Close-ups are my favorite part of nature photography. I say that not because I love bugs more than waterfowl or flower parts more than rocky landscapes. I love close-ups because they can connect me with nature anywhere, anytime. I can shoot close-ups of spiders building webs outside my backdoor or of orchids in Peru, of flowering weeds outside of my office or lichens on the rocks of Arches National Park. With close-up gear, I'm good to go whenever I want, wherever I am. I was excited to get a sample of Tokina's new 100mm ƒ/2.8 macro lens (officially named the AT-X M100 AF Pro D).
At 2.9x3.7 inches and 19 ounces, this compact lens offers film and full-frame digital cameras 1:1 at 12 inches. For small-format digital SLRs, you get an equivalent of 150-160mm (still at the fast ƒ/2.8) and more distance to 1:1. The lens includes a newly engineered multi-coating to minimize reflections when using a digital camera's sensor (which has a shiny protective surface).
A telephoto macro can be helpful in shooting certain subjects because of the distance you gain between lens and subject. For example, I find spiders fascinating and their webs amazing pieces of engineering, but I don't like them on me. A macro tele keeps them at a comfortable distance while I photograph; I don't have to be right on top of them, likely scaring them away. Insects offer colors, forms, shapes and more up close that can't be found anywhere else (except maybe science fiction). A telephoto macro also offers reduced depth of field for sharpness and contrast effects.
One warning: All telephoto macro lenses are extremely vulnerable to camera movement when shooting up close. The area covered is very small so any movement at all can result in duller images. I typically shoot such lenses in three ways to minimize this problem: wide open or near wide open when handholding the lens to allow a high shutter speed; on a tripod when stopped down to small ƒ-stops; and with a flash.
Tokina's 100mm macro performed exceptionally for me in the field, bringing back crisp, sharp images. I particularly like the lens' one-touch focus clutch system that allows you to instantly change from manual to autofocus as needed. It's a great feature for a macro lens, as autofocus can be tricky up close (though it can still be useful).
Contact: THK Photo Products, (800) 421-1141, www.thkphoto.com.
Focal Range: 100mm
Filter Size: 55mm
Lens Construction: 9 elements in 8 groups
Size: 2.9x3.7 inches
Weight: 19 ounces
Mounts: Canon, Nikon
Estimated Street Price: $420
|[ Primary Features ]|
1 Fast ƒ/2.8 100mm macro allows distance between you and your subject
2 1:1 focusing at 12 inches for both film and full-frame digital bodies
3 Focus clutch system for instant changing between AF and MF