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Nikon Macro Lens Compare 60mm 85mm 105mm

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So I was not sure if this should go with the beginner or the lens topics, I guess a moderator could move it if they feel it's better somewhere else. Since I am a beginner I put it here.

 

I want to get into under water macro/micro (never sure of the difference of those two words.) I have a Nikon D-300 and have been shooting above water for a long time. I have looked around a lot and tried to find technical, but more importantly practical knowledge about the 3 macro lenses that nikkor has.

 

The 60mm the new 85mm VR and the 105mm VR

 

I found a lot of info but not as much practical knowledge that I was looking for. So I bought the 3 lenses and ran some tests of my own. Because I have a crop sensor these would differ for ff cameras.

 

Here are the items that i used to size compare

847278680_SGmU6-L.jpg

 

These are the numbers I came up with.

 

Closest distance from tip of lens to object that uses the widest available aperture setting: (picture is linked)

 

60mm ~30" @ f2.8

85mm ~28" @ f3.5

105mm ~90" @ 2.8

 

Closest focus distance from tip of lens to focal point on object. (lens only, no filters) (picture is linked)

 

60mm -1.75" @ f4.8

85mm - 5.5" @ f5.0

105mm - 6" @ f4.8

 

Approximate distances from tip of lens to focal point in order to “fill the frame.” (attached photo to show my "filled frame")

 

For an item that is about the size of a nudibranch ~1.5” long

847277668_niyff-S.jpg

60mm – 5 ½” @ f3.3

85mm – 9” @ f4.0

105mm – 9 ½” @ f3.3

 

For an item the size of a small object ~2 1/2” long

847686358_wkF6v-S.jpg

60mm – 11” @ f3.0

85mm – 16.5” @ f3.8

105mm – 21” @ f3.0

 

For an item the size of a small fish ~ 8” long

847281444_Q8USR-S.jpg

60mm – 17” @ f3.0

85mm – 29” @ f3.8

105mm – 35” @ f3.0

 

Distance range from tip of lens to focal point with corresponding widest available f-stop. (Distance in inches) (if = infinity)

(sorry about the sloppy table)

 

Lens--------2.8-------3.0----------3.2---------3.3--------3.5----------3.8---------------4.0---------------4.2------------4.5----------4.8----------5.0

60mm------if-17----17-9--------9-5.5-------5.5-4------4-3.5---------3.5-2.75------2.75-2.25-----2.25-2.0-----2.0-1.8-----1.8-1.75-----n/a

85mm-------n/a-----n/a---------n/a---------n/a-----------if-30--------30-13----------13-8.5-----------8.5-7.5-------7.5-6.5-----6.5-6.25-----6.25-5.5

105mm-----if-90----90-21------21-13------13-11------11-8.75-----8.75-7.5------7.5-7------------7-6.5---------6.5-6.25----6.25-6-------n/a

 

From this info this is what I have deduced –

 

Arguing that the 85m is not a 2.8 lens is really irrelevant because the likelihood of someone using the 60mm or the 105mm, at a distance of 30" to 90” respectively, is not very likely underwater. In addition a depth of field that shallow would be rather useless. As for available light, the use of flashes would make up for any light needs. A functional f stop for filling the frame and getting a reasonable depth of field seems to be around 10-16 or even higher depending on the object.

 

Next, the 85mm and the 105mm have just about the same working distance for being as close as possible, for things like filling the frame with a nudibranch.

 

One advantage of the 60mm seems to reduce the column of water between the lens and the object.

 

Then the price –

60mm ~ $530

85mm ~ $500

105mm ~ $880

 

For price concern, the 85mm sure sounds like a good lens, the only downfall is that it’s new to the line up and I have read that not many underwater housings have made or perfected the gears or ports for this lens.

 

One other thing I noticed with the 85mm is that while on af it froze at closest focus range and would not seek on af until I manually spun the focus ring, this could be catastrophic if it happened underwater without gears. I tried to get it to repeat this problem but no such luck. (has anyone else run into this problem?)

 

With this info above, could people with extensive practical knowledge of this matter please chime in and give me their input on how this relates to underwater photography and help me in choosing the best suited lens.

