if you want an "all-purpose" lens, not great at anything, but good at a lot of things, the 50mm macro is the way to go. The farther you stray from 50mm in either direction, the more "exotic" and specific the lens becomes, and the less you will likely use it. In your case, Kathy, you have specific requirements or desires for the lens, and in my opinion, the 100/105mm macro would be the first choice, if you could only choose one macro lens.
In terms of pricing, the cost of each lens is proportionate to its focal length. The 50mm is the cheapest, the 100/105 is about double the price of the 50mm, and the 180/200mm macro is about quadruple the price of the 50mm.
I have quite a lot of macro shots on my website taken with the Nikon 55mm, 105mm, and 200mm micro lenses. Check out my Fine Art section, and also my Jury Services section - all the jewelry was shot with the 105, and all the clay items were shot with the 55. In the Fine Art section, I believe there are samples of all three lenses.
Michael H. Cothran
www.mhcphoto.net

9/13/2005 7:01:43 AM

 
Kathy L. Pollick
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/14/2005
  Michael, checked out your website. Getting off the subject a bit, the "Chimney Areas" photo, of the fall leaves is EXACTLY what I want to achieve in my photographs. We live in an area that looks like this every fall, but I have yet to be able to capture the beauty like you have. I want to get a telephoto lens for this purpose. Aside from the Velvia film you used, do you have any suggestions to achieve this? Thanks. I think I will check out the 100mm or 150mm macro lens & see how I like it.

9/13/2005 8:20:20 AM

 
Kathy L. Pollick
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/14/2005
  The Macro I was asking about previously was a Sigma. here is the press release statement on the lens. Do you think its what I'm looking for? Thanks much.

Sigma Corporation is pleased to announce of the world’s first High Speed Tele Macro MACRO 150mm F2.8 EX DG HSM lens.

This large aperture telephoto macro lens enables you to shoot up to 1:1 life size close-ups. Its large F2.8 aperture makes it an ideal lens for digital SLR as well as film SLR cameras. The new lens power layout provides the ultimate correction against lateral chromatic aberration to which digital cameras are prone.

Two Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass elements control various color aberrations and assure high image quality.

A floating focusing system moves two different lens groups in the optical system to different positions. This system compensates for astigmatic aberration and spherical aberration. The HSM models provide ultra quiet high-speed autofocusing as well as full-time manual focus override.

9/13/2005 10:18:05 AM

 
Kathy L. Pollick
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/14/2005
  OK guys. I got some bum information from a camera website. The 150mm macro lens can't be used with the Minolta as I was previously told. Here are the two options that Sigma gave me for Minolta macro lenses. Does anyone know which of the two would be better? They are both 1:1 magnification.

Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG or the
Sigma APO Macro 180mm F3.5 EX DG

Thanks much for the help

9/15/2005 8:12:20 AM

 
George Anderson

member since: 7/6/2005
  The 105mm is where a lot of people begin, but I have seen rave reviews on that 180mm from a lot of people. The problem is you won't really know what you like best until you really begin shooting a lot of macro subjects yourself. You may end up owning one, both, or none - perhaps you may go to a bellows-mounted macro lens, a macro lens doubled with reverse-mounted normal lens, or even change formats completely.

As mentioned, the great thing about macro lenses are that even the third-party lenses (el-cheapo bargain basement brands excluded) - are almost always excellent. Some are truly stunning. So it's hard to go wrong with most well-known brands like Sigma, Tamron, Tokina as long as the lens fits properly.

One solution to this, if you don't already have a macro lens, is to purchase an inexpensive used macro lens in the 90-105mm range, a two-element closeup lens, or an extension tube for a lens you already have in the short telephoto range, and use that for awhile. For a long time I did some very good work with a 50mm Contax/Zeiss normal lens and a macro teleconverter, believe it or not, good enough to illustrate product closeups for a book.

If you have a good grasp of what you like to shoot, how you will light it, what apertures you will require, what magnification ranges you will need, and how you want your OOF (out-of-focus) areas to appear, you can probably answer your own question better than any of us.

9/15/2005 9:15:19 AM

 
Kathy L. Pollick
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/14/2005
  George, thanks for the advice. I did understand the "el-cheapo brands" information & that's not a bad idea to try. However, you obviously haven't read any of my previous posts.... lol.. I am a total amature with photography & everything else you said in that paragraph is greek to me... Right now, I'm a point-n-shoot person. I use auto everything. However, I am wanting to learn all the other stuff, that why I want to get some additional lenses. So my learning can also be fun. I want to learn by experimenting. But alas, the double, reverse mount, two element close up, extension tube lingo has gone way over my head!! I want to take pictures of minute objects, such as bugs & flowers, so I want to find the appropriate lens to do that. But maybe next trip to the camera store, I can see if they have any cheap "used" macros that I can start on. I just need to know what size I will need to get.

9/15/2005 10:08:09 AM

 
George Anderson

member since: 7/6/2005
  I got you Kathy. Let's do this cheap:

First, get to the library or used bookseller (alibris.com) and get a copy of "The Complete Guide to Close-up & Macro Photography" by Paul Harcourt Davies. There are other good books out there as well but this one will bring you up to speed quickly I know. You will then be fairly knowledgeable on all the terms spoken of, all your equipment options, and all your requirements, so you can choose wisely.

Next, if you do want to get a used lens, or a used alternative to a macro lens (2-element closeup lens, extension tubes, etc.) do not rule out ebay or KEH.com as a good source of inexpensive used macro lenses (if ebay, always insist on return guarantee, excellent condition, and seller with 98-100% multiple ratings, of course). I have gotten some really good deals from both sources.

9/15/2005 2:03:04 PM

 

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