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New Nikon 60mm Macro

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I was browsing the Bjorn Rorslett website and I came across a review of the new 60mm macro from Nikon. It looks very promising.

AFS Micro-Nikkor 60 mm f/2.8 ED G N

5

(FX: D3)

 

5

(FDX: D300)

 

IR:

 

2-3

(DX: Fuji S3 UVIR, D200 modified)

The newest of the members in the long line of Micro-Nikkors also happens to be the best of them all in optical terms. Images are super sharp already from f/2.8 and keep their bite up to f/11, from which point a graceful decline kicks in. The f/22 result is very acceptable, but the f/32 isn't on the D3.

Compared to the predecessor, the new 60 Micro convinces by offering much better performance at the wider apertures and at distance, both areas in which the older lens didn't do too well. Colours are rendered vividly saturated and image contrast is high all the way up to f/16.

 

The new lens is slightly bigger than the older model but since it is an IF design, it doesn't get any longer when focused to its near limit of 18.5 cm or life-size reproduction (1:1) . Obviously it can do this trick only by shortening its focal length. Free working distance (FWD) then is only 5 cm, so you have to remove the HB-42 lens hood in this case. The FWD in fact is approx. equal to that of the older model.

 

As becomes a Micro-Nikkor, geometric distortion is negligible and the flatness of field is excellent. The sophisticated nano-coating technology provides good resistance against flare and ghosting, but since the front element now is no longer recessed, using the lens hood is recommended.

 

IR: Unfortunately, this lens does not work well for IR. There is a weak but clearly visible IR hot spot, and sharpness suffers.

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sounds very promising. Whats the price tag any idea?

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sounds very promising. Whats the price tag any idea?

I found it listed on the Adorama site for $569. Not available yet though.

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I suppose the main advantage for UWP will be the implementation of AFS -- for example, there is no need for a shift gear when one wants to MF.

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I have to say that I remain unconvinced that the high speed AF of AFS Nikon lenses is actually a positive factor in underwater photography. There is something to be said for older lenses that leave the photographer feeling more in control.

 

That said I am sure the sharpness, saturation and bokeh will make this a desirable piece of glass.

 

Alex

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True Alex, Simon always moaning about his new 105 being too fast.. :D

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Just a note of caution. If it is anything like the Canon 60mm macro EFS then whilst it will probably be a stunningly good lens used on its own or with a short extension tube, I do not find that the Canon is very good with increasing extension (which is probably down to the IF focus design). It will be interesting to see a review which pushes this lens beyond its 'standard' operating parameters, but I suspect that Alex has a good point an saying something for older lenses........

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I have to say that I remain unconvinced that the high speed AF of AFS Nikon lenses is actually a positive factor in underwater photography. There is something to be said for older lenses that leave the photographer feeling more in control.

Alex

 

So are you going back on the conclusion in your 105mm VR review now that you have had some more time with the lens?

 

I actually felt the opposite after having finally gotten my 105mm VR underwater this fall. In testing topside I found the lens actually slower than the old lens because of the hunting around. Underwater it didn't seem much of a problem. I think the difference was in true macro performance. At macro distances the speed of the AFS causes overshoot and more hunting despite the lightning fast motor performance. Using it at 1:2 and longer for fish portraits it lock on reliably much faster than the screw drive version. The real advantage in the macro realm is the easy switch to manual focus when critical focus is required.

 

With the 60mm I think the user will be less likely to use this lens at 1:1 so improved performance at medium distances (.5-1 m) will be a boon to this lens in a way that it wasn't so much for the 105mm vr.

 

I look forward to anything that can make my favorite lens even better. Faster focusing could be an improvement although I never really had a problem with the focus speed of the 60mm. Nor have I ever felt the need to switch to MF with this lens.

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Yeah, usually I change my mind about stuff all the time. But in this case I think the same of the 60mm and the 105mm AFS.

 

Here is a quote from the 105mm review on Wetpixel, which is consistent with my post above on the 60mm:

 

Try the lens out on land and the speed and accuracy of the AF-S driven focusing is astonishing (particularly on my D2X) and in a different league to the old 105mm.