-K

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In the past, for most folks who shoot underwater and who use Nikon cameras, the choice has been between the 60mm and the 105mm lenses. I think the 60mm lens is easier to use and therefore I usually recommend it as a first macro lens. It's generally used for fish portraits and, since the working distance is less than the 105mm, is better in water with low visibility. The 105mm lens excels for creatures that are shy, where the longer working distance really comes in handy. A lot of it depends on the kind of diving you do and where you are going to be diving. For example, I'm in the Pacific Northwest, where visibility can be low compared to other dive locations. The 60mm lens is best since there is not as much water in between the camera and the creature being photographed. Particulate matter in the water (called backscatter) can be a consideration in the choice of lens. However, if you are going to a location with viz in the 100' range, and are going to be photographing tiny creatures that are shy, the 105mm VR lens may be a better choice.

 

Be aware that the 105mm VR lens has a large diameter and doesn't always fit into the ports for macro lenses which work well for the 60mm lens. For example, I have the 105mm VR lens and needed to buy a dedicated port for this lens to use with my Subal housing. Others have drilled out the inside diameter of the 60mm port to allow the 105mm VR lens to fit. In that case, a port extension is used for the extra length of the 105mm VR.

 

Also, with the 105mm lens, some uw photographers use various types of diopters for photographing very tiny creatures, often little more than the size of your fingernail. This, as you can imagine, requires a bit more skill to get the shot right.

 

In my experience, the 105mm lens will hunt more than the 60mm lens to lock focus. However, I must say I have only used the old version of the 105mm lens underwater. I now own the 105mm VR lens but haven't yet used it underwater.

 

FWIW, Nikon uses the term "micro" on its macro lenses. The two words micro and macro mean the same thing.

 

Let us know what type of diving you plan to do and we could probably better advise you.

 

I haven't mentioned the 85mm lens at all because it's so new I don't know anything about using it underwater nor do I know of anyone else who's used it underwater. . Possibly others can jump in with regard to using that lens.

 

Ellen

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Thanks for the great info, I have not read about the ports that fit the 60 and not the 105, that is good to know. on that note the size relation between the 60 and the 85 are very similar and the range for shy creatures is about the same with an 85 as a 105, so that seems that a 60 and a 85 could be a good combo.

 

As for me, i live on the central coast of California, so the vis is usually not that good unless we head out to the islands. Even there it can be not so great. The thing that sparked my interest is that i was scheduled to go to lembeh straits, i really like some of the pictures i saw and wanted to take some of my own. So i would like to get some good photos of nudibranch, seahorses, shrimp, and octos...i know the octos are quite a bit bigger but hey it is what it is. (that game which one does not belong?) maybe ill find the blue ringed octo.

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The 85mm is a bit slower than the 60mm since the 60mm is 2.8 and the 85mm is 3.5. Just one more thing to consider :-)

 

As far as Lembeh Straits, you will want a lens that can get images of the smaller things. As it happened, I flooded my 105mm (older non-VR version) at Wakatobi so didn't have it available at Lembeh when staying at Lembeh Resort. I used my 60mm as that's all I had, but I was a very unhappy camper that I didn't have my 105mm available! I had even brought my Nikon 2T and 4T diopters for use with my 105 as well as the required step-up ring, but could not use them as the lens was flooded.

 

You might also want to look into the Sub See Magnifier, a wet mount diopter that mounts on the 105 and can get images of very tiny creatures. I don't know if they are made for the 85mm, but I know they are made for the 105mm VR as I have one.

 

When I get home, I'll try and post some images taken at Lembeh Straits with my 60mm lens.

 

Ellen

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Closest distance from tip of lens to object that uses the widest available aperture setting: (picture is linked)

 

60mm ~30" @ f2.8

85mm ~28" @ f3.5

105mm ~90" @ 2.8

 

Arguing that the 85m is not a 2.8 lens is really irrelevant because the likelihood of someone using the 60mm or the 105mm, at a distance of 30" to 90” respectively, is not very likely underwater. In addition a depth of field that shallow would be rather useless. As for available light, the use of flashes would make up for any light needs. A functional f stop for filling the frame and getting a reasonable depth of field seems to be around 10-16 or even higher depending on the object.

