Macro Lenses

I am considering my first macro lens. I shoot with a Nikon D7200 and saw a used Tamron 90mm 2.8 Macro (old model) for a good price. Does anyone have experience with this lens?

Nicholas, I am a Canon user, so I’m not able to be of any help, first hand, anyway. I did do a search and found it on B&H Photo, and the reviews there looked really good, I thought. Hopefully though, someone here at NPN will be able to give some some first hand advice about this lens. I am excited that you are looking for a macro lens, and am looking forward to seeing some of your photos on the Macro Critiques here. Wishing you the very best in your decision.

Thanks Shirley, I do have a close up post (technically not macro) to make once I do the post processing.

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I shoot Canon too, but generally Canon and Nikon macro lenses are very sharp, and I suspect third party macros from companies like Tamron are too.

What type of macro lens you should own depends somewhat on the subject matter you intend to shoot. A 90mm or 100mm macro is a good general purpose macro for things such as flowers, and they are usually light enough to easily be handheld.

For folks who want to shoot insects, a 180mm telephoto macro is a good choice. While both a 100mm and a 180mm lens will focus to 1:1 magnification, the 180mm macro has a greater minimum focusing distance, which means you don’t need to be as close to the subject to get to 1:1, with insects this can help avoid scaring them away. My 180mm Canon macro also has a tripod collar, which helps when shooting from a tripod. The longer focal length of a 180mm macro also allows you to more easily make backgrounds appear out of focus. My main point is that image sharpness isn’t necessarily the only consideration in choosing a macro lens.

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Thanks for the advice Ed. I’m shooting a DX camera should I adjust your recommended focal lengths accordingly?

Hi Nicholas. In regard to your question to @Ed_McGuirk, his recommendations hold for the crop sensor camera. The minimum focal distance doesn’t change significantly, you’re just throwing sensing a smaller portion of the image with the crop sensor. It does provide a magnification effect, so if your subject filled the frame with a full sized sensor, you could back off with a crop sensor. However, for insects, you’re usually trying to get the large enough in the frame, so the extra working distance is still an advantage. I find the longer focal length useful for flowers as well. All that said, 90 mm will work and probably better on a crop sensor than a full frame, so if it’s a good deal, I’d go for it.

Thanks for the explanation Dennis.

The Tamron 90mm f2,8 is very sharp. I used one on my Pentax system for shooting tiny orchid flowers. The body is plastic and it is a screw drive lens if it is one of the older models. If you compare it to the Nikon 105mm, the Nikon is built stronger. Dropping both will have the same consequences, so go with the Tamron and use it as a learning tool. It gets the job done. With practice, you should get some wonderful macro shots with this lens at a bargain price. When you gain experience, the longer focal length macro lenses are desirable due to the increased working distance that is needed for skittish bugs…Jim

Thanks for the advice Jim. I can get a used Tamron for half the price of a used Nikon so I’ll probably go with the Tamron.

I use a D7200 and the lens I use most is my Tamron 90mm. I have the newest version mostly due to the weather sealing, but have heard great things about earlier models. I mostly shoot reptiles and amphibians and that focal length is perfect for the smallest of frogs up to some pretty large snakes. The quality is amazing and overall just a joy to shoot with.

The old Tamron 90 had an outstanding reputation for it’s optical quality. It was originally developed by Pentax (if my memory is correct…). The one drawback is that the front extends as you focus closer, which might scare some living subjects. It is an outstanding way to get into true macro photography.

Thanks Mark and Joshua. I believe the new model has VC and doesn’t extend while focusing.

I think micro lenses are best used in a focus stacking process. I see work that is astounding (not here, tho I’m new). It is a controlled, indoor activity. Looking at high end focus stacking can be inspirational. A shorter lighter lens will more enable focus stacking in the future if you choose. GL

Thanks Steven and welcome to the network. I’ve seen some of those focus stacking shots. They are impressive. Not sure if controlled indoor activities are my kind of thing.

I have had several versions of Tamron 90mm macro lenses, and they have all been incredibly sharp. I’m not sure how old the “old” one is you’re looking at, but I’ve never seen or heard of one that wasn’t outstanding (and sorry for the late reply).

Thanks Bob, I waited too long and someone else bought the lens. I wasn’t real old, the model right before the current model.