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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Macro Talk 
Thread started 09 Mar 2016 (Wednesday) 13:48
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If You Had a Choice on a lens Other than MACRO

 
John ­ Koerner
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Post edited over 3 years ago by John Koerner. (3 edits in all)
     
Apr 23, 2016 13:33 |  #61
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Lester Wareham wrote in post #17981644 (external link)
You can't believe how pissed I was with Canon for obsoleting my Canon FD/FT system; I nearly switched to Nikon when I went digital. But trying both in the shop I found the Canon more natural to use despite no connection with my old gear; purely personal of course.

Yes, I know many ex-Canon (now-Nikon) users who were pissed enough to drop Canon completely, when their 8 to 20-lens collection was rendered obsolete, overnight, when Canon changed to the EF mount, rendering all prior lenses useless in one step.

That is one of the nice things about Nikon: you can buy many old-school, very good, top-constructed lenses on eBay.

Canon, too, had some badass, all manual, topnotch elder lenses (such as an f/.09 50mm prime) ... that no modern Canon users can enjoy, because of the lens mount change -?


Lester Wareham wrote in post #17981644 (external link)
But trying both in the shop I found the Canon more natural to use despite no connection with my old gear; purely personal of course.

At the time you decided to go with Canon, they had better digital cameras and a technological lead ... but they sure don't now.


  • Of the top 10 FF cameras being made, Nikon has 5, Sony 4, and Canon's only entry (its best, the 5DSr) is at the bottom :oops:
  • Of the top 10 APS-C cameras being made, Canon doesn't have a single entry in the top 10, while Nikon owns the top 5 straight, with Sony and Pentax splitting 2 and 3 apiece, respectively. (And that doesn't even include the recent D500 which is about to be released ...)
  • Prime lens-wise, Canon only has 2 of the top-10 prime lenses (the 400 and 600, which don't break the top 5), while Nikon has 4 (the 200, 300, 400, and 600, two of which are in the top 5), with Leica and Zeiss each having 2 as well.
  • Canon does have some very good zooms, with 4 out of the top 10, including the class-leading 200-400, with Nikon having 4 also, with Sigma making 2 of the best zooms out there.
    (Sources: SenScore (external link) | LenScore (external link))



Lester Wareham wrote in post #17981644 (external link)
Back in the day I used reversed 28 mm manual lenses for macro, lots of magnification but a PITA even with the auto stop down cable. I have no desire to return to that whilst I have a working MP-E.

I do miss the MP-65 (for extreme macro). It definitely is convenient. In fact, I stayed loyal to Canon for awhile over that one lens. However, when Canon brought out the 7D II, with an outdated sensor, no 4K video, and specs that can't even make the top 10 in its class, I began to dump my Canon gear and switched to the Nikon D810 ... and am waiting for the Nikon D900 to come out. Both systems are fully-capable, but I do feel better knowing that my efforts are all being captured on a top-notch sensor, rather than being captured on a sensor with sub-par dynamic/tonal, and color range capabilities.

For that, I don't mind having a few exemplary primes, to reverse, to achieve everything the MP-E can achieve. I find them more useful overall lenses, and (since I like to document the environment where I find my subjects) I find that flipping a lightweight prime lens over, to get an environment shot, is a lot easier than removing the MP-E and physically swapping 1 lens for another to do so.

However, as you say, it's purely personal of course.

If all I cared about was extreme macro, and didn't mind being limited to one lens, with a lot of flash/diffuser gear attached to it, the MP-E is in a class by itself in that regard.

Jack




  
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John ­ Koerner
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Post edited over 3 years ago by John Koerner. (6 edits in all)
     
Apr 23, 2016 16:36 |  #62
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What's So Special About the Nikon 28mm Ai-S?

IMAGE: http://www.thenaturephotographer.club/examples/28mm.png
Okay, I like this lens well enough to make another (time-consuming) try as to why the Nikon 28mm Ai-S stands out over other, similar lenses in its class.

