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Macro 60 or 105mm on a D800 + (maybe) TC 14-EII or TC-20EIII


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#1 Valeria Lages

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Posted 14 July 2013 - 10:22 PM

Hi folks,

I own the D700 and am upgrading soon, probably, to the D800 camera housing and son on, but before getting my brand new UW setup, I have to decide first about a macro lens to buy right now because I've just known about an upcoming job on land in the Amazon Forest (with no dives included at all). I'm a freelancer environmental journalist and photographer who works with all kinds of nature subjects (not only underwater ones, even that, no doubts, surely these are my favorites). So, as I work by myself and as I don't have a big budget to buy all the top gear which I'd like to have, I beg you please help me with some suggestions in order to allow me save some money (whether is possible think about this when talking about uw photo rig).

 

Anyway, I'm wondering which would be the best option to buy right now: the 60mm or the 105mm VR macro lens (thinking about using it on land firstly on a forest and then underwater). Honestly, in a short time perspective, I don't believe I'll be able to buy the both lenses (as many people here would like to suggest me), because, as I said before, I'm upgrading my gear and this is now my priority. So, please I'd appreciate if you can help me giving me some advices about the best cost/benefit of each lens for using paired to the D800 if I only could have one of them, but, of course, considering what I've already said...

 

Perhaps it's important also to have on mind that I already own both the Nikon TC 14-EII (1.4x teleconverter) and the newer TC-20EIII (2.0x) as well, if ever any of them can be a good idea working toghether with any of the mentioned lenses.

 

I do thank a lot in advance any suggestion you guys can give me! : )

 

Valeria

 



#2 buddy

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Posted 14 July 2013 - 11:00 PM

I just bought the new 105 VR and a Subal macro port with manual and automatic focussing. The 105 is probably the sharpest lens Nikon has made in this categorie. I gives a clear 1:1 with a decent lens-to-object minimal focus distance. I already have the versatile 70-180mm macro zoom lens from Nikon, but the 105 is awsome. go for this one.

I also use the lens on land, e.g. for portraiture shots; it is really sharp and bokeh is great.


Juerg
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Nikon D4s, Nikon 16-35 /f4 VR II, 70-180,105mm f/2.8, Subal ND4 housing and ports, 2 Subtronic Fusion (flash and video lights), Sigma 15mm /f2.8, Subal 4" Minidome


#3 spencerjb22

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Posted 14 July 2013 - 11:17 PM

I have both for my D600. I started with the 60mm but for me, it's not quite tight enough. I find the 105mm is superb on FX for macro/super macro. I like the 60mm, as it opens up lots of other opportunities. It's quite versatile on fx and use it as a scouting/not sure what i'm going to see type lens. But if I know i'm going in to shoot macro, i'll mount the 105mm.



#4 Bent C

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Posted 14 July 2013 - 11:43 PM

I am shooting Canon and have used more or less all the EF macros. If I had to choose one single lens it would without doubt be the 100 mm. In rainforest it gives you a little bit more distance, and underwater it is easier to get tight close ups. So I'd suggest the 105 and er the 60 later.
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#5 Viz'art

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 05:58 AM

Given that you work both on land and are planning to work underwater as well, I would go for the 105mm, top side the added working distance will make a difference when shooting insect, and the same goes underwater with timid animals, but it is a dedicated macro lens, the 60mm with its wider field of view could be an asset for shooting larger fish and close up of larger critter. The environment you are likely to shoot in, should also be taken into consideration, whether your are shooting in the Pantanal, or in the open ocean, these are two radically different water quality

 

The 105mm 

Advantage: Longer and more comfortable working distance, both on land and underwater, this is a major point for me, it is easy to break through the comfort zone of an insect or fish, so adding distance is a definite plus.

