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105mm VR AFS Upgrade for macro

Cacus 13 139
16 Aug 2012 7:50PM
Hi all.

I've just ordered Nikons 105mm VR AF-S Micro Lens to start getting into macro. What would be my options if I wanted to get closer that 1:1.

Looking at various web pages. I've seen close up filters mentioned, tele converters, extension tubes and bellows quoted for extreme close ups but by the same token I've read conflicting info on these. On one hand it appears that bellows would get high magnifications but due to the design of the 105 there no good with that. The tele's don't work correctly and due to issues with the variable aperture of the lens the f2.8 doesn't drop to f5.6 but to something like f11 with a x2 installed.

I'd eventually like to be getting shots of spiders 'faces' etc (I appreciate this will take time and work!

Any input and suggestions on additional gear would be appreciated.


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User_Removed 8 4.6k 1 Scotland
16 Aug 2012 8:00PM
The 105mm Nikkor will be fine on its own if you have a reasonably high Mp sensor and can crop the resultant image to "zoom-in" on the bits you want.

In terms of lighting and DoF, that is probably a better option than trying to get even closer with extension tubes.

thewilliam 9 6.1k
16 Aug 2012 8:14PM
The 105 Nikkor focusses internally, effectively by shortening its focal length. I'm not convinced by its performance on an extension tube, but I just have the 27.5mm PK13 and lose all coupling with the body.

If you can borrow a tele-converter, try it with the 105.
16 Aug 2012 8:28PM

Quote:In terms of lighting and DoF, that is probably a better option than trying to get even closer with extension tubes.


Agreed. I have a Sigma 50mm macro lens and although it's very good you have to be quite close to the subject and DOF is critical. Lighting the subject evenly is quite difficult because of this. You are better having a litltle distance between you and your subject. Also helps not to scare them off! Smile
mikehit 8 8.0k 13 United Kingdom
16 Aug 2012 8:37PM
Your options are:
extension tubes - make sure they have the connections to maintain AF/metering. They cost about 60 upwards. But the greater lens to sensor distance means you 'lose' light
bellows - do the same thing as extension tubes but are more cumbersome. I don't think they make them with electrical connections but I may be wrong.
Dioptre lenses - these screw onto the front of the lens (in the same was as a IV filter). Costs are 5 and up - the quality in the centre of the picture is fine, but deteriorates towards the edges (however, the subject may mean that the edge quality is not important). More expensive ones (100+) have two elements which improves image quality. But with these you do not lose light.

If you just want to dip your toe into the 'spider face' pool I would choose the dioptre lenses.
ArtyArt 7 324 2 United Kingdom
16 Aug 2012 10:24PM
I have just modified a PN-11 extension tube so that it has most of the electrical connections for metering and AFS, only done a few test shots with it at present, using a 105 VR and a 70-300 VR zoom. Will hopefully get more time to try some more close up shots. Using the PN-11 means I also now have a tripod mount available other than the one on the camera. I also use a home made flash bracket for my SB-800 along with a Lastolite Micro Apollo MKII, using this bracket means I can position the flash very close to the front of the lens. I followed the instructions for modifiying the PN-11 using the following web page http://damien.douxchamps.net/photo/pn11/

dandeakin 10 209 3 England
16 Aug 2012 10:26PM
I use kenko extension tubes all the time with my 105mm VR for this sort of thing. 67mm of tubes gets you to over 2:1 magnification. ie on a DX body you can get down to about an 11mm.

And there's no loss of quality. The main downside is it makes the camera/lens pretty front heavy when hand holding the body.
16 Aug 2012 10:32PM
The 105 nikon macro is very good in its own right. You've only just ordered it without (possiby) knowing what its strengths and weaknesses may be... Hang on until you've used it awhile before seeking a higher plane..!
I'm not sure (never tried) how it would behave with extension tube(s)..
It may be that a simple 50mm reversed - on tube(s) - with bellows - with dioptre lenses etc.. may be worthy of further investigation..but spend a little while with the 105 before getting itchy feet..!
dandeakin 10 209 3 England
16 Aug 2012 10:37PM
Wrote my post before reading the previous one.

