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Friday, 23 January 2015


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I decided on the Sony RX10 instead...good lens with a free camera attached.

I was faced with that choice and went for the Canon 100mm Macro, Image Stabilisation was the deciding factor.

I made that choice when I bought Nikon's 85mm f/1.4G a few years back. I cherish shallow depth of field, so that's the deciding factor. Shallow DOF portraits are something of a cliche, but they're popular for a reason: because they're really effective at isolating the subject.

But another reason I chose the 85mm is because, at shallow DOF, the bokeh is dreamy.

I do have the inexpensive Tamron 90mm macro lens for true macro duty, and I enjoy it, but if I'm shooting a portrait, there's no reason I'd reach for it rather than the Nikon 85.

I wouldn't necessarily recommend the same choice for someone asking my advice -- I'd want to know more about their own needs and preferences. There have been times, for instance, when I wish I could focus closer with the 85, but rarely.

(Nearly on topic: I'm keeping an eye out for news of a Sigma 85mm Art lens. I love the 50mm Art.)

I'm buying the Nikon 60mm f/2.8 macro, because it's the perfect 90mm portrait lens on my Nikon APS-C cameras, and will be the perfect slightly long normal if I ever get a full frame camera...


A couple of thoughts on using macro lenses for general purpose use:

1. They are often slower-focusing than non-macro lenses. This is because of the greater precision required for focusing at macro distances. When using a lens for general purposes, this can be a big factor.

2. Macro lenses are generally bigger and heavier than non-macro lenses with the same maximum aperture. Some of this is balanced out by the fact that most lenses with the same focal length tend to be fast portrait lenses that also aren't svelte. So a 90mm f/2.8 macro vs. an 85mm f/1.4 is pretty much a wash. But a 50mm f/1.8 non-macro vs. a 55mm or 60mm f/2.8 macro lens will usually show that the non-macro lens is much smaller and lighter.

3. Cost and maximum aperture are relevant, but maybe not critical. I generally find f/2.8 to be fast enough for most of my purposes.

4. You will appreciate this one: bokeh, bokeh, bokeh! Some macro lenses have wonderful bokeh. Some do not. Some fast short telephoto lenses have wonderful bokeh. Some do not. I wouldn't want to pick a lens in this range that didn't have lovely bokeh.


I use the nikkor 105 f2.8 micro on my d800e for portraits and short tele images but wish I owned the nikkor 85 1.8. Which is a remarkable lens and a great value

If I have to make a lens choice like this, I would look back on what photographs I have, and what shots I really enjoyed taking.

Personally, I much prefer the people shots I have taken and enjoyed the process of taking them more than I have of close up shots. The faster lens would give me more flexibility with the changing light and environments. Plus the extra shallow DoF gives a look that cannot be replicated with a slower lens. Faster lenses give me more shutter speed options. Basically, the creativity I would have would improve with 1 or 2 extra stops of speed versus being able to get closer. The shots from the 85 f/1.4 Nikkor AF-D outshine the shots I have taken with the 105 f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor.

It depends on the performance characteristics of the lenses. A macro lens can be great for macro work but not as sharp at greater distances; the original '60s Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/3.5 (with the compensating aperture) is one example. If this is the Nikkor that Loengard used, he may have found it advantageous that the lens softened a bit for portrait work, rather than presenting every minor flaw in the subject's skin in exact detail.

Another issue is whether you need the faster speeds that the portrait lenses offer. With occasional exceptions, most macro lenses are f/2.8 or slower. If your style of portrait work requires f/1.4, a macro lens won't cut it.

Then there are other rendering issues, including bokeh quality.

For Fuji, there is also the option of using their new extension tubes (with full electronic support, so you still get autofocus, aperture control, etc.) with a non-macro lens to get super-close focusing. I haven't seen any reviews yet, but the 56mm with a tube could provide a viable way to do macro work.

For myself, as a Fuji shooter these days, I'd be more likely to get the 60mm f/2.4 macro than the 56mm f/1.2. The 56mm seems to be an amazing lens, but the 60mm seems fast enough for my purposes, gives me close-focusing capability without needing to add the extension tube (which would then have to be removed to get infinity focus), and is less expensive. I have yet to be disappointed in the optics of any of the Fuji XF lenses (even the 18-55mm f/2.8-4 kit lens is surprisingly good), so I'm not terribly concerned that either lens would fail to provide excellent results.

I have both the 56 and 60 fuji lenses and I use them for different reasons, I do exec portraits on location and use the 60 in modern buildings with floor to ceiling windows as the lens has less frare problems and the slower f stop helps with flash sync, it is my fave. The 56 is better with darker interiors and great low light focusing.

I've already talked about how the Fuji 60mm was a much better choice for me than the 56mm so I won't bore you to death again; instead I will show some examples of why I am so happy with the 60mm:

Exhibit 1: https://www.dropbox.com/s/i7h6urp7xxc5h7b/exhibit1.jpg?dl=0

Exhibit 2: https://www.dropbox.com/s/6hiqruponbiccbb/exhibit2.jpg?dl=0

Exhibit 3: https://www.dropbox.com/s/b5cyfmgii31o9lm/exhibit3.jpg?dl=0

Exhibit 4: https://www.dropbox.com/s/8xzlmr6kza161cz/exhibit4.jpg?dl=0

Outstanding image quality all around - probably the best lens I have ever owned. Those were all wide open at f/2.4, by the way.

Interesting question, Mike.

When I got back into photography 6 years ago after a long absence, I found myself in this situation. After my 10-24 wide (on a crop sensor), my next purchase was the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G as a stand-in for a short tele on a DX body. At the time I didn't think about the macro lens option, since as far as I was concerned a portrait lens needed to be capable of very shallow depth of field to blur the background into oblivion.

After a few years, however, my thinking has changed somewhat. I now prefer a background that is slightly soft but still recognisable, to put the subject in context. Knowing this, and since I find the 50/1.4 just a bit short for tight portraits, I would probably get the 60mm f/2.8 micro instead if I were to make the same choice today.

Recently I inherited a Nikon FM, and my normal lens of choice for it is the the predecessor of the 60mm micro, the AIS 55mm f/2.8 micro, which was one of the first Nikkor lenses to use floating elements and which consequently gives excellent results at moderate as well as short distances. (There's some background to its development in the Nikkor Thousand and One Nights series at http://www.nikkor.com/story/0025/ and http://www.nikkor.com/story/0026/).

