Nikon, Photography

Getting Right Up Close

Yesterday a parcel arrived for me from Nikon Australia and in it was a Micro Nikkor 40mm DX Lens, macro lens.  I asked them recently if they would lend me a lens for my Still LIfe/Close Up class that I am running tomorrow.  I had intended that the class would be so that you could do them with what you have at home.  I did think though, that it would be fun to see if I could get a macro so my students could also experience what it would be like to use one.

So I had a quick play yesterday.

_LC20625My first impression, not as easy as I thought.  The depth of field seems to work very differently to what I am used to.  I also realised that the lighting wasn’t very good and I should’ve used my tripod, then again, I was just playing.

I am going out today to take some photos so I will try it out more today and see how I go.  It is a DX lens, and I can use it on my D800 but it crops the frame automatically, which is interesting.  I was told yesterday by Andrew, a friend, that the depth of field was very shallow, and it is so true.

LC3_3231I need to rethink how I do this, and see what happens.  I have a couple of weeks to experiment with the lens before I have to send it back, so it will be nice to see how it works and what I can.  I think you will be seeing a lot of my macro attempts over the never couple of weeks. I suspect at the end of the two weeks I will want one very badly.  My husband is going to hate me.

That was the other problem I had yesterday too, I couldn’t find anything to photograph.  The garden has no flowers as it recovers from summer, though I did buy a bunch of flowers the other day, so I used those.  I need to think about some set ups and uses for the lens.

I have the images that worked yesterday and will put them in the gallery now.  Before the gallery I would like thank Nikon Australia for loaning me the lens so I can share my experience with you and for my students to try it out.


      • Mere Like Wild an Quasicle’ Werdz if I might say! so :) spectacular photographic daysz ahead 2 u …Luv Lewkin’ @ ur Images i do! ~*(*@*@)*~~~ :) . Q

      • check out my latest additions to my new photo pages i am building U inspired me to do :) thank 2 U an “through my lens”da q is back at it have camera will travel :) an a keepin on a keepin on i be again, thanks fer da inspiration … U Are! .. Q

  1. Oh, I’d love to have one of those to play with! What a great company, to make you a loan. I think I’d run around and take photos of anything and everything with it, just to see what it did. And then have fun playing with the results in the computer. I look forward to seeing what you do with it!

    • I am very lucky, and I think Nikon Australia are fantastic. I have been trying that, too, seeing what I can get, I still have two weeks to try it out, so it should be very interesting. Thank you Karen.

    • It is fairly wide, but because it is for a DX lens, I suspect it isn’t as wide as you would think. You can get very close those. Thank you.

  2. I love Macro Photography. Since I am not in Australia, I would be so grateful if you post later in the week some of your thoughts on how to be comfortable up close and persona.

    • Oh, I don’t think you need to worry about that Julianne, you will see lots of photos with it, I plan on making the most of it while I have it. I will also talk about how I find it and if I am getting better at using it. Thank you.

  3. I’ve got a little macro lens and it isn’t as easy as you would think to get a good shot. I look forward to seeing more of yours – you’re bound to get it!

    • That is what I am finding Gypsy, I think I will just play and see what I get. Thank you, lots of experimenting to come.

  4. Hello Leanne,
    Good luck with the macro,( actually I never use a tripod for my macro work…maybe it shows! But a tripod would be a huge encumberance for many great macro shots that seem to be fleeting chances). Here’s to you having some flowers in the garden again soon. What a prospect – a summer so hot that all the flowers go! Poor you and best wishes,

    • I don’t know if it is the 40mm, but it was very shaky and I was having a hard time focusing, but it could have been the low light, I will keep trying and experimenting. We have more colour in our gardens in winter and spring here, and possibly Autumn. Summer is just brown. Thank you Julian.

  5. Leanne – is this the type of lens where you stand up close and personal to the subject or from a distance? The reason I ask is that I have a telephoto lens that has a macro setting which means I stand about 4 feet away to get my macro shots. After using filters for years to get my macro shots, it took me a long while to get used to that experience.

    • Yes, Paula, you stand very very close, within millimetres. It is great. Macro lens, specific ones mean you can get really close to your subject, I was photographing my daughters eye yesterday, the lens was about 5cms away from her face. Thanks Paula.

      • Yes I know that typically you do stand super close, but as I said, with this other lens I have, I have to be several feet back and that takes some getting used to as well.

