macro on shoestring

Posted by Au Lim On Wednesday, March 18, 2009

i love macro. i'm usually homebound (hello mom of 5 kids :-P) and seldom travel so this is one arena i can play with. it also appeals to my inner geek, since it mostly feels like peering into a microscope. therefore, among the lenses on the top of my wishlist is the Micro Nikkor 105mm f2.8VR. if i were to push it, i'd also love to have the Micro Nikkor 200mm f4. thing is, i can't afford them yet. here is my next best thing: el cheapo extension tubes. they make me have the ability to focus closer to the subject, hence magnification, but i lose the ability to focus at objects that are further away.

the extension tubes have no lenses

so my next solution is to get me real macro glass. since i don't have moolah to score my dream lenses, i opted to get one of the Nikon (really) old "legend" lenses: the Micro Nikkor 55mm f3.5 AI. i won it for a good price on Ebay. if i attach it to the extension tubes, i get even more magnification.

the teleconverter has optics

but i wanted MORE and so i went for a teleconverter next: the Nikon TC-201. this is another old model glass but since i have an old micro glass anyway it makes sense to me. i hunted yet again on Ebay and got this just around Christmas last year :-D this one i love for giving me the magnification without having too come close to the subject so it is less likely that i'll scare a bug away. i am also able to focus at a far away object. the teleconverter effectively doubles my focal length. the downside is losing light-- 2 aperture stops--and (they say) some image degradation. being inexperienced, i hardly notice the second point... or maybe, i'm just too happy to get the extra magnification.

if i combine them all together, i get pretty cool results, too. this shoestring macro combo suits me just fine... at least for now. i don't mind them being totally manual focusing since i prefer to do macro on manual anyway. here are some sample shots.

shot with the 55mm Micro

with the 55mm Micro + extension tubes

with the 55mm Micro + teleconverter + extension tubes

*photo at the very top: taken with this same combo but cropped closer.

these stuff don't meter and won't report aperture settings to the EXIF on anything less than a D300 (yep, not even on a D90). and this is another reason why i *heart* my D300. :-) there will be no electronic controls for the aperture settings either. however, they are still usable because i did use them even on my trusty D40. but being old gear, this means i can also use them on my old film camera, the Nikon F4. adventures with film in the future but for now, there's miles more to explore on digital.

1 Response to 'macro on shoestring'

  1. tnapay Said,'> March 23, 2009 at 12:49 AM

    oh au. i am learning a lot from your blog specifically photog and cams. nga lang, di ko pa gets ang iba. i still need to read more :(

    but sure am glad on whatever you may feature about this topic.

    thanks thanks :)


Photo Essay