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Friday, 23 January 2015

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Since I already used 85L mk2 there the choice would be the obvious - 85/1.2. Unique lens, unparalleled by any criteria because simply there is no parallel for a shot ranging from MFD to 3 quarters to full length with that lens wide open. Aside from theoretical narrowest DoF bokeh jizzing which is irellevant to actual rendering virtue of 85L - that lens IS a magic, a leaque if it's own. I would gladly trade versability for the character in this case. IMO.

In any other mount I'd go with macro lens simply because of the versability.

Eventually I'll get the Olympus 45/1.8 as my portrait lens. First I need a new body & then the 25/1.8 normal though... ;\

OTOH, once I have a PL5, 17, 25 & 45 in hand, there is not much in small format photography that I'd want to do that the kit wouldn't be able to handle - and what it couldn't do, well, that's what the LF cameras are for :D

You want unique Bokeh in your image? Try the Lomography Zenit Petzval lens available in both Canon and Nikon mount. Sometimes the result is disappointing, but with the right scene, the resulting image is astonishing like no other modern lens can produce.

I also own a Zeiss 100mm Makro-Planar T* 100mm ƒ/2 ZF.2 Lens in Nikon mount, and it's a stellar performer...when you want a soft creamy background behind a near field object in sharp focus, and when you want a flat field closeup sharp edge to edge, and when you want a distant landscape sharp edge to edge. The consensus is that it's a fantastic lens. I agree.

I shoot canon and have the 85 1.2. I bought some Kenko extension tubes that work fine for close work although I don't use the 85 for that. For the 2 canon lenses you mentioned, price is a big deal with the 85 far out pricing the 100. The 1.2 aperture is nice though it is difficult if not impossible to use it at that aperture for portraits with strobes. Natural lighting is another story. For strobes, I guess ND filters would fix that but I haven't felt a need to go that shallow in the studio.

For many years I used the Canon 100mm 2.8 Macro for macro and 85mm 1.8 for people. One time the 85mm broke and I had to grab the 100mm instead for a party. Wow, I thought it wouldn't be a big deal, but the difference in focus speed and accuracy in a low light party environment was shocking. Image quality and bokeh were similar but the size, weight and inability to focus quickly and accurately made for a miserable experience. Got the 85mm fixed by Canon and never made the same mistake again. So, it's all in what you need your lens to do for you...

M43: the PL 45mm f/2.8 is a wonderful lens, one I use extensively. Many excellent qualities but I especially like the way it renders out of focus areas. It serves double duty as a portrait lens, too. I also have the Olympus 45mm f/1.8, which is sharp, wider aperture, doesn't focus close at all and suits my needs far less. So I rarely use it.

I use old AF filmlens Sigma 90mm f2.8 Macro on A7R; This + LA-AE4 Adapter makes a fast and reliable combo. I am curious what FE portrait lens Sony will come out with .... and how it will outperform this 20 year old thingy.

One shot here: Sigma 90mm @f5.6 ISO 3200y

I use the 55/2.8 micro nikkor AIS- I like it because the deeply recessed front is a wonderful built in lens hood. The other reasons are obvious.

I prefer the macrolens because it delivers what I need - together with the right camera. When I started with macro 15 years ago I used the Tamron 90/2,8 on my nikon. But I learned that it was at least well enough for portraits. Even Streetphotography was possible for my way of shooting. I'm not to much in portrait. Now I have several macrolenses for different tasks. For Nikon APS-C I find the tamron 60mm 2,0 a very good lens for portrait and I wouldn't buy another lens in this reach. And macro is great. Landscape not so much.
I own the 45 1,8 for my pen EP5 but don't like it to much. I prefer the sigma 60 2,8 which is a slower lens. That's more as I like it.
That means not much use for a very fast lens.