 

Disadvantage: In murky water, the added water between the subject and port might affect focusing adversely; also if shooting larger fish or animal underwater, its narrower field of view might be an issue. Usually more expensive to set up a macro configuration with this lens

 

The 60mm

Advantage: In Murky water, it should perform better than the 105mm does. The wider field of view means that, you won’t have to back away as much as the 105mm would force you, which  also means you have less water in between you and the subject, so improvement in contrast, sharpness and saturation and less backscatter in the final image. The 60mm  can be used for larger fish portraits. Price is usually lesser for a macro configuration

 

Disadvantage: Shorter working distance might make it more difficult to work with insects and small fishes

 

In the end, I believe that subject matter, not financial matter, should dictate your choice of lens (I know, it is easier said than done), but IMO, there is nothing worse than having the wrong tool for the job.

 


Jean Bruneau / Aquatica Technical Advisor

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#6 divengolf

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 08:17 AM

I own both for my D7000. Granted it's DX, but I find that I use my 60 much more UW than my 105. About the only time that I use my 105 is when I'm going after a specific subject on a site that I have dove previously and that's my main purpose on the dive.

 

Jean's comments are right on the spot.

 

But I feel that the 105 is much more useful on land. It's only real limitation for me is the small DOF. But that can be solved with a tripod. Make sure that you get the newer AF-S version of either lens.



#7 Viz'art

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 08:28 AM

In DX cropped sensor the field of view of the 60mm is 26.3 degrees and when shot of a FX full frame, the 105mm yields 23.2  degrees, so they are very similar in field of view coverage

 

So you are right on the money, the 105mm can be a bit radical on the DX format underwater, but it is quite a comfortable FOV to use with a FX full frame camera.


Jean Bruneau / Aquatica Technical Advisor

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#8 E_viking

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 10:41 AM

Hi,

 

Above water there is no discussion => 105mm

This is probably your knockout criteria.

 

Under water is slightly open for discussion.

FX => 105mm

Super macro => 105mm

DX => 60mm

 

D800 versatile => 60mm and then switching between DX & FX in Camera.

I use this when I go for a bit bigger animals (like Octopussesm Frogfishes etc etc), but still want to be able to shoot Nudis etc.

 

 

/Erik


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#9 Valeria Lages

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 09:41 PM

 

Given that you work both on land and are planning to work underwater as well, I would go for the 105mm, top side the added working distance will make a difference when shooting insect, and the same goes underwater with timid animals, but it is a dedicated macro lens, the 60mm with its wider field of view could be an asset for shooting larger fish and close up of larger critter. The environment you are likely to shoot in, should also be taken into consideration, whether your are shooting in the Pantanal, or in the open ocean, these are two radically different water quality

 

 [...]

 

In the end, I believe that subject matter, not financial matter, should dictate your choice of lens (I know, it is easier said than done), but IMO, there is nothing worse than having the wrong tool for the job.

 

Actually I already work shooting underwater, Jean, diving in such different environments like the rivers in the Pantanal and the Amazonas or around the world in many bays, archipelagos, reefs, wrecks, caves, or in the deep blue, with sharks and whales and so on. So I understand exactly what you mean about visibility conditions, but I guess my concerns are more referred to my inexperience with the macro world because I certainly haven't yet played enough seriously with that and I have no problems to say that the same can be applied when talking about land jobs. So far I tended to work with big fauna (then I own the 14mm, fisheye 16mm, 16-35mm, 35-70mm, 24-70mm, 70-200m and TCs 14II and 20III) and, as my (not so much) money comes for sure mainly from my land job, acquiring these lens was my first worry. Now is time to get a macro (again firstly for land use, secondly for UW) and then upgrade to the D800+housing and so on.

 BTW: I'm not yet convinced about which brand of housing I'll go for my new upcoming rig (I'm doing a lot of researches about), so your knowledge is welcome whenever I need any help with some other setup points that I'm dealing with.



#10 Valeria Lages

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 09:44 PM

[...] If I had to choose one single lens it would without doubt be the 100 mm. In rainforest it gives you a little bit more distance, and underwater it is easier to get tight close ups. So I'd suggest the 105 and er the 60 later.

 

Yep, Bent, which one I should buy firstly is exactly what I'm trying to figure out because I know I have to choose one of them to start playing with macro UW and then, after buying all the goodies I need for the D800, perhaps add the other one to the actual lens collection which I've being using so far with the D700.