 

Not sure what you think about this? Thats just what i have seen...to even use the 2.8 you have to be 90" away. its stuff like this that i have not read about, thats why i did the tests...

 

i don't mean to disagree but for me the 2.8 does not seem to factor in.

 

i like your idea of the diopters, i want to look more into those, how small of creatures are we talking about in Lembeh? like less than 1in? less than 1cm?

 

thanks again.

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The 2.8 factors in for autofocus. The 2.8 lens allows in more light making it easier for the camera to focus. Also some cameras have extra af sensors that only work with 2.8 or faster lenses.

 

I do agree that you are unlikely to be using the lens wide open for macro shots.

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The 2.8 factors in for autofocus. The 2.8 lens allows in more light making it easier for the camera to focus. Also some cameras have extra af sensors that only work with 2.8 or faster lenses.

 

I do agree that you are unlikely to be using the lens wide open for macro shots.

Thats kinda cool. i did not know that, do you know if the D-300 or any Nikon cameras have that feature? i know that the D-300 has 51 points, but i was not aware of any extra af sensors...?

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Thats kinda cool. i did not know that, do you know if the D-300 or any Nikon cameras have that feature? i know that the D-300 has 51 points, but i was not aware of any extra af sensors...?

 

Since you have all three lenses, why not do some tests of auto-focus speed in some real-world conditions? It doesn't matter what the marketing material says if you don't see a difference when you actually take pictures.

 

Theoretically, a 2.8 lens should have faster and more accurate auto-focus than a 3.5 lens, especially in low light, and the viewfinder should be brighter when looking through a 2.8 lens. The way that lens should work on your D300 is that the aperture is at its widest when you compose the photo, the aperture is at its widest when the camera auto-focuses, and then the aperture is moved to f/11 or f/16 (or whatever f/stop is being used) in the instant before the shutter snaps. Auto-focusing with the widest possible aperture not only lets more light hit the AF sensors, but the shallow DOF helps the camera autofocus in exactly the right spot.

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Since you have all three lenses, why not do some tests of auto-focus speed in some real-world conditions? It doesn't matter what the marketing material says if you don't see a difference when you actually take pictures.

 

Theoretically, a 2.8 lens should have faster and more accurate auto-focus than a 3.5 lens, especially in low light, and the viewfinder should be brighter when looking through a 2.8 lens. The way that lens should work on your D300 is that the aperture is at its widest when you compose the photo, the aperture is at its widest when the camera auto-focuses, and then the aperture is moved to f/11 or f/16 (or whatever f/stop is being used) in the instant before the shutter snaps. Auto-focusing with the widest possible aperture not only lets more light hit the AF sensors, but the shallow DOF helps the camera autofocus in exactly the right spot.

 

I see what is being said but i assumed using a focus light would fix that problem for underwater condition. so again i did not really take that into account. and for what i understand by "faster" you are just referring to less hunting, not a motor that is actually faster. Sorry about learning the terms, as for how the camera works i have that down pretty well, i am just looking for comparisons for underwater, where i have never taking this type of camera. Thanks again for all the input.

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So I was not sure if this should go with the beginner or the lens topics, I guess a moderator could move it if they feel it's better somewhere else. Since I am a beginner I put it here.

 

I want to get into under water macro/micro (never sure of the difference of those two words.) I have a Nikon D-300 and have been shooting above water for a long time. I have looked around a lot and tried to find technical, but more importantly practical knowledge about the 3 macro lenses that nikkor has.

 

The 60mm the new 85mm VR and the 105mm VR

 

I found a lot of info but not as much practical knowledge that I was looking for. So I bought the 3 lenses and ran some tests of my own. Because I have a crop sensor these would differ for ff cameras.

 

Here are the items that i used to size compare

847278680_SGmU6-L.jpg

 

These are the numbers I came up with.

