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General photography questions and answers: Discuss is a macro lense really neccesary?...i am about to buy a D40 w/ an 18-55 kit lense, i love shooting macro shots w/ my old ...
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Old 10-06-2007, 05:18   #1 (permalink)
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is a macro lense really neccesary?

i am about to buy a D40 w/ an 18-55 kit lense, i love shooting macro shots w/ my old point and shoot. will i be able to shoot sharp macro shots w/ the 18-55, or will i have to buy a lense specially made for macro shooting.
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Old 10-06-2007, 08:21   #2 (permalink)
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Re: is a macro lense really neccesary?

Well, I use my 18-55mm kit lens but would call the result a close-up rather than a macro. It has neither the sharpness nor the magnification of my Sigma 105mm
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Old 10-06-2007, 11:36   #3 (permalink)
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Re: is a macro lense really neccesary?

The problem is sensor size. The sensor in a point and shoot is about an eighth of the size of that in a DSLR like the D40. This means that the lens is much closer to the sensor in the P&S and doesn't need to move anything like as far to focus on a really close subject. Also, for a variety of reasons, lenses for very small sensors are easier to make acceptably sharp than those that cover larger areas.

Macro lenses for something like the D40 are much bigger, have less depth of field (front to back sharpness) than on a P&S and are a lot more expensive than the ordinary run of SLR lenses. Although I have a macro lens I can fit to my DSLR, I actually prefer to use a P&S, the Nikon S10, for macro stuff, simply because it's a lot easier. I took this shot yesterday while out for a walk. I simply wouldn't have bothered if I'd had to carry and fit a bulky macro lens to a DSLR...

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Old 10-06-2007, 13:04   #4 (permalink)
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Re: is a macro lense really neccesary?

This is a good point. I have wanted a Macro lens for ages but there has always been a higher priority. Recently, I reached the point of looking at specs but my 21 year mid range zoom developed a fault so I bought a Canon 24-105 mm zoom to replace it. While it is not a Macro lens, it does focus quite close and is fine for flowers, most fungus and butterflies. You can use close up filters to get in even closer though quality is unlikely to match a true Macro lens for such cases. It depends just how important this area of photography is to you. It would certainly be sensible have a go within the limits of your lens and discover if you want to go further and invest in a specialist lens. For me I will have to wait until I have saved up again but, so far, I am very pleased with the close up with this news lens even though it was bought as a general purpose lens.
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Old 10-06-2007, 19:36   #5 (permalink)
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Re: is a macro lense really neccesary?

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Originally Posted by liljj323 View Post
i am about to buy a D40 w/ an 18-55 kit lense, i love shooting macro shots w/ my old point and shoot. will i be able to shoot sharp macro shots w/ the 18-55, or will i have to buy a lense specially made for macro shooting.
The 18-55 has a minimum focus distance of about .9 feet.

You will be able to get some close ups but you're not going to ever count the hairs on a fly's butt or see pollen dust on the insides of flowers.
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Old 11-06-2007, 08:27   #6 (permalink)
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Re: is a macro lense really neccesary?

You could always use extension tubes as a cheap addition to tide you over. They are not as easy to use as true macro lens but will give you far better results than just the normal lens on its own and at a fraction of the cost of a decent macro lens.
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Old 11-06-2007, 09:57   #7 (permalink)
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Re: is a macro lense really neccesary?

Steve, two problems with that idea..

One, the 18-55 has no aperture ring to set aperture without being directly hooked to the body.. You can supposedly hook the lens up, set the aperture and then unhook it without powering down the body but I'm not so sure I'd want to repeat that step very often. (dust in body, wear on mount, potential of shorting out the connector..) It would be far simpler to use an old inexpensive 50mm Manual lens..

Second, not a show stopper, but something to consider carefully - the D40 will not do any light metering with extension tubes. It is all manual settings without a connection to the chip in the lens. For that matter nothing below the price range of a D200 in the Nikon line will do that - unless it was added to the D80, which came out after I bought my D50 and did my research. I kind of doubt that though.

I learned that one when I was all hot to try out a couple of my old manual Nikkor lenses with my D50 after buying it. Figuring I could set my aperture and at least use shutter priority mode like I did with my N90S.

I guess it is still simpler than film cameras since you can at least get a look at what you captured on the LCD screen but it defintely adds to the complication. I got a couple nice pictures with my old 135mm F2 Nikkor before getting frustrated with it.
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Old 11-06-2007, 10:09   #8 (permalink)
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Re: is a macro lense really neccesary?

Actually, I like Steve's idea and have even used it (but had forgotten)! Slightly different approach as I go the M42 route: inexpensive lenses + extension tube + M42 adapter. OK, so it's all manual but that just adds to the challenge - should dig out my 400mm + extension tube shots!
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Old 11-06-2007, 11:17   #9 (permalink)
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Re: is a macro lense really neccesary?


Used my nikon d 50 with 18-55 Kit lens and +10 sceew on macro lens for this pic.
A set of macro and close up lenses can gdt from E Bay for about £15.
Since they screw on as a filter ,the lens does not have to be removed to fit them.No danger of dust on the sensor.
At the price i think they perform very well'
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Old 11-06-2007, 12:45   #10 (permalink)
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Re: is a macro lense really neccesary?

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Steve, two problems with that idea..

One, the 18-55 has no aperture ring to set aperture without being directly hooked to the body..
Are you saying the little aperture control slider doesn't get connected up when using extension tubes?

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Second, not a show stopper, but something to consider carefully - the D40 will not do any light metering with extension tubes.
Are you sure? The blurb for kenko tubes say in the u can meter. Is it a D40 specific thing?
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Old 14-06-2007, 11:49   #11 (permalink)
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Re: is a macro lense really neccesary?

I'd recommend the extension tube approach ( though close up filters may work, I've not used them) I started out using them, and got used to macro photography, found I really liked it and then spent the money on a macro lens.

If the aperture really can't be changed and you can't meter with extension tubes attached I'd be looking at another camera/lens option personally.
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Old 14-06-2007, 11:57   #12 (permalink)
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Re: is a macro lense really neccesary?

I think that tubes are a valid option, but once you check out a macro lens and see just what genuine 1:1 is like, there wont be contention.
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Old 14-06-2007, 17:03   #13 (permalink)
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Re: is a macro lense really neccesary?

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I think that tubes are a valid option, but once you check out a macro lens and see just what genuine 1:1 is like, there wont be contention.
No doubt about that, but you can get close without committing comparatively a large amount of dosh until you're sure you really will use it.
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Old 14-06-2007, 17:42   #14 (permalink)
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Re: is a macro lense really neccesary?

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No doubt about that, but you can get close without committing comparatively a large amount of dosh until you're sure you really will use it.

Yeah that's true, although I was really talking in terms of going to try one out in the shop
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Old 20-06-2007, 10:37   #15 (permalink)
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Re: is a macro lense really neccesary?

Close up diopters are a good way to start but they work best if on the front of a tele/zoom at around 200mm.

Have a read of the Beginners Guide to Macro I wrote last year, it might help.
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