New macro lens - It's a tough choice!

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by AlexH, Feb 23, 2009.

  1. AlexH macrumors 68020


    Mar 7, 2006
    Hey guys, I'm looking for your input. I'm in the market for a new macro lens. I shoot Nikon (D300), and have considered the Nikon 105 mm f/2.8 VR and the Sigma 150 mm f/2.8. I already have the Nikon 60 mm f/2.8, and while it's a great lens with top notch quality, I'm getting tired of such a short working distance.

    The new lens will be used 99.99% of the time for macro shooting. I'm not all that concerned about picking up a portrait lens.

    I know the Nikon is a popular pick, and is a solid lens. It's also approximately $270 more than the Sigma. I haven't heard a lot about the Sigma 150, but the shots I've seen on Flickr look pretty darn nice. I like the Sigma's price, but I'll drop the extra $270 if I'm convinced the Nikon is worth it.

    I'd love to hear from the Nikon owners, the Sigma owners, and if there's anyone that owns both, you get double points for your input!

    Fire away! :D
  2. chocolaterabbit macrumors regular

    Nov 2, 2008
    I don't have either, but what i do know is that the VR is not useful at macro distances. factor that into your research.
  3. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

    May 5, 2007
    I have the impression (and I have only used their 50mm Macro) that the sigma macro lenses are quite good. I do not like their finish however. I suspect the nikon will look better for longer.

    If you are keeping the 60mm I would probably get the Sigma, the working distance is greater (I assume) than the nikon and there's more of a difference between them.
  4. bertpalmer macrumors 6502

    Apr 12, 2007
    I'm a canon shooter but used to own a Sigma macro lens.

    Image quality was great - but the lack of USM was a real pain. Does the Sigma 150 have this?

    I would imagine that VR would come in handy in macro?

    105mm is a nice focal range - good for portraits and it is smaller and lighter than the Sigma if that is a consideration.
  5. Kronie macrumors 6502a


    Dec 4, 2008
    I have the Sigma and would never ever sell it. I shoot Canon and had a 100mm macro before but needed more reach. I often have my Sigma paired to a 1.4TC. with great results. The "VR" In Nikon's lens wont help you much in macro, although it is a nice lens. If your shooting insects get the longer lens. IQ is basically the same between the two.

    Here's a few from the Sigma:



  6. Cliff3 macrumors 68000


    Nov 2, 2007
    SF Bay Area
  7. JKitterman macrumors member

    Oct 10, 2006
    Consider renting the Nikon if you can as a trial
  8. 103734 Guest

    Apr 10, 2007
  9. Fogtripper macrumors member

    Apr 19, 2008
    The Sigma 150 macro is flat out amazing. Buy with confidence.

    I use mine on a D200.
  10. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    It's a question of focal length. If you're interested in a lens with a focal length of about 100 mm, there are five options:
    (1) Nikon's new 105 mm macro
    (2) Nikon's old 105 mm macro
    (3) Tokina's 100 mm macro
    (4) Tamron's 90 mm macro
    (5) Sigma's 105 mm macro

    All of them have the reputation of being very good lenses, optically. In terms of build quality, the new Nikkor and the Tokina are probably on top of the list, lots of metal is used here. If you want a lens that does not extend, then you also have no choice but to take the Nikkor. Price-wise, it's significantly more expensive (~750 €) than, say, the Tokina (~350-400 €). Whether it's worth it to you, that's up to you.

    If you're looking into something longer, then the two original lenses are the 70-180 micro Nikkor zoom, the only macro zoom I know of, and the 200 mm macro. Both are roughly twice as expensive as the other Nikkor and I'm not sure you're interested in them. So you're left with two options:
    (1) Sigma's 150 mm macro
    (2) Tamron's 180 mm macro

    If I were you, I'd make the choice of focal length first. There is no use if you insist on a Nikkor for that extra bit of security that you've bought an original lens, but you find out, you want a longer lens. photozone holds all of these lenses in very high regard, giving four-and-a-half stars to Sigma's 150 mm macro in both categories (build quality and optics).
  11. Max Archer macrumors member

    Feb 23, 2009
    VR's usefulness is marginal in macro situations. The issue is that, with the long shutter speeds necessary to shoot most macro in daylight and get any decent depth of field, you'll need to be on a tripod anyway, so VR will have to be off.

    It's not totally useless on the lens, though. A 105mm Macro is also a normal 105mm lens, so it'll make a great portrait lens on FX, or a good short tele on DX, and VR will be a decent benefit in both those situations.

    Anyway, the Nikon would always be my choice. The off-brand lenses are solid lenses, but the Nikon's without question the best. IMO, 105 is a more useful, versatile, focal length, and it's something that you'll be able to use for years or even decades.
  12. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    ^^^It's not just about photographic issues like shutter speed and aperture. VR simply does not work at close distances near 1:3 or better. It'll work slightly for close-up photography, but he said he's using the new lens for macro only.

    All macro lenses are super sharp, so that won't be an issue.

    I'd have no problem going for the Sigma 150 mm if I wanted that much reach. It's supposed to be an absolutely fantastic macro of Sigma's best. In fact, I almost bought that lens instead of my Nikon 105 mm, but I intended to use it for some other photography despite it not being the best lens for general photography at 105 mm (AF hunting is a bit of a pain). Anyway, until I get a 135 mm f/2, this will have to do. :)
  13. Max Archer macrumors member

    Feb 23, 2009
    Ah, missed the fact that he's using it almost exclusively for macro. The Sigma may really be a good option, then.

    Didn't know that VR didn't work up close, actually. Haven't got anything VR that'll focus close enough to have tried it. (Actually, only VR I've got is the 70-200, aside from the cheesy 55-200 that I picked up to use as a travel lens.)
  14. spinnerlys Guest


    Sep 7, 2008
    forlod bygningen
    What about macro rings?

    Or reversing a lens (yeah, only good with a lens that has an aperture ring)?
  15. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

    May 5, 2007
    If the guy already has a macro lens and working distance is the problem this is hardly going to cut the mustard.
  16. AlexH thread starter macrumors 68020


    Mar 7, 2006
    Yeah, I already have the 60mm Nikon lens (I will be keeping it too), which is a great lens. The problem I keep running in to is working distance.

    I'm going to purchase the Sigma lens. The price is right (approximately $270 less than the Nikon), the quality is there, and the focal length is certainly there. The Nikon is a superb lens, but I'm going to try Sigma this time.

    I appreciate all the input a lot. You guys are sharp and helpful! Thank you!

    PS - I'll post a few samples when I get my it on my camera. :D
  17. Fogtripper macrumors member

    Apr 19, 2008
    Look forward to seeing them!

    Here's one I grabbed today with a 1.4x Kenko on the Sigma:

  18. Osprey macrumors 6502

    Jun 18, 2007
    In a Galaxy Far, Far Away
    Did you ever get the Sigma lens and if you did, how do you like it? I am thinking about buying one as well. Would love to see some photos.:)

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