Christine

I have two portrait lenses; the Elmarit 90/2.8 and the Canon 100/2. The are both great, but I get a much higher rate of in-focus shots with the Canon. I set focus to a point near to where I expect the eye to be and then track focus continually with the back button. This lets me concentrate on the facial expression of the subject and press the shutter at the appropriate time. When I use the rangefinder to focus the Elmarit on the other hand, I usually turn it to portrait orientation and set focus on an eye and recompose. The rangefinder patch is not where the eyes are so any movement on my part or the part of the subject requires me to refocus. I shoot a lot of kids (I have four) but I find that adults as well tend to move around. Because of this, I use the Canon for portraits, and the Leica for general purpose photography and portraits only when the Leica system is all I have brought (which is often -it is a lovely camera to shoot with).

As someone who shoots mainly environmental portraits, often in low light, I don't often use a portrait lens. When I do however, I want something that focuses fast and operates in low natural light. This would exclude a macro on both counts.

Having said that, though, Salgado, a great environmental portrait shooter, used the Leica R macro elmarit 60 for years.

Having just got into the Fuji X system I was very pleasantly surprised by the XF kit zoom, so much so that I've decided to get the 60mm next purely for the macro capability instead of any of the other primes in the range of the kit zoom (I do have the 27mm for ultimate portability).

I find myself preferring to challenge myself about composing the background than just dodging this aspect of composition by eradicating it with bokeh anyway; I could do this with my Nikon 85mm 1.8G but the results would never be of any interest to anyone except the subject. In fact I'd probably just use a telephoto zoom and step back a bit more than get a fast portrait lens, especially given the price of the 56mm f/1.2 Fuji.

Just to contribute with a different perspective:
I know you don't like much the idea of adapting old lenses, but I will share my choice for a short tele to use with my X-Pro1 (it also might be useful to some readers).

I chose the Minolta Rokkor 55mm f/1.7.
It can be had very cheap (mine cost around 25-30 eur.), it's very tiny but well built, and the image quality it's quite excellent, not only in terms of sharpness but also in the bokeh department.

I find it's bokeh comparable to what I was getting with the mighty Sigma 50mm f/1.4 on the Canon 5D MkII. I like it so much I'm seriously thinking on getting a focal reducer to use this lens in (almost) all it's glory on my X-Pro1.

I don't find it dificult to focus with focus peaking, even on the low-res EVF of the X-Pro1. With the X-T1 super-EVF it should be no problem.

I chose to go this route after reading this article:
https://jonasraskphotography.com/2013/06/27/the-tale-of-the-minolta-55mm-f1-7/

And here's a more technical test and comparison I've made (it should be around middle of the thread):
https://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1275970/0#12158191

Finally a dog portrait I've made with the lens, for all you dog-lovers :)
https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5570/15024885657_bfd7a74e54_o.jpg

Now that you have heard from the commentariat, I would suggest that you rent both lenses for a few days and decide for yourself. There's nothing like using a lens yourself. I see that both are available on Lensrentals.com. After buying a lot of gear only to sell it in short order at a loss, over the years, I have concluded that the money spent on a rental in this sort of situation is well worth it. Or, if you can afford it, buy both and return one.

I have a number of lenses crossing this range for my Canon system, and they each have their virtues, yet none are perfect.

I'm very fond of the 85 mm f:1.8 because it's very light, very quick and very sharp, with bokeh that's quite nice. I use it all the time for people pictures, but its Achilles heel is close focusing. I constantly find myself bumping against its close focus limit, which doesn't get any tighter than loose framing of the subject's face on a full frame SLR. I'm sometimes forced to crop after the fact to get the framing I want. It also doesn't have in-lens anti-shake, but I don't find that a problem because it's so small and handy.

I also have the 100 mm f:2.8 macro, which is insanely sharp and can get nose-hair close, plus it has anti-shake, which is far more useful for portraits and such than for actual macro photos, where a tripod makes a lot more sense. On the other hand, it's so bitingly sharp it tends to be rather unflattering for human subjects, highlighting every pore and blemish.

Finally I have Canon's fabulous 135 mm f:2, which is my favorite for portraits. No anti-shake, but on a heavy body like an Eos-1Ds III it's very stable. Bokeh is wonderful, and sharpness wide open just about perfect for rendering a face. I find it the ideal focal length for informal portraits from across a restaurant table or living room without blatantly altering the subject's behavior by getting in their face. That may be a reflection of my bashful personality more than optics, but there it is.

