Nikkor 200mm micro vs 60mm micro?

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by Scott Speck, Jul 20, 2006.

  1. Scott Speck

    Scott Speck Guest

    Hello Everyone,

    I recently bought a 60mm Nikkor micro lens for my Nikon D50, and I love it.
    I've taken some great pictures with it, but I've found the following (one of
    which I had considered beforehand):

    1) I have to get really close to reach minimal focal distance and thus
    maximum image size on the detector (I considered this beforehand), and some
    bugs are tough to sneak up on, and some stinging insects don't like me
    getting to within several inches of them

    2) to decrease my exposure times for hand-held shots, I'm keeping the lens
    pretty much wide open, and, at or near minimal focal distance, my depth of
    field is HORRIBLE. For example, the FRONT of a fly's eye is in focus, and
    the BACK of a fly's eye is out of focus. I hadn't considered this before I
    got the lens, so my recourse, for now, is to move back a little, or to shoot
    from a tripod (when possible) so I can first stop down the lens (to increase
    depth of focus a little) and not worry about image shake during the
    now-longer exposure.

    However, I've thought of perhaps upgrading to the 200mm Micro Nikkor. This
    lens would let me be about 200/60 (around 3.3) times further away, I assume,
    from my subject, to still achieve 1:1 image scale on the detector. However,
    I'm wondering if I would get the ADDED benefit of not having such a tight
    and critical focus issue, since a camera motion of a fraction of a
    MILLIMETER might not cause my image to leave focus, and it might also help
    with my depth of field issues at the same f-ratio. Am I correct on this
    matter -- that, because I'd be more than 3 times further away from my
    subject (to achieve the same image scale as with the 60mm), then a random
    "hand wiggle" shift of "x" with the 200mm would only create 1/3 the
    out-of-focus problem as it would with the 60mm?

    I'm also considering upping my ISO to 400 or 800, since I shot almost
    exclusively in pure manual mode, including manual focus, to help shorten my
    exposure times.

    Thanks for any help,
    Scott Speck, Jul 20, 2006
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  2. Scott Speck

    Sheldon Guest

    I went though the same decision and got the 60mm. The only advantage you
    will have is yes, you will gain some distance if all you shoot is bugs and
    the lens will lighten your wallet a bit. As for depth of field: This was
    recently covered in a thread, and it turns out there is no difference in
    depth of field at 1:1 regardless of the lens you use. I also feel that at
    1:1 any movement will be the same as with the 60mm, and as you know, the
    longer the lens the more the image will move in the frame when you move the
    camera as you focus out.

    Also, the lens is only f4, so if you want to use it as a portrait lens you
    will lose the ability to throw the background out of focus (as much), and
    the fact that you will really have to back away from your subject. A good
    compromise might be the 105, and if you are having trouble holding the
    camera steady the 105VR.

    The 60 was a good fit into the lenses I already have, so my next comment
    would be do you need a 200? If you've got the bucks, and bugs are your
    thing, the 200 would be a great lens since you will rarely use anything
    wider than f4 in a macro shot. For me, I just couldn't see getting another
    200 when I've already got that covered in a zoom, and the 60 should make a
    great portrait lens when you figure the 1.5x.
    Sheldon, Jul 20, 2006
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  3. Scott Speck

    Scott Speck Guest

    Thanks for the advice. Given the large expense of the 200, I'll stay where
    I am. The 60 is also an awesome non-micro lens. Plus, I can borrow my
    wife's 105. :) And I already have an 80-400 mm zoom. If you're
    interested, my latest dragonfly pics are at:

    The super-closeups were done with the 60mm and a 2X teleconverter, hand-held
    (no tripod). The slightly more distant shots were done with my 400mm VR
    lens (VR turned OFF since I was on a tripod) with the 2X teleconverter, for
    a focal length of 800mm. For the super-closeups, I wasn't at minimum
    distance, but perhaps 1.5 times min distance, making focusing easier.

    As for the 200, if it would have allowed me to have 3 times the tolerance in
    depth of focus, I might have considered it.

    Thanks again,
    Scott Speck, Jul 20, 2006
  4. Scott Speck

    DoN. Nichols Guest

    [ ... too close to stinging bugs ... ]
    [ ... DOF too small ... ]
    [ ... considered longer lens to solve problems ... ]
    *This* will help you somewhat.

    However, since you are shooting in manual mode anyway, I would
    suggest that you try the slightly newer version of the 200mm f5.6
    Medical Nikkor. This comes with a set of six screw-in close-up lenses,
    used in sets of one or two -- never more, and rings on the barrel into
    which you crank the ASA (yes, it is that old) and the magnification
    ratio and it will set the aperture appropriately.

    The big win for this is that it comes with a built-in ring
    flash, so you get excellent illumination of your subjects.

    The reason I suggest the slightly newer version is that the
    first version had a choice of an AC-powered pack or a battery-powered
    one which used batteries which are now *quite* expensive and hard to
    find. *And* it only puts out full power -- unless you get the special
    cable which allows reduced power. This is a problem only because the
    flash is too bright to use at the closest settings (1X to 3X) with the
    200 ISO minimum with the D70 and D50.

    The newer one has a battery pack which will run from eight "D"
    cells, thus reducing the cost of operation, and it has a switch to
    reduce the flash intensity by a factor of 4, thus allowing operation
    at the closest lens combinations.

    With either -- you focus only by changing the camera-to-subject

    Optically -- the two are the same -- but things like the
    connectors on the cables between the power pack and the lens barrel
    differ -- four pins on the old one, three on the new. (It also powers
    four incandescent lamps placed behind the ring flash at 90 degree
    intervals as a focusing and composition light.)

