Fun With the Macro

The macro has gone back to Nikon now and I am Macroless again.  I thought today I might do a post on what I think of the lens now that I have had a chance to play with it.  Nikon loaned to me a Nikon Micro Nikkor 40mm lens for a DX camera, or cropped frame and I’ve been playing with it for the couple of weeks.  I got it for my classes to show them how a Macro works, but it was also good for me to try out as well.

LeanneCole-typewriter-1403311403319425I had never used a Macro before and to say I thought that using it would be easy was an understatement.  They are so much harder than I thought.  The depth of field is so different, and you have to think so differently.  Luckily I was given some great advice from many of you here when I got it, and it was great to know pretty much straight away what my problems were.  So thank you to everyone who gave me all the advice, you really saved me from a lot of frustration.

LeanneCole-typewriter-1403311403319464It was fantastic to be able to get up nice and close to objects, not getting that annoying thing happening because you are too close and the camera won’t focus.  I did like that.  It was fun to get really really close and just see what you could get.  Though being a person who has never been concerned about the details, it was a great exercise for me to do, especially once I understood how depth of field worked with the lens.

LeanneCole-typewriter-1403311403319453The 40mm was a bit limiting and I couldn’t get in nearly as close as I would have liked.  I had always thought that if I was to get a Macro lens that I would get the 105mm.  I have seen some wonderful stuff done with that one.  I just found I couldn’t get as close as I would have liked with the 40mm, though just walking straight up to something and taking a photo from a few centimetres away was fun.

LeanneCole-typewriter-1403311403319468So after having the lens for a couple of weeks, it has had to go back and I am left wondering if I would like a Macro lens now?  It is a good question.  Of course I would like one, I would like the 105mm, but, yes there is a but, can I really justify the expense of it right now and I would really get the use out of it.  With the lens costing anything from $1100 to $1200 in Australia, it is a big investment.  I know I would love to play around with it, but perhaps that is just too much money to have something that would be just for fun.  I really can’t justify that expense right now, especially to my family.


There are other options of course.  I could look at Sigma and see what lenses they have and if their Macro would be perfect for my needs, they have a similar Macro that is $400 or so less.  Sigma lenses are gaining a great reputation.  The other option is to get some extension tubes for my 50mm fixed, or prime, and see how I go with that.  That would be the cheapest way to go and could be fine just to play around with.  In the end it is probably what I will go with, though not right now.  I need be making more money first.

It has been great having the loan of the lens.  I did enjoy playing around it and I would like to thank Nikon for that opportunity.  I need to take some time now to decide what I will do and when.  So while I am thinking I thought you might enjoy seeing more of the photos that I took of the typewriter the other day with the Macro.  I will put them into a gallery so you can see each one a little better.


  1. Leanne, these images are beautiful! I love the old typewrite and that you converted the images to black and white!

    • Thank you so much, I was really happy with them. Old typewriters are wonderful and perfect for black and white. :)

  2. Have been using Sigma lenses for over 15 years, The 70-300 Super macro that i use has served me well. It has taken over 30,000 images and is my main lens. Nice images from your loaner, never thought an old typewriter could look so good!.

    • I have to admit I think I have been a bit of a snob when it comes to my gear. I might have to change that. Wow that is some macro, must be amazing.
      Thank you, I love that typewriter, great subject for macro.

  3. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez says

    You did a great job on the Underwood typewriter. Amazing lens. ;)

  4. Joe says

    I love the wonderfully-rich tone that all of these pictures have, almost like a sepia tint to them. Did you use any special filters or lighting to achieve this? They are gorgeous!

    • Thank you Joe, the sepia tone or slight sepia tone does seem to suit images like this. I just used natural light and a small reflector to bounce light back.

  5. These shots are gorgeous, both aesthetically and in terms of subject matter. It’s funny to think that I’m old enough to have learned how to use a typewriter when I was a kid, but young enough to have completely forgot how due to the prevalence of word processing and computers. I’m looking forward to belching out laughter at the wonder on kids’ faces when I tell them how revolutionary the laptop was. :)

    • I have this typewriter because I was trying to learn how to touch type. So much easier to type on a computer, far less mistakes. It is funny when you think how much things change. My kids, when they were little, asked me what my favourite video was when I was a kid, it was hard for them to comprehend that we didn’t have them, and now they would ask about a DVD. Thank you. :)

  6. Beautiful Leanne. Such an artist! Not many people can make an old typewriter look so beautiful. It makes me imagine what words have been written. Nicely done!