Im not a huge fan of the 60-90mm range of lens (i feel pretty strongly 35 and 135 for two prime lenses is incredibly strong, but thats another discussion) I have been in need of a close focus lens in some instances though, and in the 85mm range. I went the road of buying an old Nikon 55 f/3.5, and an adapter for my fuji xe-1. That works pretty well for me (ends up being right around 85mm...so I fall into the close up camp, but mainly because I dont care for the short tele angle of view.

I shoot Canon. My primary uses for a portrait focal length lens are candid shots of my young kids, street photography, and action shots of my dogs. For those types of photos I'm mostly concerned about how fast does the lens focuses and portability. I went with the cheaper Canon 85mm f/1.8 because it's one Canon's fastest focusing lenses and it's small enough that I can sling my camera around my back and still take care of the kids while carrying my camera. It's also not too intrusive for street photography.

My Olympus 50 f2 will likely be the last regular 4/3 lens I sell for the reasons you describe. It's actually not the best macro lens, only 1:2 and requiring me to get super close to small subjects, but it has such amazing edge to edge sharpness I use it for all kinds of shooting when I feel like it. It was the first "wow" lens I bought after the kit lenses, and in some ways remains the only wow lens I have today.

Well, I'm primarily a street shooter, so assuming similar optical quality and price, I'd go for the smaller and lighter of the two. I don't often shoot in dim light or salivate over bokeh, so big lenses with fast apertures have little appeal for me, especially if there's a cost and weight premium. If I were a wedding shooter however, I might want both -- which is another one of the many reasons I don't shoot weddings. (No disrespect at all to those who do though.)

I've been looking longingly at Leica's 60mm Elmarit-R Macro...makes a perfect partner to my 28mm Elmarit-R V2.

I do have a bit of a embarrassing question, as I've only ever owned one macro in the past, the Nikkor 60mm AF-D. As I focused closer with that lens, the maximum aperture would shift progressively from 2.8 to somewhere around 4.0 or 4.5. Is this common behavior with all macro lenses?

While I agree that macro lenses can be very good substitutes for a portrait lens, the key thing is what sort of portraits you take.

A lot of mine are candid, low light shots, so the faster lenses are more attractive. Having said that the very shallow DOF of a f1.2 85mm lens can be a problem when used wide open!

I very much liked the Oly 45 1.8 - pretty much ideal for my idea of a portrait lens.

I've currently got a Nikkor AF-S 85mm/1.4G and an older Tamron SP AF 90mm/2.8 Macro (sans VR), aside from the manual Nikkor 105mm/2.5 AiS and Nikkor AF 135mm/2D DC as short tele/portrait lenses.

105mm is not exactly my preferred focal length and hardly ever used. The 85mm amd 135mm are my main portrait lenses, but this old, super cheap, sharp but not razor sharp, 90mm Tamron is actually a very nice portrait lens with a fairly creamy bokeh (at f/5.6 better bokeh than the AF-S 85mm/1.4G).

Salgado used the 60mm macro in his arsenal back when he shot with a Leica R.

I went for a 60mm macro and 90mm macro over a 50mm or 85mm. I find the lenses more versatile for the work I do. For portraits I generally prefer a zoom as it is quicker than shuffling forward and back.

Personally I would choose the macro option because I like to take photos of found objects and I am not good at portraits. I like the versatility a macro offers. But that does not help you since you have different requirements than me and I have zero experience with any of the lenses you list.

I have, however, been considering getting the Pentax M 100mm f/4 macro for my Pentax MX because it is inexpensive and it is a Heliar design and I like old lens designs. Plus it nails both telephoto and macro lens requirements in 1 for me. I also considered the M 50mm f/4 macro because it is a Tessar type design. I doubt the M 50mm f/4 macro would be even close to the M 50mm f/1.7 but like I said I like old lens designs. Maybe I should just buy myself a hairshirt!

Generally, I would prefer a non-macro, unless I had good reason to think I would need something that focuses closer. One exception, for instance, is when my daughter was born, I chose a 50/2.8 macro (for APS-C) over a faster non-macro, for getting closeups of toes and eyelashes and the like.

My feeling is that with a macro lens, you're usually paying extra for a bigger, slower focusing lens with a smaller max aperture. (The max aperture doesn't have to be smaller, but you're certainly paying more).

I don't shoot portraits, per se, but candids, and I enjoy reasonably quick AF and shallow depth of field. I haven't tried a new AF macro lens any time recently, and I know I could get shallow enough DOF from a 100/2.8 on full frame, so I wouldn't rule out macro options altogether. But I'd have to see what options are available and at what cost.

Re: Canon, I have no interest in an f/1.2 lens. I understand it's excellent, but it's big, expensive, and I don't need the ultra shallow depth of field. Plus 85mm is a little short for me.

Olympus, almost certainly the 45/1.8. It's reputedly excellent, and I'd want the shallower DOF.

The Zeiss options, I'd want to try. They're both beyond anything I've used. Since getting an A6000 for XMas and playing around with manual focus, I'm more open to manual focus lenses, but still like AF for candids to catch fleeting moments.

The Fuji choices are a little tough. The 56 is supposedly really good, and f/1.2 on APS-C isn't as unnecessarily fast as it is on FF (though still faster than I need). It's a tad short, as I mentioned about the Canon 85, but 60mm isn't much longer. But f/2.4 on APS-C on a 60mm lens is a little sluggish. I'd probably go for the 56.

I'm currently using an 85/1.8 Nikkor on a D7000. The long FL works well for candids. If I were to ever move to FF, I'd have a heck of a decision. The 105 macro is intriguing because f/2.8 is quite reasonable for shallow DOF on FF (I used a 100/2.8 macro on a Minolta film camera) and it has VR. The 105/2 DC lens is also intriguing; I just can't recall if there was something I'd read about it that I didn't care for.

I've done macro before and wouldn't mind doing macro again, but I don't have the same needs in a macro lens. I use a tripod for macro, so not only do I not care about lens size, I prefer bigger lenses with tripod collars. They're very handy for allowing you to switch from horizontal to vertical without having to reset the tripod and recompose the shot. (I never used an L bracket, so before the tripod collar on a 180mm macro, I'd flop the ball head over and end up looking at something different). I like a macro lens with a narrower FOV than a portrait lens. And finally, I don't care if a macro lens is manual focus only, and prefer one with longer focus throw, which doesn't lend it to being quick for autofocus even if it does autofocus.

can I go with the obvious answer of "price, size, and intended use"?