 

Closest distance from tip of lens to object that uses the widest available aperture setting: (picture is linked)

 

60mm ~30" @ f2.8

85mm ~28" @ f3.5

105mm ~90" @ 2.8

 

I am not sure that I understand or believe this. Your data suggests that a wide open lens has a minimal focal distance and that at f4 or so it moves to 2 inches. That is certainly not how I understand macro lenses to work and my Canon 100 macro for example there is no difference with minimal focal distance and f stop.

Bill

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I am not sure that I understand or believe this. Your data suggests that a wide open lens has a minimal focal distance and that at f4 or so it moves to 2 inches. That is certainly not how I understand macro lenses to work and my Canon 100 macro for example there is no difference with minimal focal distance and f stop.

Bill

 

Belief is up to you but understand i can try to help. If you start at say 5 feet away from an object with the nikon 105mm lense on a D-300 it allows an f stop of 2.8. As you move closer and continue to focus on the object it does not allow for that open of an f-stop. At 90" it changes to 3.0 being the widest available and on down from there, hence the table. I do not know the exact reason. Wish i could help more.

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Belief is up to you but understand i can try to help. If you start at say 5 feet away from an object with the nikon 105mm lense on a D-300 it allows an f stop of 2.8. As you move closer and continue to focus on the object it does not allow for that open of an f-stop. At 90" it changes to 3.0 being the widest available and on down from there, hence the table. I do not know the exact reason. Wish i could help more.

In manual mode? I am seriously confused now. I am also confused by what you just said. 5 feet is 60", at 90" is goes to f3.0? What mode are you using on the camera? What you are saying is that if you are very close to an object you can't shoot at low fStops for shallow DOF. That seems very wrong to me. Sorry for being a pest but this has me terribly confused.

 

Bill

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In manual mode? I am seriously confused now. I am also confused by what you just said. 5 feet is 60", at 90" is goes to f3.0? What mode are you using on the camera? What you are saying is that if you are very close to an object you can't shoot at low fStops for shallow DOF. That seems very wrong to me. Sorry for being a pest but this has me terribly confused.

 

Bill

 

i apologize with the 5' didn't really think about the amount of inches...forgot that it's so far away. replace 5' with 10 feet and it will make sense. So yes when you are at the closest focus distance you can not shoot at an fstop lower than 4.8.

 

i.e at the closet focal distance which is ~6" the widest you can open the aperture is 4.8.

 

Another example, if the camera is in manual mode and you focus on infinity and you slowly turn the focus dial you will watch the aperture go from 2.8 all the way up to 4.8 when you are focused at the nearest thats possible.

 

maybe its different on a canon lens?

 

-K

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maybe its different on a canon lens?

 

-K

 

That is a fair assumption but I think also inaccurate. I'm afraid there are some fundamental disconnects in the way your trying to test your gear. Can you try this for me? But your camera in full manual. Turn off the Auto focus. Now at any f/stop, roll the lens to the minimum focus. Don't look through the viewfinder, just the focus scale on the lens. Still with me?

 

Now looking through the viewfinder move your camera toward a subject until you come into sharp focus. If you now change the aperture I believe you will find that the focus distance of the lens does not change with f/stop.

 

What do you find when you test this way?

 

Steve

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That is a fair assumption but I think also inaccurate. I'm afraid there are some fundamental disconnects in the way your trying to test your gear. Can you try this for me? But your camera in full manual. Turn off the Auto focus. Now at any f/stop, roll the lens to the minimum focus. Don't look through the viewfinder, just the focus scale on the lens. Still with me?

 

Now looking through the viewfinder move your camera toward a subject until you come into sharp focus. If you now change the aperture I believe you will find that the focus distance of the lens does not change with f/stop.

 

What do you find when you test this way?

 

Steve

 

Agreed, once the focus is rolled in all the way the f/stop is at 4.8. Now changing the f/stop the focal distance does not change as long as you go "up" in numbers from 4.8, such as you can take a picture at 10, 14, 16 and so on, and the focal distance does not change, just the DOF. But if you try to go down in numbers, such as 2.8, 3.0, 3.3... it does not allow you to do so. hope this helps

 

What i was explaining is even just watching the display on the top of the camera, focus at infinity and open the f/stop to 2.8. As i roll the focus in, the f/stop starts to change. The numbers climb all the way to 4.8. So as it changed i would measure from the tip of the lens to the object i was focusing on. This is how i made the tables.