For starters, the original thread question is selecting "a" lens, other than macro, I am assuming as an all-around, general purpose lens, capable of doing many things.
(Remember, the more specialized the lens, the more limited/useless it is in general contexts.)

The 28mm Ai-S is able to do many "general" things well and a few specialized things well.
Aside from going wide it also reverses to 2.1 magnification.
Oriented properly, it lets you get to within 20cm of a close subject, closer than any other wide equivalent.
It magnifies 1:4, greater than any other, non-macro wide-equivalent.

It is unique in that it is inexpensive and high-quality, in both construction as well as capabilities.

I have already shown photos showing the wide-range of what it does, a couple pages back.
The mention of a Sigma 24mm was made, but this is too wide for practical reverse-use IMO.
Barrel distortion sets in. Magnification gets too great (2.6x), when reversed, to be as useful.
Not to mention the Sigma is made of cheap plastic, has a cheesy focus ring (mentioned in every online review), and has zero re-sale value.
The Sigma also isn't highly-corrected for color/CA either (it is sharp, but doesn't have the high-end color correction of the Nikon 28 Ai-S).

Yes, Nikon makes a 24mm Ai-S too, but it is not as good as the 28mm Ai-S.
Nikon makes a sweet 35mm Ai-S, but it is twice as expensive, doesn't allow you to get as close to the subject properly-mounted.

IMAGE: http://www.thenaturephotographer.club/thumbnails/1/1_thumb_0000001323_large.jpg

This crab spider I shot is somewhat larger than the one on the previous page and yet comfortably fits on my pinky fingernail. The shot is at 2.1x. Magnification greater than that, I couldn't frame its legs. The truth is, very seldom is anyone going to be going over 2.1x in the field. 2.6x is going to be too much, MUCH MORE OFTEN than it will be "just right."

For ONE lens, I would be more inclined to scale down to 35mm (1.8x reversed) or 50mm (1.1x reversed) than scale up to 24mm (2.6x reversed) or 20mm (3.4x reversed), because these latter are too much for most subjects. Yet, here again, the 35mm and the 50mm aren't as wide as the 28 and they don't let you get as close to a flower or bug, to capture the background, either, when properly mounted.

For whatever reason, the Nikon 28mm f/2.8 Ai-S is just a "sweet spot," in almost every category.
Do NOT confuse this lens with the 24mm--which sucks by comparison.


I will now provide some links to many life-time expert opinions which echo my own. These links were part of my research, and my own use confirms their sentiments:

Other Reviews:

  • "The Nikkor 28mm f2.8 Ai-S is one of the sharpest Nikon lenses ever. The manual focus is great and smooth with a dream-like dampened action."
    ImagingResource.com (external link) (Rates 9.7/10)

  • "Nikon's Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 AiS is one very impressive piece of optics. Despite its age, the lens can rival some of the more expensive modern primes. Combination of excellent overall image quality, superb build quality, good color reproduction and affordable price, should put this lens at the top of the shopping list for many photographers."
    SLR Lens Review (external link)

  • "Nikkor Ai-S 28mm f/2 comes with an exceptional build quality and super smooth focusing - most of today's lenses feel cheap in comparison and the glory doesn't stop here. At medium aperture settings the lens is capable to produce some of the highest resolution figures tested to date."
    Photozone (external link)

  • "This lens doesn't have any rival today. Newer AF versions don't focus as close, aren't even nearly as sharp, and are made of plastic."
    LensTip.com (external link) (Rates 5/5)

  • "Its image quality has long been recognized as top class Nikkor performer as it has packed with some of the best optical innovation Nikon has developed for their MF wideangles within. The lens closes down to a minimum focusing distance that few other Nikkor lenses are able to match while retaining the same high optical performance at such close distance. The Nikkor 28mm f/2.8s also famed for its ability to deliver images of extremely high contrast and resolution. It has long been a favorite among many seasoned photographers as one of the best wideangle lens for all round photography."
    MIR.com (external link)

