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

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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. [...]

 

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. [...] 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'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

 

Thanks for you suggestion, Fred. In fact I don't know this lens that you mentioned and its versatility + the fact of being well accepted behind a small dome are very attractive. However, perhaps there are some other things to put on the balance. If it's an old Nikon model, there's no VR, right? At this moment I wanna something which I can use topside as well (at least for this first investment on a macro lens), then I guess that f/4.5-5.6 may be a bit dark for shooting macro whenever one doesn't wanna use a flash, no? And besides, I must confess: I try at maximum to avoid buying used gear because I don't think we can totally trust on them as you never know its previous history neither how much outworn are its electronic and mechanic parts. They may be OK for a while and suddenly show some issue which can be a headache to solve after.

 

Housings: yep, my first option until now (I still researching about…) is Subal too, for the same reasons you listed, despite its high cost. But what you said about the viewfinder is something new for me, I had no idea about it, so I thank you for the information, I'll double check it out and, whether I finally decide for Subal, probably I'll contact you again to have some other orientations about this adapter that you have developed together with your local machine shop. I'm in contact with Harald (from Subal's factory in Austria), who is helping me a lot about configuring my next gear setup, then, depending on him, I can say no doubts I'll also have a good after-sale support by email, which is very very valuable for me here in Brazil. Nevertheless, like there is no local tech assistance here, whenever I need something, I have to send goodies to the USA (which is the easiest country for me), so one more weight to be pondered. Then I take this opportunity to ask you about how does it work there in the USA? Florida is the best place in the USA for me to deal with something like this (due to the air ticket costs, lower percentages of sale tax and so on), so I'm considering about to buy my stuffs at (and, whenever my gear need maintenance be assisted by) Reef Photo. How do you like their job? Or would you recommend me any other place to buy and send gear for assistance in the USA? If you prefer answer these questions privately, please feel free to email me or send me a private message here through Wetpixel.

 

Anyway, stick with Subal is not yet definitely decided, I'm researching also about Nauticam, Seacam and Aquatica because I'll replace the whole rig - ports, domes, strobes (I wanna lighter ones than the two Ikelite I own) -, so there are many points to evaluate in addition to the performance of each brand (after-sale and assistance support, for example, something that I'm having some previous idea nowadays meanwhile I'm contacting factories to solve doubts about the products). Obviously get to the conclusion of the best cost/benefit is the main challenge because the total amount of money involved is considerable.

 

DEMA dive show: thanks for your niceness, I really would do my best to be there in order to try your gentle offer, but right now I can't tell you if I could go to Florida next November because I have a job with serpents at Pará (a state in the North of Brazil which is one of the nine brazilian states with Amazon biome) starting in October and for now I'm not able to know how long it will rest. Anyway, I'm sure I'm going to Florida sometime to buy my brand new gear, but I fear (in case of Subal) it must be pre-ordered, so, too late for testing your rigs before making my mind. Any other chance here which I could follow that I'm not getting to see now?

 

Valeria

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[...] 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. [...]

 

Hi, Jean, I do know all these UW brazilian photographers you mentioned - there are many others excellent ones, like Daniel Botelho, which pics have been yet showed by the Full-frame section of Wetpixel -, but I don't know exactly who works with Nikon and I guess (however not sure) the UW macro opinions may vary according to the brand which one is used to shoot. I mean not only the lenses, but also the camera (it's relevant to say I have no experience at all with Canon DSLRs). Actually, due to a market factor, here in Brazil Canon is much more common than Nikon, so always I want some high opinion about Nikon top gear, I tend to search for that outside Brazil. The same way, as you know, Aquatica is very broadcasted among brazilian UW photographers, so probably you have a good general vision about who works with Nikon. Then, yeah, your help with them is more then welcome, thanks for that! Please keep me posted about it as soon as you receive any answer.