#11 Valeria Lages

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 09:47 PM

[...] I like the 60mm, as it opens up lots of other opportunities. It's quite versatile on fx and use it as a scouting/not sure what i'm going to see type lens. But if I know i'm going in to shoot macro, i'll mount the 105mm.

 

The definition for the 60mm "as a scouting/not sure what i'm going to see type lens" is very useful, Spencer, I do appreciate it! This kind of doubt (whether use the gear setup X or Y) often happens to me when diving for the first time on new sites, even after having research a lot about the place and knowing which species are expected to be found.

Your 60mm's sentence will remain on my thoughts… Since I've read it I feel that I may be starting to change my mind about have only one macro lens. It seems I should definitely make a first dive on a macro known site with the 60mm and then, after make sure about the options, change the lens to the 105mm.



#12 Valeria Lages

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 09:49 PM

[...]  About the only time that I use my 105 is when I'm going after a specific subject on a site that I have dove previously and that's my main purpose on the dive.

 

[...] But I feel that the 105 is much more useful on land. It's only real limitation for me is the small DOF. But that can be solved with a tripod. [...]

 

Going after a specific subject knowing yet what there is where you gonna dive again is also a very good definition for the 105mm, Divengolf! It's just the opposite of what Spencer has told about the 60mm, something like "for when I don't know exactly what I will meet during the dive". So you two guys got easily to guide me to the same way!

Using the 105mm on land: I own strong but light Gitzo carbon fiber tripod and monopod, both comfortable enough for making me no lazy when working around forests, mountains, beaches, trails or whatever! ; )   



#13 Valeria Lages

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 09:52 PM

I just bought the new 105 VR and a Subal macro port with manual and automatic focussing. [...]

I also use the lens on land, e.g. for portraiture shots; it is really sharp and bokeh is great.

 

Hi, Juerg, the bokeh factor is something that I was really wondering about. I'm considering going with Subal too, so double thanks for your tips!



#14 Valeria Lages

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 10:09 PM

Hi,

 

Above water there is no discussion => 105mm

[...]

FX => 105mm

Super macro => 105mm

DX => 60mm

 

D800 versatile => 60mm and then switching between DX & FX in Camera.

[...]

 

Your opinion sounds to hit 3x0 for the 105mm against the 60mm because since I started to shoot full frame I have no intentions at all of migrating back to a DX system. I know that the DX is very well seen by the UW photographers community, even preferred in many cases, but I'm an old fashioned styled photographer who was used with the ancient 35mm chromes, slides and so on. Then the small sensors with its crop factor, high noise, low ISO possibilities etc never were totally OK for me. I was so pleasant to welcome the D700 when it was launched introducing the full frame with a reasonable price…

Switching the D800 from FX to DX: I do believe a 36MP file is not wanted/needed in every single pic you take, but I bet once I have the ultra mega resolution delivered by the D800 on FX, I'll not feel relaxed to give Murphy a chance of losing something quite remarkable that probably will show up just for a while right at the moment that I decided to exchange the camera to DX :(  I've tried few times this bad experience (diving whit no camera gear, for instance) meanwhile the most exceptional creatures simply poped up in front of me and I had no possibilities at all for registering them! So yeah... I do believe on Murphy's Law and in the same way I'm not able anymore to dive with no photo gear (I really would like to think/feell diferentily, but I'm just being honest), I guess I'll not want to risk swapping the menu to a DX crop.



#15 Valeria Lages

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 10:12 PM

Another question for you guys who kindly have answered my initial one: is there any difference/advantage/cons between the both lenses when shooting at night? My best UW pics were ever took during night dives (included the "very very close and detailed" shoots which I dare claim as almost macro ones), that's why I prefer such dives and am specially interested on how do the both lenses perform in this situation.



#16 divegypsy

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 01:22 AM

Dear Valeria,

 

I'll diverge from the previous comments by suggesting a totally different lens.  Nikon used to make a 70-180mm f4.5-f5.6 Micro-nikkor zoom.  If you can find a used one in good condition, it will be far more versatile and useful than either the 60mm or 105mm lenses.  The disadvantages of this lens are that it only focuses as close as .75x life-size, not 1:1 and isn't quite as bright in the viewfinder.  But you have the versatility of its 2.5:1 variable framing. This allows you to shoot a variety of "crops" of the subject with much less moving around, which disturbs subjects less.  Since it focuses to .75x, you can shoot critters almost as small as with the 105mm and still shoot critters that are considerably larger, like full-size fish.  This lens also performs very well behind a small diameter dome port which makes approximately 25% than behind a flat port.  It is my single most used lens underwater. 

