A Final Macro/Closeup Combo, I Promise

Previously I wrote about using –

  1. An extension tube in combination with a Tokina 50-135 2.8 zoom, followed by
  2. Nikkor 75-300 4.5-5.6 lens  combined with 1.4X teleconverter plus a Canon 500D closeup lens, and finally today
  3. A Nikkor 105mm 2.8 true macro lens in combination with the 1.4X TC used in #2 and the TC + extension tube from #1 (which gives almost twice live size magnification)

I’ve saved the best until last. Nothing can beat a true macro lens for doing macro. 😉 In comparing the four macro lens configurations I tried for today’s post, my personal ranking is –

  1. The lens alone
  2. Lens + TC which gives a good magnification boost but
    • with a slight penalty in image quality (you always lose quality when adding glass to your lens’s light path)
    • a loss of a stop of light (2.8 is now 4)
    • I can live with either/both but didn’t want to give the impression there’s a free lunch
  3. Lens + extension tube gives a magnification boost (amount depends on the length of extension)
    • The lens will no longer focus at infinity (max focus distance is less than 3 feet)
  4. Lens + TC + extension tube – very large magnification boost
    • Downside is all of those cited above

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Of course if you need all of the magnification you can get, you use everything you have (as far a practical limits such as size, weight, & ability to support this long pipe stuck to the front of your camera, etc.). However, it’s almost never the case that I need more than what a lens and teleconverter combo can give.
The advantage to a lens/TC combo, over tubes and closeup lenses, is that the lens will continue to focus to infinity. My go-to lens is the 105 macro unless I’m shooting small critters, notably butterflies and dragonflies which benefit from the longer reach of my 75-300 plus its ability to zoom for framing (the reduced magnification, as compared to the true macro, doesn’t matter much in these cases since butterflies will fill the frame and that’s as much magnification as I need).
Here’s the final cherry blossom image of this three part series (maybe final in more ways than one as we have 1-3 inches of snow forecast for tomorrow – hey, it’s spring already!).
No post processing except RAW to jpeg conversion.

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A note about making this image (105 + TC combo) –

Some blossoms – not the “sharper” ones – were actually touching the lens (producing a complete blur which shows up as a pink haze).
Here are a few more examples of “shooting through” foliage that’s against the lens (wide open aperture is key).


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