Inexpensive macro lens for a Nikon D70s?

Kaido

Elite Member & Kitchen Overlord
Feb 14, 2004
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My wife's bday is coming up and I want to get her a starter macro for her D70s. She has a couple weddings coming up and will probably be using it to shoot smaller stuff like hands/fingers with wedding bands and whanot. Any suggestions? Just looking for cheap/decent right now to start out with.
 

Mrvile

Lifer
Oct 16, 2004
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If you absolutely must have a macro lens, the Sigma 50mm macro is a cheap option for just over $200. Otherwise, extension tubes.
 

Kaido

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I've never heard of extension tubes, can you explain those? Do they fit over existing lenses?
 

Mrvile

Lifer
Oct 16, 2004
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Originally posted by: Kaido
I've never heard of extension tubes, can you explain those? Do they fit over existing lenses?

They basically just put a little space in between your lens and your sensor to get a closer focusing distance. They are pretty commonly recommended for a very cheap macro option as they can take you pretty close to your subject. Since there aren't any elements in an extension tube, it won't affect image quality. However, you'll get a bit of light loss, about one stop for each tube you use. Extension tubes fit all lenses I believe, but you'll want to stick with lenses that are 100mm or longer, and have a pretty large aperture to begin with.
 

Kaido

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Originally posted by: Mrvile
Originally posted by: Kaido
I've never heard of extension tubes, can you explain those? Do they fit over existing lenses?

They basically just put a little space in between your lens and your sensor to get a closer focusing distance. They are pretty commonly recommended for a very cheap macro option as they can take you pretty close to your subject. Since there aren't any elements in an extension tube, it won't affect image quality. However, you'll get a bit of light loss, about one stop for each tube you use. Extension tubes fit all lenses I believe, but you'll want to stick with lenses that are 100mm or longer, and have a pretty large aperture to begin with.

Ah, right now we have a 50mm prime and I believe a 20-70mm zoom. I wonder if it's worth getting a cheap 70-300mm plus the extension tubes, versus just getting a macro lens.
 

fuzzybabybunny

Moderator<br>Digital & Video Cameras
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Jan 2, 2006
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Originally posted by: Mrvile
Originally posted by: Kaido
I've never heard of extension tubes, can you explain those? Do they fit over existing lenses?

They basically just put a little space in between your lens and your sensor to get a closer focusing distance. They are pretty commonly recommended for a very cheap macro option as they can take you pretty close to your subject. Since there aren't any elements in an extension tube, it won't affect image quality. However, you'll get a bit of light loss, about one stop for each tube you use. Extension tubes fit all lenses I believe, but you'll want to stick with lenses that are 100mm or longer, and have a pretty large aperture to begin with.

I would amend the above to say "you'll want to start with lenses that are 50mm or longer," like a 50mm f/1.8. Like Mrvile said, they're put between the camera body and the lens, and act as spacers between the two, allowing the lens to focus closer.

A true macro lens has at least a 1:1 image magnification. Image magnification with extension tubes is calculated: magnification = extension tube length / lens focal length

So if you were to take a 50mm long extension tube and put it on a 100mm lens, you'd only get 50mm/100mm = 0.5 magnification, or 1:2. If you have a 50mm lens, however, and 50mm of extension tubes, you'd get 50mm/50mm = 1x magnification, or a true macro 1:1.

The tubes in the link above are 31mm, 21mm, and 13mm. Stack the 31mm and 21mm together on a 50mm lens and you're set. If you need less magnification, any combinations of extension tubes less than 50mm in total length will work.

As far as light loss, it's pretty minimal. Don't worry about needing a bright lens; you want to be shooting at f/8 or a little smaller anyway to increase your depth of field. Depth of field in macro is VERY shallow. It's almost nonsensical to shoot macro at f/1.8 or something around that because depth of field will be so razor thin as to be worthless.

NOTE: the extension tubes linked above maintain electrical contacts between the lens and the body, meaning you can adjust lens aperture on the body and autofocus the lens also. Cheaper tubes on eBay often do not have this electrical communication between the body and the lens, meaning you have no control over aperture in the body and autofocus.
 

