In this guide, we will help you choose the Best Nikon Lens For Insect Photography to pair with your camera.
We took into consideration different optics, some proposed by the company itself and others, however, of excellent quality, made available by third-party manufacturers ( Sigma and Tamron ).
For each model, we have analyzed the main technical specifications and made some considerations on possible uses, highlighting their strengths and any less convincing aspects.
In the mirror below we anticipate what are the Best Nikon Lens For Insect Photography currently included in this guide. If you are already familiar with optics of this kind, click on a model name to go to the section dedicated to it.
If not, we suggest you read the introductory part of the guide instead. Inside, we will discuss macro lenses in general terms, explaining what they are for and what their fundamental characteristics are. We will also address the issue of compatibility between these lenses and various Nikon cameras.
Best Nikon Lens For Insect Photography 2022
Macro Lenses: What Are They (Exactly)?
The macro objectives, as noted, are optical cameras suitable for the recovery of very small subjects.
By definition, a macro can be defined as a lens capable of achieving a reproduction ratio of 1: 1 between the dimensions of the subject in focus and those of the sensor.
The sensor of full-frame SLR measures for example 24x36mm. By associating it with a macro lens, you can then fill the frame with a rectangle of the same size.
In other words, a macro lens allows the image of a subject to be recorded on the sensor in its real size, or even enlarged.
From a technical point of view, this is made possible by a high ratio between focal length and minimum focusing distance. With the same focal length, a macro lens will therefore be able to focus at a much shorter distance than a non-macro one.
If you want to know more about the reproduction ratio and the technical issues related to macro lenses, we recommend that you read this article, dedicated to macro photography.
The concepts that it is important to have clear, before continuing, are therefore two:
- When we talk about macro photography we refer to the magnification capabilities of the lens, and not (as many mistakenly believe) to a specific photographic genre.
- The magnifications we are talking about are really very high: for many applications, it may be superfluous to resort to a lens of this type.
Nikon Macro Lens: the Right Choice?
If you are collecting information to buy a Nikon macro lens, you may want to try your hand at photos of flowers, spiders, butterflies, and other insects. Although, as we said, shots of this kind are often classified as macro photography, it is quite rare that they are made with real macro lenses.
More often than not, regular objectives are used which, at the minimum focusing distance, still result in significant magnification.
This simple photo of a butterfly, for example, was taken with a 300mm telephoto lens and not a macro lens. Despite this, the magnification obtained is quite high. A real macro shot, in this case, would have made it difficult to shoot the butterfly in its entirety, or at least find a pleasant composition.
Many of the telephoto lenses that circulate today allow you to reach a reproduction ratio of 1: 3 or 1: 4, which corresponds to a magnification more than sufficient for subjects of this kind.
If you are going to record really tiny details, then, a macro lens is a must. Otherwise, a common telephoto lens remains a much more versatile choice, which can also be useful in association with other photographic genres.
Best Nikon Lens For Insect Photography | Comparison Table 2022
|Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX Lens for Nikon DSLR Cameras (Renewed)||Nikon||Check Price|
|Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras, 2183, Black||Nikon||Check Price|
|NIKON NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 Compact Telephoto Zoom Lens for Nikon Z Mirrorless Cameras||Nikon||Check Price|
|Nikon 2137 50mm f/1.8D Auto Focus Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras (Renewed)||Nikon||Check Price|
|Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras (Renewed)||Nikon||Check Price|
|Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras||Nikon||Check Price|
|Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras (Renewed)||Nikon||Check Price|
|Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras - (New)||Nikon||Check Price|
|Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens||Nikon||Check Price|
Best Nikon Lens For Insect Photography | 2022 Products Overview
Best Nikon Macro Lens For Insect Photography: Which to Choose? The Features to Evaluate
Having made the appropriate premises, let’s see what are the main characteristics to consider when choosing a macro lens for Nikon.
Let’s go back briefly to talk about the reproduction ratio to clarify that all the objectives that we will review allow obtaining a maximum magnification of 1: 1.
On the market there are also objectives that go further, settling on a ratio of 2: 1 or even 5: 1. However, these are ultra-specialized and hard-to-find products, which we have not covered in this guide.
As for the magnification capabilities, therefore, the macro lenses for Nikon that we will analyze are perfectly equivalent.
Focal Length and Operating Distance
Although the achievable magnification is the same, a different combination of focal length and minimum focus distance makes it possible .
For example, a 40mm lens will achieve a 1: 1 reproduction ratio at a focusing distance of approximately 16cm. At a focal length of 105mm (very common cut, as we will see), the minimum focusing distance instead rises to roughly 31cm.
This distance is always considered from the sensor, not from the front lens of the objective. It will therefore be necessary to subtract the entire length of the lens to obtain the effective shooting distance (or working distance ), the one that separates the front of the lens from the subject.
It goes without saying that using relatively short focal lengths (40mm, 60mm…) you will end up with a very short working distance, just a handful of centimeters. In the case of insects and animated subjects in general, this would be a big problem, as they would inevitably run away.
Unless you plan to photograph only inanimate or otherwise controllable subjects, we, therefore, recommend that you choose lenses with the longest focal length possible.
The maximum aperture is generally one of the first characteristics taken into consideration when choosing a lens. As a rule, all factors being equal, we tend to prefer an optic characterized by good brightness.
Macro photography is a bit of an exception: due to the very short focusing distances, the depth of field will in fact always be very small. To have the whole subject in focus, or even only its most significant parts, we always work with rather small apertures.
Sometimes, even stopping down may not be enough and you need to apply focus stacking techniques or change the composition accordingly.
Having said that, in fact, all the lenses that we will see have rather high brightness. This feature, although not very useful in macro photography, will be useful if you plan to use them in other genres (such as portraits).
Compatibility between Nikon Cameras and Macro Lenses (Reflex / Mirrorless FX / DX)
All the macro lenses for Nikon that we will see in this guide are designed for SLR cameras. At the moment, in fact, there are no macro lenses natively compatible with Nikon Z mirrorless cameras (with the exception of some rare universal lenses).
In any case, if you have a camera of this type, you can still use the lenses that we will describe using the simple FTZ adapter. This adapter maintains the characteristics of the lens, as well as the optical quality and the autofocus performance.
If it was not supplied as a kit with the camera, you can also buy it separately and associate it with any lens with a Nikon F mount.
Most of the lenses we will see can be independently used on both APS-C ( DX ) and full-frame ( FX ) cameras. Some of them (appropriately highlighted in the guide) are instead designed specifically for APS-C cameras. Their association with full frames is therefore not recommended, although technically possible.
In any case, using the lenses on APS-C cameras, their focal length will appear multiplied by 1.5x, due to the crop factor. Apparently, since the minimum focusing distance remains unchanged, the obtainable magnification will also increase.