Choosing a macro lens

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Abstract, Dec 6, 2006.

  1. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #1
    I'm looking at getting a macro lens, and I'm having some trouble deciding between a Nikon 105 mm f/2.8 with VR, and a Sigma 150 mm f/2.8. Optically, the Sigma probably kills the Nikon 105 mm (with or without VR), and the Nikon is no slouch. However, the VR is surely going to help in low light if you're in a shady area and want to photograph a bug or something.


    Comments about the Nikon 105 mm:

    - It has VR-II.
    - It's quite sharp with no huge flaws.
    - Can be used as a portrait lens if necessary.
    - Can probably be used more often in general photography, maybe even as a walk-around lens if I'm feeling a bit daring.
    - I have a Sigma 24-70 mm f/2.8 quasi-macro lens (1:3.8 or something) which is fantastic, but a 105 mm isn't much longer than 70 mm. Maybe getting the 150 mm just to get less crowding of focal lengths is a good idea(?).



    Comments about the Sigma 150 mm:

    - Optically better than the Nikon, but I really don't think this is the deal-breaker.

    - Longer reach than the Nikon. I don't own a telephoto right now, not that I require one very often. But if I need a telephoto, I guess this can act as one. The reach will also be better for macros, although it's too long for flowers (which I don't care much about anyway....I'm interested in small critters). For small insects and such, this lens would surely be better (right?).

    - Probably can't be used in many situations other than as a macro lens. How often do I do macro photography? Well, I LOVE it, but I don't do it very frequently.

    - This may end up being a dedicated lens with very few uses. Maybe it's good for candid shots of people because of its reach? I don't know.
    - Built like a tank (ie: it's heavy).


    The Sigma is appealing in so many ways, but I have always been fixated on getting the Nikon 105 mm with VR. I can't find any store that has both lenses in stock for a comparison, so its really difficult for me to see the difference in focal lengths, and whether the Sigma 150 mm can be handheld (people have said it can be quite easily, although it does get heavy after awhile).

    I'd be very happy with the Nikon and would probably never regret it, but the Sigma now looks tempting if I was strictly looking at macro.
     
  2. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #2
    I'd go with the Nikon 105mm VR. Everyone who has this lens, including myself, finds it to be outstanding in terms of functionality, versatility and image quality. Handholdable, a length which will work equally well for insects, "critters" and human beings.

    While the Sigma may be handholdable, the thing is that with macro you are usually working with very shallow DOF and narrow area of focus and in most instances you do need a tripod or monopod to provide stability so that the shot comes out crisp and sharp. While using a higher shutter speed can help, of course, many times lighting conditions when shooting macro don't permit this, and kicking up the ISO then introduces noise and reduces the clarity of the image.

    Spend some time on pBase and run a search for images shot with both lenses and see which appeals to you the most.....
     
  3. extraextra macrumors 68000

    extraextra

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    #3
    I would go with the Nikon 105mm, 150mm seems like an awkward focal length. I've seen some AMAZING pictures with the 105mm lens, it's definitely a good one. If you're looking at third party lenses, the Tamron 90mm Macro has very good image quality and bokeh as well. :)
     
  4. Abstract thread starter macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #4
    You're right about the lighting, which again is why I want the VR. I don't have a VR lens, and this would be a good one to get.

    On the other hand, I looked at the photos on pBase like you suggested (I never thought of doing that), and I liked many of the Sigma's photos better, but maybe because there are so many more photos for the Sigma than the Nikon 105 mm VR.
     
  5. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #5
    Right, there wouldn't be as many images from the 105mm VR because a lot of people had trouble getting their hands on the lens when it first came out. Even though it debuted in the spring (March or April, I think) I had to wait until early in June for mine, and other people have waited longer than that. It was almost as bad as the high demand for the 18-200! The VR feature IS nice to have when shooting under "iffy" lighting conditions with no good way to put the thing on a tripod or use external light sources. I like the fact that the 105 gives me a little more space between me and the subject, too, than my 60mm lens does (although the latter will always be one of my favorites). The longer macros (70-180, 200mm) sometimes give a little TOO much space!! On the other hand, one day when I was shooting some flowers on a bush I was thankful that I was using the longer macro when some bees suddenly appeared in my line of sight!

    IF you can find one, Nikon's 70-180mm macro is an excellent lens. Unfortunately it has been discontinued so no new copies available at dealers now, and you'd have to do some scouting around for a gently-used one, but it provides versatility in a number of ways. I think there may be one still on the For Sale forum at Nikon Cafe, or you could check KEH or someplace.

    The Tamron 90mm is a very good macro lens, too -- I've seen some excellent images from that one, so it's another one to consider, as has been suggested. Also, the relatively inexpensive 60mm can't be beat when you want to get right up close and personal with your subject....
     
  6. Abstract thread starter macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #6
    Thanks. I'll probably get the 105 mm VR because again, 150 mm may be too long (like you said), including general photography.

    And yes, I have heard nothing but great things about the Tamron 90 mm, both the f/2.8 and the older f/2.5 models. Actually, Sigma's 105 mm performs just as well. However, they both extend when you use them at close focusing distances, and I really wanted a lens that focused internally. There's no point in getting a macro lens with an extending body that will scare insects away. :eek: Otherwise, I'd probably be getting the Sigma 105 mm instead of the Nikon 105 mm (not the Tamron because of poorer build quality and less reach) because the Sigma is 1/2 the price, and they both seem to match the Nikon in optical quality.

    Thanks for the reassurance. ;)

    I'm going for the Nikon 105 mm.
     
  7. bozigle macrumors regular

    #7
    I got the sigma 150
    Well it's a great lense, no doubt... i wouldn't use it without tripod (i wouldn't do too much macro without tri/monopod anyway)
    but it has two drawbacks according to me
    -150 is strange focal
    -It doesn't fit any specialized circular flash... not even the sigma's because of the diameter of 82

    a new sigma just been released, 70mm that after digital conversion give you the traditional 105mm of full frame
     
  8. Abstract thread starter macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #8
    Well I never intended to use the 150 mm without a monopod for macro shots, like you said. Not so sure about a tripod though, if you know about my recent thread asking about monopods. ;) I was thinking about maybe using the lens for general use without a tripod/monopod, and people have said it's fine.

    Anyway, it doesn't matter. I've ordered the 105 mm VR macro. :)


    Thanks again.
     

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