What is a photographer to do?????

2 years, 10 months ago 4
Posted in: Uncategorized

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I’ve had a number of readers and students ask me what I’m going to do about the new Fujifilm 80mm f 2.8 Macro lens?  What people are usually asking is it right for me!!!???


Let me set the parameters for you.  I do a great deal of close-up work and have, over the years, owned some of the most highly rated lenses out there.  I personally don’t want any lens unless it is spectacular in performance, nearly perfect!  Why?  I found long ago that unless you know your cameras and lenses are capable of making the highest quality images, you will always wonder was it me or the camera or lens that contributed to my failure in this shot?  If you know your gear is able to help you make the near perfect (technical) images you desire, when the results are less than great, “you know who to blame!”  It holds you accountable, since you know if used properly the camera and lens can deliver the goods!!!!


So, if you are very serious and want the best let’s look at some of the options I know best.  First if you buy a Macro lens just to shoot close-ups, really close and will not likely use it a lot for subjects at normal distances, a pure Macro/Micro lens will work well for  you.  They are simple to use, simply focus them and shoot, no need for extension tubes, diopters etc.


I’m assuming you shoot the Fujifilm X Series of cameras, but the basic principles will apply across the board.  If you need a lot of working distance because you might disturb your subject, if you are too close, (insects, snakes, frogs, etc) Then you will want a 150mm to 200 mm Macro lens, and if you shoot Fujifilm, you are “sorta” out of luck!!  I say “Sorta” because the  55-200, 50-140 and 100-400 work fabulously with diopters.  The 100-400 with the Canon 500D can get you to almost 1:1 (life size) and is fantastisally sharp, but it is not a Macro lens per se’!


For Fujifilm shooters I recommend the 200mm Micro lenses from Nikon with an adapter or from Canon, (theirs is a 180mm ).  Of course you will have to manually focus, but then in all serious close- up work you will be doing that anyway (or should!!!!)


If a mid range Macro will do the new 80mm Mcro f 2.8 is hard to beat, it is tack sharp and has a lot of wonderful feature!  It can go to 1:1 without accessories, takes the auto extension tubes, and can even be used with the Fujifilm teleconverters!  It is weather resistant, fast (f 2.8), and handles wonderfully.  Only two downsides are;  it is on the big side, and the cost is $1,095.  If it fits in your budget, it is well worth the price.


You can buy some of the long discomntinued manual focus Micro Nikkor lenses and they are very sharp and can be adapted to the Fujifilm bodies with inexpensive adapters I buy on Amazon.  They have aperture rings which makes them easy to use, and manual focus only, though the 105mm Macro AF will work as well, but is is the most expensive and does not focus as easy as the older purely manual focus lenses!


The spectaular darkhorse lens is the Tokina 100mm Macro f 2.8.  It has long been considered one of the very sharpest Macro lense out there and, brand new, runs less than $400.  It goes 1:1 and is built very well and focuses wonderfully in manual focus mode!  Truthfully, it is a steal if your budget is tight!!!


Lastly the shortest focal length is the venerable Fujifilm 60mm Macro f 2.4.  It reasonably priced, small and compact and is spectaculary sharp as well, (remember all these focal lengths should be multiplied by 1.5 to see the true focal length equivlent)  So a 80mm acts like a 12omm, a 105mm like a 150mm the 60mm a 90mm, a 200mm a 300mm,  and on and on.


One last alternative for the Fujifilm shooter is their wonderful 90mm f 2 (135mm equiv.)  It is not a true Macro lens but focuses very close and works wonderfully with extension tubes and diopters!!


You may be wondering why I have not shown images of photographs made with each lens?  You couldn’t tell them apart!!!!!!  Web images just can’t portray the differences, which are very minor, at best!!!!


So what am I doing?  I own the Nikkor 200mm Micro for long distance, I use the 100-400 a lot and it is becoming my favorite and sharpest way to shoot from good distances!!!!  I love the 60mm Macro and the 90mm which I use a lot.  The new 80mm Macro f 2.8 from Fujifilm is still not availale to purchase, though I tested one and loved  it.  I suspect I will pick one up when they become available!  I’ve got some time to think about anyway!!!


Hope that was helpful!




the pilgrim



4 Responses

  1. Jeff howe says:

    Thanks for this discussion Bill as I have been contemplating my options. I may purchase the Canon 500D for use with the 18-135mm and 100-400mm lenses. That said, I also have a Nikon 105mm macro lens. Since this lens does not have an aperture ring, what Fuji to Nikon adapter would you recommend? Thank you,

  2. Douglas Berg says:

    Thanks for a great discussion on the macro lenses that are available. I began with Nikon, but for the last five years I have been a Fuji user. Added the 60mm lens to my collection a year ago and so far have had good results.
    QUESTION: Being on a tight budget, can this lens be used with the Fuji extension tubes, and can I treat this as a prime lens and use it for general photography as one would use a 50mm or 35mm lens? Thanks.

  3. PointReyes says:

    From a previous post, I listed my own quandary on this very subject. I cancelled my order for the XF80. I have noticed that going 1:1 macro many times requires a steady base. Since I already have two 1:1 macro lenses (X-Mount 50 Touit and the adapted A-mount Minolta 100) , I’m going to focus on improving my skill with better tripods and heads. The amount of shake using a plamp and focusing railing on my old Bogen tripod was astounding – I even had to trust that a 10 second timer would be enough to take the shot without shake. The Sirui K20X ball head is simply useless for precious locking of the head (same problem I had on the other end – super telephoto). Probably will looking at RRS which is as much as the XF80. :p No mirror to lockup and live field is a huge bonus with Fuji. Another area is focus stacking which seems to limit me to Nikon, Canon, or Sony cameras for the hardware/software that interacts with the camera.

  4. Thanks for the post Bill. That’s a lot of good information. I have the Fuji 60mm macro, which is OK, but does not get me as close as I would like. I was interested in the new 80mm from Fuji, but the price point seems a bit high. I may want to try one of the Nikons or to Tokina. I’d love to test drive one in December if you have one.

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