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A Closer Look At NIKKOR Macro Lenses

Photo taken with an 85mm Micro-NIKKOR lens.

Macro photography is one of the most interesting types of photography, as it lets you show detail that is otherwise not easily seen by the naked eye.

A true macro lens—Nikon's designation is Micro NIKKOR—allows you to take photographs with maximum reproduction ratios of up to 1:1, which is life size, without the need for any additional accessories. A picture is described as life size when the size of the subject in the image is equal to the size of the actual subject. At their closest focusing distances, most lenses provide approximately 3.2 to 5x maximum reproduction ratios —hardly enough to fill the frame with really small subjects.

Micro NIKKOR lenses are popular because they offer tremendous versatility, high reproduction ratios, ease-of-use and outstanding value. Micro NIKKOR lenses will designate on the lens barrel the maximum reproduction ratio (e.g. 1:1).

Nikon's Micro NIKKOR lenses are designed to perform their best from infinity all the way down to their closest focusing distances, in some cases this can be as close as 6.42 inches.. Moving in extremely close to the subject using a Micro NIKKOR lens lets you fill the entire frame with your subject, allowing you to expand your artistic vision.

Using a macro lens lets you achieve life size reproduction of your subject without having to get as close, ideal for shooting insects or other creatures that you may not want to get too close to. Nikon also offers a close-up Speedlight system which are great for supplementing available light when shooting macro photographs.

Macro photography often entails the use of a tripod, because when you're shooting so close to your subject, the depth of field is often reduced to millimetres instead of inches or feet. To ensure sharp images, you'll want to place your DSLR on a tripod for added stability. If a tripod isn't an option, try one of the Micro NIKKOR lenses that feature Nikon's VR (Vibration Reduction) image stabilization. These lenses allow better hand held shooting; great for achieving greater depth-of-field and sharper pictures or videos.

Speaking of videos, many Nikon DSLR cameras can record in HD or Full HD video. Just as you can use a Micro NIKKOR lens to make eye-catching still photographs, you can also create unique movies that showcase your subjects, reproduced up to life-size.

And remember too, that just because a Micro NIKKOR lens gives you the ability to create photographs up to life size (1:1), you don't always have to use the lens as such. In addition to macro capabilities, the lenses are also fully functional lenses at their prime focal length; so they can be used for portraiture, architecture, or landscape photography.

LensReproduction RatioClosest Focus
AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G1:1 (life size)6.4 in.
AF Micro-NIKKOR 60mm f/2.8D1:1 (life size)8 3/4 in.
AF-S Micro-NIKKOR 60mm f/2.8G ED 1:1 (life size)0.6 ft.
AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 85mm f/3.5G ED VR1:1 (life size)0.9 ft.
AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED1:1 (life size)1 ft.
AF Micro-NIKKOR 200mm f/4D IF-ED1:1 (life size)19.4 in.
PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 45mm f/2.8D ED1:2 (half life size)0.83 ft.
PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 85mm f/2.8D1:2 (half life size)1.3 ft.
Micro-NIKKOR 55mm f/2.81:2 (half life size)0.9 ft.
Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.81:2 (half life size)1.34 ft.

NIKKOR macro lenses’ range include a variety of AF and AF-S, manual focus, PC-E or Perspective Control types, for the DX-format and FX-format system. See the world up-close and personal with your choice Micro NIKKOR lenses today.

Speaking of COOLPIX and D-SLR Cameras—Macro Mode

Many P&S digital cameras, such as the Nikon COOLPIX models and some Nikon D-SLRs offer a Macro Shooting Mode, which is usually denoted by a flower icon. Some COOLPIX cameras even offer a Macro Shooting Mode that allows you to get as close as 0.4-inches to your subjects. With these cameras, the Macro Shooting Mode tells the lens to focus closer than it normally would; and set a wider aperture, to provide the soft blurred background often seen with Macro images.

© Lindsay Silverman