 

Anyway, aside of the enormous interesting brazilian biodiversity existent on our thousand rivers or on our 8.000 km of sea coat, I must say: our fresh or salt waters are definitely not a standard reference for me because the sea world is much much bigger : ) that's why I also like to have visions from abroad : )

 

Valeria

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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. [...]

My standart macro lens is the 70 - 180mm Lens under and above surface. [...]

Kind regards,

Wolfgang

 

The impossibility of using teleconverters with the 60mm is something quite new for me, Wolfgang, thank you for let me know about it! I own the TC-14II and the TC-20III and, sincerely, I don't know how much they can be useful underwater pairing with a macro lens. Any opinion here by someone, BTW, is very very welcome!

 

And how do you like your 70-180mm above surface being a f/4.5-5.6 with no VR? Sorry for asking you, but a part of mine 16-35mm which is f/4.0, all the others lenses I own are f/2.8 because I work with animals in movement, so I believe that's the best way to go…

 

Valeria

 

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.

 

Thank you for your feedback! Would you please tell me why did you choose Subsee diopters (which housing do you use?) and particularly how does the +10 work?

 

Valeria

 

 

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

 

Hi, E_viking, maybe you've misunderstood me. Trying again in other words: there's no sense for me download (during the caption!) the resolution of a 36MP FX camera to get a DX crop. I mean as long as I know myself, I bet once I have a 36MP FX camera, I will never dare to download it to a DX format on a dive-time period (maybe I can choose to crop it during the pos-proceeding, meanwhile I'm having a good cup of coffee sitting comfortable behind my 24'' monitor, but never before that!). Firstly because since I've started to shoot FX, I'm not a fan of DX anymore (better saying, I've never been so!). Secondly, because (what else can I say?) yes, I'm lickerish while shooting : )

 

Valeria

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[...] The 105VR on my D800 with a +5 diopter on a flip holder is an excellent choice. [...]

 

Hello, Jack, beautiful shot yours, congratulations! Apologize me for asking you something very basic for you guys who are used to shoot macro (it's a completely new world for me, no problems at all admitting it!): are you able to put diopters in and out the rig during the dive? I mean is it a wet one and so it's up to you decide if you wanna use it or not meanwhile you're diving? Thanks in advance for your answer.

Valeria



[...] As mentioned the 105 mm VR is a more ideal underwater FX lens, but I am with Fed and Wolfgang in my preference for the flexibility of the 70-180 mm micro nikkor lens.

 

Elmer

 

Hi, Elmer, do you believe also the 70-180mm can be a good choice for macro topside? I'm upgrading from the D700 to the D800 and I plan to exchange my whole UW gear, so I have to face many upcoming costs. But firstly of it I have a job next months on a forest (not diving) where I'll need a macro lens, so I'd like to buy for now the best cost/benefit one for this specific job and, at the same time, for my future UW use as well. I know this is not an easy equation, that's why I'm humbly asking your opinion about : )

Valeria

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[...] What I wanted to define is that the 60 mm on a D800 gives you a certain amount of freedom with the 36Mpixels.

I personally enjoy the 60mm on FX it quite a bit ( and if needed I Switch over to DX). My main for macro is however the 60mm

 

In my opinon the 60 and the 105mm complement each other UW for FX.

For land Photography, it is 100% the 105mm.

 

That's all right, E_Viking, thank you for having expressed yourself again. Yeah, I know yet that ideally I should buy both but, as I said before, my intention is buying just one right now (what I'm trying exactly to figure out which will be), then buy my whole brand new D-800 UW gear, after, probably, another macro lens…

 

Valeria

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I belivee that the strenght of a DSLR is the Quality of the lenses and at the same time it's weakness ( especially UW).

 

Sorry, E-viking, but I think I haven't understand what you mean here and I really would like to! So, can you please explain what you call "strong" or "weak" for UW standards? Thank you!

 

Valeria

 

 

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[...] I don't quite get why you'd shoot DX on an FX camera, unless you were limited by a lens, but that's just my opinion.