        I love macro, as you know, but do not have a true macro lens. One day. After the university degree perhaps….

      • Yes, I have lenses that are like that, I have one that I have to be 3 metres away, I always forget and then seem to spend all my time going backwards.
        I know what you mean Paula, one day, I hope I get one too. I think I want a 105mm though.

  6. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez says

    Shopping from home is FUN! I like the images but I don’t know about lenses.

    • It is, we do it a lot here in Australia, otherwise we tend to get ripped off, though that is slowly changing. Macro lenses are a lot fun, you can get really small detail, just brilliant.

  7. leecleland says

    What fun and fabulous that Nikon have lent you a Micro lens, lucky you. Macro or Micro use to frustrate the hell out of me because of the shallow dof so now I use f11 or f16 (and tripod) to get thin edges of the subject in sharp focus when I am in really close. It is so easy to miss the part you wanted to get as I’m sure you are finding out.

    • I think that is what I need to do more of Lee, thanks for the tip. I am finding that out. I am lucky, shame it has to go back, but I am looking forward to getting my own soon, when I save up for it. Thanks Lee.

  8. I think you will enjoy the macro very much! I find I almost always manually focus – it ends up being less frustrating :)

    • I think I will too, I am finding the focusing hard, thank you for the tip, I will try that the next time I am using it. :)

    • Haha, I want to say lots, but it is a bit frustrating, I think I need to practice more, but I love the shots. :)

      • Yep..been at vets Forrest had a baby brown and the test has shown most likely bitten he is being monitored on iv fluids and has had antivenene…fingers crossed..

      • Oh no, I was starting to think that maybe snake season might be over. I hope he is okay. I saw the photos on your blog, very creepy.

      • The vet and I think because of the extreme heat that now they are more active this is the second bit she has seen from a baby brown in a week..i hope he is too I am pretty shattered…

      • I haven’t seen any snakes this last summer, I am not disappointed. Poor dog, well my fingers are crossed for him.

  9. I almost always use a tripod when using my Nikkor 105 mm macro lens. In addition I always use manual focus and a cable release. This year I have started spot metering and what a whole new world that is for me! It’s nice to hear you say macro isn’t as easy as you thought. I find it very challenging and am hooked!

    • I think this is the way I would have to go if I get a 105, actually when I get it. I already do spot metering and have done so for quite a while, it is great. It isn’t easy, I thought, just attach it and away I would go, but there are things to learn. Thanks

      • You’re welcome! I failed to mention I shoot using the mirror up mode for even less camera shake.


      • I have never done that, it is a great idea, if I remember, and have the camera on the tripod, I might try it. Thanks again.

  10. Looking forward to your macro images, can be a challenge, especially the shallow depth of field. I Use a 300mm macro often, usually handheld. Getting all the subject in focus can be hard at times. Have fun!

    • I am finding the shallow depth of field very interesting. Wow that is a big macro, I would like a 105mm. It is an interesting thing, get stuff in focus, anything really. Thanks.

      • The Macro is built into a 70-300 zoom lens I have, good for bugs and critters that don`t like having a lens in their face.
        Need to be about a meter away from the subject for minimum focal length though. Also use a 28-80 Macro, good for still life.
        Enjoy the Macro/Micro world !.

  11. I have a 60mm AF/FX f2.8 Macro-Nikkor – which, on my DX camera, allows for me to back off a bit from the subject as it translates to (approx) 90mm. I have never had any luck hand holding shots with this lens so I think you must use a tripod. I don’t use it often, but when I need it nothing else will start making your apologies to your husband now ‘:-)

    • I will Robert, he knows I want me, but I need to be making more money first. I need a heap of one on one sessions to get booked. I like using it and I like that it can also be a normal lens as well. I played with it a bit this morning, it was interesting. Thanks Robert.

  12. roblowephoto says

    Hi Leanne. Try Nikon’s 60mm D Micro too. 40mm even on a crop sensor will mean you’ll block more of your own lighting than you would with a longer lens because you’ll need to be a lot closer to subject. Lee is also quite right.. f10 – 16 would be optimum for the depth of field you’ll need at such close distances. And a tripod for sure – no excuse to shoot macros with a tripod at anything above base ISO for maximum clarity. Good luck! R.

    • Thank you for the advice, I really appreciate it. I did notice I was getting in the light all the time. If I get one, I think I will get the 105mm, that is the one I’ve decided I really want. I closed the aperture down to get that and it was much better. Big learning curve, some others have said to use manual focus, so I might have to do that. Thank you so much.