But thanks for the pointer. I wouldn't have thought of macro lenses as a general purpose choice; this post made me revise my thinking.

The real problem is that if you prize size and price, the right answer in this range might be to sacrifice aperture and macro capability for a more mainstream lens in these focal lengths. So "neither" is a prudent choice quite often.

Maybe the recently announced Macro Extension Tubes from Fuji could make your decision easier? They have electrical contacts, so AF and everything works. (Although they seem to limit the focus range, so probably not suited for portraits.)

I have the 56/1.2 and it's a really fine lens. Although sometimes I find it somehow too sharp or having too much micro-contrast for my taste. (I really can't tell what it is. Just that it's got a different character than the 23/1.4, which is my absolute favorite lens.)

I chose the 56 over the 60 because the 60 is said to have a rather slow AF, and since I often photograph in low light I needed the wider aperture.

I have a Fuji 60mm and am happy with it. I bought it before the 56mm was available but would choose it again, if I had to make a choice. It's smaller, lighter, costs less, and is more versatile. I wouldn't mind having the 56mm, but I probably would only carry it when I need its special characteristics. On the other hand, the combination of the 18mm, 35mm, and 60mm lenses makes for a great trio to carry everywhere.

"The Zeiss 100mm Makro-Planar T* 100mm ƒ/2 ZF.2 Lens for Nikon, one of the absolute best lenses you can buy."

And one of the best lenses I ever did buy. I bought a Nikon 85mm G 1.4 some time after this lens but sold it as it was not nearly as versatile. (My photography does not really need AF). I have used the 100 f/2 on a crop sensor Nikon D7000, a Nikon D800E – neither of which I now own – my Nikon F6, my manual focus film Nikons, and with an adaptor for macro work on my Olympus OMD EM5. I am even tempted to get another Nikon DSLR simply to have more ways to use this lens. With this and a 35mm, I can deal with just about anything.

I think macro lenses make wonderful portraits. But these focal lengths would feel very tight to me for general purpose.

For gp, I'd want a minimum focus distance of 2 ft or less. That probably eliminates many "portrait" lenses, including most of those in your examples.

Macro lenses tend to have longer focus throws and slower autofocus, which isn't ideal for my gp. Would have to try each and see.

Speed for me is a matter of lens + sensor.

So, on paper, pending focus/handling tests, the Fuji macro has the best chance of being my Goldilocks. Disregarding focal length, the M.Zuiko.

If I can shoot a macro telephoto wide-open with little sharpness penalty, with image stabilization in the lens or the body, at a moderately high iso rating for adequate shutter speeds, then I don't see a strong case for the fast portrait lens. My caveats would be adequate focus speed, and whether one desires to obliterate the background. I personally want a little extra depth of field, for focus accuracy's sake, and wouldn't want to shoot most "portrait lenses" wide open, for sharpness' sake. But "back in the day" when shooting above iso 400 was unwise, and image stabilization wasn't common, the case for a blazing fast portrait lens was far stronger.

The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM is an exquisite portrait lens. It offers great sharpness and great bokeh. It's not too heavy and not too light. It's not too expensive and not too cheap. It offers a good working distance for portraits. It's good for weddings and events and, of course, any macro stuff.

Well I'm a lucky guy - I have both the M.Zuiko 45mm/1.8 *and* the regular Four Thirds ZD 50mm/2 macro lens. Both are wonderful, and the macro especially so.

The Fuji XF 56mm ƒ/1.2 R or the Fuji 60mm ƒ/2.4 XF Macro?

I bought the Zeiss Touit 50mm macro, and have so far only used it for macro work as I have 18-55 and 50-140 zooms.

Similarly, I almost never used my Canon EF 100 macro as a telephoto as I had a 70-200 in my bag.

I already had the Oly 45 mm f/1.8 for m4/3 when the 60 mm macro was released. I borrowed the macro from a friend and played with it for a while, but its increased size, increased focal length (120 mm-e is long!), and decreased aperture led me to stick with the 45 mm. If I were to buy the macro, I'd only do so because I wanted to screw around with macro photography.

Tamron 90mm f/2.8 was my first choice, and a couple of years later I added the Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D. The latter was when persuaded to 'do' a wedding, that was going to be in a a mostly dim venue. Both were for use on APS-C sensors DSLR's, and had a similar angle of view to the 135mm f/2.8 I'd used on a 35mm film SLR for years.

Still have and use them both, and like them both. Couldn't say which is the most frequently used. I do like the flexibility of the Tamron being able to focus close, and it's fine for distant landscape type shots too. Initially used it a fair bit on a humble Nikon D40, where manual focus was the only option. No problem, and easy enough for that, as most macro lenses are. Have never used the 85mm in manual focus mode. Intend to keep both of them, and these days often use them on full (35mm) frame too.

I have Nikon 24x36 and Fujifilm APSC.
I strongly prefer a 50 or 55mm close-focusing lens for 24x36, which contradicts the current internet advice to get a "long" macro such as a 100mm.
Unfortunately, there is no 50mm-equivalent macro for Fujifilm.
Anecdotal evidence indicates that while the Fujifilm 60mm Macro is optically excellent, the newish Zeiss 50mm Makro for Fuji may be the hot ticket.

I designed a canon lens page for B&H about a year ago that gave and example of how to use a macro lens. While discussing macro lenses with the writers they argued that the reason people use macro lenses is because of the corner to corner sharpness. I said yes thats technically true, but that most people do not know that and buy it to shoot close up. I personally use them to shoot artwork. I guess we may need to revise the page.


Well, right now I have a wide-normal, and a really nice kit lens...that's really slow at portrait distances. I'm on m43, so that 45/2.8 looks like it would be a decent two stop improvement. But I'd rather have three, in the form of the 45/1.8. Higher ISOs look really nice on m43 now, but I'd still rather not lose the extra light.

On full frame, I'd likely never mind a 100 f/2.8, particularly since depth of field is alarmingly narrow at that point.

My personal choice would no doubt be dictated by price. In the micro four thirds example, I've already selected the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 over the Panasonic 45mm f/2.8 macro. But I have no problem with using a macro lens as all-purpose glass: I've been using the Pentax DA Limited 35mm f/2.8 macro for years. One exception to the price rule would be the Fuji choice. I'd have to find a way to buy the 56mm XF lens.

