I bought a new Nikkor macro lens recently, mainly for wedding ring and detail photography. I haven’t had a chance to use it, so thought I’d better take it for a test run before the wedding season takes off. My partner and I often take a walk to Lewes over the Sussex Downs at the weekend, so we stopped briefly in Kingston churchyard to take a few snaps.
I’ve never really done much with a macro and I was surprised how tricky this lens is to use. You have very little depth of field, so have to stop the lens down as far as possible to make the best of it. This means you often end up with quite a low shutter speed, and at this magnification the slightest twitch can ruin the image. I will be taking a tripod if I use this on a job.
Auto focus is almost completely useless at such close distances. It’s not that the lens has problems focusing, it’s more that you have to be very selective with your point of focus and AF just makes that process more difficult. I don’t know if this is a widely used technique but I found that rather than try to focus on an exact point, it was easier to focus roughly and then move slightly backwards and forwards until the chosen spot was sharp. After practising holding my breath I got a few sharp shots (which won’t be winning any awards).
One thing I noticed while taking close ups is that everything in the world is covered in tiny bugs, yes everything, even you I expect!
If I was shooting more macro work I think I would be looking at the Nikkor 105mm 2.8 ED IF AF-S VR lens. A longer focal length means you can get farther away from your subject, I found that I had to get very close with the 60mm, to the extent where you could end up blocking the light falling on your subject. The vibration reduction on the 105mm would also be really useful. With the amount of macro work that I currently do I can’t justify the expense.
One other alternative is the Panasonic Lumix LX3 digital compact, which apparently has a great macro function. I know some wedding photographers are using these as an alternative to a macro; cheaper than a good lens, less bulky, more manageable depth of field and you get a whole new camera as well. I’ve been trying to get my hands on one of them for weeks but there doesn’t seem to be any left in the UK. Tell me if you find any, cos I want one.
The mysteries of the dandelion
A dandelion in action
A holly bud
A small blue flahr
Moss on a gravestone
Spider mites enjoying a day out on the lichen