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Old Nov 23, 2007, 11:45 AM   #1
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I have a Nikon D40x with the kit lens and a 70-200 telephoto. I want to get a prime lens (the nikon 50mm f1.8D AF) which I can just afford, but I'd also like to get a macro lens, which there's no way I can afford right now.

I'm an amateur photog, working to improve my skills, and have a strong interest in macro photography - love taking pics of flower parts, bugs, etc.

My question is, if I get the prime, can it be used as a macro? Will it work better than the D40 kit lens? Any other recommendations/ideas for a macro on a limited budget?

Thanks for any help.
Ed
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Old Nov 23, 2007, 1:13 PM   #2
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It depends on which lens you're talking about. Nikon's macro lenses are primes (the 60, 105, and 200) but are labeled as "micro". Nikon has other prime lenses that are not macro. The micro lenses are typically more expensive than their regular counterparts. Micro lenses can reproduce subjects at life size or bigger (1:1). Non dedicated macro zooms do ok, non macro's are very limited. Sure you can take close ups, but they won't be true macro shots.
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Old Nov 23, 2007, 2:13 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply.

The prime lens I've been looking at, the Nikon 50mm f1.8AF, is just a prime, marketed (and reviewed well) as very sharp, good in low/interior light, good for portraits. It is 1:1. I know it's not a true macro, but I'm wondering if it would do better than the stock lens (18-55) or the 70-200 I bought to go with it. The 50mm is ~110, but the cheapest macro lens seems to be ~300+, which is out of my budget right now.

I'd rather have the macro than the prime, though I'd rather have both, but not yet.

Thanks,
Ed

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Old Nov 23, 2007, 2:21 PM   #4
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Macro (or micro in Nikon terms) lenses are usually designed to photograph flat subjects at close range which is why they are more expensive. The focal plane on a non-macro will have softer corners because the focal plane curls there where a macro lens would be flat.

Compare these two examples for corner curling:
Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM
http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showp...uct/176/cat/30

Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro
http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showp...uct/221/cat/30

In addition the macro lens will crank out futher to permit focussing closer. You would need extension tubes on a normal prime to get the same magnifications.

There are zoom lenses labeled "macro" but they rarely get into the true macro range.
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Old Nov 23, 2007, 7:08 PM   #5
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Thanks, that was good reading. Looks like I have to decide if I want a macro/micro or a prime. Even if I extend my budget, I could only afford one.

Given that I'm a photographer 'in training' (D40x) any recommendations for reasonably priced prime or micros?


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Old Nov 23, 2007, 8:34 PM   #6
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Most of the Nikon mount macro/micro lenses are screwdriver type except the AF-S Micro NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8D IF-ED VR but that's way over your budget. Many people will say you don't need autofocus with a macro lens so you would have to test that out for yourself.

AF-S type Nikon mount primes are also rare. About the only one I know of is the Sigma 30mm F1.4 EX DC HSM and that's over your budget as well.

Manual focus can be done with your D40x but it won't be easy as the focus screen doesn't have the prism focus aids the film SLRs had. Again you would have to test that out for yourself.
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Old Nov 23, 2007, 10:49 PM   #7
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Thanks a lot for your help. More research and then some choices to be made!

Ed

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Old Nov 24, 2007, 2:10 PM   #8
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There are some sigmas (a 55 mm macro) or even the older 60mm nikkon micro that can be used that can be found in the used market for $200-$300. Yes they will be manual focus, but you should be focusing manually when doing macro work anyway.
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Old Dec 11, 2007, 3:55 PM   #9
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We've had some interesting dialogue over on Photo.Net on this subject, and one fellow over in Norway showed us a picture of M2 Nikon Extension Tube that had been re-configured with electronics in it to make it work with your typical Nikon digital lens. He is heavily into macrophotography, and he apparently takes "damaged" Nikon lenses and extracts the electronics, and retrofits the circular printed circuit into the lens/lens tube. I never did ask what it costs... but it might be cheaper to buy a dedicated lens... or simply use a (compatible) film camera macro lens with a bellows and give up all the auto functions. It's an interesting thread:

http://tinyurl.com/ynps5r

Check out Bjorn's page too:

http://tinyurl.com/bmxup
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Old Dec 11, 2007, 4:59 PM   #10
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Thanks, drgrafix. I'll check it out! --Ed


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