For the Fuji system, the 56mm f/1.2 is hard to beat. Super hard to beat. It is an amazing lens. http://prometheus.med.utah.edu/~bwjones/2014/08/fuji-56mm-f1-2/

For the Canon, do not forget the 100mm f/2.8 L macro lens that is also a stunning portrait lens. http://prometheus.med.utah.edu/~bwjones/2012/01/drew-ferrells-portrait-on-fight-for-sight-website/

My criteria for buying lenses are: Do I need it? How heavy is it? Can I afford it? Leaving aside the cost, I would go for the lighter Macro lens, though I don't need the macro capabilities. I can live with f/2.8. I don't usually need f/1.2, either, so had I chosen the fast portrait lens I would be carrying around glass that I would seldom use.

However, a quick look at each lens above shows that in the case of the M4/3 lenses, the fast portrait lens is both lighter and smaller, so I would go for that, had I a camera to suit.

What I do have is an APS-C DSLR and one lens is a manual focus 50mm f/1.4. It's a bit short, but one day I shall pick up a 1.4X converter to give me the choice of a 70mm f/2. Sounds good to me.

It's all about the Bokeh, baby...

Bought Canon just so I could get the 135/2.0L.

My wife got me a Pentax DFA 5Omm 2.8 macro lens for my K-5 last Christmas, I was really lusting after the 21mm Limited. She informed that she did not like wide angle lenses and she refused to buy me one. So, I got this lens and I had to deal with it.
Well, I really didn't expect this, but it has become a love affair. It allows me to take such beautiful pictures, that I don't care what its focal length or f/stop is. I was totally surprised by this. It is like my mind had an agenda, but my eyes found something else.

Hi there,
Within the Pentax system, the answer is fairly easy.
Fast fifties.
Brand new fast fifties can be had for 150 EUR [50 1.8], or 375 EUR [50 1.4] brand new. The best offer for the macro is 476 euro [DFA 50 2.8 Macro]

One of the key points of the macro lenses is how hard they are to ordinarily use due to focus throw: on the pentax system, the macro lenses [but for the 35] the lenses have lost the limiter function, and because they have a very long throw, focusing is quite an exhasperating experience for time and accuracy.

The most interesting macros, either for glass quality or overall construction are very hard to find, those beint the FA Macro lenses [50mm 2.8 FA Macro and 100 2.8 FA Macro]. They are extremely sought after and do actually give a run for the money for the current DFA macro line [which have lost the focus limiter function].

Which by the way it is a fantastic site for Pentax lens catalogue.

In a nutshell:
If Pentax, first lens should ALWAYS be the FA 50mm 1.4.

I made a hard choice and have both the Oly 45mm f/1.8 & 60mm macro f/2.8 :-)

I'd be hard pressed to choose between giving up my 85/1.8 or 55/3.5 Micro on my Nikon. But if I were just starting up and looking for a second lens I'd vote for the faster lens. In all the examples you listed the macro lens is about a full stop slower than the portrait choice. When I was beginning I could only afford an older camera that didn't have great high ISO capabilities so the extra light gathering was appreciated. I suppose if you're starting out with a D810 that's not a concern. That being said, my wife would go the other way. She loves the 55 Micro and hardly ever uses the 85mm. I really think its more a preference of FOV in our case, not the light gathering or close-focusing abilities of the lenses.


Erwin Puts (in his Leica Chronicle) rates the Leica Macro-Elmar 90mm f/4 as "the best general purpose 90mm lens in the current M range" and "among the best performing lenses ever made for 135 format." It's tiny, collapsible and, in its new form, can be used close-up without 'goggles', or with a separate (extra cost) small macro adapter for even closer work. But it's 'slow' and not cheap (no Leica lenses are).

Other current choices include the 90mm Summicron f/2 or the 90 Summarit f2.4 (recently updated from f2.5). Various discontinued lenses are also possible, e.g., the 90 mm Elmarit f2.8, etc.

I don't often use the 90mm focal length, and when I do, it's not generally wide open or for portraits. So, the Macro-Elmar is desirable, especially for travel use due to its size. Macro is a bonus. I currently own a 90mm Elmarit f2.8, but intend to trade it for the new Macro-Elmar in its recently reconfigured and more user friendly package.

I own three of these lenses; the Canon EF 85L (Mark I), the EF 100 macro, and the Fuji 60mm. Of them, the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro is unquestionably my favorite general-purpose telephoto. It's light-weight, very sharp, very fast-focusing (on Canon bodies), easy to manually focus, and the I.S. really enhances its usefulness. It also renders many scenes in a quite distinctive, rich manner that I try to preserve.

The EF 85 is probably most useful for portrait shooters who crave blur. But it's just a damn heavy and somewhat gawky hunk of glass. Fun and interesting but not very useful to me.

The Fuji 60mm is a very good lens but I've just not yet used it enough to have a strong opinion. It is a mite slow-focusing.

The example you give, the Zeiss 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar, shows it's not an either-or situation. You can have a macro lens that is also a fast medium-tele. I got the ZE version for Canon EF mount for Christmas.

On Nikon, the old 105mm f/2.5 AI-s is an interesting alternative for its character, and the 105mm DC (defocus control) is exceptional for portraiture.

The greatest advantage of macro lenses is flatness of field, which is essential for repro work, even if not close-up. The biggest disadvantage is slow AF or manual focusing, because of the long throw. Focus limiters help somewhat, but a macro lens is always going to be slower than a portrait telephoto.

I actually shoot most of my portraits with the old 4/3's 50mm 2.0 Macro on my E-M1. Focus performance is as good as it ever was (which is to say, not speedy, occasionally loses it's way,but ultimately accurate) and is more than sharp enough to take wonderful portraits while not being too hard-edged. It has wonderful bokeh as well, from right up close to waaaay far away.

My advice about lens choice would include three options rather than two: large aperture prime, macro prime, or zoom.

For those who are confirmed macro shooters I would recommend the macro over the large aperture prime. Aside from lacking the larger aperture and perhaps being a bit slower, macros can do what other primes do.

However, the macro won't cut it for someone who needs larger apertures. You won't get better IQ from the non-macro, but you can get a couple more stops of low light and narrow DOF.

For most people, the greater flexibility of a zoom will be a better option,especially if it has IS. Close-up capability with an extender is quite good.

It comes down to a which compromises are right for your photography. Some folks will need more than one lens. (By the way, I do like my Fujifilm 60mm macro...)