 

Jack

 

I totally agree with you at this point, Jack! No way (because for me there's no sense at all) to shoot DX on a FX camera, unless I'm missing something...

 

Valeria

 

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Hello Valeria,

 

I am a nikon DX shooter and I own 40, 60 AFD, 60 AFS, 105VR and sigma 150 macro lenses. I have never shot a FF camera but my DX cameras with 40mm deliver very much the same FOV as FF+60mm which is not IMHO in any way a nice macro setup, I find it very limiting and only very good for whole fish etc... but not macro.

Given that you are also very much a FF land shooter I would strongly suggest the sigma 150 macro lens (there are OS and no OS versions). If I were to change to FF, that would be my main UW macro lens and, for land, even more. If it is too long for you, then I would go for 105VR.

If you are in a tight budget, you can get a second hand 60mm AF-D which DOES work with TCs (60 AFS does not) for a very low price and use TCs to gain distance (slow focus though).

 

Good luck!

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Hi, Elmer, do you believe also the 70-180mm can be a good choice for macro topside? I'm upgrading from the D700 to the D800 and I plan to exchange my whole UW gear, so I have to face many upcoming costs. But firstly of it I have a job next months on a forest (not diving) where I'll need a macro lens, so I'd like to buy for now the best cost/benefit one for this specific job and, at the same time, for my future UW use as well. I know this is not an easy equation, that's why I'm humbly asking your opinion about : )

 

Valeria

Valeria,

 

I feel the 105 VR will be a sharper lens then the 70-180 mm micro lens, but the flexibility of the 70-180 mm lens gives you more leeway on your shots. Being a zoom lens it allows you to get in close or stand back depending on the photographic situation in the forest. Read Tom Hogan's review: http://www.bythom.com/70180macrolens.htm Also here are some pics taken with the 70-180 mm at Little Cayman: http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=50210 Also please note the discussion with Tim Priest regarding diffraction and that these pics were cut down to 5% jpegs.

 

Elmer

Edited by eyu

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Hello, Jack, beautiful shot yours, congratulations! Apologize me for asking you something very basic for you guys who are used to shoot macro (it's a completely new world for me, no problems at all admitting it!): are you able to put diopters in and out the rig during the dive? I mean is it a wet one and so it's up to you decide if you wanna use it or not meanwhile you're diving? Thanks in advance for your answer.

 

Valeria

 

I shoot the Nauticam NA-D800 with their 67mm flip diopter holder. I use a relatively "weak" (according to those who like the Subsee style) FIT +5 wet diopter, as I find it to be just about enough to get me in closer, but forgiving enough otherwise.

 

Forgive me for saying that there are many very good D800 housings out there with a lot of advanced features and controls, you may want to look further than Subal.

 

Jack

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[...]

Given that you are also very much a FF land shooter I would strongly suggest the sigma 150 macro lens (there are OS and no OS versions). If I were to change to FF, that would be my main UW macro lens and, for land, even more. If it is too long for you, then I would go for 105VR. [...]

 

Hi, Davi, thanks for your suggestion about the Sigma 150. I heard from someone here in this forum that its focus is too slow, that's why I haven't get interessed on this lens. Before having started this topic specific for the use with the D800, I believe I've read all topics around here which discussed about macro lens (mainly 60mm vs 105mm), so I guess the statement about the slow focus of the Sigma was said by someone who was discussing about the same as us. How do you like its focus, both for UW and topside shoots?

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[...] the flexibility of the 70-180 mm lens gives you more leeway on your shots. Being a zoom lens it allows you to get in close or stand back depending on the photographic situation in the forest. Read Tom Hogan's review: http://www.bythom.com/70180macrolens.htm Also here are some pics taken with the 70-180 mm at Little Cayman: http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=50210 Also please note the discussion with Tim Priest regarding diffraction [...]

 

I read carefully the 70-180mm review, Elmer, and must say that got specially worried about the drawback signaled on the text: "Autofocus Speed. Slowish and tends to hunt in low light situations. The limiter switch helps improve speed, but this lens isn't fast by any stretch of the word". So, how do you feel about it? I also followed your discussion with Tim regarding the diffraction, thank you for the links!