I faced this decision quite a few years ago and decided on the Canon 100/2.8 macro. I figured razor-thin DOF wasn't a high priority and I also liked being able to shoot macro. I couldn't afford the 85mm f1.2L.

I've been very happy with the IQ and creamy bokeh of the macro. Not so pleased with the slower focus, but it's not that slow to be a critical problem - just an occasional annoyance. I'd probably make the same decision again.

I bought the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 to fill the "85mm slot" in my lens collection. Later, I needed (and bought) the Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro to take pictures of vintage jewelry for my wife's Etsy site. A quick comparison indicates that the 45mm is better at infinity and at normal distances; the 60mm better close up, as you'd expect. So the 60mm generally stays in the studio, while the 45mm gets out to see the world.

When I wanted a portrait length prime for my E-M5 I barely considered other options than the Olympus 45/1.8. It seemed like a very good lens, but the deciding factors were price (available for a very reasonable price used) and the aperture. The size doesn't hurt either and that it has a close focus limit of 0.5m is good enough for me.

Now that I have used this lens a bit for portraits I don't find the aperture size quite as important, for depth of field purposes, as I thought it would be (for keeping the ISO down it's very worthwhile). But given that it's pretty much a niche lens for me, and I don't need macro, the price is still the big decider when it comes to M43 portrait lenses for me. They all seem good, but the Sigma 60mm and Olympus 75mm lenses would be longer than I'd prefer for my only portrait lens, and the PanaLeica Nocticron is just way, way too expensive for a camera cheapskate like me.

But given that I seem to prefer a normal lens for portraits (as in I like to include more in the frame) a 25mm f/1.0 or f/1.2 autofocus lens would sound appealing to me, since I find myself wishing I could use a bigger aperture than my 20mm f/1.7 offers.

Neither in the case of the Canon lenses. The 85mm is too expensive (for me at this time) and the 100mm does not have IS.

How about a good set of close up filters or a set of extension tubes for macro needs? Won't break the bank.

Interesting to note, my staff of photographers doing e-commerce work, tells me a 'normal' macro is practically worthless, the subject to lens difference is too, too shallow to light any small thing they're taking a picture of and trying to fill the frame with. They'd rather work with a 105 (even on APS-C where it's really a 157), just to get the camera away from the small subject...

I have the Fuji 60mm. It's definitely a nice lens, but not ideal for portraits, IMO. It really depends on how you like to shoot portraits. For half-length or more, I prefer the 35 f/1.4, and for head and shoulders I'd prefer something longer...like the future 90mm f/2. The 56mm f/1.2 lens looks awesome but there are so many cheap and good manual focus 50mm lenses available, I have trouble justifying the cost of the 56. I also use the 55-200 in the 100-150mm range.

I have both the Zeiss 100 Makro-Planar and its little brother, the 50/2.0 M-P. The 100 is a very good lens, but a little sterile -just a little. The 50, on the other hand, has much character and I like it better. But for portraits , and basically anything at that focal length except macro, I love and prefer my little Zeiss Contax 90/2.8 Sonnar G
https://markmusephotographs.com/wordpress/2015/01/21/jazz-at-the-museum/
It is a rangefinder lens. Not as sharp as the 100 MP, but plenty sharp enough with a rendering that suits me. I also have and love the diminutive 45/2.0 Zeiss Planar G, a very sharp lens that seems to have avoided the trade offs apparently made often for sharpness. It's out of focus qualities are very good.
I am downscaling the weight of my gear where I can because I do mostly landscapes and I'm getting old. So no Oti here. And the Zeiss ZF.2s (I have others as well) are staying in the car a lot more often. Thank you, Sony, for the cameras! Anyone want to buy an 800e?

Of all the µ4/3 primes I have, my favorite moderate telephoto is the Sigma 60/2.8. It's on the long side for portrait, but still useable. It's tack sharp wide open, and is sharper at 2.8 than the 45/1.8 is at 2.8. It also focuses closer than the 45.