But the picture is very different in the low light, low contrast, monochrome world beneath the waves. In these conditions auto-focus tends to hunt. When the old 105mm hunted the focus racks through its range relatively slowly and it was possible to take your finger off and on the shutter release to stop it close to the point of focus to help it on its way- a little bit of manual over-ride as it were. This technique is not possible when the new lens is hunting because it zips through the focus range so quickly. The new lens does not hunt anymore than the old one – it is just the speed at which it zips through the focus range is makes you feel more of a passenger and less in control.

 

Alex

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I found that switching to AF-A focusing mode on my D80 helped to limit the overly quick focus/shutter release, and resulted in a better amount of in-focus shots when using the 105VR.

 

Jack

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Yeah, usually I change my mind about stuff all the time. But in this case I think the same of the 60mm and the 105mm AFS.

 

Here is a quote from the 105mm review on Wetpixel, which is consistent with my post above on the 60mm:

Alex

Thanks for the quote, that clarifies your meaning for me. Because of the AF noise I was wondering if the audible feedback provided a better sense of control - a pro and a con - some UW life may not like the sound.

Tom

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Oh absolutely Alex,

 

I can't agree more about the feeling of being in the driver's seat. I also agree as you point out that light is the key element in success with either 105mm lens. If there is sufficent light(be it natural light or an added focus light) , then either will focus much faster. My one and only experience with the 105VR underwater was for shallow dives in the Sea of Cortez where I had no trouble at all. Here I think the AFS really rocks because there is no trouble for the AF system to obtain focus and the motor speed really gets there in a hurry.

 

But it was actually your conclusion statement that I was asking about. Now after much use and experience in the final analysis do you still stand behind your opinion?

 

Some feel that the new lens has Òclearly superiorÓ autofocus to the old lens, while others say that they do sometimes miss the slower focus racking of the old lens, but they prefer the new one. And on reflection I think I fall into the latter category. Despite dedicating four paragraphs to auto-focus, perhaps I say a lot more when I tell you that since I got the 105mm VR, I have shot in Indonesia, Cayman and Sardinia and I havenÕt even put the old lens on my camera.

 

You are entirely entitled to changing your mind. We've been living 8 years with a president who feels compelled not to change his mind--not too happy with the results. :-)

 

This is actually pretty important right now as I'm contemplating sealing my 2-years old upgrade path with new flat port system and a potential lens upgrade. Here is the pricey history:

 

2004 I bought a 60mm Nikkor and a fixed ikelite flat port (works great)

2005 I added the 105mm af lens and 4T diopter

2006 I had a custom focus port made for the 105mm w 4T diopter and finally got it underwater

2006 Shortly afterward I bought the 105mm vr

2007 fall I finally got the 105mm VR underwater in a prototype modular port

 

Now with the new flat port system, I'm finally ready to let go of the old lens and perhaps upgrade the 60mm as well.

 

So if you had your old lens back would you go back?

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So if you had your old lens back would you go back?

 

I have still got the old lens. My girlfriend uses it. But I have not been tempted to put it back on the camera yet. Maybe I am just indecisive! :blush:

 

Alex

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My solution for macro on the 105VR is to set the camera in focus priority and keep pushing the shutter. This works really well for those fast moving little critters (but not so well for pigmy seahorses). It's kinda like a Lexus. No road feel, no road noise, no feel of driving the car....but what a ride.

 

Tom

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Thanks Alex,

 

I think its just a tough call. The prospect of fast switch MF may be the swinger. the AF/MF Ike lite port never worked right. I expect that the 60mm will work better as having enough light is less a problem so the motor speed should help.

 

I ordered both the flat port and the 60mm lens on Friday. As soon as they come in I'll drag my housing and the flat port down to the shop and have a serious test, if it fits and how it focuses. I'll report back with my findings.

Edited by UWphotoNewbie

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I managed to handle the new 60 macro lens on a D3 at Focus on Imaging (annual photography show at the UK's National Exhibition Centre) yesterday. Although I only had a couple of minutes to try it I can say that AF was very fast indeed and locking on to a subject posed no problems in the centre (pretty well lit though). I'd be hard pushed to say whether it was substantially different to the Canon 60 on my 1DS (with the 12mm tube) in terms of speed/accuracy under these sort of conditions, but would say that if I were a Nikon user it would be a lens at the top of my list for underwater use (especially in temperate waters and on a FF Nikon - either the D3 or mythical D3X!). As an IF (internal focus) lens it is also compact and has no extension as it operates so will fit into a shorter port potentially giving more 'lighting space' than the old lens. Nikon could not confirm whether they will continue to produce the older 60mm but the concensus seemed to be that it is unlikely.

