Any comparisons of macro lenses?

Discussion in 'Photography' started by zepplock, Feb 26, 2008.

  1. zepplock

    zepplock Guest

    Are there any good *direct* comparisons of current ~100mm macro lenses for Nikon mount?
    I'm talking about Nikon 105, Nikon 105VRm Sigma 105, Tamron 90, Tokina 100 (and maybe Sigma 150)

    Or maybe you can let me know what's the better choice/price.

    Sigma 105 mm F2.8 EX DG Macro Lens (from Dell) - $399
    Sigma 150mm f/2.8 DG APO Macro HSM Digital SLR Lens (from Dell) - $629
    Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di (from BH) - $360
    Tokina AT-X 100mm f/2.8 PRO D Macro (from BH or Adorama) - $399
    Nikon AF Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR (from BH or Adorama) - $759

    Optionally I could also get
    Sigma 1.4X APO Tele Converter EX DG (from Dell) - $189

    I also have $150 coupon from Dell - so items from dell are preferred.
  2. Ibn

    Ibn Supporting Member

    From that list:

    Sharpness: Tamron 90mm = Nikon 105mm VR; both > Sigma 105mm (no experience w/the Tokina)
    Contrast: Nikon 105mm VR > Tamron 90mm > Sigma 105mm
    Value: Tamron 90mm > Sigma 105mm > Nikon 105mm VR
    Focusing speed: Nikon 105mm VR > Sigma 105mm > Tamron 90mm
    Build quality: Nikon 105mm VR > Tamron 90mm > Sigma 105mm
    Bokeh: Nikon 105mm VR > Tamron 90mm > Sigma 105mm

    There's no direct comparison of all the above lens from what I've seen. There was one on Nikonians awhile back, but that was with the non-VR version of the 105mm (big difference). The above is from what I've seen when comparing the lenses. Also, you won't find the Sigma 150mm compared to any of the other lenses on that list. It's in the 150mm - 180mm range of butterfly/bug lenses that you'll see it, where it performs well.

    If you need to use the coupon, then pick up the Sigma 105mm macro lens. If you don't, then spend a bit more on the Tamron 90mm. If you want one macro lens and not look back, then the Nikon 105mm VR. It's dependent on how much you want to pay really since most macro lenses are all pretty sharp to begin with.
  3. zepplock

    zepplock Guest

    Thanks Ibn, I appreciate the input.
  4. kinetic

    kinetic Webmaster

    Also, I don't think the Tamron 90 has consistent f/2.8 throughout the focusing ranges. For me that's a huge factor in getting the Sigma.

    If you've ever seen my flickr page, you'll be able to see all my sigma macros. It does an amazing job.
  5. Ibn

    Ibn Supporting Member

    Neither for all Nikon macro lenses for that matter. Really depends on the lighting conditions.
  6. kinetic

    kinetic Webmaster

    [quote author=Ibn link=topic=3187.msg35390#msg35390 date=1204136822]
    Neither for all Nikon macro lenses for that matter. Really depends on the lighting conditions.

    The 105 doesn't have consistent 2.8?
  7. Gomer

    Gomer Honorary Member

    Anticipate this post from me sometime in the future for a Canon :p
  8. Ibn

    Ibn Supporting Member

    Well, I should clarify. In manual mode, it can be locked at f/2.8. Under aperture priority, it can't go down to f/2.8 at times when there's not enough light. Take this shot for instance.


    That was on aperture priority at the lowest setting, which happened to be f/3.2. Picture was taken at 7:30 PM in the shade with backlighting for testing purposes. RAW to JPEG conversion with no processing.
  9. Elite

    Elite Guest

    I'm saving $ for the Nikon 105mm.. Go for the best and don't look back like Eric said :)
  10. Gomer

    Gomer Honorary Member

    A general rule of dSLRs. Lens Lifetime >> Body lifetime. Invest in the lens.
  11. kinetic

    kinetic Webmaster

    not necessarily, some camera bodies last just as long if not longer if treated correctly.

    the thing is, there's much more advancements in camera body technology these days, so people are constantly upgrading. Lenses, however, are pretty damn good at whatever stage they're in. Only sometimes you'll want to upgrade a lens, but usually you just add to your collection =)

    currently I'm looking into a D300 for better/more focus points, but will keep my D80 as well as a backup / secondary during events.
  12. Gomer

    Gomer Honorary Member

    There is a reason I said dSLR and not SLR :) My comment wasn't about longevity of build but technology advancements. Lifetime of use not lifetime of function.
  13. kinetic

    kinetic Webmaster

    [quote author=Gomer link=topic=3187.msg35402#msg35402 date=1204139768]
    There is a reason I said dSLR and not SLR :) My comment wasn't about longevity of build but technology advancements. Lifetime of use not lifetime of function.

    ah understood =) just wanted to clarify just in case.
  14. zepplock

    zepplock Guest

    [quote author=Elite link=topic=3187.msg35397#msg35397 date=1204138818]
    I'm saving $ for the Nikon 105mm.. Go for the best and don't look back like Eric said :)

    Expensive does not mean best.
    I doubt $750 Nikon 105VR will get 3 TIMES better picture quality than $250 Sigma 105.
  15. Gomer

    Gomer Honorary Member

    No, but that 25% improvement (made up), while far less then 300% improvement, may very well be very noticeable and worth the investment.
  16. kinetic

    kinetic Webmaster

    The Nikkor 105 is the best though ;)
  17. Ibn

    Ibn Supporting Member

    It's actually less in most cases, more like 10% at most between those lenses. You tend to get even less performance with Karl Zeiss lenses. There's a 5% difference if that with their primes over the Nikkor equivalent and the prices are more than 50% more in most cases.

    Really market segmented. Nikon macro lenses and their micro photography is at the forefront of the market.

    There's also the fact that a lot of the amenities can't be seen in the overall picture. For one, there's focus tracking and locking. Do you ever really see that in pictures. Not really. There's utility in both those there. Each camera has a defined range of total actuations they will fire before the shutter dies. If the autofocus is more accurate or faster, you end up with having to crank through as many frames to nail it. Is that really figured in? The usefulness of having the front element not protrude like it does in all other macro lenses. Ghosting/flaring not as much. They're all factored into the price, but most of it isn't really measured unless you really pixel peep. On top of all that, there's resale value. Nikon lenses loses about 10% of their resale value when resold. Third party lenses lose 20-30%.

    One of my oldest and favorite lens is the micro nikkor 55mm f/3.5 lens that only goes down to 1:2 magnification (requires PK-13 to get it to 1:1 or 22mm worth of extension). Manufactured in 1969 and still produces some great pictures; price paid $85 shipped.

    What it really boils down to is what you're willing to pay for your gear. Just buy whatever is within your price range.
  18. iani

    iani Guest

    Well for what its worth my macros are taken with a 90mm Tamron. Plenty of lens for my purposes.
  19. zepplock

    zepplock Guest

    I looked through your pics iani - beautiful!

    Well I went to pbase and lookes through hundreds of Sigma 105, Sigma 150 and Tamron 90 pics.

    I love Tamron 90 bokeh. Sigma is a bit worse on both 105 and 150.
    Sharpness is pretty much the same - which is excellent.

    Now i need to decide if I actually want to go with more expensive 150 (should be great to use 150 in a fishtank)
    Or go with better bokeh on Tamron 90.
    Or go with very cheap (only $250) Sigma 105.

    I'll report back ;-)
  20. kinetic

    kinetic Webmaster

    if you can spend a bit more, I'd spend a bit more. the 150 would work really well for corals far into your tank.

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