Originally Posted by serothis
I need some advice. I'm looking for a good macro lens. It will be general purpose macro lens. My GF is a scientific illustrator and she's going to panama in June. I'll be tagging along and I figure this is a perfect excuse to pick up a macro lens.
My two top candidates are:nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED
andSigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM
Since the price between the two are comparable, we'll ignore that for now. Also note I'm using a D40x...an old DX body. I will eventually upgrade the body but I’m not sure if it will happen before the trip.
Does anyone have hands on experience with either or both of these lenses? Does anyone have a another suggestion in a comparable price range?
In a nutshell ? None! Get a used Tamron 90 or Sigma 105, the older, non VR/OS versions.
Don't get me wrong, both are great lenses, with the Sigma 150 probably being not only better / more useful for hunting down small insects etc but also having better IQ and much more convenient working distances vs a 90-105 lens.
Me thinks the Tamron 180 macro is the best value macro out there, especially used, but all of those mentioned bought new are a bit too expensive for someone with a basic kit like yours.
There are so many more useful lenses and not to mention bodies that you can buy with that kind of money, and still save some change for a used 100/105 Macro.
Some points: Macro photography involves camera - to - subject distances that make DOF razor thin...I mean we are saying that over and over about 50 1.4 or 85 1.4 lenses, and how at MFD that doesn't capture sharp impression of both eyes of a human face that is posing 3/4...now try to understand that at 1:1, 10in away from your subject you will face the same issue with a fly. Even at f/11.
So Macro photography is too often DOF limited, so you have to stop down, a lot. And when you are focusing really close, you are limiting the light that reaches your sensor...light levels that would easily be metered to expose properly @ f/11 and say 1/160s & 100 ISO @ 5ft for a portrait, might require quite a few more ISO stops to meter for same aperture / shutter speed at 10in.
That pretty much makes most natural light macro photography pretty limiting for hand-holding the shot - at least without bumping your ISO to levels that kill quality.
Not only because you need pretty strong (aka harsh = not good for 95% of the time) sunlight to keep your shutter speeds high enough, but also because in macro distances, camera shake is magnified - much like when you are shooting with a super-telephoto. Add the fact that even light breezes make vegetation that your subjects often hang to, moving back and forth for longer distances than your DOF, and then you have an issue.
So you need either a still subject and a very elaborate tripod positioning, flash or both to make shots.
And ofc when we say flash, the on-camera flash is almost useless for the distances we are talking about (lens is shading the light beam).
Most of the macro shots of insects, small flowers etc you see with decent DOF, are made with flash. Do some research (Google / Youtube, easy) on macro rig setups most often used.
Dropping $1,000 on a lens without understanding how much work and potentially extra "stuff" you need to support that lens @ work, is not a good advice.Edited by pcfoo - 2/3/16 at 4:46pm