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Did the old 60 not internally focus? Sorry, I am only just switching to Nikon

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No the older lens was not IF and had quite a bit of extension. The other problem was that the lens had its own AF/MF switch on the barrel. I never used it in MF though.

 

Good to hear that focus on this lens is snappy. I'm not suprised as its technically easier to focus a 60mm than a 105mm.

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I've only used the new 105mm VR, not the old one. I found the learning curve very steep, but not much worse that my learning curve with the old 60mm. I found that a small focus light pretty much sorted the AF hunting problem with a D200, even at night. I don't have a MF port (obviously, I'm still a rank amateur).

 

Anyway, with regard to the new 60mm, have I missed something that I don't know about? I had thought that with a flat port IF was pretty irrelevant because of the much more nearly parallel light rays traversing the lens aperture.

 

Tim

 

B)

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I think the primary advantage of IF would be faster focusing. An unintended, I'm sure, advantage for the underwater user is the shorter travel of the lens would also allow for a shorter lens port design. The possibility of a shorter design that incorporated a small dome is kind of exciting.

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I just picked up my new 60mm AF-S from the shop.

 

It is FAST. I did a side-by side unscientific comparison and its much faster. I didn't notice any of the overrun issues that I saw with the 105mm AF-S at close focus. It focuses very well at macro distances. Of course there you need to be careful that your own motion isn't causing it to knock out of focus. Farther away it always locks on instantly. In either case its much faster than the old version.

 

The camera shop was a bit faster than Ikelite was with the modular flat port however. I'm expecting to get one to test soon.

 

The front element is much smaller than it is on the older lens. Curious, this must be a completely new optical design.

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So I'm thinking of getting this lens as I don't have a 60 yet (just switched to Nikon)..... I use a Sea & Sea MDX D300 housing.

 

Can someone out there advise me as to which port to get? Will this fit the Standard NX port (with the rubber bumper)? Is there a lot of dead space?

I figured that as the Standard port together with an SX ring will take the 105VR, the width of this lens would not be a problem. Just wondering if the port is long enough or too long....

 

I would be grateful if someone could help. I am going on a trip soon and really need to go ahead and order gear. I don't have an opportunity to handle either the lens or the port. Only guessing by online specs.... I am also new to UW DSLR use....

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So I'm thinking of getting this lens as I don't have a 60 yet (just switched to Nikon)..... I use a Sea & Sea MDX D300 housing.

 

Can someone out there advise me as to which port to get? Will this fit the Standard NX port (with the rubber bumper)? Is there a lot of dead space?

I figured that as the Standard port together with an SX ring will take the 105VR, the width of this lens would not be a problem. Just wondering if the port is long enough or too long....

 

I would be grateful if someone could help. I am going on a trip soon and really need to go ahead and order gear. I don't have an opportunity to handle either the lens or the port. Only guessing by online specs.... I am also new to UW DSLR use....

 

I've just bought the MDXD300 - I've got the 105vr loaded into the standard NX flat port (56101) with an extension ring (50261). Sea and Sea USA told me I'd need extn ring 56111 - but the 105vr actually fits behind the smaller extension ring that is also used for the 17-35 eith the 8" acrylic dome port. sea and sea USA assured me that the new 60mm af-s fits Ok into the NX flat port without an extension ring (I can't confirm because I don't possess this lens).

 

So....the 17-35 = 50261 and 56401. the 105vr = 50261 and 56101. the 60mm = 56101. Ask Sea and Sea direct if you're still unsure. Don't ask Sea and Sea UK - they will just repeat whatever is in the brochure.

 

Anybody wanna buy a 56111 extn ring?

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Hmmmm....I am unsure of the model numbers you have quoted.

 

Here is what I know.

 

Standard NX port with SX extension ring works with the 105VR as long as the little rubber bit inside the standard port is sliced out (with a scalpel perhaps). If you don't cut the bit out, you may use the 40 extension ring, which is longer than what you need.

 

I asked Sea & Sea. They say from the specs of the new 60mm, the Standard NX Port which has the rubber bumpers will fit. However, they will not comment on the image quality.

 

I will try anyway!

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