    • I think it is easy to do when it is a lovely old one like this, it is so beautiful. I know, what words, stories, letters, probably lots of letters, remember those. Thank you Laura.

  7. We have some old Underwood typewriters around. Many years ago may daughter decided it would be fun to learn to type on one of our old typewriters. She typed away and then found a set of key covers that blanked out all the letters on the keys, and drilled her touch typing on that old typewriter. We had computers all over the place, but she found the old typewriter fun and challenging. Great photos, BTW.

    • That is why I have that typewriter, I was trying to learn touch typing. It did work, I can touch type, not great, but well enough for what I need. My daughter wanted to use one because she wants to be a writer and she thought it would be great to play around on, but she finds it really hard to press so hard on the keys. I love hearing the sound of the typing though when she is doing it. Thanks Timothy.

  8. I love old typewriters! Great shots!! Macro photography is a new world, but so fun! Just keep the 105mm on your wish list… :) It’s a wonderful lens!

    • Thank you Em, the tyyewriter was a great subject to use. I think the wish list is definitely where it is going to have to stay. Thank you. :)

  9. Thanks for sharing your experience with such powerful lens, Leanne! Yes, the equipment is pricey. We have to think twice (or even more times) about the ratio cost/benefit. Loved all the photos! You really chose a classic typewriter for your trials. Thanks so much! :)

  10. I have never used a macro either, but it has crossed my mind for using with portraits. Peter Hurley uses a macro, and loves the insane detail from it, and he is one of the best portrait photographers out there.

    Loved these shots Leanne.

    • I have other great lenses for taking portraits, so I don’t know that a macro is absolutely necessary, but it is an option. The 50mm seems to be the most popular portrait lens these days. Thank you Shane.

  11. I wanted to compliment you on your typewriter picture from the Monochrome Madness post – great shot great image.

  12. Leanne, I love my 60mm macro. I don’t know if Nikon has anything like that but I am very pleased with mine. I am in the same position as you are looking at a lense with a price tag of $2500 before tax. That is a lot of money. So I am following your tip on the Sigma lenses and see if I can work a better deal there. Do they even make lenses for a Canon camera? I don’t know.

    Loved your images as always. Oh, yes, depth of field is tricky and what you know from regular photography can be thrown out with the dishwater. LOL It is a whole different field. I haven’t played with mine in a while because Spring is taking SO long to get here, and there just isn’t really anything left to photograph that I haven’t shot already. (sigh) Mud and died yellow plants …. not very pretty ….bare branches … you get the idea.

    Another lovely post. Thank you. Sorry I haven’t been around in a while. BUSY. My eyeballs have been swimming lately. LOL (((HUGS))) Amy

    • Nikon do do a 60mm, but I am not sure I want that one, I like the idea of getting in really close. Sigma lenses do have a good reputation, so they must be good too. They do make lenses for Canon, so that wouldn’t be a problem.

      It is so different, not at all what I thought, but I think I could get used to it, love the control you have of depth of field. So many things you can sue the macro on, you will have lots of things to photograph soon.
      Thank you Amy, you take care.

      • You take care too, Leanne. One thing I do, because I shoot in such a large format, I crop my image IF I am not able to get in close enough. That only goes so far as well, but because I have a family, I have to make what I have work to do what I want. Yes, I would LOVE the 100mm macro lense, but the price on that is more then twice what I paid for my 60mm. I also read what other people said about both lenses, and overall, the 60mm was the favored. So, sometimes bigger and better is not always better. I will see what I can do this Spring, and hopefully the bees and butterflies will trust me enough to get in close. I’m also scratching my head how to purchase a 75-200 zoom lense. That is a MUST. *shaking head* It will happen, just in the Perfect Timing. Until then I use what I have.

        Have a great day, Leanne!! Much Love, Amy

      • That is something I am learning to do as well Amy. It is a good thing to do sometimes. I am sure you will have a ball in spring, I suspect spring fever will hit big time. Thank you Amy.

      • …..giggling…..Spring Fever is gonna be huge this year. I can feel it coming already. I must get all my cards ready (16G MIGHT not be enough!) and all my batteries charged … OH I am ready, for this, Leanne. It has been a LONG winter!!! (((HUGS))) Amy

      • I think so too. We don’t get it here, but I do remember experiencing it in Denmark. Yes, you better get ready. Take care. :)

  13. Lovely typewriter shots! Once again, I think you did well with this one. It took me FOREVER to get used to my 50mm but once I did…well, at home at least it is rarely off my camera! Funny how that works. :)

    Beautiful lighting for the shots.

