Macro Lens Results

Nikon D300, AF-S 60/2.8 G Micro

We spent some time this weekend playing around with the two macro lenses I rented as well as our own AF 105/2.8 D Micro.  What do we think of them all now?

Both my Dear Sweet Wife and I quickly came to the same conclusion:  The too-short working distance and lack of internal focusing of the AF-S 40/2.8 G Micro lens is a complete show stopper.

While shooting a flower bouquet with the focus locked as close as possible with the 40mm its front frequently came into contact with the flowers themselves.  With any macro subject that isn’t perfectly flat you will find working at maximum magnification very difficult.

On top of that, the front element of the 40mm lens moves significantly during focus changes which alters the angle of view.  If you try adjusting focus at all you will go through multiple iterations of compose, focus, re-compose, re-focus, re-compose, re-focus, etc…

In comparison, the AF-S 60/2.8 G Micro lens was a pleasure to use.  It had a good working distance at maximum magnification; it never came too close to our subjects.  And with its internal focusing feature, changing focus had no noticeable effect on the composition.

There was really no competition at all in our mind: if the 60mm lens is within your budget we can’t see a good reason to even consider the 40mm.  (And if a new 60mm isn’t in your budget, I would recommend a used 60mm over a new 40mm too!)

Keep in mind our goal was to consider these for use with our smaller DX format D300.  If you use a full-frame FX body and/or 35mm film we would still prefer our good old 105mm lens (or its current equivalent).

Macro Lens Testing

Nikon F100, Fuji Velvia

My Dear Sweet Wife and I like to shoot macro or close-up photography, for our blogs and otherwise.  She picked up a Nikkor AF 105/2.8 D Micro lens a while back and it has been our workhorse lens for close up shots taken with our film bodies.

However, our D300 and its small DX format sensor and resulting crop factor has increased the working distance of that lens.  Trying to shoot small items on a desk has become an exercise in backing up more than we have room to do in our tiny and crowded house.

We have been considering getting a shorter focal length macro lens with a closer working distance ever since we bought the D300. has a promotion right now (code winter15) which lead me to rent two shorter micro Nikkors for this weekend, just to try them out.

Both are current lenses in Nikon’s lineup, the AF-S 60/2.8 G Micro and AF-S 40/2.8 G Micro.  Judging by specifications, the 60mm lens wins in terms of features: nano coating and ED glass, 2 aspherical elements versus 0, internal focusing, and support for FX and 35mm bodies.

But none of that matters if the 60mm lens working distance is still too far out.  Stay tuned for a few posts comparing all three lenses after I have put them through their paces!

Meanwhile if you have some spare time this weekend (perhaps two hours) be sure to catch Star Wars Uncut, the full crowd-sourced recreation of Episode IV was just released.  Be warned it is only mostly G-rated…

Giving Thanks

Nikon FA, Nikkor AF 105/2.8 D Micro, Fuji Velvia 100

Because the sunset at Cayucos was just so-so, I only shot half of the roll of Velvia 100.  I wanted to finish it off so I took a number of macro shots of a flower bouquet later that week.

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you celebrating.  I hope you find yourselves surrounded by family, friends, and good food!

A couple things on my mind or just in my inbox…

Eddie Soloway’s November newsletter talks about the great time he had recently shooting in Kyoto.  He also is planning to add some 2012 workshops to his list over the weekend.

Polaroid has launched a combo digital & instant camera, integrating their ZINK printer into a classic-styled camera.  It looks fascinating, but sadly does not support old-school manipulations.

The British Journal of Photography has an iPad app for quarterly interactive publications, the first of which is free.  Sadly I did not make their top ten list of photo blogs…maybe next year!  (ahem)

If you really are looking for a good way to use lots of 35mm film, check out Lomography’s new hand-crank Lomokino movie camera.  They have some interesting video clips online already.