That’s true, Kathy. Thanks!
After due consideration of all this wisdom, I went with the 70 -180 Nikon. I got a good used/reconditioned specimen on Amazon, and it is as good as new. Boy, is it heavy! But somehow I find that comforting, it’s a nice balance for the camera. I have not had a lot of opportunity to use it, but the few shots I have taken turned out nice and sharp.
Thank you one and all!
I picked one up (KEH) too about two weeks ago, following the discussion here. I’m prepping to use it for tabletop photography to illustrate a substantial how-to book, around 800 photos in 350 pages by current design.
I’ve done a whole lot of shooting with it in recent days, testing lighting setups, backgrounds, DOF and framing distances. In between sessions I’ve been known to skulk around the yard pursuing natural subjects near and far.
It’s a credible short telephoto, though very slow to focus from macro to distance. It’s not bad at all making small focus adjustments quickly.
Meanwhile careful comparisons down to minimum focus over the entire zoom range have proven it at least as sharp as my beloved old 105mm manual macro. And that’s saying a whole lot! No color shifts or objectionable OOF highlights that I’ve found. Indoors I’ve been shooting on Aperture priority with multiple strobes wirelessly linked, so there’s no sense of light loss with lens extension. Can’t confirm that until I watch the light meter through a zoom cycle outdoors.
Great, great lens, and with my old shaky hands the extra weight has a welcome dampening effect in the absence of IS.
“It’s a credible short telephoto, though very slow to focus from macro to distance. It’s not bad at all making small focus adjustments quickly.”
We should point out that that is where the “Limit Focus” switch on the lens comes in. If you are working within a limited range, it restricts the focus attempt and speeds it up. Never seen that on any other lens.
The focus limit switch was on a number of lenses in that era. I bought some and still have them, but they’re in one of our safes in our northern home, and I can’t recall which ones at this point. It was very useful for limiting autofocus “searching” when you moved onto a featureless surface or your focusing point shifted from something lots closer or further away than your subject.
That’s not what I’m referring too, however. My reference is to times when you’re shooting something out near infinity and spot a macro subject and have to focus close, or conversely when you’re shooting a bug at your feet and a bird lands in a tree 100’ away. It just takes a long time for the lens to grind from one to the other. I’ll use the limit switch a lot while handholding on fixed subjects. But I’ll have to remember to turn it off for “rapid” changes from macro to tele or back.
EDIT: I just checked and the beloved old 300 f/4 AF I have with me has a variation. In front of the focus ring there’s another narrow ring with a small knob you can twist to tighten and lock the ring at any point and set focus limits. Effective, but not nearly so handy as the limit switch we’re discussing.
Hi Hank: If you’re using a 180 mm on a bird 100’ away, it must be a Roc!
Odd example for sure, but it amply illustrates that “The bird lens in hand is better than the one back home.”
It’s not all that far-fetched when you think about it, however. The 180 is an effective 250 due to sensor crop on my D7200, putting you within reach of 50% image crops on your computer pushing you into the 500 mm realm. But in truth it’s more interesting and challenging for me to zoom DOWN from 180 to discover landscape comps in which the smaller bird becomes an element in the larger scene.
It’s all in your creativity and your understanding of the strengths of your gear… And not in bemoaning its limits.
True, Hank. I’m afraid I was approaching the idea rather narrowly.
Okay- Now that I’ve turned a few of you onto the 70-180. We now have 3 samples in our NPN group out of only 20,000 made!
Next tip after someone answers correctly: What do the 60mm/105mm/70-1800mm have in common?
Besides the obvious (like ED) I would say internal focusing – in which only the internal lens group shifts during focusing.
On that subject, I played around a bit with the focusing. The relatively slow autofocus is caused by the longish focus path (looks like about 200 degrees). However, this does have an upside – precise and easy focusing by hand, which is what I grew up with and still sometimes prefer.
Same here. Lotta cranking and stretching going on, but when it’s what you grew up with it just feels “right.”
I have to say the zoom feature is a revelation for macro when used creatively with the manual focus. Though I also bought a focusing rail in anticipation of camera shifts for framing, it’s proven superfluous. In my current work shooting step-by-step procedures for the how-to book I can shoot with the broader view out around 70mm, zoom tight for a detail shot at 180mm, then back off to any point between that suits my needs. All without touching the tripod.
How did I ever overlook this lens in my pro life?
Hint: Look for a common physical specification
I’m very late to this thread, but I LOVE my Nikon 70-180 macro and almost all my flower and macro shots are from this lens.
I’d recommend grabbing any good used one you find - they are uncommon.