 

Valeria

 

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[...] I already have the versatile 70-180mm macro zoom lens from Nikon [...]

 

Hi, Juerg, this lens that you own was suggested by Elmer, so can you please give me your opinion about that? Do you think too that it should be the best choice for a first macro lens due to its versatility, as he said, or the 105mm remains as your advice for me? Tks!

 

Valeria

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[...]

Forgive me for saying that there are many very good D800 housings out there with a lot of advanced features and controls, you may want to look further than Subal.

 

Surely there are some other brands to analyze, Jack, and actually I'm doing so! Nothing yet decided so far, I've just talked about Subal because its easies to access the camera controls were being talked about. I know yet Ikelite housings (which I own) and am checking out also Nauticam, Seacam and Aquatica. Any other suggestion is very welcome!

 

Valeria

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I am not shooting macro that often and like more wideangle and big fish, but being twice in Lembeh recently. I was shooting so far macro with the Nikon's 70-180mm maccro zoom in the original (long) Subal macroport FP70180. This port lets you switch underwater from AF to manual focus. Autofocus with this lens is ok at conditons with good available light. It might hunt a bit in bad lighting condition, but it is still ok. But I can always switch very fast to manual focus which is the best way for macro anyways IMO (e.g. you want to focus on the eye and NOT want to recompose the frame...however, Alex Mustard recently described here on Wetpixel a method using modern Nikon's like D800/D4 AF-C with 3D-tracking and thus focusing on the eye with the selected focus point and then recompose....).

 

The 70-180 is a pretty sharp lens and as others said already very versatile due to it s zoom functionality. But is not enough for smallest objects, especially on FF. It renders only up to 1:1.3. I was using sometimes a 5T with it to get almost to 1:1. The negatives: It is rather a long lens and requires a large macro port. The housing with this lens and port gets front-loaded in weight and negative boyanacy and tends to swap over. The other thing is that Nikon does not make this lens anymore and it seems to be quite hard to get a used one due to its many believers (I have heared that it sells today used more than original...I myself also would never sell this lens...and furthermore, Subal does not make that port anymore...)

 

The images from Lembeh on my webpage are all shot with this setup: http://www.jvpictures.com/welcome.html

 

Contrary to this I got now the 105 with a new Subal macro port. This setup is more elegant and way more slick. The port is for manual and Autofocus (and does not even requires a lever to swich between these modes. Just use AF ( I am using exclusively AF-ON only technique by pressing AF-ON button combined with AF-C) and be able to change to manual by just turning the focus knob on the port. The port does not even require a focus gear on the lens since the internal focus wheel goes directly on the rubber barrel on the lens).

 

The 105 VRII lens itself is just superb. It yields 1:1. the largest aperture of 2.8 means that the view finder is about double time brighter than with a 5.6 lens, which is especially for macro shots in bad lighting conditions a big plus. And this lens is probably the sharpest lens Nikon ever made in the range of "standard professional lenses" (maybe the 200mm /f2.0 is even sharper...but this is not for underwater!).

 

But beware, for Subal I believe it requires a type 4 bayonnet diameter, since this lens is thicker than others. Off course, as others said, there are other good underwater housings available.

 

So rather a long story...

 

Juerg

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Surely there are some other brands to analyze, Jack, and actually I'm doing so! Nothing yet decided so far, I've just talked about Subal because its easies to access the camera controls were being talked about. I know yet Ikelite housings (which I own) and am checking out also Nauticam, Seacam and Aquatica. Any other suggestion is very welcome!