Kaido

Elite Member & Kitchen Overlord
Feb 14, 2004
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Originally posted by: fuzzybabybunny
Originally posted by: Mrvile
Originally posted by: Kaido
I've never heard of extension tubes, can you explain those? Do they fit over existing lenses?

They basically just put a little space in between your lens and your sensor to get a closer focusing distance. They are pretty commonly recommended for a very cheap macro option as they can take you pretty close to your subject. Since there aren't any elements in an extension tube, it won't affect image quality. However, you'll get a bit of light loss, about one stop for each tube you use. Extension tubes fit all lenses I believe, but you'll want to stick with lenses that are 100mm or longer, and have a pretty large aperture to begin with.

I would amend the above to say "you'll want to start with lenses that are 50mm or longer," like a 50mm f/1.8. Like Mrvile said, they're put between the camera body and the lens, and act as spacers between the two, allowing the lens to focus closer.

A true macro lens has at least a 1:1 image magnification. Image magnification with extension tubes is calculated: magnification = extension tube length / lens focal length

So if you were to take a 50mm long extension tube and put it on a 100mm lens, you'd only get 50mm/100mm = 0.5 magnification, or 1:2. If you have a 50mm lens, however, and 50mm of extension tubes, you'd get 50mm/50mm = 1x magnification, or a true macro 1:1.

The tubes in the link above are 31mm, 21mm, and 13mm. Stack the 31mm and 21mm together on a 50mm lens and you're set. If you need less magnification, any combinations of extension tubes less than 50mm in total length will work.

As far as light loss, it's pretty minimal. Don't worry about needing a bright lens; you want to be shooting at f/8 or a little smaller anyway to increase your depth of field. Depth of field in macro is VERY shallow. It's almost nonsensical to shoot macro at f/1.8 or something around that because depth of field will be so razor thin as to be worthless.

NOTE: the extension tubes linked above maintain electrical contacts between the lens and the body, meaning you can adjust lens aperture on the body and autofocus the lens also. Cheaper tubes on eBay often do not have this electrical communication between the body and the lens, meaning you have no control over aperture in the body and autofocus.

Well, we have the 50mm f/1.8 right now, so maybe it's worth it just to get a dedicated lens for macro. What would you recommend for doing small things like rings on fingers and stuff? I've never had a macro lens and don't know anything other than they can zoom in really well :D
 

kyutip

Golden Member
Jul 24, 2000
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One of the other affordable solution would be to get a Close Up filter. You can stack them up to get even closer. The cheapest macro lens that I can think of is a used 55mm Macro AI/AIS, but I think D70s can't meter with it so it will be full manual.

You can also get a Sigma 70-300mm APO DG Macro that can focus to 1:2 at 300mm.
The quality can't match a dedicated macro lens but that is a tele and macro in one and affordable. Add a close up lens, you might get 1:1 magnification.
The older version of this lens is 70-300mm APO Macro II and probably as low as under $150 used.
 

Mrvile

Lifer
Oct 16, 2004
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Originally posted by: fuzzybabybunny
As far as light loss, it's pretty minimal. Don't worry about needing a bright lens; you want to be shooting at f/8 or a little smaller anyway to increase your depth of field. Depth of field in macro is VERY shallow. It's almost nonsensical to shoot macro at f/1.8 or something around that because depth of field will be so razor thin as to be worthless.

Ahh but there's a catch...if you shoot at f/8, the light loss is added onto the smaller aperture. So if you have an effective -2 stops of light loss, you only get f/16 worth of light if you shoot at f/8. Flash is a MUST when shooting with extension tubes.
 

virtuamike

Diamond Member
Oct 13, 2000
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Originally posted by: fuzzybabybunny
NOTE: the extension tubes linked above maintain electrical contacts between the lens and the body, meaning you can adjust lens aperture on the body and autofocus the lens also. Cheaper tubes on eBay often do not have this electrical communication between the body and the lens, meaning you have no control over aperture in the body and autofocus.

AF on non AF-S lenses isn't done electronically by Nikon bodies. There's a focus screw that handles it (and since there's no extension for the screw in the tube, that means no AF). I can't tell if those tubes have the contacts for AF-S either (Nikon's supposed to come out with new tubes for the 105/2.8 VR to support AF-S and all but I haven't heard anything).

In other words, tubes basically mean you're stuck with manual focus.