    • Thank you Jen, I think doing it on the blog was great, I got so much advice, so the normal things that would have driven me crazy, well, I was warned, it was great. I don’t use my 50 much, It find it too restricting, I do love my wide angles. :)

  14. Leanne…while I found your photography very good, I was intrigued by the Underwood label on the typewriters. I used to work for the Underwood Company after it became known as United Stationery. The original owner was retired but I worked for 20 years with his son and grandsons. The family name was O’Reilly.

    Just thought you might be interested…small world that it is! ~ Dave

    • I hadn’t heard of Underwood before, how amazing. Love the story, thank you so much for sharing it Dave.

  15. Reblogged this on Macro Masterpieces and commented:
    These are great! A beautiful typewriter too! Thanks Leanne for alerting me to this post in your response to my comment!

  16. These are interesting photos, Leanne. I have the 105mm VR lens. I didn’t know how to use it so it sat in a cupboard for a couple of years. It really is a versatile lens. Not just for close-up photography. I shot a house a block away from where I stood on my porch on a badly lit day. It was perfect in clarity and color and focus. The ability to set the ratios on the lens ring is a fantastic feature. You would use this lens more than you think. I have been carrying it around lately to get used to it. The DOF is great too. Good bokeh. This is some seriously good glass! The finest lens I ever had. Borrow one from Nikon… You’d never send it back! :-)

    • Thank you George. Oh yes, it is a big learning curve. It is good that you can use those lenses as normal lenses as well, I found that with the 40mm. I am sure it is a great lens, just right out of my budget right now, maybe one day. I think if they were going to lend me one they would have, shame really.

  17. Leann, it is always a pleasure to read your posts! I feel exactly the same way about a lot of things I want to buy. I just can’t justify so many of them, so I keep looking from afar. LOL They stay on my reading list on my computer.

    • It is kind of frustrating not being to get exactly what you want, then again, it becomes a challenge making the best of what you do have. Thank you, we will both have to continue dreaming.

  18. Leanne, your images are so wonderful. Warm and so very atmospheric!
    You know I love Macro. I really love being able to see so close :)
    Apparently, we do have a macro lens… Who knew? Lol… So Ive been experimenting with an old 35-70mm lens lately.
    Thanks for your posts on this subject and all the info that comes along with it.
    Invaluable and appreciated :)

  19. I have a 60mm Macro in my camera drawer and it comes out once every couple of months whenever I need to get close in.
    But every time I do use it I am captivated by the different view of reality it gives me.
    With the incredibly shallow depth of field, out of focus colours become elegant washes of coloured light. Fiddly, distracting details can be made to disappear.
    You can photograph the most mundane objects and find landscapes within them.
    By moving the camera one inch you have a completely different picture.
    If your budget allows Leanne – go for it !
    PS heading back to the UK tomorrow – absolutely loved your country and will be back as soon as I can – “inshallah”

    • I suspect if I get one it might see similar use.
      I love the shallow depth of field, I took some extra photos so I could use them for my classes to demonstrate depth of field.
      It is fiddly, but kind of makes you take your time with your images.
      No budget at the moment, one day soon I hope, but I can’t justify it right now.
      That is great to hear, glad you enjoyed your trip here. YOu better say hello if you come back, haha.

  20. Johann Briffa says

    Hi Leanne, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Great pictures too, by the way! I got the 100mm macro on my canon recently and found it to be a great lens, not just for macro. I felt it was great for portraits too (I’m on a full frame setup and if I remember correctly so we’re you). So if you don’t have a portrait lens in that focal length, something similar could be an option.

    • I think they are quite versatile lenses, no doubts there. I would like one, but right now it just isn’t possible. Hopefully soon, but I can’t really justify it right now. Thank you Johann.

  21. I love to work with macro – my Oscar does a fantastic job and I don’t have to be just in the face of the object, but still it has problems to focus at times.
    Fantastic shots here .. great object too – the old typewriter, excellent choice.
    Very enjoyable post, Leanne. I heard only good things about Sigma lenses too, but when I used my SLR – I use Canon lenses.

    • Thank you Viveka. Macro is certainly different to how I thought it would be. I think it needs some time to learn, but at this stage, the lens I had has been returned, so will have to concentrate on other things for the time being.

      • What a fantastic opportunity to be able to try the lens – but I can understand it’s a bit tough to say goodbye to it.
        You are so talent – so you will provide us with great macro using what you have.