 

Valeria

 

I do not want to leverage this too much, but the newest Subal housings like for D4 and D800 are just astonishing. All camera functions are easily accessible by your fingers without to remove your hands from the regular hand positions. the latest ports AND extension rings have a port-lock, inside is a leak-warner for sound and sight. My housing comes with 2 additional unused M14 threaded port holes for accessories. One of them I have used recently for a bulkhead with a HDMI cable inside the hosuing for an external monitor outside of the housing. with this I am using the Atomos Ninja2 HDMI/ProRes Recorder/Monitor in a Dive and See monitor housing for uncompressed 220 Mbits video recordings. The other is still unused, but could be used e.g. for a leak sentinel...

 

these are just a few items to know. But also, this stuff is (too) expensive...

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I read carefully the 70-180mm review, Elmer, and must say that got specially worried about the drawback signaled on the text: "Autofocus Speed. Slowish and tends to hunt in low light situations. The limiter switch helps improve speed, but this lens isn't fast by any stretch of the word". So, how do you feel about it? I also followed your discussion with Tim regarding the diffraction, thank you for the links!

 

Valeria

 

Valeria,

 

I personally do not mind the autofocus speed of the 70-180 mm lens, but it would be nice if it was faster. Autofocus speed is a two edge sword, the old 105 mm lens was slow and the new one is fast. The new 105 VR may misses the focus point by zooming past it, thus the convenience of a manual override on the Subal port. But some prefer the slower older 105 mm lens since the slowness with focus it does not tend to over shoot the focus point as much.

 

In regards to hunting in low light, this is a common problem in underwater photography. In general a faster lens, f 2.8 will hunt less then a f 4 lens, but all lens will have hunting problems with focus in the dim light (ie: under ledges, in holes, at dawn or dusk). A good focus light should be a standard feature in ones underwater photo setup to alleviate this.

 

I agree with Buddy's excellent comments. But note that a Subal 105 VR port comes in a type 4 as well as a type 3 port.

In regards to housings for the D800, try the different ones at a dive show and see how they feel in your hands. The ergonomics and it's access to the different camera controls will make your photographic experience while diving more enjoyable. But, my personal opinion, is the quality and ergonomics is directly proportional to the cost of the housing. This hobby requires very deep pockets/pocketbooks, I could buy a new car for what I have in underwater photo equipment. A very nice car at that!

 

Elmer

Edited by eyu

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Valeria, I'll hop in again with a few thoughts on both macro lenses and on housings.

 

First the macro lens. As I have said the 70-180 is my most used lens underwater due to its flexibility. And technically, at the optimal apertures, it is probably not as sharp as the new 60mm and 105mm Micro-nikkors. But in most practical shooting situations, those optimal apertures, f5.6 or wider open, do not give you adequate depth-of-field. And if you stop any of those lenses down to working apertures like f11 or even f16 to get more depth-of-field you lose some sharpness to diffraction which tends to "even" the difference between the lenses. And getting the shot, any decent shot, is far more important than such technical differences. This is where the advantage really goes over to the 70-180 UNLESS what is most important to you is subjects that are very small and where the difference between shooting at .75x and 1:1 is really important. Concerning the fact that the 70-180 isn't f2.8 for ambient light shooting, you also have to make a judgement on whether the absolute lack of depth-of-field, which you would have when you shoot a macro shot at f2.8 or f4, is going to produce a professionally acceptable image. Pehaps you might be better off upping the ISO until you can shoot at an aperture with more depth-of-field.

 

Second - housings. I feel that as long as a housing is of reasonable construction, the controls it has or doesn't have, plus how easily you can use those controls, is the single most important factor in choosing a housing. As I wrote, I've just bought Subal housings for my D800's, making a switch from Seacam. I changed because Subal has controls for camera buttons that Seacam does not have. These include the auto-focus on, preview, and function buttons. Subal also has a port lock which keeps a large dome port from starting to dismount accidentally. I had to add this to my previous Seacam housings. And Seacam still does not have one despite a multitude of complaints.

