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I like doing macro and will be purchasing a dedicated macro lens shortly.
I'm torn between the - Nikon 200mm f/4D AF Micro-Nikkor IF-ED Lens or the - NIKON AF-S VR 105mm Lens f/2.8G IF-ED I know there is quite a difference in price between the two but would like some opinions.
I photograph both still objects and general nature, bugs and stuff. Would either one have any alternative uses ??
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The 105mm is more useful as a general lens especially as a portrait lens in studio or tighter locations. 200mm is a bit to powerful for typical home studio use. I've always found macro lenses in the 100mm focal length area have been more useful than the 200mm ones, but I tend to shoot fungi and wild flowers not micro subjects such as insects. Hopefully some of the insect specialists will be along to give their views soon.
Sigma 150mm 2.8 and have the choice of the sigma 1.4tc and 2x tc it will produce as sharp an image as any other brand name including nikons own.
I have used the combo for both macro, outdoor portraits and motor sport a few years ago, wish I had never sold it.
also consider the Sigma 105 mm f2.8 EX macro also.................. its cheaper than Nikon and almost as good. VR is of less use for macro as you (well I ) tend to have it mounted on a tripod. If you are hunting flighty (or even flying) insects then a longer lens and VR might be more important as you may well be hand holding................
Some reviews of the macro lenses here: 105mm macro lens reviews. Use the search on the left of the page linked to to refine the search
If you want to go really close and are happy to use a bellows lens with an adapter, LCE have a superb 100mm Leica macro lens on a bellows and it's cheap. You won't find better quality.
As an owner of both lenses I can understand your dilemma.
The 200 is the more specialist lens.
In the field the 200 has a 1:1 working distance (front element to subject) of 10.25 inches - more than the 6.25 inches of the 105 VR. This can be important working with butterflies and dragonflies which are easily disturbed.
Lens hoods are very important for good contrast in close up - the 200mm hood is an expensive extra.
The 200 is a 1993 optical design, built as lenses were in that era. Although optically very good AF is not fast, it does not have VR, and in theory is due for an update.
The 2006 introduced 105 VR is a good portrait lens as well as a good macro with quite fast AF, VR and nano coating. A good lens hood is included in the price. The 105 VR accespts Nikon AF converters - with VR useful for extra working distance though you need to up the ISO if hand holding or the subject is moving - as flowers can do in the slightest breeze.
VR is very useful in the field when there is no time or it is impracticable to set up a tripod as VR makes sharp hand held 1:1 possible. With the 200 you need flash if hand holding at 1:1.
If you are thinking of investing in the R1C1 macro flash system the long working distance of the 200 restricts the use of small apertures for depth of field. IMO you are better off with a more powerful SB-800/900 off camera, or on the hot shoe with the tilt down 5% option in use.
I use the 105 a lot more than the 200, but for subjects like butterflies I regard the 200 as the best choice.
For still objects usually taken with a tripod or on a copy stand longer focal lengths are usually not needed.
There are many other options - and the "complication" of recent high MP camera bodies.
Either lens will get you as close as 1.5 inches wide on FX or 1 inch wide on DX, cropping a D800 image to say 12 MP (enough for an A3 print) gets you closer, and AF converters on the 105 gets you closer still.
If a 300mm VR comes out for next summer combined with a TC14e I will be joining many who already use this method to shoot dragonflies in the field including in flight with high MP bodies, cropping slightly to get A3 print quality.
LenShepherd makes some very valuable comments.
Especially the matter of image cropping after exposure when using a high resolution sensor.
The idea of achieving a 1:1 "true" macro is increasingly becoming a red herring. Does it really matter of your tiny subject can be projected life-size on to your sensor by your lens? What really matters is that you can produce a superb image of it when you process it - either for display on a monitor or as a print. If I take a photograph of a bumble bee (say) then, so long as I can get a (say) 10" long bee plus some of its surroundings on to an A3 print, then it doesn't matter tuppence whether the bee on my sensor was life-size or half life-size.
For what it's worth, I use the Nikkor 105mm micro VR (with VR almost always switched off) and it suits my needs very well. I do rather fancy the 200mm lens as well but really can't justify two macro lenses at present.
Thanks for all the feedback here. I really appreciate it.
I am thinking more towards the 105vr with an AF converter would be a good all rounder.
It will make a nice christmas present to myself
Thank you all for your input.
I have purchased the 105vr and have done some test shots which I am happy with. --- http://ciaranfitzgerald.deviantart.com/art/Orange-Splash-351497273
These are only test shots and I am hoping to get out and about with this lens once the weather improves. Hoping for birds and insects shots.
Wish me luck. I am holding off on the multiplier for now. we'll see after a few months if I need it or not. Thinking about a 300mm f4 lens. Just thinking though
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