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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 25 Feb 2013 00:57:44 GMT
Pen Name says:
I have a Nikon d3100 and want to buy a macro lens what would be a good buy to play around with flowers and bugs

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Feb 2013 09:37:09 GMT
Pat says:

All you need to achieve this is a Macro reverse adapter ring , using your current lens but back to front. Available at

I hope this helps

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Feb 2013 15:28:35 GMT
Hi Pen
Have a read of this:
It may give you a few clues.

Posted on 25 Feb 2013 18:32:51 GMT
Pen Name says:
Thanks for that a brilliant idea

Posted on 27 Feb 2013 00:16:37 GMT
Last edited by the author on 27 Feb 2013 00:20:11 GMT
T.J.Byford says:
Hi, Pen.

There's more than one way to skin a cat, as they say. So it is with macro.

You can use a bespoke macro lens, expensive; you can use the reverse lens option as pointed out by Dr. A, cheap; you can buy positive supplementary lenses to fit on the front of your normal camera lens, cheap; you can use bellows + your camera lens, relatively cheap; you can use extension tubes + your camera lens, price? - depends upon availability of the tubes; and finally, bellows + an enlarging lens.

What you decide, depends largely on your budget, what quality of result you expect and, most importantly, how much macro work you anticipate doing.

Bespoke Lens, coupling to your camera. This has the potential of being the easiest to use in the field. It can also be expensive, and you will need to determine the best focal length for your needs. These lenses tend to be of a fixed focal length, usually of 50/55mm, or 90/100mm focal length, but being corrected for near-field use give the best overall quality. And being coupled to your camera you will be able to use TTL metering.

Reversing rings. By turning the lens back to front gives better optical performance than using your standard lens on bellows or extension tubes, but will lead to more problems when actually taking pictures, as pointed out in the above site given by Dr. A. It can have the advantage of being a cheap(ish) way into macro.

Extension tubes/bellows. These perform more or less the same function, tubes give fixed magnifications, whereas bellows are infinitely adjustable, but add bulk and ideally need to be used on a tripod or other fixed support. Their disadvantage is the lens is secured normally as though you were taking a standard pic, but lenses computed for standard shooting distances are not corrected for extreme close-ups, so will generally perform poorly.

The thing to bear in mind, is that normal lenses for slr cameras, be they wide angle, standard, or telephoto designs, have a fixed back focal distance and which is roughly the distance from the front of the lens flange on the body to the sensor. This can be restricting when it comes to macro work.

For best quality, closely approaching, or equalling that of a bespoke macro lens, you can use an enlarging lens and which, because they are designed to work at close range, they are optically computed in more or less the same manner as bespoke macro lenses. The main difference is they come with manual aperture control only, and no focusing mechanism of their own; hence they need some means of being focused. Bellows are ideal. They all virtually have the standard L39 mount, so adaptor rings are readily available to attach to bellows.

Going down this route should easily be much cheaper than bespoke macro lenses. They commonly come in fixed focal lengths of 50/80/105/135/150mm. The better ones, made by Leitz, Nikon, Schneider, Focotar, will naturally be more expensive than budget lenses, but Minolta made an excellent 50mm, which you can probably find on ebay for around £25 or so.

The simplest way of all is to use supplementary lenses which screw into the filter ring of your existing lenses, just like a filter, so they don't affect the operation of your camera or lens in any way, and neither do they affect the aperture of your lens. Their disadvantage is potentially a noticeable drop in quality compared to the best systems, and you will inevitably need to stop down for best results, but in many cases this will be necessary to help get over the extremely shallow depth of field you will be working with in macro.

One thing I've not mentioned regarding macro is your camera, or lens, will need to be able to be stopped down to the taking aperture so you can judge depth of field which will be critical. It may only be a matter of a few millimetres or so at times.

Best of luck!

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Feb 2013 00:53:54 GMT
I hadn't thought about an enlarging lens. I happen to have an El Rokkor. Another cheap fix would be to get a reversing ring and a stop down lens like a Helios or a T2 lens or a type which is not that good for fitting to a Nex like an Exacta fit. The diaphragm of an Exacta fit lens is dead easy to operate.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Feb 2013 01:18:51 GMT
T.J.Byford says:
Hi, Dr. A.

Using reversing rings is a popular, and inexpensive route into quality macro. One thing I didn't mention, though you will no doubt realise it was implied, you have to use prime lenses; reversed zooms don't work because of their peculiar optical construction.

As you point out, lenses that have or can be switched into manual mode are ideal when reversed. The Exakta lenses with the push diaphragm button would work a treat, I guess. But I suspect your EL Rokkor would be better still, on tubes or bellows. No mucking about, set the camera to AP, or manual, and you're off.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Feb 2013 11:02:28 GMT
Last edited by the author on 27 Feb 2013 11:03:15 GMT
Hi TJ,
Well I'm grateful for the suggestion. I think I heard the idea in the dim past but I'd forgotten. I had a look on ebay to see what it would fetch and it was only about 20-30 quid so I thought I'd rather keep it.
I believe that some people used their Leitz lenses on enlargers - how good were they?

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Feb 2013 12:22:08 GMT
T.J.Byford says:
Hi, Dr. A.

Have you thought about Amazon for selling books? You can set your price, and obviously don't run the vagaries of ebuyers! If I see a book I'm interested in on ebay, the first thing I do is check to see if it is on Amazon and where most times out of ten I end up buying from! Mind you, as a buyer, I've had some good bargains from ebay.

It isn't a myth that Leitz lenses were used as enlarging lenses, it could save money and in the majority of cases the Leitz lens was the equal of, if not better, than many an enlarging lens of the era when this was popular, TT&H excepted! Indeed, in the early days of Leica in the 1920's and 1930's, their Berek designed 50mm lens, the f3.5 Elmar, was the first lens specifically designed for the 35mm format and was the sharpest lens around. So, with no competition, it sort of found its way as an enlarging lens as well, although it was not specifically designed for this purpose.

But it wasn't until 1957 with the introduction of the newly computed f2.8/50mm Elmar, that the lens could legitimately be said to double as an enlarging lens. According to my reference book, this was because its performance was independent of magnification, so it performed just as well in near field, macro, or as an enlarging lens. Early versions were in L39 screw mount, as well as M bayonet, so this made the screw versions particularly easy to attach to any enlarger of the day.

Mine came with my M3 so is bayonet and I was thus never able to test it as an enlarging lens. But by all accounts, the lens was an exceptionally fine performer in this role.

Posted on 2 Mar 2013 20:04:33 GMT
EMANON says:
You could do a lot worse than Nikon's 40mm f2.8 micro - Also an excellent quality all round / walk around lens. It's a very high quality 1:1 'true' macro lens. Ideal starter IMO. Had it a year and I'm sure if I checked my camera now it's either in the camera bag or on the camera. Absolute gem!
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Initial post:  25 Feb 2013
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