 

I shoot using TTL flash with Ikelite 161 strobes, which I think are the best strobes for TTL. Inons work reasonably well slaving off of the pop-up flash on the D800, but Inon's are powered by AA batteries that need to be changed every dive or two. And slaving off of the pop-up flash drains the camera battery much faster requiring camera battery changes which may be very inconvenient, depending on which housing you have. The Ikelite 161's have proprietary battery packs that can give you hundreds of flashes over dive after dive before they need recharging. Particularly their new Lithium battery packs.

 

Back to housings. On Seacam, it is almost impossible to reach the control that depresses the flash compensation button when your left hand is on the handgrip of the housing. To access this small lever you need to take the housing down from your eye and hold down the flash comp lever while simultaneously turning the front input (also the aperture control in manual mode) control dial. This is a two-handed operation and you probably need to first push the info button so that you can see what changes you are making on the camera's rear LCD panel. Then you do the two-handed gymnastics to increase or decrease the output of your TTL strobes via flash comp. By the time you've done all that, the shot may be gone. With Subal the flash comp is a push button that I can just barely reach with my right index finger with my hand on the housing's handgrip. I will modify this control to make it more easily reachable and make it possible for it to be locked down.

 

Please feel free to contact me directly about housings or about lenses for Nikon. Like you, I'm a full-time professional photographer. My pictures and stories been published in many of the world's best magazines. When you come up to Florida, please let me know as far in advance as you can. If I'm home, I'll do anything I can to help you.

 

Fred

Edited by divegypsy

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Valeria,

 

If you are seriously interested in the super-macro end of macro shooting, you may be interested in my recent post under the 200mm Micro-nikkor topic.

 

Fred

Edited by divegypsy

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Hello Valeria and others,

 

I've had a chance to put together a few shots that show the versatility of the 70-180 Micro-nikkor.

 

Two pairs of shots show the variation in framing you have with this lens from the same shooting position. The first, with the shrimp and bubble coral, was shot from a closer distance than the shots of the moray eel. These pictures were taken only to show the difference in picture area at 70mm vs 180mm. The fifth and sixth shots are a bit better in image content and show two fish, a small sand perch which is only three or four inches long and a larger tomato grouper about eight or ten inches long. The sand perch is a shot that might also be shot with a 105mm, but under the dive and vis conditions, it would have been impossible to back off far enough with the 105mm to get the framing which shooting at 70mm allowed and still get reasonable sharpness. These were shot using the 70-180mm and a flat port, all taken on the same dive, which was only my second dive ever with the D800 in one of my new Subal ND800 housings. A small dome would have give me a wider view, not as good for the sand perch but better for the grouper. These are "unprocessed" images resized with Photoshops script tool going directly from the NEF to 800 pixel jpgs with no adjustment in exposure or sharpening. The Ikelite TTL provided the consistently good exposure of the shots.

 

Fred

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I'm with Fred, his above examples show the flexibility of the 70-180 mm micro lens. I just wish Nikon would update this lens so it did 1:1.

 

Fred, have you noticed problems with diffraction with your D800 and the 70-180 mm micro lens? Are you able to crop down to f 22 without annoying distortion diffraction to get better depth of field?

 

Elmer

 

correction, poor word choice. I should have used diffraction, not distortion.

Edited by eyu

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Elmer,

 

I haven't done any comprehensive tests of this or any other lens. I do want to know about what I consider practical considerations like what the focusing and zoom range of a lens is because this dictates the best lens choice for particular subjects. I am far more concerned with image content than digital era technicalities. I am not aware that stopping a lens down for depth-of-field introduces distortion, though it can result in some loss of sharpness due to diffraction. The trade-off of optimal sharpness vs depth-of-field has been well known for a long time and is a more visible concern. I'm happy if the image reproduces reasonably well and particularly if it lets me make a nice big color print. My "standard" print for personal use is 16" x 24" and if that looks good I'm satisfied and don't concern myself with whether the image shows a percent or two of pincushion or barrel distortion. Or slight chromatic aberations which I've read can be corrected with either Photoshop or Lightroom. I'll learn more about these things as time goes by, but my real focus is to just have fun in the ocean.

