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 Post subject: Macro vs Mid Range Zoom?
PostPosted: July 5th, 2016, 7:32 pm 
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Joined: December 14th, 2015, 4:56 pm
Posts: 134
Hi all. I was just curious, do most of you have a mid range zoom lens, something from 24-70 or 24-105 that you use additionally or in place of a macro lenses? I like my macro lens (85mm dx on nikon) but I unfortunately fried the autofocus and part of the vr recently when I fell so I'm looking for a new lens within the next few months. I personally thought the 85 was a little awkward lengthwise, because it still is too long in my opinion for larger snakes, but a little short for insects and slightly skittish herps. What would you guys recommend? I'll be shooting with a d7000, and my other lens is a 17-55 wide angle, which is awesome, but still a tad wide for filling the frame with a larger snake unless I'm very close to it, too close for a rattler. I was kind of thinking towards a tamron 24-70 which would be about a 36-105 on the cropped sensor and has vr, but for full on macro stuff might not be close-focusing enough. I could also go with something like a 60mm f2.8 but that would be a similar length to my 85 when on my crop sensor. I know the 105 and tamron 90 are also really popular. Maybe just deal with having to be a little further away from the subject and take advantage of the good close capabilities and sharpness from a fixed macro? Any advice or suggestions is appreciated!
Thank you,
Jeremy


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 Post subject: Re: Macro vs Mid Range Zoom?
PostPosted: July 6th, 2016, 3:02 pm 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:46 am
Posts: 611
Location: Albuquerque, NM
A lot depends on how you take pictures and the kinds of pictures you like to take. I do own a mid range zoom. In my case it is the Nikon 24-85 vr, which I find to be sharp, and which I often use for herp in habitat shots. I don't currently own a macro lens. For the sort of pictures most photographers would use a macro for I use a Nikon 70-300vr with achromatic diopters. However, I should point out that I like in situ photography almost exclusively. I rarely take posed shots of herps. If I did, I suspect I would want a macro lens or two. I think something in the 90-105 range would be the best comprimise on a dx format camera. I owned a Sigma 150 macro for a while and on the rare occasions that I tried using it for posed pictures I found it too long for many herps. Basically often I needed to be more than an arms length away which made it difficult to manipulate and shoot them. I'd get the animal posed about where I wanted it, then when I'd back away to take the shot it would try to take off ect. The hands down most useful macro lens I ever owned was a Nikon 70-180. At high magnification and longest zoom it had a working distance similar to a 105 macro, (because of internal focusing the actual focal length of the lens at maximum magnification was actually a lot shorter than 180mm), but I could also zoom it back towards 70mm for larger snakes. It's no longer made and I really regret selling mine. Eventually I'll probably end up buying another one, but they're not cheap.

Seems to me that the Tamron 24-70 has an awful lot of overlap in focal length with your current 17-55. If I were considering a zoom instead of a macro I'd opt for something longer, 70-200 or 70-300 to gain some versatility.


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 Post subject: Re: Macro vs Mid Range Zoom?
PostPosted: July 6th, 2016, 6:37 pm 
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Joined: December 14th, 2015, 4:56 pm
Posts: 134
Hi Bill. Thanks for that long and detailed response, that was very helpful. I do a mixture of insitu and slightly posed shots of herps that I have moved off the road, so ideally something within arm's distance would be ideal. Recently I was shooting a large red diamond rattlesnake at night that wouldn't coil much and my 85 was too long and awkward, especially given my on and off camera flashes that I need to move as the snake does, but the 17-55 dx was a little on the wide side even at 55, and I couldn't fill the frame without getting too close. Although I would love something like a 70-200 or 70-300, I think the fairly long minimum focusing distance would make night time shots harder then with the 85, and I would lose some capability for smaller snakes where I feel the 85 really exceeds. A friend of mine has a tamron 90 so I'm going to give that a try for a few days and see how I like it. Now that you brought it up, I agree, the 17-55 would overlap a little too much with the tamron 24-70. That 70-180 sounds awesome, but it is a shame it's discontinued and pricey. Sigma has a 50-100 f1.8 for crop sensor cameras, but it is over a grand and it's minimum focusing distance is over 3 feet. Maybe I'll consider selling the 17-55, getting the tamron 24-70, and have some change for a true macro. So many choices!! I do like the fact though that the tamron can focus even closer then my 17-55 at only 14 inches, and because that's a full frame lens it would double my focal length compared to the nikon. Something with vr or is like the tamron would be cool if possible, so I'll keep pondering and trying stuff out! Thanks again.
Jeremy


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 Post subject: Re: Macro vs Mid Range Zoom?
PostPosted: July 6th, 2016, 7:59 pm 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:46 am
Posts: 611
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Jeremy Wright wrote:
Although I would love something like a 70-200 or 70-300, I think the fairly long minimum focusing distance would make night time shots harder then with the 85, and I would lose some capability for smaller snakes where I feel the 85 really exceeds.

That's where the double element diopters come in. I wrote a review of the Nikon 80-200 f2.8 here- http://fieldherpforum.com/forum/viewtop ... 15&t=14181 - where I explain the use of achromats. They are not for everyone because, just like with extension tubes, you get a limited range of available focusing distances with any one diopter. However, I don't really find that to be all that inconvenient and the results when using a good achromat, (only the two-element ones, never the cheaper single element diopters which are prone to lots of chromatic and spherical aberration), on a good lens are very high quality, though admittedly if you shoot lens test targets the macro will always be better.

Jeremy Wright wrote:
I do like the fact though that the tamron can focus even closer then my 17-55 at only 14 inches, and because that's a full frame lens it would double my focal length compared to the nikon.

Actually no, it doesn't work that way. The Tamron at maximum zoom is only 1.27x longer than your Nikon 17-55. DX vs FX has nothing to do with this. The Tamron being an FX lens cast a larger image circle than the 17-55 does which allows the Tamron to cover the entire FX frame, while the Nikon will not. However, if you were to mount both of them to your D7000 and set both of them to 55mm, or any other common focal length for that matter, you would see that they both frame exactly the same area. I think people get confused on this because of the talk about DX having a 1.5x crop factor. So a 55mm lens on a dx camera frames the same area as an 82.5mm lens would on an FX camera. But whether that 55mm was designed for DX or FX it still frames the same area on a DX camera. (A DX and an FX lens of the same focal length used on an FX camera also frame the same area, just that the DX lens won't provide an image all the way out to the corners of the FX frame).


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 Post subject: Re: Macro vs Mid Range Zoom?
PostPosted: July 6th, 2016, 8:27 pm 
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Joined: December 14th, 2015, 4:56 pm
Posts: 134
I see. Sorry about that, I guess you learn something new everyday! Now that I think about it that makes a lot more sense. I'll definitely check out the double element diopters too. Thanks for the tips and clarification!
Jeremy


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