Experimenting with the 105mm Micro-Nikkor with teleconverters

When you take a lot of pictures of bugs, you need to get close to capture the detail. That means that a Macro or Micro lens is a necessity. At the moment, I have two. The 60mm f2.8D Micro-Nikkor, an older design lens and the newer 105mm f2.8 VR Micro-Nikkor.

Why Micro and not Macro? Well, taking pictures of very small subjects used to called Microphotography. In fact, that is still the definition of microphotography but, most folks use a microscope. Macrophotography used to be taking pictures of very large objects but, that was never used much. Nikon is a precision optical maker, they don’t just make cameras they also make microscopes. So Nikon stuck with Micro-Nikkor for their close focus camera lenses.

The reason you want more than one focal length is primarily to control the working distance when shooting. Both my lenses will produce a magnification ratio of 1:1 meaning that the image on the digital sensor is the same size as the subject. The difference is that you have to be closer to the subject with the 60mm than you do with the 105mm. Shooting live bugs in the open means that you can be a little further away and less likely to spook the critter. so, longer is better. Nikon makes a 200mm Micro-Nikkor but, at $1600, that’s a little heavy on the wallet.

At 1:1, the minimum focus distance from the specifications for the lenses is

60mm – 7.3 inches
105mm – 1 foot
200mm – 1.6 feet.

I happen to have the Nikon TC-14E and the TC-17E II. WHich provide additional magnification of 1.4X and 1.7X respectively. These are the newer models which don’t support the screwdriver of the 60mm f2.8D so, I can only use them on the 105mm. A lot is said about image degradation with TCs. Generally, the TC-14E is said to have little if any impact on image quality (IQ) and the TC-17E II only a slight amount. I try to get my subjects well focused but, I don’t necessarily want to get too close since I like to have some of the environment in the picture. I think it makes the picture more attractive and so long as I have enough detail to identify the subject, so, for my purposes the TCs work just fine. Here are a couple of examples.

Nikkor 105mm f2.8 VR

Nikkor 105mm f2.8 VR with TC-14E

Nikkor 105mm f2.8 VR with TC-17E II Thick-headed Fly – Conopidae

As far as I’m concerned, the loss of a little pixel-peeping detail doesn’t mean that the use of TCs should not be considered. Particularly since I shoot my bugs living free in the wild. If I were shooting them for scientific purposes and needed to observe very specific anatomical detail, I’d have the camera on a bellows and focussing rail in a lab shooting at a dead bug.


About birds n' bugs

Retired, living in SW Florida and spending my time at nature photography in my local area. I volunteer with a couple of local organizations to help my adopted home town. Travelling is now by airplane and car instead of a sailboat but happy anyway.
This entry was posted in Bug, Camera Gear, Shooting closeups and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Experimenting with the 105mm Micro-Nikkor with teleconverters

  1. Steve Arena says:

    Hi –

    These are outstanding! With the 105mm/VR and the 1.4 or 1.7 TC, what are the distances from the front of the lens to the subject? I too would like to get much better insect pics in the wild yet am concerned about spooking the subjects. Your pics may have put me over the top on getting the 105mm as long as the TCs don’t invalidate the macro focusing distance.

    I too am with you on not being worried about loss of pixels with the TCs. I like to have the habitat in the photo too! Thanks and I hope you can post a response sooner rather than later.


  2. Chris Stolle says:

    Could you tell me what moth or butterfly is on the page header (the one with the orange on the wings and the striped antennae)?

  3. sugi says:

    HOw about 40 mm f2.8 with TC?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s