When I bought into the Oly Em1 system I bought the 75mm 1.8 and the 60mm macro. I've used the macro for some general photography but the 75 has seen much more use. I bought the macro specifically for close work, something I like to do. The M.Zukio 45 1.8 just arrived yesterday...

You claim Zeiss 100mm Makro-Planar T* 100mm ƒ/2 ZF.2 Lens for Nikon is one of the absolute best lenses you can buy? Really? That statement makes it seem you either don't have any actual hands on experience with it before speaking or purple fringing from "absolute best lens you can buy" is fine with you. Which one is it?

When I put together my M4/3s kit, my primary concern was to have a smaller, lighter camera system for travel and personal use. Chronic back problems provided motivation for this. So after looking over the alternatives I went with the Panasonic GX7, that I bought at a local camera store. I picked out the lenses (12mm, 20mm, and 45mm), made myself be patient, and waited for them to show up locally on craigslist. I tried to balance, in this order, 1) size and weight, 2) performance, and 3) price. When it came to the mid-telephoto choice, it was between the two that you list, but I went with the Olympus 45mm f/1.8, because it was cheaper and easier to find used. And for my use, it's one of the best lenses I've owned. I've really bonded with it. But to add to my macro capability, I did end up picking up a used Oly 60mm f/2.8 Macro, which is another fine lens.

I was please to read that another shares my own constant dilemma; more extreme or or more versatile. That is how I frame the difference between a macro and the more often made choice.
I have had to make the choice for two of the set you've put as examples. M43 and canon. I did it the less bold way and followed convention with canon, with the 85 f1.2. I liked the lens for a time, but quite quickly it's strengths turned to what one feels after too many fish-eye photos. I used a friends 100 macro and soon bought one as I felt like my diet had become enriched through the lens change, and something about the delicate crispness of the results (film still) gave me a higher rate of satisfaction that the quickly sold one trick pony.
On the M43 I went the other way. One has to keep a sense of humor, I guess. The Leica 45, just did not do it for me as far as the files, but still had the versatility. It was just a bit bigger than I wanted however. I don't mind large lenses on large bodies, but on a tini M43 bodies, something just did not click. Onto the 45 f 1.8 and a better fit. It is a marvelous little lens, if one can can over the build quality.
So what I have learned thus far - is that I haven't learned a thing, nor made any firm progress towards some absolute, bullet-proof standard. No. Us photographers need it all! Even if we don't.

In my case I would aim to have my cake and eat it too. Being a Pentax user, the choice is a little limited, but I'd go for - if I could find one- the Voigtlander apo lanthar 90mm f 3.5. This can close focus to 50cm. Failing that, I'd go for a macro. Even though I don't do any macro stuff, I find close focussing more interesting that a wide apeture.

I made the not-so-hard choice to buy the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM. I traded up from the first version to the current (II) model.

I bought each primarily for their close shooting (not so much macro) capabilities for flowers and such and found that they are very good as mild telephotos for general photography. Canon's "kit" lens for full frame cameras is a 24-105 mm f/4.0 which is quite useful for general picture taking. But the 100 mm f2.8 is much better when you have the luxury of knowing that's the focal length you need.

"The Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Apo Planar T* ZF.2 or the Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 100mm f/2 ZF.2?"

Hmm, manual focus F-mount lenses, and I do like fine German engineering.

The thing Nikon really knows how to do is macro lenses, the 2.8 50mm is $409.95 new and I've picked them up for $20. They so out perform any camera I've used them on that the quality of the tripod and the floor under it is a bigger issue. The 105mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor is 150 used or about 700 new in your choice of autofocus or regular.

For a one trick poney fast portrait lens you can't really beat the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 Aspherical for $290. It's pretty good for all the other things you might want to do with an 85mm 1.4 as well.

What the hell, get them both and that leaves enough for a nice pre 1998 Mercedes ( after which DaimlerChrysler produced fine german accounting )

I found macro to be a specialty that requires its own skills, methods of shooting, and approach to composition - not for me.

But I say choose the lens for its character, not how fast it is. I bought a Zeiss Sonnar 85/2.8 made for Rollei, had it modified to Pentax K-mount, and now use it with an adapter on a Fuji X-E1. Sometimes it does amazing things.

I made the choice and then sold it. But I will buy it again if it gets updated.

That choice was the Sony Zeiss 85/1.4 for A mount.

The because could come down to just one word: versatility.

You get speed for when you need it. The Zeiss macro you mentioned is unusually fast. A stop better than most. So generally 1.4 gets you quite an advantage over 2.8. And that allows you to do fun things with DoF and OD on bokeh should you wish.

It can be used for portraits but also all-around use (I surprised myself and shot a lot of landscape type stuff with it). IMO it is more useful for a range of portraits then a 135.

What about a fast macro a la Tamron 60mm f/2? Though it's only for aps-c sensors. Thom Hogan has a review of it for those interested.

I chose the Fuji 56 f/1.2, though I never gave the 60 macro much consideration. I rarely shoot macro, and the primary consideration for me was for low-light shooting and portraits of my kids. The 60 reportedly has maddeningly difficult focus characteristics, although by all reports it makes gorgeous photos with beautiful creamy backgrounds when you can get it to work.
Damien Lovegrove on prophotonut.com has a really interesting comparison of all of Fuji's current portrait-worthy lenses. That's worth a look before choosing. He loves the 60 macro for portraits.

I don't shoot that much macro. So I got the 45/1.8 which to me is simply an incredible lens.

But I cheated, because I knew eventually I'd get the 2.8 standard zoom ... which also does moderate macro. So I really have two lenses.

Is this going to be a flattering portrait or a Francis Bacon/clinical pathology picture? If I wanted a flattering portrait, I would track down an old fast lens with lots of spherical aberrations rather than any of these. An old Nikon 50 1.2, or 135mm F2, etc. I use a Nikon 100mm f2.8 Micro as a short tele and it is great. But you get every pore, zit, and wrinkle.:-) Somethings sharp is not the ultimate goal.

Got the Fuji 60mm. don't need the razor thin DOF wide open it is shallow enough for me. Also a manageable lens. Not the fastest focus but for standard portraiture works fine for me. Candid grandchildren on the run, mmmm? I do need to do camera software updates as well as the lens update, not sure if this will make a lot of difference, got used to it and it performs acceptably as is. For a point of reference I have an E1 and an XT-1,walked away from Sony over glass.


