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Subject: Macro lens for a Nikon D5100? rss

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Drew Heath
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I don't see many requests for recommendations in this folder, but I also don't see a FAQ or sticky expressly discouraging it, so...

My father-in-law is a shutterbug, and has a nifty Nikon D5100. I understand this is a pretty good point-and-shoot camera

My wife and I would like to surprise him with a macro lens for Spring Festival, but neither of us know anything about stealing souls photography.

Our requirements are:

1. must fit the Nikon D5100
2. must cost $1,000 or less new
3. should be suitable for shooting insects and wildflowers

I might be able to scrounge up some holiday geekgold for anyone who can help us!

Thank you.

(derp, confused Nikon and Canon...)
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Shyam Kumar
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The D5100 uses a Nikon f-mount, so should be compatible with most recent Nikon lenses. The D5100 does not have an in-body auto-focus motor, so you'll need to buy an AF-S (which means that the auto-focus motor is inside the lens) lens to use auto-focus capability. Non AF-S lenses with an F-mount can still be used, but you will have to manually focus.

For taking shots of flowers and insects you'll want the fastest lens you can get (in order to allow higher shutter speeds) and a focal length that will allow to maintain some distance between the lens and the subject. More distance means less chance of your camera casting shadows and blocking the light and makes it less likely to scare away your subject.

Given your constraints, I'd seriously consider the Nikon AF Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Autofocus Lens. The VR (Vibration Reduction) isn't all that useful, since you'll generally use a tripod for macro shots, but it has an excellent maximum aperture and reasonable focal length. It can be had for about 900 USD in the United States.

Nikon also makes 60mm and 200 mm focal length versions for about half and double the 105mm price, respectively.

Nikon also makes a 40mm and 85mm DX (which is the sensor used by the D5100) format lenses for about 300 USD and 500 USD respectively. I have not used them, but the 85mm f/3.5 version may be worth checking out. My only hesitation with a DX format lens is that if your father-in-law decides to upgrade to a FX (full frame sensor) format camera in the future, the DX lenses will crop his photos to DX sensor size.

I am not a pro, just an interested amateur, so the pros might have some other recommendations. I have the used all three of the FX format lenses, and was happy with the results in all cases.

Hope this helps.

Shyam
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DC
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I generally agree with Shyam. One thing to think about with macro lenses is that you'll want a long one (long in terms of focal length -- so the 105mm recommendation is good, 40mm less so). This is because shorter macro lenses force you to get VERY close to your subject, which can then cause problems with shadows.

The 85mm is also probably acceptable in that sense. Consider whether you might want to do an upgrade to FX later. If you do, the 105 is better, but costs a lot more now (as with everything FX).
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Last summer I bought the 85mm lens and I have been very happy with it. Focusing speed is fast enought for me and it is easy to handle because of the light weight. The 85mm lens is much cheaper than the 105mm, which was one of the reasons why I chose the 85mm. But if I had the money I think I would have chose otherwise the 105mm.

The 40mm macro would be cool in some points. It is wider, which ennables you to have more background in the picture. But the 40mm lens works better with stable subjects since you have to be very close if you want a 1:1 macro photo.

I think that whatever you choose he will be pleased.
 
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I'd also recommend considering an older manual focus lens something between 85 and 150mm. When shooting macro you'll rarely want to have the auto focus turned on anyway. Another choice is a 70-300mm zoom with "macro". They only give 1:2 instead of 1:1 but on a crop sensor camera that isn't much of an issue. The extra telephoto makes them great for bugs (and great if you don't already have another telephoto) but not as good for flowers and other stationary subjects. Personal I use a 105mm macro and a 70-300mm w/macro.
 
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Justine Ayers
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cormor321 wrote:
I'd also recommend considering an older manual focus lens something between 85 and 150mm. When shooting macro you'll rarely want to have the auto focus turned on anyway. Another choice is a 70-300mm zoom with "macro". They only give 1:2 instead of 1:1 but on a crop sensor camera that isn't much of an issue. The extra telephoto makes them great for bugs (and great if you don't already have another telephoto) but not as good for flowers and other stationary subjects. Personal I use a 105mm macro and a 70-300mm w/macro.


Totally agree here you should not be using auto focus at anytime really cept maybe snapshots. You get so much more control out of your camera and depth of field if you manually focus. Also setting it on spot instead of matrix can help too. Matrix tends to make images flat looking.
 
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