Another batch of macro shots with the Nikon 1 Nikkor VR 30-110mm f3.8-5.6

I’ve been shooting a lot of macro photos since my last post on this topic. Most of the time – almost exclusively, actually – I’ve used my Nikon 1 V1 and 1 Nikkor 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, with or without achromatic close-up lenses. You don’t really need a close-up lens or a real macro lens for larger insects like damselflies or dragonflies. The following photos were captured without a close-up lens and show how close you can get to your macro subject with just the 30-110mm.

Note: Click on any of the following photos to view it large.

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Nikon 1 V1 and 1 Nikkor 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 — 110mm, f/5.6, 1/200s and ISO100

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Nikon 1 V1 and 1 Nikkor 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 — 110mm, f/5.6, 1/160s and ISO100

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Nikon 1 V1 and 1 Nikkor 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 — 110mm, f/5.6, 1/200s and ISO100

In case you want to shoot a portrait-style macro shot of a damselfly, a dragonfly or a butterfly you really need either one or even two close-up lenses or alternatively sufficiently long extension tubes. My preferred combo for portraits of damselflies is the 30-110mm and the Marumi DGH200 +5.

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Nikon 1 V1, 1 Nikkor 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 and Marumi DHG200 +5 — 30mm, f/5.6, 1/250s and ISO200

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Nikon 1 V1, 1 Nikkor 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 and Marumi DHG200 +5 — 110mm, f/7.1, 1/200s and ISO200

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Nikon 1 V1, 1 Nikkor 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 and Marumi DHG200 +5 — 71.6mm, f/5.6, 1/200s and ISO100

This combo is also very good for other, smaller insects, like smaller grasshoppers. Magnification ratio is sufficient for full-body shots.

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Nikon 1 V1, 1 Nikkor 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 and Marumi DHG200 +5 — 110mm, f/5.6, 1/500s and ISO200

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Nikon 1 V1, 1 Nikkor 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 and Marumi DHG200 +5 — 110mm, f/5.6, 1/640s and ISO200

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Nikon 1 V1, 1 Nikkor 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 and Marumi DHG200 +5 — 77.1mm, f/4.8, 1/160s and ISO100

If I want to capture an entire damselfly or a butterfly with the Marumi attached, I reduce the magnification ratio by zooming out. The effect of a close-up lens is less pronounced at shorter focal lengths.

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Nikon 1 V1, 1 Nikkor 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 and Marumi DHG200 +5 — 30mm, f/5.6, 1/320s and ISO100

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Nikon 1 V1, 1 Nikkor 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 and Marumi DHG200 +5 — 32.8mm, f/8, 1/200s and ISO100

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Nikon 1 V1, 1 Nikkor 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 and Marumi DHG200 +5 — 35mm, f/7.1, 1/50s and ISO100

If I shoot even smaller insects I attach my Raynox DCR-250 on top of the Marumi. This is more than enough magnification for most macro subjects – even for capturing insects as small as aphids.

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Nikon 1 V1, 1 Nikkor 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, Marumi DHG200 +5 and Raynox DCR-250 — 110mm, f/8, 1/125s and ISO200

This is the point where a macro photographer needs to start thinking about advanced macro techniques, such as focus stacking, because of extremely thin depth of field. You can stop down only so much, before your photos end up being soft due to diffraction. As you can see the photo of the aphid was taken at f/8, which is around f/22 on full frame. Despite this depth of filed is razor-thin. I wouldn’t recommend stopping down any further, because this is already well inside diffraction territory. The only way out is to start experimenting with focus stacking. And I’ve been putting off doing it for a very long time.

You can find a lot more of my 30-110mm shots in this Flickr set.

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14 thoughts on “Another batch of macro shots with the Nikon 1 Nikkor VR 30-110mm f3.8-5.6

    • I love your macro photos. I need to buy that close up lens one day.

      In my opinion the Marumi works better with the 30-110mm lens. The Raynox is also good, but it’s a bit too much in regard to magnification when mounted on such a long lens. It feels less flexible in use, when you want to shoot macro subjects in their entirety (=> full body shots). But it’s obviously better suited than the Marumi for portrait-style macro shots.

  1. In my humble opinion, the lens is surprisingly good (I have a 90x60cm print on my wall taken with this lens, and it is tack sharp) but you show it off in a way few others do, quite frankly, because they can’t. You are just better than most of us are, and I just love the shots you keep getting. Thanks again for sharing.

    • In my humble opinion, the lens is surprisingly good (I have a 90x60cm print on my wall taken with this lens, and it is tack sharp)

      Last weekend we were visiting Sani’s cousin. She lives in Veliko Gradiste, a small town situated on the banks of the Danube river. There were a lot of waterbirds: gulls, swallows, common terns, cormorants, you name it. I had a unique opportunity to test the 30-110mm at its longest focal length and to experiment with AF in every available AF mode on fast moving subjects. What I observed is that above approx. 80mm the AF performance takes a pretty sizeable hit in terms of accuracy and speed. I can only speculate on the cause, but in my opinion it is due to a combination of less light (around 1/3 stop) hitting the sensor and somewhat lower sharpness of the lens at that FL. The keeper rate was therefore very low. Less than 1/3. This could also be due to my relative inexperience with such subjects, but the AF didn’t seem very confidence-inspiring to me. This, of course, only applies to the 80-110mm focal range. I’m very happy with the lens below 80mm. It’s very sharp and the AF seems very accurate. All of this will flow into my upcoming review of the lens. But I have to post process the images taken in Veliko Gradiste first.

      but you show it off in a way few others do, quite frankly, because they can’t. You are just better than most of us are, and I just love the shots you keep getting. Thanks again for sharing.