My experience is that macro lenses may render more detail than you want in some portraits. Use one to bring out the wrinkles in that grizzled cowhand but not for the silky countenance of Snow White.

I'll try it with the Zeiss lenses. First, perhaps you might better compare the Planar 85/1.4 with the Makro-Planar 100/2 -- the Otus is a different animal altogether.* Then you might look at the depth of field charts for both lenses and see that for any given focus distance, and accounting for the fact that you need to be a little further from your subject with the 100, it looks to me like you could achieve the same or shallower DOF with the 100 as you could with the 85.

For me, it would come down to ergonomics on the two lenses; both are manual focus, but the 100 has a longer throw, which could be challenging to use for situations where I would need to change focus points quickly. That doesn't necessarily spell doom for my style and I think the 100 could be really useful oh God I have to stop or else I'm going to end up buying one!

*Unless you want TOP to score more in an affiliate purchasing program, in which case it's all about the Otus.

I recently had to decide, as I am currently selling my Nikon D600 and some analogue bodies (F4, F6) and the lenses. I used to do portraits and many other pictures with the 105 Micro Nikkor. Yes, I have the 135 D.C., but the 105 Micro Nikkor is nearly perfect.
I got a Fujifilm X-T1 and a 35 mm lens, really nice. My second lens is the 2.4/60, as I need a macro and I definitely do not need f1.2 for a medium long lens. - Normally I use f5.6 or f8 for headshots, so a maximum aperture of 2.4 is enough. The lens is cheaper and optically excellent. I really like it, it is quite handy and not to heavy.
For food, E-bay etc. I need a macro, so it is nice to have this lens.

I don't need autofocus and am perfectly content with APS- C so I'm going with a nice clean 55 mm micro Nikkor 2.8. You can get one for chump change and in terms of sharpness you will run out of skill before you run out of lens. It's more than equal to a 24mp sensor .

My first "serious" lens was the 55mm f/3.5 Micro Nikkor. I purchased it in 1975 at Olden Camera in New York for my brand new Nikon F2. It was my standard lens for everything from portraits to landscapes for some time. I still have it and have used it with excellent results with adapters on my Olympus OM-D and my Fuji X T-1. A friend uses one to make huge incredibly detailed studio still life images with a D800E. I love "macro" lenses and would love nothing more than to justify the Zeiss 100 Macro Planar. Maybe I'll win the lottery and get the Zeiss.

for me, an f/2.8 aperture has become pretty normal, but i've found i'll give up other features to get close-focus; examples:

* i usually bring my Pentax DFA 100/2.8 WR on trips as my only telephoto, even though i have a lighter, more flexible DA 55-200/4-5.6 WR, and a nearly-as-sharp, but heavier DA-L 50-135/2.8

* i gave up a Pentax-F 28/2.8, which is almost a perfect "normal", for Pentax DA-L 35/2.8 Macro (a more awkward focal length on APS-C)

* i started out in Micro Four Thirds with a Panasonic GH1 and a Macro-Takumar 50/2.8 (compared to a usual "first-lens" for µ4/3, this was heavier, manual focus, and longer focal length, but it was a great way to learn what the camera could do)

I have made two of those choices. I chose the Canon 85mm portrait lens when I still had Canons. When I switched to Micro 4/3 I bought the Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 first, as great a bargain as there is today and got the Leica micro later. I use the Leica 90% of the time. It just has a slightly nicer look in a print, to me. Either won is a sure win.

I went with the Canon 100's predecessor (that is, the non-IS one, as the IS hadn't been released). I wanted a prime longer than my favourite 50 that I could use for macro and portrait, and Canon's macro had a very good reputation. I use it for portraits:


and for things like beach flotsam and jetsam. It's slower to focus than my other lenses, but I'm not the hurrying kind. If I could only have two lenses, it'd be a 50 and this particular lens (well, probably the IS version).

My choice for Nikon was a Leica 100mm APO-Macro-Elmarit-R with a Leitax mount, but I like Leica lenses. It's just the bodies that I could never love. Having seen what this lens can do, it was a no-brainer.

A related question is whether, with your existing cameras, an expensive, better lens will result in better picture quality re a less expensive lens on your 12mp camera, or buying a better camera? Will a Zeiss Otus lens at $4400 be more effective than a (e.g. Nikon D810 at $3300) better camera with your current lenses? I wonder how many of us can answer that question realistically in terms of lens/camera capability as opposed to wishful thinking?

Did you discuss your reasoning on the choice you made anywhere. The makro planar is the obvious choice on price, lol.

I have a 105 micro-nikkor which can be tricky to focus at normal distances, there's just not much adjustment range when you getbeyond a couple of feet.

So Mike, how does that big "ahem" relate to your OC/OL/OY project?

It's only "A very hard choice" because you've set it up as a straw man.

I have the M.Z. 45/1.8 "and" the amazing 60/2.8 Macro.

As you say of most macros, the 60/2.8 is a truly excellent general purpose and a superb macro lens. One might almost say micro, as it focuses to 1:1*, which, with the format multiplier, is like 1:2. It gets twice as close as any of my old MF, FF macros without using bellows or tubes.

Usability is tops, too. A dial on the lens allows setting AF to 0.4m-inf., 0.19m-inf. or 0.19m-0.4m. It also has a spring return setting at the end that takes it to closest focus, lovely for MF when working on a focusing rail.

The extra focal length is a blessing for the extra working distance over a shorter FL lens. The hood is unique, too. It bayonets on, but is sliding, so it retracts over part of the lens body. Really slick when getting so close that the hood gets in the way. (The JJC version works the same, but mine required some lube in the channels to slide smoothly.)

Then the 45/1.8 may be used for its own special strengths. It's tiny, half the weight and a stop faster than the Panny 45 macro. And an excellent lens, too; a joy to use.

* As does the Panny

Dear Mike,

I thought I had a ready answer to this question, and then realized I didn't. Price simply enters too much into the picture for me. Much as I like the Olympus 45 mm, I don't really need f/1.8, and I do like having a macro lens. Which had me wondering why I had bought the Olympus over the Panasonic. Then I went and checked the prices. That answered that question. Except for the two Fuji lenses, the other pairs have a factor of two or more difference in price. And the prices aren't chump change; I can't divorce my preferences from my wallet.

If money were no object, I'd probably choose macro over aperture, especially with image stabilization and clean ISO 800-1600. I hardly ever need even f/2.