Although considerations of size, cost and weight weren't mentioned, the 60/2.8 is a very high value lens.

If we exclude marco 1:1 I draw near much as possible and I get the intended effect.
Whether it is 35mm or 150mm the result is almost equal.
Here are some examples
https://www.romeocolombo.com/Sony7andOlympus5/Olympus-OMD-EM5-MZuiko-25mm-F1
or
https://www.romeocolombo.com/Sony7andOlympus5/Olympus-OMD-EM5-MZuiko-75mm-F1/
Greetings, Romeo

I have the Oly 45mm 1.8, and it's great, petite, good looking and light. No-one notices it on the EM-5.
When I wanted a specialist macro I went for Olympus, 60mm f2.8, bulkier, heavier, splash proof. But it has a selector for focus range, 0.4m-inf, 0.19m-inf,0.19m-0.4m and 1:1 setting. I think that's to get better AF speed. I haven't noticed any slowness when using it for distant subjects.
If I had to choose, the macro would go, no question: the 45mm Oly is such a joy to own and use.

From about 1971 through 2000 I used Canon FD gear, mostly the F1n, and my main lenses used were, respectively, the FD 100/4, 200/4 and 50/3.5 macros.

I still spend most of my time working bugs, weeds and small landscapes, much of it under heavy forest cover. My main lenses for that sort of thing (on an Olympus e5) are a Sigma 150/2.8 macro, Olympus ZD 50-200/3.5 with extension rings, and the ZD 12-60/2.8, which last will almost let you focus on dust on the polarizer on the front of the lens.

I do almost all my shooting from a tripod, as I learned to do with a field view camera almost 50 years ago, as my subject choices don't tend to move much.

For my Canon, I went old school and chose the 100mm f/2.0 instead of the Macro version. Great lens for portraits and more.
For m43's - the Olympus 45 was my choice - outstanding lens for the m43's gear and reasonable priced.
For Fuji, I went with an old film lens with adapter - the Minolta 58mm 1.4 MC Rokkor-PF - love the look this glass imparts. At approx. 87mm on the Fuji's, its ideal and cheap as long as you are good with manual focus only. That said, I still have my eye on booth the 60 and the 56 Fuji lenses....maybe someday.

I spend most of my time at 35mm or wider, so anything longer than that is going to see limited use. As a result, I'd want it to be as versatile as possible, so if definitely consider a macro lens. As far as I'm concerned a portrait doesn't need to be shot at f/1.2 to have adequately shallow depth of field.

This said, I shoot Fuji and chose the 56 over the 60 macro? Why? Well, fit and finish count for something and I couldn't handle another lens with the antiquated focus motor that "grace" the 18, 35 and 60.

I am very fond of the Fuji 60 mm macro, also for portraits and landscape. It draws beautifully across the whole range, and I don't mind (or even notice) its being a little bit slower at focusing, since I almost always focus first and shoot later, either manually or with AF. An additional plus of this lens is that you hardly ever need a lenshood, as the front lens is quite recessed already. That way, the camera looks far less intimidating to the person being photographed than with the enormous Fuji lenshood.

On the last one:

Assuming your "moderate wide" lens is the 35 1.4, this is not a real tough choice. You already have the low light capability you need. The Fuji 60 2.4 is a truly spectacular lens, it has greater telephoto reach, and adds the macro to your capabilities.

I owned the 35 1.4, the 60 2.4, and the 56 1.2 before being lured away by the GH4 and the 42.5 1.2. If I were to try Fuji again, I would first buy the 35 1.4 and the 60 2.4. There is not a whole lot that cannot be done with these two lenses.