      Thank you Jan. It is very nice of you to say that. 🙂

      • I hate to have to tell you, but your lens needs to go in for repair. My guess is that it got dropped at some point. The 30-110mm will be every bit as accurate as the 18.5mm with regard to AF at all focal lengths, and just about as fast too. I have taken about ten thousand frames with mine, and it never misses focus. This goes for moving subjects too.

        • While I can’t rule out that the lens is defective, I think that it would be odd if it was. As I said it produces great results below 80mm. IQ is okay above 80mm but not as good as below. This was confirmed by trustworthy review websites such as photozone.de. See here: http://www.photozone.de/nikon1/700-1nikon301103856v1?start=1

          And it makes sense that the AF would struggle above 80mm. Less light hitting the sensor combined with lower resolution poses a challenge for the AF system.

          What kind of moving subjects did you shoot with your 30-110? The subjects I had trouble with the most were macro subjects (damselfly on a leaf in the wind, for example) and birds.

          • Ivan, the conclusion on the test you link to is “virtually silent and very fast” performance with regard to AF, so I struggle to understand what you refer to. And this is what every review I have read concludes, and it jives with my experience too.

            What you describe sounds a lot like a lens that has hit the ground with the lens extended. You certainly have more experience than me, but not with this lens for one, and I have experienced a lens that was dropped and behaved pretty much exactly the way you describe too (a Fuji X-lens). Perhaps you should ask someone about it, I am certainly no expert, so I don’t know what else to say. But AF is one of this lenses strengths imo, it does great even with low contrast subjects as long as the light is good enough. Not so with my 32mm, that lens hunts in low contrast (no matter the brightness).

          • Ivan, the conclusion on the test you link to is “virtually silent and very fast” performance with regard to AF, so I struggle to understand what you refer to. And this is what every review I have read concludes, and it jives with my experience too.

            I’m referring to the resolution measurement in the test. The lens goes from very good to excellent to good to very good when you zoom past 80mm. This in combination with less light hitting the sensor is, in my humble opinion, what is causing the sudden drop in AF performance.

            What you describe sounds a lot like a lens that has hit the ground with the lens extended. You certainly have more experience than me, but not with this lens for one, and I have experienced a lens that was dropped and behaved pretty much exactly the way you describe too (a Fuji X-lens).

            As I’ve said, I can’t rule out that something like you describe has happened. But I have had the opportunity to try out lenses of a similar overall concept (Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary and Sigma 18-300 Contemporary), which also slow down and become less accurate in terms of AF when you zoom all the way to the longest focal length. Both of these lenses are telephoto zooms and slow in regard to light gathering power at the long end. So there are a lot os similarities there.

            Perhaps you should ask someone about it, I am certainly no expert, so I don’t know what else to say. But AF is one of this lenses strengths imo, it does great even with low contrast subjects as long as the light is good enough. Not so with my 32mm, that lens hunts in low contrast (no matter the brightness).

            I’m not in a position to send in the lens for check-up or repair – I won’t be in Austria for some time and I don’t trust Nikon Serbia. But this is what I will do in the upcoming review: I will write down my personal experience, mention that the lens was bought used and that there is chance that something is wrong with it, since other photographers have had very different experiences with the AF of the lens.

            Just to rule out that we are talking past each other. Where the lens struggles is birds in flight and macro, and only when FLs past 80mm are used. Shooting a landscape, a walking person or a sitting cat/dog at 110mm is not a problem. The AF is fast and reliable under those conditions, but those conditions are easy for any AF system. But if you follow a bird in flight with AF-C and burst mode, the keeper rate drops to around 1/3.

  2. I have had trouble with this lens being able to focus on tiny subjects many times, it just seems to not be able to see them. Spiders, spider webs, bugs on the end of a thin branches or grass blades, etc… I also have had trouble with it finding the focus on black cats and dogs shot in the shade.

    • I have had trouble with this lens being able to focus on tiny subjects many times, it just seems to not be able to see them. Spiders, spider webs, bugs on the end of a thin branches or grass blades, etc…

      I’ve thought about it and maybe it’s the same kind of problem with my bird photos. The birds are very small in the frame. The phase-detect pixels are probably too large and therefore have a hard time seeing them.

      I also have had trouble with it finding the focus on black cats and dogs shot in the shade.

      Black cats in the shade or in the sun?

      • Black animals (cats and dogs) in the shade seem to cause trouble with the focus. In sunlight if they have a shine to their coat the focusing is a bit easier.

        • Black animals (cats and dogs) in the shade seem to cause trouble with the focus. In sunlight if they have a shine to their coat the focusing is a bit easier.

          I would say that that is normal for the V1 with a slow zoom lens. It focuses way faster with the 18.5mm f1.8.

  3. Pingback: By the Danube river | Big Street Guns

  4. Pingback: Nikon 1 Nikkor VR 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 Review | Big Street Guns

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