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MACRO LENS GUIDE

Macro photography is one of the most interesting types of photography. It lets you show detail that is otherwise not easily seen by the naked eye.

Nikon's designation for a macro lens is Micro NIKKOR. A true macro lens lets you take photographs that are 1:2 or 1:1 reproduction (½ life size to life size respectively) without the need for additional accessories. An image is described as life size when the image size is equal to the subject size. At their closest focusing distances, most lenses provide approximately 1:3.2 or 1:5 reproduction ratio. This means that a subject is reproduced approximately three or five times smaller than it is in real live. This is hardly enough to fill the frame with really small subjects as you would get from a life size reproduction of 1:1 as it is given by Nikon’s Micro Nikkors such as e.g. the AF-S Micro NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G VR. Micro NIKKOR lenses are popular because they offer tremendous versatility, high reproduction ratios, ease of use, and outstanding value. Micro NIKKOR lenses will show their maximum reproduction ratio on the lens barrel (1:2 or 1:1).

Nikon's Micro NIKKOR lenses are designed to perform from infinity all the way down to their closest focusing distances. In the case of the AF-S Micro NIKKOR 60mm f/2.8G ED, that’s as close as 0.185 m. Thanks to the short lens construction this lens features a long ‘free working space’, which is the distance between the front lens element and your subject. The longer your free working distance the easier it will be to illuminate your subject and the smaller the chance you will disturb small animals. Free working space is an important distinction between the various Micro NIKKOR lenses. Moving in extremely close to the subject using a Micro NIKKOR lens lets you to fill the entire frame with your subject.

Using a short telephoto macro lens, such as a 200 mm Micro NIKKOR, lets you achieve life-size reproduction of your subject without having to get as close as you would if you were using a 60 mm Micro NIKKOR. These short telephoto macro lenses are ideal for shooting insects or other creatures that you may not want to get too close to.

Nikon offers two close-up Speedlight systems, which are great for supplementing available light when shooting macro photographs. The R1 Wireless Close-up Speedlight System is configured for i-TTL enabled cameras that feature a built-in Commander function. The R1C1 Wireless Close-up Speedlight System is configured for i-TTL enabled cameras without a built-in Commander function.

Macro photography often entails the use of a tripod. When you're shooting so close to your subject the depth of field is often reduced to millimetres instead of centimetres or metres. To ensure sharp images, you'll want to place your DSLR on a tripod for added stability. If a tripod isn't an option, try one of the Micro NIKKOR lenses that feature Nikon's VR (Vibration Reduction) image stabilisation. These lenses allow hand-held shooting at up to 4 stops slower¹ than otherwise possible—ideal for achieving greater depth of field and sharper still images or movies. Speaking of movies, it’s worth remembering that you can use a Micro NIKKOR lens to reproduce subjects up to life size when shooting movies too.

And just because a Micro NIKKOR lens gives you the ability to reproduce subjects up to life size (1:1), you don't always have to use the lens for this. In addition to their macro capabilities, these lenses also function brilliantly at their prime focal length. The AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/3.5G ED VR can be used for portraiture or action photography. The PC-E Micro NIKKOR 45mm f/2.8D ED can be used for architecture or landscape photography. And the Micro NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8 lens is a great portrait lens for FX-format DSLRs.

Nikon’s macro lenses include a variety of AF and AF-S lenses, DX lenses (designed specifically for use with cameras that utilise the DX format image sensor), manual focus lenses, and PC-E or Perspective Control lenses.

NIKON’S MICRO-NIKKOR LENS LINEUP

AF-S DX MICRO NIKKOR 40MM F/2.8G

Maximum reproduction ratio: 1:1 (life size)

Minimum focus distance: 0.16 m / 0.53 ft.

AF MICRO-NIKKOR 200MM F/4D IF-ED

Maximum reproduction ratio: 1:1 (life size)

Minimum focus distance: 0.5 m / 1.64 ft.

MICRO-NIKKOR 55MM F/2.8

Maximum reproduction ratio: 1:2 (half life size)

Minimum focus distance: 0.25 m / 0.9 ft.

AF MICRO-NIKKOR 60MM F/2.8D

Maximum reproduction ratio: 1:1 (life size)

Minimum focus distance: 0.21 m / 0.42 ft.

PC-E MICRO NIKKOR 45MM F/2.8D ED

Maximum reproduction ratio: 1:2 (half life size)

Minimum focus distance: 0.25 m / 0.83 ft.

PC-E MICRO NIKKOR 85MM F/2.8D

Maximum reproduction ratio: 1:2 (half life size)

Minimum focus distance: 0.39 m / 1.3 ft.

AF-S VR MICRO-NIKKOR 105MM F/2.8G IF-ED

Maximum reproduction ratio: 1:1 (life size)

Minimum focus distance: 0.314 m / 1.0 ft.

AF-S MICRO NIKKOR 60MM F/2.8G ED

Maximum reproduction ratio: 1:1 (life size)

Minimum focus distance: 0.185 m / 0.6 ft.

AF-S DX MICRO NIKKOR 85MM F/3.5G ED VR

Maximum reproduction ratio: 1:1 (life size)

Minimum focus distance: 0.286 m / 0.9 ft.

Speaking of COOLPIX and DSLR Cameras—Macro Mode

¹ Based on CIPA Standard.