For the reader who asked about effective aperture diminishing as a macro lens is focused closer. This is a property of all lenses, it's just less noticeable at ordinary focusing distances. Forgive me if the following discussion is too simplistic. The rated f/number of a lens expresses the diameter of the lens aperture as a fraction, with the focal length in the numerator. So f/4 means the aperture diameter is 1/4 the focal length. However, what's important for exposure is slightly different. The lens-to-sensor distance is equal to the focal length only when focused at infinity. As you focus closer, that distance increases. And hence, the _effective_ f/number decreases. To give a specific example, suppose a focal length of 100mm and an f/number of f/2. Then the aperture diameter is 100/2 = 50mm. Now crank the focus to 1:1 The lens is now not 100mm from the sensor but 200mm. But the aperture is still 50mm across, and 200/50 = 4. So your effective aperture is now f/4, and that's what counts for exposure. Since the camera's meter looks at the photons coming in through the lens, you don't have to do anything to compensate. In the old days of external hand-held meters, this effect was called bellows factor, and was crucially important in close-up work. The reason you don't notice it at more normal focusing distances is because the lens-to-sensor distance doesn't change much when moving between infinity focus, and, say 5 feet.

Hmmm. In my LF days, I had a 150 lens that was "optimized" for macro work/process lens distances, and I had Symmars and such that were optimized for more normal distances. I have to say that I never had sufficient mastery of the medium to ever notice a difference in the rendering, whether I was pushing a Symmar over 1:1 with a large bellows extension, or using one of the process lenses for "normal" work. I don't say there is no difference, just that I was never able to see it in my prints.

Of the lenses you listed, I would pick the Makro-Planar, only because I have a lens of the same name for a Hasselblad, which I love. But really, I have no idea whether the F-mount version of that lens renders digitally in a way that would be recognizable from its film counterpart in 6x6.

So how to advise? I guess it really depends on what pictoral values the purchaser has and what he think the lens is going to do for him. I'd echo the comments made above about some macro lenses having nice bokeh and some not. I think you have to seek out lenses and see. I do know that I love lenses in the 85-105 classic portrait range. I don't have a single one that doesn't do well, from a 40 year old 105/2.5 Nikkor to a 15 year old 90 Summicron to a recent 105 Macro from Nikon with image stabilization baked in. I have a 85/1.8 Nikkor AF from the 1990's that is also a sweet, sweet lens. Hey, this thread is making me want to take some portraits . . .

Ahem, on the Fuji 60mm. Be advised of the following weakness of that lens - veiling flare when the sun is in or near the frame. I'm still working out how deal with that, otherwise it seems lovely. I am not the only one having this experience - see this photographer's website on his solution: https://www.prophotonut.com/2012/05/09/fuji-x-pro1-60mm-lens-hood-mask-and-filter-step-up-fix/

I am about to do the same as he has shown with the standard hood. In most other lighting situations, especially doing portraits I am using a less intimidating lens hood, the hood for the Fuji 35mm lens.
Just sayin' in case one of those 60mm happens to fall into your hands. Your question was more general than this, but something made me guess it could be relevant to someone.
I am also just a bit sorry this lens has no optical stabilization, as the Fuji lenses that do have it demonstrate how well it can work. And this lens seems to need a bit of a faster shutter speed than one might expect.
I am still coming to grips with it, but like it overall, so far. I don't need literal macro capability, but do enjoy some modest close up work as well as the slight compression it provides.
It's a nice system, the X.

Why didn't you try the Olympus 60mm F2.8 micro lens ? It has gotten
very good reviews. Bill

Have your cake and eat it too... Olympus OM 90mm f/2 macro, the best of both worlds and apologizes for nothing.

I did the 60 xf early and find it now hard to justify the fast 56 as well. The af on a XE1 is poor, but not that relevant to me and it renders very nicely (the 56 is also too fast for my needs-a more versatile 56 f1.4/8 or f2 would have done).
I had the 60 oly macro and 45 oly. Kept the 45/75 combo and dropped the "filler".
I have always put a macro in as an automatic reaction when buying kit, but have found that a good close focus, normal option does me (12-40/25 oly are both good at close-not macro focus).
Favourite macro was out of the ancient 50 f2.5 EF or the oly 90 f2 from film.

What about the 50-140mm? The 135-200mm-e range is underappreciated for portraiture, I think.