 

So i am not saying the focal distance changes with f/stop, but the "minimum f/stop" does change with focal distance. meaning if you want to use a full open f/stop of 2.8 you have to be greater than 90" away from the subject.

 

I really hope someone out there has the same setup and can confirm my findings. D300 with any of these macro lenses.

 

-K

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Over to you Nikonians. :lol:

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The f-stop set accurately describes the light-gathering ability of a lens only for objects an infinite distance away. The effective f-stop will vary as you focus closer than infinity. For most photography where you aren't focussing at very small distances the change in effective f-stop is negligible. However, when using macro lenses at very close focussing distance the effective f-stop will vary significantly from what has been set. On Nikons, the f-stop shown is the effective f-stop and will vary as you focus closer (as you have observed). On Canons the f-stop shown is what has been set and will not vary as you focus closer (and is probably why Steve using a Canon is confused by what you are saying :lol: ).

Edited by Gudge

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Yeay :lol:

 

Thank you...i am not crazy. :notworthy: good to know.

 

Now the nest question is why would it vary on a nikon and not a canon? How they make the lenses?

 

So let me get this straight, on a canon 100mm macro you can use the 2.8 setting? and will it actually be 2.8 or will it change when the picture is taken?

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Now the nest question is why would it vary on a nikon and not a canon? How they make the lenses?
It varies on both lenses, the only difference is that on a Nikon the effective aperture (which varies as you focus closer) is displayed while on a Canon the set aperture (which doesn't change as you focus closer) is displayed. Edited by Gudge

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Good to know. Well i think i am going to give the 85mm a shot. Once i get a bit better and more experienced i think i will go with the 105, in the mean time i will probably just go with a diopter for some more challenge. Thanks for the input all. Keep it coming as people learn more about the 85mm. :lol: or have other comments about the 60mm or 105mm.

 

-K

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... i think i am going to give the 85mm a shot...

 

I think that that's a mistake: firstly, the aperture isn't great, which may affect depth of field if you shoot balanced (blue-water) macro; second, there's not the wealth of underwater experience and third, the difference in "stand-off" distance. It's going to be more difficult than the traditional 60mm, but without the advantages of the 105mm, I would guess.

 

Diopters are a nightmare: I certainly wouldn't try one before being really experienced with the unadulterated lens, and with lighting macro images. I have found it really hard to locate wildlife that would let me get as close as a diopter needs, and still yield an image that works with the minimal depth of field.

 

Tim

 

:)

Edited by tdpriest

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firstly, the aperture isn't great, which may affect depth of field if you shoot balanced (blue-water) macro; second, there's not the wealth of underwater experience and third, the difference in "stand-off" distance. It's going to be more difficult than the traditional 60mm, but without the advantages of the 105mm, I would guess.

 

Diopters are a nightmare: I certainly wouldn't try one before being really experienced with the unadulterated lens, and with lighting macro images. I have found it really hard to locate wildlife that would let me get as close as a diopter needs, and still yield an image that works with the minimal depth of field.

 

Tim

 

:)

 

Thanks for the input.

 

i am not sure i understand what you mean by "may affect my depth of field if i shoot balanced macro?" i have spent a lot of time looking at photos that people shot and also shooting with this lens, i have found that i prefer the picture around f/stop 14, so how would that effect if i can not have down to 2.8? Can you go into a bit more depth for me, again i am not knowledgeable in this realm of underwater. If for focus, not enough light, ill use a focus light. I see no real use for an f/stop under 8 for underwater, if you feel otherwise please let me know.

 

Next the underwater experience, well at some point someone has got to try the new things, i am sure a lot of people said that things about dSLR when they came out...I found another post on here where someone seems to like the 85mm under water?

 

85mm like ;)

 

As for "stand-off" distance it is really similar to the 105mm but allows just a bit closer, not to mention about half the price, which was a big factor for me because i am new to this world, and i want to see if it something i am going to like before getting the best equipment.

 

-K

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