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Lens for plastic scale model shots

edited May 2016 Posted in » Nikon D3200 Forum
I build plastic scale models, planes, helicopter and jeeps/trucks. The models measure 10 inches to 20 inches long, and 2 inches to 5 or 6 inches high. I am using the 35mm prime lens set up now, and it works good.

I set up a light booth. I have 2 daylight top led bulbs and 2 in front right side and left side. Camera is in the middle, about 1 foot to 2 feet from the object.

Sometimes I like close up photos, to pin point areas, like a door marking or show problem areas. Sometimes the 35mm does not show this. Would a 50mm prime or 85mm prime work better?
Thank you,


  • edited May 2016
    A regular non-macro prime may not gain you much unless it focuses close. Depending on what distances you need, don't forget the possiblity of the D3200's kit zoom. This is a good bit closer than the 35mm prime, goes to 55mm, and it's decently sharp.

    Longer lenses give you more room to work, but also less depth of field.

    If your details do not require the utmost linearity and freedom from distortion, your best bet might be a macro lens adapter (Raynox, etc.) which is just a magnifier that goes on the end of your current lens. These are easy to use, relatively inexpensive, and allow all your AF and metering to function. A good lens will produce nice sharp images, but will not correct for any lens errors that are already there, and may get a little soft at the corners, as well as magnifying any linear distortion. For most macros, the edges are not part of the subject anyway, and will be blurred by shallow depth of field, so you'll never notice. Some of these lenses thread on like filters, and some, like the Raynox, snap on to multiple size lenses. Optical quality varies, but the best are quite decent, with multiple lens elements and coatings, and the results can be quite good.

    There are a variety of macro focusing lenses made, most of them pretty expensive, which would do what you need, probably best. There's a 40mm macro that does pretty nicely, and works well as a normal lens, but for macro it must come pretty close. There are longer ones as well, which produce very nice results, but cost a lot, including the very expensive and very versatile 85mm f/2.8 PCE, which tilts and shifts. I would not invest in a true macro lens unless you expect to do a lot of this work or need the focal length anyway.

    If your lighting setup is just right as it is, and you don't want to disturb the distance and setup, don't forget how much room there is to crop a D3200 image. It depends of course on the print size, but you can chop a lot off and still have a pretty nice picture. If you started with the 18-55mm zoom at 55mm and its closest range, you might not have to crop all that much to frame your image as you like.
  • edited May 2016
    Try the Sigma 70-300mm DG AF f/4-5.6, the macro is great. It's a very inexpensive lens. Heavy and well built, you'll need a tripod.
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