If zooms are out of the question, I'd go with the macro because three-quarter length portraits look so good with a 100mm-e lens.

Mike,

In your specific circumstance, get the 56mm. The 60mm is, by some margin, the worst lens in Fuji's system in terms of user interaction. The glass and images are lovely, better than many lenses in the system (but not the 56), but the lens suffers from this trio of maladies: extremely slow to autofocus, miserable to use for manual focus, often misfocuses. I use it for portraits and get a shockingly low number of keepers, and when finances allow I'll be dropping it for the 56. If given the option to upgrade my XE-1 to an XT-1 or my 60 to a 56, I'd have a new lens on an old body without a moment's hesitation. Granted, I mostly use my X100S, but still...

I was torn between considering the tamron 90mm, the nikkor 85/1.8 and dreaming of purchasing the 105DC. I ended up buying the macro, because it allowed me to do more things at a lower price, but now i have picked up the 105DC which nicely complements the macro.

Both of them are a little on the long end for APS-c (which I have) but are great on Full Frame (which I have borrowed from tiem to time)

Dear Hugh,

The Samyang's the same lens as I reviewed here:

https://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2011/10/rokinon-85mm.html

One of those cases of bucks vs bank account. I'm likely to buy the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 before the year's out, and that's close enough in focal length and aperture to the Rokinon as to make the latter redundant. In every respect, while the Rokinon is good, the Olympus is truly superior....

... and triple the price.

Which is why I opted for the Rokinon the first time around, and I don't regret that. To paraphrase a homily:

The lens you can afford is the one that makes the best photographs.

pax / Ctein

Macro lenses have always struck me for their strict realism. Perhaps it's their high contrast or maybe the fact that they are usually not as fast aperture-wise. Anyway, if I needed a lens for journalistic-like purposes I would choose a macro. If my intent were more artistic/expressive then the rendition of OOF surfaces would be my top priority.
As it stands, my lens of choice for portraits - despite its fussy focusing - is the Olympus 50/2 macro.

Back when I was shooting film it was the Voigtlander 125mm f/2.5 APO Lanthar for me, over the Nikon DC or Micro-Nikkor. Didn't need the larger aperture.

On Micro Four Thirds I bought the 45/1.8 when it was on offer (US$220), but most of the time I just use the Panasonic 35-100/2.8 at 100mm. If I feel funky I adapt the Voigtlander.

Go to the shop and put them on your camera before you decide.
I once had the Micro Nikkor 105mm VR. Fantastic image quality but I did not like the balance it made with the body. So I always took the 85mm or 135mm.

The 60mm Fuji looks as if it has a better balance than the 56mm. On the other hand the 56mm has the same filter size as your 23mm. On fujivsfuji.com both lenses are compared. You cannot go wrong with either of them. If I had the 56mm I would probably buy the underratded X30 as a back up and for close ups, because this camera uses the same film simulations.

When I bought my D800 I decided it was time to replace some of my older lenses, One was a wonderful 85 1.4 AIS. the truth as my eyes didn't focus well enough anymore to trust its use. so it was an even swap for for the 85 1.8g which is the scariest lens I own. I really wanted the Zeiss 100 after owning the 21 but at 21 and how a 21 is used, the AF is no big deal, all kinds of time to focus on a tripod and a static landscape. No Macro lenses in my Nikon arsenal. For my Fuji Xpro, the 60mm is great! If Fuji was my only system, I would probably have the 56, just because.

When I bought my first slr (Nikon EL2) way back in the seventies it came with a 55mm Vivitar Macro. Once I could afford it, I traded it for a standard 50mm nikkor - Yes I wanted the right badge and all my lenses focusing in the same direction.
In retrospect I lost out - It cost me money, the standard nikkor was no sharper and only focused down to about 12-18" whereas the macro lens gave true 1:1 on the negative and performed fine as a standard.
You live and learn!

What seems to be missing from this discussion is the bokeh characteristics of the different lens types (beyond just "creamy").