 

Housings.  Like you are contemplating, I recently made the switch from the D700 to D800.  And more recently I made a housing switch, from Seacam to Subal.  I also took a careful look at Nauticam.  I chose Subal because it had the most comprehensive set of controls of any housing I had the chance to see and handle.  Subal has both auto-focus on and auto-focus lock controls.  Subal also has a control that allows you to access both the programmable function and preview buttons on the front of the D800 (and D700) camera body.  Having these allows you to utilize Nikon's "flash value lock" and not having your strobes fire without having to reach up and turn them off physically if you want to shoot a quick ambient light only shot, like a silhouette upward towards the water's surface.  The viewfinder that comes with a Subal housing is not great, as is the case with many of the less expensive "basic" viewfinders. I really like the Nauticam viewfinders because they allow adjusting the viewfinder for your own eyes while you are underwater.  Working with a local machine shop I was able to make a very nice adapter that allows me to mount the Nauticam viewfinders on my Subal housing.

 

I'm currently in Indonesia and will also be diving in Australia as well, but I'll be back in Florida just in time to go to the DEMA dive show - which is 6-9 November in Orlando.  If there is any chance you might make it there, I would be happy to show you my housing and let you try it with a variety lenses and ports in a swimming pool.  And if you would have the time, you could also try it on a real dive or two with me somewhere in Florida.  

 

Fred


Edited by divegypsy, 16 July 2013 - 01:34 AM.


#17 Viz'art

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 03:32 AM

Another question for you guys who kindly have answered my initial one: is there any difference/advantage/cons between the both lenses when shooting at night? My best UW pics were ever took during night dives (included the "very very close and detailed" shoots which I dare claim as almost macro ones), that's why I prefer such dives and am specially interested on how do the both lenses perform in this situation.

 

Valeria, I tend to go 105mm on night dive, sometime even going down with a +5 Wet Diopter. FYI, you have some really good Brazilian photographer down there, Fabio Amorin, Marcelo Krause, Adrianna Basque, just to name a few, I would check with them and see what they use, they pretty much work the same water as you do, I know Fabio works whit a 100mm on a full frame, I think that Adrianna and Marcelo also do, but not a 100% sure, I will shoot them a e-mail and see if I can confirm.

 

I still think the 105mm should be on top of your list. In my case, even if I work full time in the field of underwater photography, I still spend more time topside than under, and the 105mm is simply irreplaceable for the entomology work I do to. I own both the 60mm and the 105mm, but have to say the 60mm is not getting a lot of work aside from studio work and whenever I dive in very, very bad visibility. The 105mm is just the right package of focal length/field of view/working distance on a full frame camera, It just has that natural feels to it. 


Jean Bruneau / Aquatica Technical Advisor

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#18 trimix125

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 10:41 AM

Hi Valeria,

another thing is, that you cannot use the teleconverters on the AFS 60mm. I own this lens, and as well the TC20 II, but it is simply physically not possible to combinate these two items! The rear glass of the lens is standing to far outside, so you cannot mount the TC 20 II on it. I dont know if there is a difference between the versions II and III, but the AFS 60mm is also not in the teleconverter charts. The Tamron 1.4x i have as well, fits fine.
My standart macro lens is the 70 - 180mm Lens under and above surface.
But i use as well the AF 60mmD and the AFS 60mm, but most on my Sony Nex ;-))

Kind regards,
Wolfgang



#19 mdex73

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 01:49 PM

I used the 105 for the last year on my D800 and had excellent results.  Additionally, I've used the Subsee +5 and 10 with great results as well.  



#20 tdpriest

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 02:26 PM

 

 

D800 versatile => 60mm and then switching between DX & FX in Camera.

 

 

Why lose the data? It's only electronics; there's no magic to cropping down to DX. Pick the lens for the job!