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I am using a Nikon D5300. I am confused by the huge range of macro lenses available.

I am looking for a good affordable lens for jewellery photography, preferably under $250 USD. I have searched for 85mm or 100mm f/2.8G macro lenses. But I would like suggestions if there are any other good and usable lenses in a lower price range.

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Nikon has a 40mm f/2.8G DX offering that is right around your price range. This lens is probably your best match as it can reproduce at 1:1, allowing you to shoot objects as small as earrings and rings.

See: AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G @ Nikon.com

However, you may find that shooting very close with this lens is problematic as you might block your lighting. If you are okay with spending more or looking for a used lens, you might consider the 60mm FX version, which will allow you a little bit more working distance. Note that you want the G version of the lens, as the older D versions will be harder to use.

See: AF-S Micro Nikkor 60mm f/2.8G ED @ Nikon.com

And last, the 105mm f/2.8G you mention is also a solid choice, though it is currently the most expensive of all three of these, and will also allow you even more working distance over both of the other options.

See: AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED @ Nikon.com

  • In addition to potentially blocking your lightning with the camera, you will find that shooting macro with a short lens severely limits your depth of field as distance from the subject does factor heavily into that calculation. – LightBender Sep 4 '17 at 5:16
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I'd really say you need a longer lens if you want greater depth of field & avoid focus-stacking.

You also don't need a 2.8 - you can use a much slower lens, as you can throw as much light into the scene as you need. Your models won't get bored or blinded.

To do that you also need plenty of room. If you want your product crisp but your background to completely blur out, then you're looking at maybe 5ft to subject + 10 ft to background. More if you can get it. That means you need two sets of light sources, one for the subject & another for the background, so you can vary the light balance between easily.
The advantage here of a long lens is the background can be relatively small. Shoot the same thing on a 40mm & you'd need a 10ft square backdrop & it would still be too noticeable unless it was a very flatly-lit surface, or you always blow-out to white.

To overcome any slow lens issues, I went with 2 continuous lights for my subject & 2 speedlights for the background, all with large diffusers/softboxes. That way there's more than enough light for the lens to be quick to focus.
My D5500 can't do 'modelling lights' at half-press using a speedlight setup, hence the continuous lighting. I assume the 5300 would be the same.

Alternatively, you're in for a short lens, a lightbox & a lot of post pro doing the focus stacking, then washing out the background.

I actually spread my budget between lens & lighting & went for the Tamron AF 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di LD MACRO 1:2 Though it's not the sharpest lens in the world it does display low chromatic aberration, even compared to one of my more expensive Nikkors. It's flexible & if you need to get even closer, then fully-electronic extension tubes are very cheap.

I don't know whether I'm being contentious here - as everybody seems to go for the small lightbox setup rather than this, but it works for me.

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