  • "Tale 57 covers the AI Nikkor 28mm f/2.8S, one of these lenses that is cool and popular among experts ... more importance should be placed on minimum focus distance and maximum reproduction ratio. These aspects are directly related to the degree of flexibility a lens offers ... (and) with actual shooting, the minimum focus distance is every bit as important as focal length. ... the unique characteristics of the AI Nikkor 28mm f/2.8S covered in this tale become clear. It has a minimum focus distance of just 20 cm, one of the shortest among wide-angle lenses, and a high maximum reproduction ratio of 1/3.9×. This is one of the reasons this 'approachability' is still included in our manual focus lens lineup."
    Nikkor -- The Thousand and One Nights (external link)

  • "This is Nikon's sharpest manual-focus wide angle lens. Nikon let their designers go wild on this one. Instead of a simple 5 element design that every other 28mm f/2.8 lens uses, including the original AF version, this lens has EIGHT elements in EIGHT groups. This allows it a level of correction seen in no other Nikon wide angle ... Performance is just about perfect ... built to the highest mechanical standards ... This is the sharpest manual-focus wide angle made by Nikon."
    Ken Rockwell (external link) (Rates 5/5)

Do not be fooled, or confused, by other lenses or (supposed) equivalents.

Yes, there are other great lenses out there, but they are NOT as all-around flexible. For example, the new $5,000 Carl Zeiss 28mm Otus is a better "fine art lens," but at $5,000 it ought to be!

But as a total nature documentation lens? Not so much. They don't make 95mm reverse-rings, for starters, so the Zeiss Otus 28 can't do what the Nikon Ai-S can do (you can't even reverse it). Further, the Zeiss doesn't reproduce 1:4 either and can't get as close as the Nikon 28 Ai-S. And who wants to use a $5,000 non-weather-proofed lens in inclement weather anyway? Or to expose the rear element by reverse-mounting it (assuming you could even do, which you can't). In other words, a Ferrari may have a better ride, in perfect conditions, than an Army Jeep, but can you take a Ferrari off-roading, like you can the Jeep? ;)

The simple, versatile, rough-and-tumble characteristics of the Nikon f/2.8 28 Ai-S are truly unmatched as a total "general purpose lens" ... that is inexpensive (so you don't have to worry about it) and yet high-quality (so you can truly enjoy owning it).

No, it can't replace my Nikkor 300mm telephoto for distance shots ... and I can't capture a 1:1 butterfly shot from a far-away distance (as I can with my Voigtländer 125mm) either ... but the little 28mm Ai-S can capture everything else about the natural world that these two lenses cannot duplicate. And, reversed, it goes 2:1, not just a mere 1:1, so it can take me beyond a standard macro also. When oriented properly, it can go super-wide all the way up to very close "near-macro" shots, also capturing the environment behind the tiny subjects (and doing so with optimized color-correction in its lens elements).

Okay, my rant is done :-P

In closing, the all-manual, well-crafted Nikon 28mm f/2.8 Ai-S may not be perfect at all things; but it is really good at just about everything a person could need a lens to be good at ... and it is easily adapted to Canon or Sony :-)

Jack



  
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Wilt
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Post edited over 3 years ago by Wilt. (8 edits in all)
     
Apr 23, 2016 17:28 |  #63

OK kiddees, how about we do the OP the favor of getting back to his question about MACRO ON BUDGET, and ease up on the accusatory and defensive posts about lens ownership and actual usage vs. theoretical usage. This thread has gone off topic to debate terminology, discussion of Nikon lenses reversed, and the defense of Nikon's decision to make its dSLR mount backward compatible to its earlier lenses vs. Canon's approach (*...both of which have NOTHING direct to do with solving the OP quest!).

I will attempt to bring things back on topic with the generalization of the solution of 'macro on budget'...