On the other hand, I have an irrational love of faster lenses. The residual psychological effect of four decades of available light film photography. It's very hard to overcome that much conditioning. Much the same reason that I frequently fail to use my kit zoom lens even though I know, objectively, from testing it, that it is superior to some of my fixed focus lenses –– there's this voice inside saying, “but… but…… it didn't USED to be true…”

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

Been there, got the Canon EF-S 60mm, so far no macro shots but lots of nice portraits. :)

The Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 60mm f/2.8 Macro?

When I was shooting Canon, the 100mm Makro-Planar was the way to go, great for pretty much anything, and teamed up with the 28 f2 and the 50mm f2 Makro, it covered all the basis as far as speed and image quality. In addition, I had a bunch more lenses too.

Now that I'm Micro 4/3, the 42.5 f1.2, along with the 15 f1.7 and 25 f1.4 Pana/Leica lenses are my choice for daily use on both professional and personal work. At events, the 42.5 and 17 makes for a good moderately wide/long combo that just sucks in the photons, even when they are few and far between.

I also have the 45 f2.8 Macro-Elmarit too for when I need it, so I guess all my bases are covered. If the Macro had an f2 or 1.8 aperture, that would be all I'd need. For me 2.8 is too slow for how I like to shoot.

And again for pro work, I have a bunch more lenses, wider and longer primes, zooms, whatever. When you have to please clients, not having your bases covered is not an option.

I have the Canon 85 mm and a 100mm Canon macro lens. However I find I use my 200mm with an extension tube for most macro work so I don't have to get so close to the subject. There is no add-on that can give me that f/1.2 bokeh of the 85 mm lens for portraits. So I would by the 85 mm and an extension tube.

In the Leica S system there is now a choice between the S 100mm 2.0 and the S 120mm 2.5 macro. I have the 120mm because it came out first.

If they had both been available at the same time I would have chosen the macro for the reasons you mention, even though the 100mm is lighter and smaller. The 120mm macro doesn't focus closer than 2:1 and I wish it were 1:1.

I went from the Canon EF 100mm ƒ/2.8 Macro USM as my main headshot lens to the Canon EF 85mm ƒ/1.2L II USM, so I vividly understand the point you are raising.

The macro lens, I thought, was great for portraiture—I would recommend it to others. I just really wanted the ... poetically pampering aesthetic of the larger ƒ/1.2 aperture.

in my DSLR times with Nikon D3 I used the 105mm Micro Nikkor for portraits. With the 85/1.4 I could not get close enough. The same with Leica M Monochrome and 75mm/2 Summicron.

The same problem exists with these lenses on the Sony A7R. I used the Zeiss 24-70 E-mount for portraits, when I had to be fast and the AF was of big help. The 24-70 is a poor lens, but the center at f/8 is great for portraits. The same with the Sony 50/1.8 APS-C lens on the NEX6.

Then I ordered the Zeiss OTUS 1.4/85 (monster) for best portrait performance, but again the limit of 80cm is not close enough for my type of portraits.

I ordered the OTUS with Canon mount and use it on the Metabones smart adapter, with supports the automatic aperture!! And that worked so great, that I ordered the Zeiss Macro Planar 100/2 the same day - and use the Planar for portraits almost all the time now :-)

I have the Leica Macro Elmarit 60mm and use it for stills but prefer the 100/2mm Planar now. And I have the Leica APO-Macro-Elmarit-R 100/2.8 and used it for portraits as well. The problem with these adapted lenses is, that you have to focus with working aperture or you focus open and than stop down, witch is a mess for portraits!
And also important: this lens is only good for macro, after about 10m it starts to be soft - and I payed the same money for a mint condition lens as for a new Zeiss Macro Planar.

you may find my portrait album here at flickr:

Another one of the big portrait/macro lenses was Olympus' quite brilliant 90mm f/2, which was often a competitive choice against their equally good 100mm f/2.

I haven't had to make the hard choice: I bought a barely-used Fuji 60mm XF macro for about half the new price at the same time as I bought my X-T1. Later I bought the wonderful 23mm f/1.4 and discovered what a change that fast prime made to my photography; I reasoned that the 56mm f/1.2 was likely to have a similar effect. I could afford the 56mm when it was released, but reasoned that Fuji has a lens sale once or twice a year, and while I waited for the next sale I would have time to use the camera more extensively and think about the 56mm at leisure. When the 56mm came on sale I snapped it up. (It's proven to be a first-rate lens, but for my purposes not as mind-bogglingly wonderful as the 23mm.)

Here's what I think in retrospect. The 60mm can shoot decent portraits and is a good moderate telephoto lens. (And yes, it's sweetly small.) Fitted with a supplementary aspheric close-up lens or an extension tube, the 56mm is an acceptable moderate close-up lens. (And yes, it's biggish.)

Therefor you can't make a wrong choice.

If you've got the money, buy the lens that is best-suited to your first priority purpose; it will serve as an adequate stand-in for the other lens when you need it.

On a purely pragmatic basis I'd say the 56mm is the one to get first, because if you decide later that you really have to have a specialized close-up lens, picking up a used 60mm macro will not break the bank.

(In the red herring department, I can't resist pointing out that the Fuji 18-135mm zoom makes a fabulous in-the-field close-up lens if you stick a Canon or Marumi achromatic supplementary on the front of it.)

I happen to own the Sigma f/2.8 150mm macro. It goes everywhere with me. Yes, it is heavy. Yes, it is sharp as a tack and produces very nice backgrounds.

I don't consider the difference between f/1.8 or f/1.4 and f/2.8 to be significant in this realm, especially with today's cameras and their WONDERFUL ability to do great work at moderate ISO ratings. Basically, the flat field (corner to corner sharpness and focus alignment) of the macro telephoto wins for me every time.

p.s. I also have the 105mm f/2.8 macro, but prefer the bigger lens for the longer working distance and (on people) the more natural perspective it provides on faces at reasonable distances.

I dunno...I think the lens used is determined by your requirements. If you do more portrait-related work, you get the fast medium telephoto. If you take photos of flowers, coins or insects, get the macro.

I think it always depends on the exact choices. For example, the Zeiss Otus has superlative rendering, but is heavy and very expensive and depending on what one is shooting, the rendering may not be significantly better than that of the Zeiss 100. Of course if actually doing macro then macro lenses have a clear advantage. The close focus aspect seems to have been a bigger issue with older lenses, where maximum magnification was often around 1:10, whereas many newer lenses that I've run into go higher, around 1:4 to 1:6, which takes care of the issues in portraiture.