  13. Very beautiful! I love the shoot through and the yellow and the down the stem one. The shallow depth of field is magnified when using a macro. Which is why it’s best sometimes to use a smaller aperture such as f/8 vs f2.5. Make sure it’s well lit if not equiped with macro flash or as you stated use tripod. Great work nonetheless. And how cool is that about Nikon lending you the lens! Go you!

    • Thank you, I just can’t believe how different it is. Thanks for all the advice, someone else had mentioned that about aperture too, so I did that more this week, and it was much better. I will have to suck it up and use the tripod I think. Oh, yes, so cool that Nikon lent it to me.

  14. jsleflore says

    I think the shots you have came out nice. Cant wait to see what else you come up with.

  15. I bought some extension tubes and had a similar experience when I added one to my 50 mm lens. The problem with a tripod is that there isn’t the flexibility to move closer or farther away to get good focus with the short depth of field. I found that a monopod worked well – more flexibility than a tripod but more stability than being hand held. I’m eager to hear more of your experience as I haven’t done a lot of practicing.

    • Thanks Pat, I have never used extension tubes, I should try one day. I don’t have a monopod either, though my tripod as an extendable thing at the top which could be good for this. Thanks for the advice.

  16. These are wonderful photos. I absolutely love macro photography. Its always amazing to see the detail on the computer screen. I rented a couple of lenses before I bought my 100 mm (canon) and was really glad I did. Have fun!

    • It is good to play with them first, I definitely know I would like the 105mm now, I like the 40, but I want to get closer. Thank you Nora, it is an amazing world. Oh, I am sure I will have a lot of fun.

  17. When working with Macros it is best to use small apertures, ƒ11 or ƒ16 and fairly high shutter speeds. That means you need plenty of light. A ring light helps enormously, but tends to flatten out the image. A tripod also helps to keep the camera steady. Good luck and have fun.

    • I took the macro out today and realised I needed a faster shutter speed, so I worked on that, and yes the smaller aperture is a big learning experience. I might have to get the tripod out, thank you for the information.

  18. I can totally relate to you “no flowers in the garden dilemma”. I had the same issue this week so bought a bouquet so I could play with my macro lens. I have the 105mm AF-D version. It does take some practice, but you’ll soon get the hang of it, and want to add an extension tube to get even closer.
    Borrowing is always dangerous…especially if it comes from Nikon! :) Have a great class!

    • I think I will have to buy more flowers next week so I can really play with the lens. Even where I went to day, had flowers, but not a lot. I want the 105mm, I think it would suit me much better. I think I will too, I usually pick things up very quickly, so I am sure I will there soon. Why is it dangerous and especially from nikon? Thank you.

      • Cause you won’t want to give it back, and you’ll be wanting a macro lens of your own. :)

        At least that’s what happened to me. I tried the 60mm micro a friend has, and really like it, but used all my will power to resist buying one. After a week or so the urge passed and I was content with my extension tubes, and Canon 500D close up lens.
        Then I tried another friends 105mm micro lens, and decided I really did want one.I bought one. It was dangerous to borrow that lens!

      • I think you might be right.
        I don’t have any money for one right now, so it will be a while before I can even think about it. Maybe I should consider the extension tubes, I have never thought of using them.
        The 105 is really the one I want to get, if I get one. Thank you. :)

  19. Some really vivid and beautiful colours there, yes the depth of field is extremely shallow. But still great shots would look really really good on really really large canvases.

    Say hi to Andrew for me

    • Thank you, I like that idea of the large canvases, the depth of field is a learning experience. Thank you, and I will, do we mean the same Andrew? ;)

  20. There’s always such a learning curve with a new lens! When I began shooting with my 10-22mm I actually began to fear I’d lost my mind or something. ;) So keep at it and you’ll get the hang of it—it’s like riding a new horse. Same concept but a different touch is required. I do like what you have so far, though—it’s very soft and dreamy with beautiful colours.

    • Thank you Jen, I will give it a good go before it has to go back. I love the comparison, very funny, haha. I do like the softness as well, there is something really lovely about it. :)

  21. I find with macro the wow factor is that you gotten close up to something, but a good picture still describes what the subject its or transforms the subject into something else due to abstraction.