  • close up lenses (not particularly highly recommended with interchangeable lens cameras) at $70-150
  • extension tubes (which, with non-macro lenses) are fine for flowers but not so fine for flat specimens like stamps) at $50-$130
  • reversed lens screwed into front of a conventionally mounted lens (which does not lose AF or fast & easy diaphram control)
  • reverse mount lens (which does lose AF and fast & easy diaphram control)



I don't necessarily think that a specific proposal of a Nikon lens reversed is necessarily a good solution unless OP already owns one, and therefore does not have to spend money to buy one, plus buy a reverse mount adapter! A reverse OM or M42 lens is, in concept, just as good as a Nikon lens reversed.


Also, OP, you mentioned "already owning a true Macro lens"...WHAT brand and model and FL? so we can propose an alternative to complement what you already own!

I brought up the topic of working distance and perspective, influencing general lens selection criteria.
OP you really do need to focus this frequently off-topic and even contentious discussion group, by narrowing down the conditions for the suggestors...do you like mainly small blooms (e.g. 0.5") or full range of sizes of blooms (some approaching 6"), a preference for style/perspective (see my earlier triplet of photos), give us something to focus the discussion on solutions well suited for YOUR shooting! The size of your subject and the preferred distance (close vs. farther away) you wish/need to shoot this stuff highly influences recommendations made.
Some commentary from you, not merely the 'thanks' replies of the first couple of days, would go a long way to better focus people's replies!

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Apr 23, 2016 18:25 |  #64

If I were the OP, I would have left long ago.


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Post edited over 3 years ago by Wilt. (3 edits in all)
     
Apr 23, 2016 18:52 |  #65

Yes you do use a LENS at the end of the extension tube, so my proposal of extension tube as one of several solutions to shooting macro very broadly opens the possiblities of the solution lens which is used in conjunction with the extension tube (or close up lens).

And an extension tube is far less expensive than buying a Nikon lens!

Archibald wrote in post #17982478 (external link)
If I were the OP, I would have left long ago.

He did...after day 2!


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Apr 23, 2016 22:49 |  #66

I will attempt to bring things back on topic with the generalization of the solution of 'macro on budget'... close up lenses (not particularly highly recommended with interchangeable lens cameras) at $70-150 extension tubes (which, with non-macro lenses) are fine for flowers but not so fine for flat specimens like stamps) at $50-$130 reversed lens screwed into front of a conventionally mounted lens (which does not lose AF or fast & easy diaphram control) reverse mount lens (which does lose AF and fast & easy diaphram control)

Yes too many variables really. Close up diopters, if not single element ones, can be surprisingly good.
Usually better than tubes. The Raynox pair (DCR250 and DCR150) at about 8 and 5 diopters are triplets and cost around $60. (There's an MSN202 at about 25 diopters which I haven't found works well on much). Wide open the edges can be soft and colored (CA) but stopped down, not a problem. There are those who say something like a Canon 500D gives no loss of definition but they aren't looking close. Maybe not at web resolution.

Yes I have those three, but as I don't run blogs with links to buy them and earn me an affiliate commission, I don't have a picture handy.
They take a 1:1 focusing 105mm macro down to about 2:5x, only. I can measure that if someone wants. For "budget" they're a good option.
For around the same $60 (mine was 78) you might instead find the Sigma 24 and have strong perspective, and very close focusing, plus the option of reversing it, if only for a dreary low contrast, not particularly sharp picture of a crab spider with blurred edges exactly like one I saw somewere recently. (But if you produce it at web size nobody will know it's not a $500 lens). A problem apparently is that the resale value is low. How terrible, unless it's more than you pay for it. ;) ;)



Jack Swift

  
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Lester ­ Wareham
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Post edited over 3 years ago by Lester Wareham. (2 edits in all)
     
Apr 24, 2016 12:01 |  #67

Swiftlet and John K, That's quite enough you two. If you can't play nice put each other on the ignore list.


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If You Had a Choice on a lens Other than MACRO
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