      • It wasn’t too bad saying good bye, it was okay, I wouldn’t want that lens, but it was good to try it out and see what it was like.
        Thank you Viveka.

  22. Macro is, as you said, tricky. I have an 85mm and often wish that I had gotten the 105mm. But it works with lots of patience. But that’s part of the Zen-like experience. Typewriters are a perfect subject. I have an old 1912, and took some a while ago in monochrome. I really like the soft quality of your images. Hope that you can get the 105mm; I think that’s would be worth the wait.

    • If I get one Sally, it will be the 105, I think that one would appeal to me more, yes, lots of patience. Typewriters are great subjects, I really enjoyed photographing it. Thank you.

  23. My first book was done on one of those sub-timber machines! :)
    The lens certainly gives extra scope – the question is whether it is scope you actually need for what you want to do most.

    • Wow, I can only imagine how hard it would have been, though I suspect we didn’t know any different.
      That is a very good question Colonialist. I’m not convinced about whether or not I really one, it would be good for fun, but I can’t justify an expense like that for fun right now. Thanks

  24. If you were a Canon user I would definitely recommend the 100mm f2.8 L macro lens. It’s a marvelous toy. I sold mine so I could get the all purpose lens for my full frame camera.

    • Nikon do a 105mm f2.8 macro lens Raquel, which is what I would get if I were going to get one. Not sure now, will have to wait and see. Thank you.

    • I am sure it is, but I would only want it for some fun, and not sure I could justify that right now. Hopefully sometime in the future, thank you.

  25. I’ll chime in and just say that I have a super cheap ($20 USD) set of extension tubes and I LOVE them. I’ve never used them on a 50mm, but I use them on my 70-200mm f/4, which, granted, is an awesome lens in itself. You do have to worry about using so much extension that you’re actually pulled back into the lens, which might be the only issue with a 50mm. The manual focus is challenging, but I’ve gotten used to it. I do hope to rent a Canon 100mm macro soon, to compare using that to using extension tubes. But, for the price, I’ve been so pleased with extension tubes.

    • I think they can be handy, I hope you get to get one Nikita, I would love one, but just can’t justify the expense right now.

  26. I think extension tubes are worth the cost, especially as you learn what your style and approach is with macro, while you save up for that great lens. Thats what I am doing now. With the 40mm you got some good shoots.

    • I am thinking the same Ben, a great to see how much I would actually use a macro as well. Thanks.

      • Wow Ben that is amazing. What brand of extension tubes do you have? I was thinking of getting the Kenko ones.

      • I use Polaroid ones they were half the price of Kenko ones but just as good, from what I have read in reviews. Thanks for checking out my post.

      • I just ordered some Ben, very cheap, much much cheaper than the Kenko ones, though they are probably second hand, that doesn’t bother me as long as they work. Looking forward to trying them, thanks for the heads up Ben, and you are welcome.

  27. You should take a look at the Tamron 90mm Macro lens. It’s a wonderful piece of glass. You other option, if you want to stay on the cheap, is to get a Raynox DCR5320 +3. It is something that you attached to the end of pretty much any lens. If you want to see some samples: . Quite amazing if you ask me. I have a 60mm Fuji Macro myself and i use it as a short telephoto, plus a macro. They do have dual pruposes ;)

    • I think all the macros have that dual purpose, which does make them good lenses. At the moment I can’t afford anything, so it will have to wait. I will keep in mind what you have said though. Thank you.

  28. Love this sequence. Its good a cool, dark, rainy-day kind of feel from some time from the past. It makes you think of what inspired old novelist’ finger’s touched those keys, composing their latest literary masterpiece. <3 {Paula over at}

    • The images old typewriters bring to mind are amazing. Black and white, white shirts, cigarette smoke, all there. Thanks Paula.

  29. Jenny Overton says

    Informative again. I too have been contemplating a macro. I looked into the extension tubes but I don’t don’t understand how they work and the sigma seems to be an option for me as well. I love insects , bugs plants and the eyes of animals. For me I’m trying to make up a kit as I know I wont be able to afford camera gear in the future ;)

    • Thank you Jenny, I think you would love a macro lens from what you are saying. The extension tubes just make it easier to get closer, but there are other problems with them, but if you aren’t sure if you want a macro they can be a good way to work it out. I hope you get what you want.