  22. Because you’re much closer to the subject the affect of DoF is much exaggerated, so unless you want to for a particular creative effect, wide apertures are best avoided. The other issue with being so close to the subject is movement – tiny movements of either the camera or the subject e.g. a flower bobbing about in the breeze – can make focussing really tough. It’s the front to back movement rather than the side to side that is the real problem. Using a tripod and shooting indoors is the solution, but that isn’t always possible. Using a tripod outside for macro work is also advisable, but unfortunately not all subjects are easy to get to with a tripod so you just have to go hand-held for the flexibility. This is where it becomes really difficult – as you know using relatively small apertures means slower shutter speeds and you’re trying to shoot hand-held, with a subject that is likely to be quite delicate and moving about in even the lightest of breezes. You need good light, but not direct sunlight because that can make things too contrasty. At this point everything is working against you. Macro is one of those styles that looks easy, but can be one of the toughest of all. It can be great fun and very frustrating in equal measure – but when you get it right very rewarding. Patience is the key and expect to take loads of shots, quite a few of which you’ll reject. One thing I would say is that 40mm for a macro is a bit short, especially if you want to take insect shots, for that something around 100mm is better, because it just gives you a bit more working distance between the camera and the subject. Hope you have fun 😊

    • I like the creative effect, but I would need to work on that a lot more, I used a smaller aperture today. The movement was a pain, I made the shutter as fast as I could. I think you are definitely right about the shooting indoors on a tripod, and I think I will do more of that next week.
      I have to say that you are so very right about how it looks easy but so isn’t. If I buy a macro, I will get the Micro Nikkor 105mm, that is the one I am aiming for. I am having fun Mark, it is nice to get to try one before deciding to buy one. Thanks.

  23. I have a 100mm Canon macro lens, and like you I find judging depth of field very difficult. Although I have some great images from it, two years on I am still struggling.

    • Oh yes, it is a whole new world for me, it is quite interesting. I would love the 105mm, maybe I can convince the family for mothers day, haha. I think it would be fun. Thanks Julie.

  24. Sonel says

    Looks like you had lots of fun Leanne. I wouldn’t mind having a macro lens as well. Enjoy! :D

    • I was just thinking of you today and here you are. I did have fun, and I really enjoy it. I would like to have my own too, one day. I will, thanks Sonel. :)

      • Sonel says

        Glad to hear that Leanne. I love macro shots and it’s so much fun getting so close to those tiny little things. Yes, one day we will be so lucky. :D

      • It is a lot of fun Sonel. Quite different but it is good to do things that challenge you. one day. :)

  25. I look forward to seeing and hearing more about the macro shots! I dream of having a macro lens….. enjoy the experimenting!

  26. Wow, colors … so soft and delicate! I don’t have a clue what DX lens is .. but you did a great job with it – stunning. I agree would be beautiful as a canvas gallery. I hope your class went well. Have a lovely weekend down under.

    • Thank you, the DX refers to what they call cropped sensor, so when I put the 40mm on my full frame camera it is actually more like a 60mm. Thanks again, should be a fun class.

  27. Hi Leanne,

    I have owned that same lens for a while now. I often use it as a standard lens for other subjects not just macro. It is not so good for photographing insects as you have to get far too close but otherwise it is a good piece of kit.

    As for working on macro images, I would suggest setting the lens to manual focus or using the focus limiter so your focus is confined to the closer range. I tend to set the focus manually, lean in slowly towards the subject then press the shutter button just as things come into focus. Takes some practice.

    What I really like about macro is that you can work in the middle of the day and save the morning and afternoons for landscape or other subjects.

    I’m sure you will work through the issues pretty quickly. Good luck!

    • Thank you for the advice here, a few others have said the same about manually focusing, though not the way you said, I like what you have said, so think I will give it a try.
      That is great what you said about using the different times of the day for photos. Great.
      I went out with it yesterday and used it as macro and as a standard lens, interesting.
      I hope I do, I only have the lens for 2 weeks, so I don’t have a lot of time to try it out.

  28. I use the Micro-Nikkor 105mm with my D800, hand-held. Focussing and getting enough light is tricky. I wouldn’t dismiss the Sigma 105mm though. It’s cheaper and hard to take for a Nikon fan, when compared to the Nikon lens it’s actually sharper. Ouch.

    • Haha, thanks Marc, at this stage, not sure if or when I will be getting my own macro, but I will have to remember that, it is an ouch for me too.