Then again it's a moot point, because you really don't want to be using AF with critical macro anyways.

I shoot with an old Nikon 55/3.5 AI that I picked up for $65, but a used lens probably wouldn't make the best gift.

If she's not doing a lot of macro work, then just get a close-up filter (Nikon 6T or whatever fits, Canon 500d, etc). Quick and simple.

If you have the budget for a new lens, these would be ok -
Nikon 60/2.8 macro
Tamron 90/2.8 macro
 

shekondar

Golden Member
Apr 10, 2003
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Sigma 105mm - I got a used one for around $250
I've also heard good things about the Phoenix macro - goes for about $100 on ebay
 

Bootprint

Diamond Member
Jan 11, 2002
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I'd suggest for starting out go for a set of tubes and the 50mm. But you may want to look at eventually getting a real macro lens, like the Tamron 90/2.8 above as I find it alot easier to use.

Just remember with the tubes you have remove them inorder to shoot anything that really isn't closer up. With something like the Tamron you can shoot a macro shot, then shoot something like a portrait all without having to change lenses.
 

pontifex

Lifer
Dec 5, 2000
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extension rings/tubes are cheap compared to a lens maybe. they're anywhere from $70 for the low quality kind to like $150 for the better quality ones.
 

Kaido

Elite Member & Kitchen Overlord
Feb 14, 2004
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Originally posted by: tfinch2
Originally posted by: Kaido
Originally posted by: tfinch2
Originally posted by: Kaido
I found one I like, it's a Sigma:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000A0.../ref=pd_cp_p_title/002-3092929-0784863

Telephoto & macro via a manual switch. Whatcha think?

Junk

Why?

Because it's not really a macro lens, and lower-end Sigmas are soft.

Not Macro

Macro

Good answer :D So what would you recommend? I need to buy it this week. Will probably mostly be used for shooting rings and associated fingers/hands/flowers. We have a 50mm prime and a 20-70mm zoom. I am open to buying the extension tubes like fuzzybabybunny mentioned. Are the ones he linked above the ones to get? Budget is $200 or less, preferably $150 or less.
 

tfinch2

Lifer
Feb 3, 2004
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Originally posted by: Kaido
Originally posted by: tfinch2
Originally posted by: Kaido
Originally posted by: tfinch2
Originally posted by: Kaido
I found one I like, it's a Sigma:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000A0.../ref=pd_cp_p_title/002-3092929-0784863

Telephoto & macro via a manual switch. Whatcha think?

Junk

Why?

Because it's not really a macro lens, and lower-end Sigmas are soft.

Not Macro

Macro

Good answer :D So what would you recommend? I need to buy it this week. Will probably mostly be used for shooting rings and associated fingers/hands/flowers. We have a 50mm prime and a 20-70mm zoom. I am open to buying the extension tubes like fuzzybabybunny mentioned. Are the ones he linked above the ones to get? Budget is $200 or less, preferably $150 or less.

Extreme budget:

Nikon 55mm f/3.5 Micro manual focus- $60-80 used

Bigger budget

Nikon 60mm f/2.8 micro auto focus
 
Oct 19, 2000
17,861
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I agree with others here to NOT go with the Sigma 70-300 telephoto/"macro" lens. It does decent for the price, though. I've own the 70-300, and I own the Sigma 105mm Macro lens (previously suggested here), and I absolutely love it.

A couple of examples:

Sigma 105mm Macro

http://joshpuckett.smugmug.com/gallery/1585822#78609436-L-LB
http://joshpuckett.smugmug.com/gallery/1585822#82029788-L-LB

Sigma 70-300 Telephoto/Macro

http://joshpuckett.smugmug.com/gallery/1585822#86018087-L-LB - Heavy PP'ing to get it to this point.
 

Kaido

Elite Member & Kitchen Overlord
Feb 14, 2004
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Got her the extension tubes that fuzzybabybunny recommended. Mixed feelings on them. The macro is excellent, but they aren't AF. The manual focus on these particular tubes is especially tricky. Great for the price though, if you are on a budget and need basic macro they are great. Someday I will invest in a really nice AF macro, but for now these should work great. MAN it's tricky to do macro, but some of the pictures have come out absolutely amazing :)

Thank you all for your input!