  30. Lovely shots, Leanne. I really like macros – my last post and some earlier ones were focused on macro shots. I’ve tried lots of techniques on a very restricted budget. My macro lens is an old Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/3.5 – seriously sharp and a nice focal length on a crop sensor body (and only $100 or so).

    I’ve had good results with extension tubes and various lenses – enlarger lenses are perfect for macro as they were designed to give a very even field of focus without curvature (useful when you have such small depth of field). I just got some auto extension tubes that allow autofocus and exposure on my Nikon 1 lenses – they are brilliant and very cheap online (I paid $45).

    Some other autofocus and exposure options – the Tamron SP 90mm macro is very well regarded and much cheaper than Nikon or Canon lenses. Canon, Raynox and others make some great close-up filters/lenses/adapters that go on the front of your lens (the Raynox are well under $100). If you just want close-up, cheap lenses like the Nikkor 18-55mm and the older 28-80mm kit zooms can focus surprisingly close with unexpectedly sharp results.

    • Nice to have an old one, better than none I suppose.
      I used to have one of the enlarger lenses, but gave it away with my enlarger. I like the idea of the extension tubes, at least to just try out. Could be a more inexpensive way to start.
      I have a Cokin close up filter, I should drag it out, it isn’t great, but okay for fun, I must drag it out.
      Thanks for all the advice here, it is great.

      • I’m not sure whether you could use enlarger lenses on a DSLR. I use them on mirrorless (m4/3 or Nikon 1) with a set of m39 mount extension tubes. All manual of course, but the m4/3 bodies give you continuous manual exposure guidance so it all becomes quite easy.

  31. …you even managed to capture that little bit of oily dusty – ness around the workings Leanne . Love these macros and your choice of the old typewriter . They’ve become rather popular over here for people to have at their wedding receptions .. guests can type a memo to the happy couple .

    • The typewriter has been sitting on my daughters shelf for a couple of years, so I got all that too. I thought it worked really well too, it was a great subject matter. I haven’t seen that here, I know lots of the younger generation like them to play with, something a little different. Thanks Poppytump.

  32. Fine photos, interesting reading!
    Strange to read your thoughts on macro here. It’s almost like reading my own thoughts! I am curious as to whether you try some of the less expensive alternatives ….?

    • Thank you Truels.
      I think I will try some, I like the idea of the extension tubes, and that seems to be a reasonable alternative, well until and when or if I can afford a marco lens.

  33. Beautiful shots! I love good macro shots -they are my favourites! Thanks for your macro posts – I’ve learned a lot!

    • Thank you, I quite like them too, but I think I like architecture more. I learned a lot too, that is one thing that I have found great with this blog, so many people who want to help.

  34. leecleland says

    Along with everyone else love the typewriter images especially that little screw thingy, great dof. I use the Tamron 90mm 1:1 macro with my Nikon D7000 and feel I get great images. It had really great reviews, I bought 2 years ago. I also have extension tubes which can go on any lens and I used them on my film SLR for 20 years before going digital. Fabulous close up details with the extension tubes, just can’t auto focus and you really, really need a tripod. Cheap and worthwhile for playing around with while you save for the macro you want.

    • Thank you Lee, that sounds good, though I don’t have any money right now for anything really, though I did just buy some very cheap extension tubes, so they could be fun to play around with. Tripod no problem, I do have one of those.

  35. “Underwood”, reminds me that I’m looking forward to the third season of ‘House of Cards’!
    Nice photos. I don’t have a macro lens either. Sometimes I meet up with some other photographers for these photo walks and they’re always blabbering on and on about equipment and what they’ll buy next and what they’ve already bought, which bag they need etc. One of them asked me about which gear I’d normally use, so I told him:

    “I have one good camera, one good lens and one bag that fits them both. That’s all I can afford, and that’s what I use all the time for all my photos.”

    • Haha, brilliant Cardinal.
      Good way of putting it, and that should be fine. Well said. Thanks

  36. Love that typewriter! My perfect home decorations would be things like this typewriter and beautiful vintage cameras!

    • I love it to Julie. I think my daughter feels the same, she has that typewriter sitting on a shelf in her room.

  37. lensaddiction says

    I commented somewhere a while ago that if you are going to do a lot of macro and nature photogrpahy then I really recommend reading this book (it was your post about your wheelabout bag cart thingy)

    I have a copy but loaned it to someone – she has a wheelabout bag cart thingy setup and lots of useful tips that I found quite practical.

    • Great suggestion, I will have to check it out. I love my trolley thing for my camera bag, saves my back so much. Good tips are always great. Thank you.

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