  29. Leanne, gorgeous shots. I wrote to you about macro photography but I don’t think you got it. This is a whole different type of photography and it is very challenging. I wish you all the best and have fun with it. Looks like you are off to a wonderful start!!!

    • Oh, I don’t think I did Amy, where did you write it? It is a different type of photography, so much to learn, it is quite strange. Thank you Amy.

      • It is no longer important, Leanne. You are learning first hand macro photography is in a league all by itself, and strange? At first yes. I am beginning to really fall in love with this photography and in fact, am working on a series for tomorrow. I am wowing as I am editing! LOL I think with time you will get the hang of it. You are so used to a zoom lense, and with the macro, nope. You have to move. And using manual is much better as well. I learned that already. :-) (((HUGS))) Amy

      • That is wonderful to hear Amy. I hope I get the hang of it, it has been interesting, to say the least. Oh yes, no zoom, has been strange, my legs are the zoom. I will try the manual focusing the next time I use it. Thanks Amy, I look forward to seeing your series.

      • Leanne, I have every faith in you that you will get the hang of it. With your eye for lines, shapes, light and symmetry, you will be fantastic. I was laying in the mud today to get some shots. Hehehehehe Oh yeah, with this it is very up close and personal. Unless that it you get an extension tube, which I do not have. My series is going up tomorrow. :-) I just finished the final editing. Whew. Hours. Now done!!! Love, Amy

      • Hahhaha, I was lying over the side of a pier yesterday to get a shot that I wanted, so I can understand lying in the mud. I might try some extension tubes actually, I have a 50mm, so maybe with an extension tube, that might be enough. Wonderful Amy, great job, I will look for them. :)

      • I just came from your site and it looks like you are getting the hang of macro. I might look into an extension tube, yet on the other hand, I like it when I am up and close and personal. It really adds to the experience. What is a little mud? That is what a washing machine is for. LOL Love, Amy

      • I have had a lot of help from everyone here which has been fantastic. Oh yes, what is a little mud, LOL. So many options these days, who knows what to do. Thanks Amy.

  30. I would love to get a macro lens and am hesitant to get one as I do not know what to get so love to follow your experiments.

    • That is great Anarette, follow along for the next couple of weeks, I will post more about it. I know now that I wouldn’t get the 40mm if I were buying one, I would get the 105mm. It is a big learning curve, things don’t work the way I hoped they would. Thanks.

  31. Macro lens are a whole new ballgame, at least that’s what I thought when I first got mine. I had to learn about widening my aperture and all that stuff in relation to the close-up shots. Does that make sense? I would focus on just a tiny bit of whatever it was I was taking a picture of. Which is ok, but I wanted more of the area in focus. It’s really fun once you get into it. Can’t wait to see your photos as you practice and have fun with this lens! :) Enjoy!

    • I think it is too Em, definitely very different. Yes, it does make sense. I think I am doing the same thing, but I am starting to understand that you have to use a macro differently. Thank you, I only have it for two weeks, so I have to learn quickly, haha. :)

  32. I have never used a macro lens. They do look like fun. Most of what I do, I use either a 50 or 100 with extension tubes.

    • I have never used one before either, quite a learning curve, it is going to be interesting, I have the lens for two weeks, so will see how I go with it. Will see what I think at the end of the time. I haven’t used extension tubes, but think I should look into them. I don’t even know where you get them. Thanks

  33. There’s some incredible close up shots here! Beautiful perspective on these pretty flowers. Thanks for sharing.

  34. Hi Leanne, DoF can be a pain when shooting that close. if out doors, and if i am not using tripod, tend to go for around f9, with iso200 to 800 using the autofocus – depending upon the light i will try and chose lower iso for better image quality.
    if in doors, i use f9 to f16 on iso100 to get the full flower head, or if i want to get a particluar shot. I use a tripod 99% of the time, especially if i am working on something in the garden and pray for little wind. It is great experimenting with macro. manual focusing is better you can view the focal point at x5 or x10 for ensuring the image is sharp – this does require a tripod. You can always crop if you shoot further away, sometimes being too close creates a shallower DoF. I look forward to seeing more of you macro experiences.

    • Thanks for all the tips ArtyAnge, it has certainly been a huge learning curve, but it has been wonderful to get all the advice from everyone here. I have really enjoyed that. I have it for another week, so I will continue to experiment and share my experiences, going out with it again today. Thanks again.

  35. Beautiful, lovely and so romantic. – Wow .. just adore the colors and the softness.

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