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@JJ: Tell you what bud, I'll swap my 60 for your 105VR just so you don't have to struggle with the weight.
I'm sorry to hear that you had some focussing issues with your 1.4, I have not had a single issue with my 1.8. The lens has functioned as it should. No fine tuning needed on either the D7000 or D4...it is tack sharp. Back in the day when I was considering this lens, Msmoto gave the 1.8G very high marks in its level of performance. Given the level of respect I have for her remarks, I went that direction and have not regret it a single bet.
Didn't come to the point yet of loosing a lot money but afterwards travelling a lot easier. I'm kind of comforting myself with the smoother bokeh and once the money is gone, I still should be happy with it. I'm sure it can be fixed but in the mail the service guy asked himself it might be a lemon...
My thought on spending the extra money...do it. You won't be disappointed that you spent the extra money on the 105 over the others because it really is a great lens. Build quality is top notch and the picture quality is amazing. Sure you can get one of the other lenses, but I think you really will be pleased with the 105...I am.
As for the performance...I think it gives you a pretty good bang for the buck with the features and using it for both macro and portraits. I prefer it as the lens to take pictures of my daughter with. And look at what all it comes with...nano coating, VR, it has all the best Nikon features.
As for JJ_SO the lens is heavy, but it is a great lens...I never leave home without it. But just like any other Nikon pro lenses they are heavy because they have the best build quality. And Golf might suggest expensive equipment, but what sucks is buying something your didn't really want instead of what you wanted and then down the road losing money on selling it to buy what you really wanted down the road. Photography seems to be one of those in most cases you get what you pay for and especially for lenses. You want a fully compatible lens with all the features...$$$$. You want a plastic mount lens with less features....$.
D4, 1/320, f/6.3...ISO 16,000
This is the lens cap and when the link is followed...the lens cap is about 30" wide on my monitor....
The most important aspect of ANY type of photography, is knowledge; without knowledge, you have very little chance of achieving very successful results. Anyone who is considering buying any new piece of equipment costing possibly a thousand dollars or more, should, (IMHO), have a very clear idea idea of the kinds of subjects you wish to photograph with the lens you want to buy. I believe you would be doing yourself a huge favor if you were to put your desire for a new macro lens off for a time, and do some serious study about macro in order to have a better idea of what type of work you want to do, and what kind of lens you're going to need to do it.
You are getting advice here from a number of very experienced, highly knowledgeable photographers; they all have a lot of very expensive camera equipment; but ask yourself one question; are they all agreeing with each other, as to what "the best" lens for you to buy is ? Believe me when I tell you this......every single lens that has been discussed is a "good" lens; I say that because the people who design all lenses are VERY smart people; the camera makers are very smart also, but they have a very big problem; they not only must be able to design and build a very good product, but they must also build a product that a HUGE number of people will buy.
It's quite natural for beginners in anything to look to experienced people for guidance; what I'm attempting to make you understand is, anytime you seek advice about anything, you may very well get a lot of good advice, but you are also going to get a lot of personal opinions. I think the replies so far on this thread points that out pretty well.
The 105 mm,f2.8 Nikkor IS a superlative lens; no doubt what=so-ever about that; but it's a very "top of the line" lens; it may, or may not be the "best bet" for you; My "opinion" on that ? I have no opinion, because I don't know YOUR particular circumstances. The only thing anyone trying to give you advice really knows is......you are obviously young, you obviously lack much needed experience, and you're attempting to make a very expensive "buying decision" without experience, (which is never a good thing, (again, IMHO)
Macro lenses, just like other types of lenses, come in many different focal lengths; because the people who use them, photograph MANY different kinds of things with them. A lens that is very suitable for one thing, may be very unsuitable for another thing; no one knows what you want to photograph unless you do. If you want to take 1:1 macros of stamps and coins with the camera on a copy stand, a 50 or 60 mm lens is fine; but if you want to do live insect work........it's not "fine" at all; another thing no one has even mentioned; where is all the light for your macros "coming from"? Better not depend on the sun; I could go on and on......because I was IN your shoes, "way back when"! "been there, tried to do that" as they say now-a-days! I'll tell you what got me straightened out, and on the right path.........several very good books about Macro Photography, by John Shaw, (among others).
There are several people on this forum that do some very good macro work; as I don't like to call names, just take a look around....you'll see who I mean; everyone here, (including me) is trying to help you; I'm just trying to keep you from getting th "cart in front of the horse".
You said in your op that you like to 'mess about and shoot small things' which indicates to me that you are not consumed by a passion to shoot any one specialised area of macro photography (such as butterflies or spiders etc.) so I would say to you what I say to everybody - there is a cheap and simple way to go about this: You have the 18-105VR - as do I, so buy a $25 (max) +4 or up to +10 diopter close up lens to screw on the end of it and go shoot (as did I (+4 for butterflies)). You will NOT get horrible photos from it, in fact they will really surprise you with how good they are. You will not miss any shots using that set up rather than the (say) 105mm VR macro and you will either think 'yeah, this is good enough for messing about shooting small things (which it certainly is) or 'I really like doing this but I want more magnification' or even ', been there, tried that, not interesting to me'. What you will not need to do to find out all that is spend hundreds or thousands of $ on gear.
I have a thread going on practical lighting for macro which is worth a look and again you can see ways to get the results you need are not necessarily dependent on gold box acquisition. The gear I have suggested will give great results using natural light if there is enough of it so read the other thread too. The lighting set up I am developing is going to be complete (using a flash I already have so not counting the cost of that item) for less than $50!
Come back to us with your views on what we have posted, meantime, here (or better) is what you can expect using that set-up in natural light:
@Msmoto & spraynpray: Very nice shots. Thx for sharing.
Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.
Gitzo -- I've been keeping an eye on your macro lighting thread and the other macro thread. The complexity in those discussions is one reason I am less sure than before about the need for a macro lens, although if I go with tubes or the 60mm I likely with start by trying Golf007sd's strategy of trying to stay out of the way of the natural light. (As an aside, whether I am "young" depends if you are counting calendar age or photographic experience age -- quite young as measured by the latter, not so much as measured by the former. )
Thanks again. Really great info and thoughts. Whichever route I go, I hope to start sharing on PAD pretty soon.
BTW: My butterfly shot was using an old 12mp D5000 so it would be better with 16mp or more.
The 50 is 'OK' as a portrait on a DX body, but only really for half body sort of shots because if you get in close for head and shoulders, the perspective stretches the models features unattractively. 60 becomes 90 on DX so is better but if I were you I really would forget the 50 and the 60 and get the 85mm f1.8, put a close-up lens on your kit lens and benefit from the extra length. If you find you are really into the intricacies of macro, you will still have a fab portrait lens plus the 85 can follow you to FX if you go that way.