After taking those dragonfly pictures last whenever, I realized that I was not using the 18-300mm lens to its full potential. As pointed out by Agrajag, it seems you can get awfully close to the subject with the lens at 300mm.
Here are the details on the lens. This thing is a true workhorse. It’s what I shoot with most of the time. Apparently, Nikon set up the lens elements in such a way as to technically give it a macro function. I wanted to put it in a head to head battle with some other glass that gets me in close.
I took all these on my porch to keep direct sun off the flowers. Everything is at ISO 100. The height of the tripod is the same for every shot. I just swapped the lens and moved the camera to the appropriate and closest focusing distance. I used as low as an aperture and as possible for each and set the shutter speed accordingly. My focal point was the center of the light purple flower.
I did minimal editing on these. I used the “auto” function in Lightroom and then made small tweaks to get them all as close as possible. I didn’t adjust the white balance or any color levels.
First up is the header picture. This is my “control” image. I took this with my 1963 50mm (75mm on my cropped sensor) at f/2 and 1/40. The flower (center of the light purple) was 18.5 inches from the end of the lens and 21 inches from the flange where the lens mounts.
Second is the 18-300mm. It was at 300mm f/6.3 and 1/10. The flower was 5 inches from the end of the lens and 12 inches from the flange. At 300mm, you can put the lens 5 inches from the subject. That’s crazy, right?
The area in the frame is about 2.5 inches wide. Crazy.
When you crop down to a small area, the detail is pretty good.
Up next is this weird old lens, the Promaster 80-205mm (120-307.5mm on my cropped sensor) with a dedicated macro setting. This lens is heavy, has a really sensitive focus ring, and is generally a pain in the ass to use. But, you can shoot at 307.5mm at f/3.8, which is kinda awesome. In macro mode, I was at f/3.8 and 1/25. The flower was 15.5 inches from the end of the lens and 22 inches from the flange.
It’s not nearly as macro as the Nikon 10-300mm, but not too bad considering what it is. The image isn’t nearly as sharp as the Nikon, but again, not too bad considering.
Finally, we have a Minolta 50mm. I guess it’s kinda 75mm on the cropped sensor, but because the distance from the lens to the sensor is altered with the adapter, who knows. This was shot at f/1.7 and 1/80. The flower was 5.5 inches from the end of the lens and 8 inches from the flange. As you shoot with a higher f-stop, it increases the focal distance, giving you a wider shot. It also still increases the depth of field. Weird. I’m sure math has the answer, but that’s not important.
That looks a lot like the 18-300mm but with a really shallow depth of field. The detail when you crop to the same area is really nice, too. Though the field depth is so small, only a small area is really sharp.
I like shooting with this lens as you can do some weird stuff with it. It takes a steady hand to make sure you are focused on what you want to be focused on. One little movement throws it completely off.
For fun, here are all four shots together. From top to bottom, left to right we have the Nikon 50mm, the Nikon 18-300mm, the Promaster, and the Minolta 50mm.
The Nikon 18-300mm really knocks it out of the park with its macro ability. Yes, if you really want to shoot macro, there are dedicated macro lenses that get you closer. But to have this in my arsenal is great. I will say that the autofocus wasn’t too happy trying to focus that close at 300mm. Not that big of a deal, just use manual.
But the Minolta is not to be discounted. It’s super tight field depth is bonkers. To have both of these at my disposal is amazing. I just need to do more macro kinda stuff now.
For even more fun, these are the lenses (minus the 18-300mm) on the camera. They look so out of place on a DSLR. Now, when I said the Promaster was heavy, keep in mind when you see the picture that it is all metal and glass. There isn’t a plastic piece anywhere on it. It’s built like a tank and weighs as much as one, too.