 

A long time ago, in the film era, I found that shooting at f32 (as marked on the lens aperture ring) resulted in less sharp images, so I stopped using that aperture. Nikon now shows the effective aperture in the viewfinder, not the aperture that would have been on an aperture ring. And this varies as you focus closer and closer. My 105mm Micro-nikkor D at 1:1 stops down to f57 and at infinity is f32. Typically I start with the whatever the most closed down aperture the lens will show then open at least 3-4 thirds of an f-stop. As an example the 105D at 1:1 would show f57, then as I open the aperture, f50, then f45, then f40, then f36, then f32, then f29, then f25, then f22, etc. In that example I would try not to shoot beyond f40 or f36 and depending on the subject might feel that f32 might do the job while giving adequate depth-of-field.

 

Fred

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Fred,

 

Thank you for your comments and how you stop down in macro photography.

I am thinking with the D800 and its mega pixels that diffraction is really not a significant problem in our underwater photography.

 

Elmer

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Elmer,

 

I don't know why the capturing medium, pixels or film, would make much, or any, difference on the performance of a lens at various apertures. And on the sharpness loss due to diffraction. But I'm not an optical expert.

 

If you want the real answer, do the test shots. Shoot a subject with your housing held immovable (on a tripod?) and of a non-moving subject with lots of fine detail. Then compare the images to see if at f-whatever#1 the images are sharper than f-whatever#2. And look for particular patterns like increasingly less sharpness as you stop the lens down beyond 2-4 f-stops from wide open, where is most lenses are at their best optically. This could be done in any swimming pool or even in the bathtub with a 45-degree viewfinder.

 

It might be that beyond certain distance of water between camera and subject, the sharpness loss due to the water, even the clearest water, makes the image resolution of a 12Mp D700 image indistinguishable from a 36MP D800 image. This is something I thought long and hard about before deciding to switch to the D800, but my final decision was also based on the fact that I'm doing increasing amounts of topside photography and enjoy making really large prints of the images I like. What you do with your pictures makes a lot of difference (or it should) on what camera you choose to shoot with. If all you do with your pictures is post them on the internet, a D800 vs a D700 or D300 is a waste of money, in my opinion.

 

One of the things I am interested in testing is at what point in shooting super macro does the loss of sharpness due to added optics and diffraction combined with the difficulty of handling the gear make shooting that way result in less sharpness than just blowing the image up in Photoshop or other software? As an example, which would give you better final image sharpness? Shooting a subject at 1:1 with a 105mm Micro-nikkor combined with Nikon's 2x tele-converter, which effectively gives you 2x life-size. Or shooting the same subject at 1:1 with the Micro-nikkor alone and blowing it up to the same 200% or 2x life-size with Photoshop or Genuine Fractals or whatever?

 

At what point do all the extra optics and the difficulty in shooting with them actually result in a net loss of quality vs a net gain? And which add-on optics work better than others? In general, I try to use as few add-ons - extension rings, diopters, teleconverters - as possible and still get the image I want. I am particularly doubtful about wet diopters which have a layer of water between them and the housing with the prime lens. I don't feel that the optical alignment between these flip up and flip down diopters is very good and think that they would be a great first test subject for shooting with and without pictures and then using Photoshop to blow up the lens only shot to the same magnification as the lens plus wet diopter. And then comparing both images side-by-side. Because I am leery of them, I don't own a wet diopter to do the test on.

 

I hope to find the time to do some of this kind of testing when I get home from my current dive trip to Indonesia and South Australia.

 

Fred

Edited by divegypsy

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Fred,

 

I appreciate your thinking and comments. I agree, testing in the water is the way to verify at what f stops diffraction will be present, if present. I have changed from a D2Xs to the D800 and have found that the dynamic range is better to my eye with the D800. But this may be less or non apparent if I changed from a D700 in regards to 12 Mp vs 36Mp. I will be in Tulamben and Komodo next month and will do some testing with different f stops on the 70-180 mm and 105 VR lens.

 

Elmer

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