As for macro lenses themselves, they seem to be a bit underappreciated as you imply. The old 55 micro-Nikkors were wonderful, I used one for years. Now I have the Zeiss 50/2 macro and it's my favorite 50, very dependable and consistent. The current micro-Nikkor 60 is one of my favorites for portraits: very nice rendering and reliable focusing.

Ah, you've hit on a pet peeve of mine. Normal and short teles just don't focus close enough.

Just about every fast 50mm and 85mm on the market has an MFD that's about three inches too far away for to be really useful. It's mind-boggling to me that camera makers are designing and releasing lenses that don't have another millimeter or two of focus helicoid to make them useful for arm's length photography. The loss in quality would be miniscule (truly miniscule--look at how well the current crop of fast fifties perform on 12mm extension tubes) and the increase in utility would be astounding.

I do have to credit Zeiss for their 50mm f2.0 Makro Planar. It's a fast fifty with a close MFD. Unfortunately it's also a flare-prone $1300 optic that never gets sharp in the corners, makes absolutely hideous sunstars when you stop it down, and has about a mile of focus helicoid between MFD and 6' but only a fraction of a millimeter travel from 6' to infinity. If their 100mm is anything like it, I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole.

I own the Canon 100mm f2.8L IS Macro, and it's a fantastic lens. It's a good size and weight, stabilization is fantastic, it's sharp, and it focuses real close. But I didn't buy the 100mm because I needed a short tele. I bought it because I needed a 100mm-ish autofocus macro lens, and I really wanted a stabilized one. The Canon 85mm f1.2L II was never in the running, nor was the Zeiss 100mm Makro Planar.

I'm wandering a bit, sorry. Back on topic: Given the choice between a fast lens and a macro, I'll take the macro any day. Close focus matters to me, and the tangential benefits of a macro lens (low distortion, flat field, good resolution) are fantastic.

I have a Sigma 17-70 DC Macro on my Pentax K-5. I really like not being constrained when I want to get close to something.

I own both the Olympus 45/1.8 and the Olympus 60/2.8 macro. The 60 is too long to be my go-to portrait lens, and a bit slow for candid portrait use. I bought it to use as a macro lens.

That's an easy choice for me. I often shoot macro, so I'll go for the macro lens. That's a choice I've made repeatedly since 1974, and I still have the pre-AI Micro Nikkor 55mm f/3.5 I bought then.

When I was using the Panasonic G3 (M4/3), I picked the Olympus 45mm f/1.8. It provided wonderful size, weight, colour rendition, bokeh, and resolution, but at an absolute bargain price. Now I'm using the Sony A7 and A7II and I'm using Sony's "Easy Choice," A-Mount, 85mm f/2.8 (with the LA-EA4 adaptor), while I'm waiting for a native E-Mount. It's not as fast as I would like, but it's a very good performer at a great price.

Depends on what I am interested in: portrait work or macro work (only secondarily portrait work). For portrait, I will choose the non-macro versions of each pair, because they will provide a longer working distance for a comparable level of critical focusing (shallow dof) available for macro (at least that's what I think the optics will deliver). But if I am not that selective about portraits but mostly interested in macro work, I will go for the macro lens in each pair.

Your example system is exactly what I have - Olympus E-M1, 17mm f/1.8 and 75mm f/1.8

I would choose the Olympus 45mm Macro over the Macro-Elmarit because the fast max aperture is much more important in the grand scheme of things than the 0.0002 LP/mm more resolution (or whatever it may actually be...) that the Panasonic may have.

This argument holds doubly true when dealing with u4/3 as a system - fast max aperture is always going to be of more utility.

I actually go a little longer-- the Oly 60mm macro also makes a wonderful "almost-135" telephoto. Great for landscapes and closeups.

I've made two of these choices personally.

In the first case, I bought the Olympus 45/1.8 over the Panasonic macro, mainly for the extra stop-and-a-third of speed. On mFT, obtaining shallow DOF is challenging, and there's a noticeable improvement in "bokeh" at f1.8 over f2.8. Close focusing is still quite good too.

For me, the FF Zeiss choices come down to how deep your pockets are, and how much you like to engage in pixel-peeping. These are two of the finest lenses currently made for any system. Either can be used at maximum aperture without worry. I picked up a 100 Makro before the Otus line came out, and have no plans to replace it. The close focusing capability makes it a very versatile lens, and it certainly renders beautifully. I've read that in absolute terms, the Otus is better optically. But man, do you ever pay a premium for that last one- or two-percent!

For almost all of the last 3 years (before my move to Sony a7) I have used the Tamron 90mm macro as a fashion/beauty portrait lens. In fact so satisfying was this lens for me I hardly used anything else despite having some CZ lenses at my disposal.

My first instinct was that I needed an 85 1.4 monster. But the more I assisted other photographers the more I noticed they almost always worked between f4 and f11. The only person who opened up fully was shooting weddings, and thats not really my jams.

The cost benefit assessment of the Tamron was too favourable to ignore. At less than half the price of most of the adequately sharp mid-tele options available to me, it also did double duty for when I needed to get close-ups of lips, eyes etc. The only downside is the very plastic construction, I even ran a strip of cloth tape around its obnoxious gold plastic ring. I expect some people would find it optically boring - but for when I needed to add some optical distortion I just photographed through a dirty plate of glass or a CD jewel case.

I am waiting for a native mid-tele macro for the a7.

I've only had my macro lens for two months. So I haven't used it other than to shoot flowers and critters up close, the smaller the better. But after reading this post, I had to try it.

I took this portrait with my macro lens (my first) in the close confines of the stairway landing of our walk-up, just this morning.

Here's my best macro shot so far taken with the same lens.

Raindrops on violets (forget-me-nots). The original in color is here.

My macro lens is is a 50-year old Pentax M42 Macro Takumar 50mm F4. Since I can't afford to buy a modern macro lens—and none of the latter are capable of 1X1 magnification—buying the Takumar (at KEH) was an easy choice for me.

Adapted with a vintage Novoflex Leico M42-M39 "step-down ring" and a Leica L39-LM adapter combo.

I took this picture of the Takumar with my fast normal. I would recommend a native fast normal for taking portraits in close quarters, for APS-C cameras (75 mm-e), if price is an issue. Most everyone would have one of these in hand already.

Thanks for the tip, Mike. I may have to re-start my TOP/OC/OL/OY using this lens instead of my Planar! (g)

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