I have found that "traditional" lens formulas will provide a more 3d look in that there is less field-flatness (i.e. "corner sharpness" according to lens tests), and the transition between in-focus to out-of-focus is more gradual or "natural" looking.

Whereas, the "traditional" macro lenses' designs tend toward a flatter rendering, which is advantageous for certain subjects (e.g. copy work) but may look more "clinical" in the way the make the subject pop out from the background.

No right or wrong, just different. There are some exceptions to the rule (e.g. Zeiss offerings).

I wouldn't make the choice between fast-but-slow-focusing-and-expensive portrait lens vs. macro.

I'd go for the choice between still-faster-than-f/2-but-fast-focusing-and-affordable lens *and* a new macro with great IS.

I have the Canon 85/1.8 and the Canon 100/2.8L macro. Don't regret that choice at all.

At some point, my kids are going to be out of sports, and I'll quit chasing wildlife. That's when I'll have to make the choice all over again in a smaller system, like the Fuji. :)

The guy who wrote the following list of uses for macro lenses would probably tell you to get the fast portrait lens and skip the macro unless you've got something on this list to photograph: :
"Flowers, bugs, eyeballs, eyelashes, small products, tchotchkes. Dew-covered spider webs, frost patterns on windowpanes. Great hobby lenses, as macro photographers are among the only happy photo enthusiasts. Also much utilized by photography buffs who like to test lenses."

I've got the Fuji 56mm; it's a good lens. Before buying it I'd considered the 60mm but decided the faster lens offered greater utility for my needs--corporate portraits and events.

Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 50 mm f/2. Resolution overkill on my D3.

@Daniel Evan Rodriguez

You'll get better answers but, in short, it's a normal phenomenon but not a universal one. It's called "bellows effect" and it happens because the simplest way to change the focus distance of a lens is to change the distance between the optics and the sensor plane. But when you do that, two related lens properties change: magnification (in moderate amounts this is called "breathing") and effective aperture ("bellows effect").

At typical pictorial distances, these changes are negligible (for still photography anyway). But as you approach macro distances, the changes become significant (similar to adding an extension tube or macro bellows, or in view cameras extending the bellows out past the stops).

Not all lens designs are equally susceptible, and some lenses are specifically designed to compensate for these effects (many cine and macro lenses, for example).


Minolta-AF-100mm-F2.8-Soft
Minolta - AF 100 F2.8 Soft
Product code: 2648-118
mount (format): A (Full frame)
status: Discontinued
year: 1994

The perfect lens. Minolta glass, dial the softness.

I always choose the macro option over the dedicated portrait lens. Most recently I picked the Leica 45mm f/2.8 macro over the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 for my EP-5, have have not regretted the choice for a minute. For a macro lens it focuses surprisingly fast and very accurately on my EP-5, and I use it for all sorts of photography, even landscape.

I just recently acquired a Nikon DX DSLR, and on my list of lenses to get is the Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8 macro, which will also be a dual-purpose portrait/macro lens just like the Leica on my EP-5. Though I've heard that the Tamron 60mm f/2 macro might also be an option worth considering. Sadly, there really isn't a dedicated portrait lens for DX, though the 50mm to 58mm range of full-frame fast primes are usually used in that role, with great success from what I've seen.

These macro choices are easy for me as I find I use close focusing far more often than I take portraits.

Don't ask me, I'm taping a rollei closeup lens onto my polaroid for macro portraits.

My son uses our 50 mm f/2 macro 4/3 Zuiko on his Panasonic GH4 for video interviews with excellent results.

I have a sigma 50mm f/2.8 macro, a minolta 100mm f2.8 macro and a sony 30mm f3.5 macro. I use them mainly on aps-c bodies (either on a sony a100 or on a sony nex-5 , the first two via adapter). If I would choose again a macro,I would go for the 60mm F2.0 tamron (for aps-c). Considering the 3 macro lens I have I won't buy this lens (designed for DSLRs), however, if tamron would produce a smaller mirrorless version of it at a moderate price I would buy it without much hesitation.