    For your convenience, I'll type in the table of lens-to-subject
    distances for the various magnifications:
    Ratio CU lenses Lens-to-subject
    1/15X 1:15 bare lens 10' 11.89" (3350mm)
    1/8X 1:8 1/8 lens
    1/6X 1:6 1/6 lens 5' 10.08" (1780mm)
    1/4X 1:4 1/4 lens 4' 4.64" (1336mm)
    1/3X 1:3 1/4 + 1/6 lens 2' 1.0" ( 890mm)
    1/2X 1:2 1/2 lens 1' 5.56" ( 446mm)
    2/3X 2:3 1/2 + 1/4 lens 1' 0.83" ( 326mm)
    1X 1:1 1x lens 0' 8.70" ( 221mm)
    1.5X 3:2 1X + 1/2X lens 0' 6.06" ( 154mm)
    2X 2:1 2X 0' 4.25" ( 108mm)
    3X 3:1 2X + 1X 0' 2.83" ( 72mm)

    There is a chart on the lens barrel to indicate which lenses to
    use in which order to achieve which magnification. In the newer one,
    the lenses images are color anodized to match a colored paint ring in
    a groove in the mount. All of the older ones are all black, so this is
    one way to tell them apart on ebay or if you luck into one at a swap
    meet. (The other is the 3-pin for the new flash power cable vs the
    4-pin for the older one.

    Note that there is another feature of this which will be useless
    with a 1.5 crop factor body -- One of the rings allows you to set it to
    record either a frame number or the magnification ratio in the bottom
    right-hand corner -- but well out of the field of view on any 1.5 crop
    factor sensor. There is also a setting to turn this off entirely. (The
    older version had a ring to select the brightness of the annotation to
    match the film's ASA, and one choice of this was "off".

    To connect the flash sync you will need a Nikon AS-15 for the
    top of a D70 or D50, which gives the standard PC connector. I've
    checked the voltage at the flash sync terminals, and they are within the
    range of voltages listed as safe for the D70 (and presumably for the D50
    as well.)

    Depth of field for the lens at 1:1 ratio is listed for each

    f5.6 +0.013" -0.013"
    f8 +0.018" -0.018"
    f11 +0.025" -0.025"
    f16 +0.037" -0.037"
    f22 +0.051" -0.051"
    f32 +0.073" -0.073"
    f45 +0.104" -0.104"

    The asymmetry at the smallest aperture shows at other ratios as
    well. However, let's look at what apertures are really *practical* as a
    function of the flash output and the ISO -- based on the built-in ring

    ISO 200, full flash power f45
    ISO 200, 1/4 flash power f22
    ISO 800, 1/4 flash power f45

    So larger apertures don't come into the equation.

    At 3X, to use f4.5 you need 1/4 power at ISO 300, or ISO 64 at full
    power, which you can't do on a D70 or a D50.

    You can use the rings "backwards" to see what ISO setting will
    allow you to use the desired aperture (usually f45 for anything close).

    Since these have not been made for a *long* time, you will need
    to haunt eBay for one. I did -- to upgrade from the older version which
    does not allow the 1/4 power flash output, but which I had used with a
    Nikon F and Polaroid color slide film.

    DoN. Nichols, Jul 20, 2006
  5. Scott Speck

    tomm42 Guest

    The latest Medical Nikor is a 120mm, nice lens, the flash tube on my
    unit just burned out and Nikon has no more replacements. With the 120
    you only have 2 lenses, the main lens for 1:11 to 1:1 and an auxillary
    lens for 1:1 - 2:1. The flash is much more automatic and linked to the
    focusing. An adjustable collar sets the ISO. There is one floating
    around Ebay for $1400 buy now, has been there for months and the store
    hasn't dropped the price. A local dealer told me he sold one in
    December 05 for $1K so that is about the going price. The old 200 is a
    pain with all the lenses to keep track of all the lenses.

    Both the 105 f2.8 Nikkor and the 200 f4 Nikkor are fine lenses, highly
    recommended. Another lens to consider is the 150 f3.5(?) Sigma also
    reported to be a good lens. For that matter all the 90-105mm lenses
    from all the manufacturers are good too.

    Depth of field is based on the magnification so any lens at 1:1 with
    alage aperture will be tough, it is why there are macro flash systems.
    Good Luck

    tomm42, Jul 20, 2006
  6. Scott Speck

    Sheldon Guest

    Looks like you made the right decision as some of those shots are awesome.

    Three questions:

    1. Was the fly in a natural setting, or did you put it in the fridge for
    2. What did the 2x converter do for you?
    3. Did you use a flash or flashes?
    Sheldon, Jul 22, 2006
  7. Scott Speck

    Scott Speck Guest

    Thanks for the good thoughts on the pictures. To answer your queries:

    1) Everything was in a natural setting. It seems I've gotten good at slowly
    walking up to flies/dragonflies and getting the front of my lens within 3 or
    4 inches of their faces, and they don't flee.
    2) The 2x teleconverter meant that the image looked twice as large as it
    would, at a given distance from my target, than without it. Thus, at
    minimal focal distance, I get an image scale of 2:1 instead of 1:1.
    3) I used no flash. But yesterday I bought the Nikon closeup speedlight
    commander kit R1C1, which will help with closeups in low light. Though, I'm
    guessing that the moment I exercise the flash about 6" from the face of a
    dragonfly, it'll flee the scene. :)

    Also, I'm shooting in JPEG mode, and I'm going to try RAW mode, to see if I
    can get slightly better detail/contrast out of the RAW photos.

    Scott Speck, Jul 22, 2006
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