That link is amazing and not something I'd heard of. I'd considered trying to DIY a tripod bracket onto my extension tubes somehow, but never quite worked out how to do it. As I said, the downside of mounting a heavy lens 67mm infront of the body is that the unit becomes pretty front heavy, which isn't ideal if your handholding at 2:1 trying to work with minute DOF's
tepot 13 4.4k United Kingdom
16 Aug 2012 10:44PM
An interesting subject.....i used to use a Nikon D70s with the Tamron 90 with very good image quality, i then got hold of a Canon 5D and thought i'd try a Sigma 150 for the Full frame sensor, what i have found is what others are saying in that it is best to put some distance between you and the subject as this helps tremendously with depth of field and lighting, i have found that with the full frame sensor the image is quite a bit smaller in the frame than with my original crop sensor, even with the increased focal length of the lens, so i fit a 12mm Kenko tube inbetween the body and lens, this is a great compromise and allows me to get in close enough to fill the frame with a damsel fly for example and still give me enough working distance to use my flashgun mounted on the hot shoe for great fill flash, i have enough pixels (12mp) that when i crop to a bugs face it gives me acceptable quality to put up 1000px images to the web, prints may however be a different matter, i havn't tried that yet. there are other options i will eventually try such as reversing rings and off camera flash setups but i am fairly new to macro and i am still on the learning curve. i have the full set of kenko tubes but need to get off camera lighting set up before i can get that close.

Cacus 13 139
17 Aug 2012 7:56AM
Many thanks for the replies.

I appreciate this is a new area for me and as Kevin rightly says I should get used to the 105 before jumping too far ahead. (It's just I like to know in what direction I'm going! LOL).

The camera is a D70 (stop laughing!) so cropping is not the best option so far. (Like many I'm still waiting for the D400 to appear).

Again many thanks for the replies
thewilliam 9 6.1k
17 Aug 2012 11:00AM
Cacus, never assume that any Nikon body is worthy of contempt.

Nikon use so many common parts that the entry-level models give image quality very close to that of the "professional" models from the "same generation" for all but extreme applications. Few photographers have the skill to be able exploit the small differences in IQ.

Just don't use the D70 in the pouring rain!
Sooty_1 8 1.5k 221 United Kingdom
17 Aug 2012 4:26PM
The old manual Nikkor 105 Micro used to be good with a PK13 tube, are the newer optics significantly different?
The best way to get much greater than 1:1 is still bellows, with a dedicated bellows lens. Zoom lenses generally do not work well, due to the compromises inherent in their design, and most other primes are optimised for long use, not close-ups.

One other option you can explore, is reversing a wide prime on the front of another. You can get 2 filter holder adapter rings and fix them together, back to back. Mount a 50 on the camera and another prime lens reversed on the front. I used to use this on my old Mamiya 645 - a 45mm reversed onto the standard 80mm.
Something like these...

I drilled 3 holes in both and attached them with small nuts and bolts (that way I could change the filter diameter if need be)

You can just hold one in place to see if it works before going further.


Sooty_1 8 1.5k 221 United Kingdom
17 Aug 2012 4:30PM
Forgot to mention you can just reverse the lens onto the camera body..but you do need a lens that you can hold at full aperture. It doesn't even need to be the same make as the body, just the same filter thread size (you can adapth this with step up or step down rings.


tepot 13 4.4k United Kingdom
17 Aug 2012 6:35PM
Some of the older lenses you can shut down manually, you best to use a body with through the lens metering though.

Have a look at Ade Osman's gallery, he uses a special lens to get up to 5:1 ratio, however that comes with a price in as much as you need good lighting as the image is very dark in the finder.


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