Benjamin Marks..as an FYI, I spent decades shooting product on LF, pre digital, and I have to say, view camera lenses (especially the Germans) were mostly 'optimized' for infinity and performed only so-so in the studio, and the ones that were allegedly 'optimized' for macro just seemed to be soft all over all the time. To this day, I keep a set of Red Dot Artars in Compur shutters (just in case we finally see the light and go back to film); these, unlike the pre-red-dot Artars, could be bought at various 'optimizations' and most of mine were optimized for anywhere between a quarter and a half life size. You can see how perfect that would be for a product photographer (shooting a coffee maker on 4X5 and you're about exactly quarter life size). There's never been a better lens for the studio photographer, and I'm never selling mine!

Wait, you're telling me I'm the only who who tries, and fails, to pocket my Tamron Adaptall2 500mm 55BB mirror lens with the paired 2x tcon to get 1:1.5 with all sorts of OOF donuts?
https://www.adaptall-2.org/lenses/55BB.html

Sheesh.

Tamron Adaptall-2 500mm f/8 55bb

My most used FourThirds SLR lens is the ZD 35/3.5 Macro. Light, beautiful imaging, inexpensive.

My second most used Ricoh GXR lens is the A12 50mm f/2.5 Macro. Beautiful imaging, light, small.

My most used lens on the E-M1 and second most used on the E-PL7 is the Macro-Elmarit-DG 45/2.8 ASPH. Super lens.

My favorite portrait lens on the Sony A7 is the Summicron-R 90mm f/2.

Three out of four for macros... :-)

I had the Nikon 105 2.8 Macro(Micro Nikkor, by name, but Nikon is just weird that way), and still had to have the 85 1.4. They had very different looks to me, and the 85 was worth every penny. In canon land, I went with the 85 1.8 - the 100 was slower, a little too long for me - but was the choice of every basketball shooter I knew. They needed the close-focusing range for when the action closed in.

For Fuji, I am not a fan of the 60, in love with the 56, but with an XE-2 the 56 is...unbalanced. I think I'll have to figure out if the XT-2 is going to be the replacement for my D600 before I make that kinda choice...

"It's worth recalling that some very respected lens testing sites such as slrgear.com/imaging-resource.com use high-grade macro lenses as their reference standard when testing new cameras because the resolution of these lenses can often exceed that of the sensors."

I missed this the first time, but I'm certain macro lenses don't really have more resolution than a good lens. It's a bit of misconception that macro means more detail; it just focuses closer, so you can see more detail. Kind of like a narrow FoV lens; you see more detail on the bird's feathers because the bird is filling up the frame, not because a telephoto has some special inherent quality.

What a macro lens has, that is useful for test shots like DPReview and Imaging-Resource, is that they usually (there are exceptions) have very low curvature of field, perfect for the flat test scenes that they use. In DPReview's case, it's really flat now, as it consists of objects stuck to a board.

I made this very choice last week. I plumped for a nearly new Sigma 50mm F2.8 DG macro at a very reasonable £140, in favour of the similarly priced new Pentax DA 50mm F1.7, or slightly pricier FA F1.4.

The extra stop would have been handier and shallow DoF useful for a tiny proportion of portraits, but the 1:1 macro and biting sharpness of the Sigma won the day. It's main use will be probably be for portraits.

I have the equivalent 105mm Sigma macro lens, so knew what to expect. If anything, those expectations have been exceeded - a much easier lens to use and very compact.

I do mostly nature photography and I like macro, so my medium tele purchase is likely to be a Canon 100 f/2.8L IS, which is a true 1:1 macro. I love my current macro lens, though, Canon 180 f/3.5L no-IS, sometimes with 1.4x teleconverter, for critter photography (venomous snakes, anyone?). It is a heavy brick of a lens, and a challenge to shoot with and to carry up elevations. I have tried old film era manual macro lenses in the 55 to 60mm range. For convenience, the preset aperture 60mm f/2.8 Mamiya-Sekor has excellent color and contrast and is relatively light - the 6 straight aperture blades can be a bit off-putting sometimes.

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