We asked four pro photographers what their go to glass is.
MICHELE DOUCETTE: Nature Photographer
A graduate of the New England School of Photography, Doucette works as a photographer and a photographers’ rep in the Boston area. Her favorite subjects include nature, wildlife, and, especially, horses. Doucette received the Nikon AF Micro 105mm f/2.8 VR lens as a gift, her first reaction was, “What am I going to do with this?” Then, she discovered a world of fascinating close-up subjects in her back-yard—and everything changed. She came face to face with tiny creatures whose minuscule features, intense colors, quirky bodies, and anatomical structures fascinated her. She quickly learned what to do with that wonderful gift. Its capabilities excited the photographer, artist, and nature lover in her. Her list of favorite lenses, therefore, is topped by—no surprise—the…
Michele’s Favorite Lenses:
NIKON 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor
Her favorite lens for its 1:1 subject magnifying ability, this full-frame macro lens ($890, street) lets Doucette explore a world that had previously been invisible to her. And she can do it without the need of macro bellows, extension tubes, or close-up diopters.
“I like its quick autofocus, plus image sharpness and Vibration Reduction at every subject distance and aperture. It’s the best for insects, flowers, frogs, and any highly detailed nature subject. Except for maybe big cats or bears,” she laughs. “I might grab a longer lens for them.”
The great thing about this lens, though, is that it’s useful for much more than nature close-ups. Its f/2.8 speed suits it to low-light subjects, and any scene where she wants to diffuse and defocus a cluttered background. Likewise the 105mm focal length is among the most perfect for portraits.
“Yes, it’s a smidgen heavier than I would prefer,” she says. “But that’s a minor quibble about a lens I think is amazing and definitely worth the price.”
NIKON AF 18–200mm f/3.5–5.6G VR Zoom-Nikkor
“This is my everyday lens,” says Doucette of this $760 (street) zoom. “It allows me to shoot just about anything that comes into view except close-up critters.” She likes it because it packs a broad zoom range in a small, compact package.
“I shoot with it around my barn and make pictures of horses in action, and their quiet moments. It lets me move more freely and spontaneously,” she says. “And it’s an excellent all-around lens, with almost unlimited versatility.” In dim light, she adds, the Vibration Reduction comes in handy.
TOKINA AF 12–24mm f/4 AT-X PRO DX
For nature subjects too big for Nikon’s 18–200mm, Doucette turns to her Tokina AF 12– 24mm f/4 Pro DX ($400, street). It gives her an ultrawide-angle view and the equivalent of an 18–36mm zoom range on a 35mm film camera while maintaining a bright, constant f/4 aperture. “This lens is a nice complement to the macro lens,” she says. “When I discovered this wide-angle, I felt like a horse having its blinkers removed. It really widened my horizons! Perfect for landscapes, it gives a true panoramic feel. A great lens for the price.”
Used in this Shot: Nikon 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor
A full-frame, vibration-controlled (VR II), 1:1 close-up lens, this prime optic is also internal focusing, with a silent AF motor, and favorable pricing (by Nikon standards). Some consider it heavy (1.6 pounds), but its AF is fast and its images from 12 inches to infinity are tack sharp.
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM ($944, street)With life-size magnification (1:1), a silent USM focusing motor plus full-time manual focus and image stabilization, the lens also features a nonrotating lens barrel, conveniently large manual-focus ring, and special weathersealing.
Pentax-D FA 100mm f/2.8 smc WR Macro ($610, street) With added weathersealing (WR), 1:1 subject magnification, and an all-metal housing, the lens appeals to pros as well as enthusiasts.
Sony 100mm f/2.8 AF ($680, street) A full-frame classic close-up lens with subject magnification to 1:1, it scales up to a 150mm on most Sony bodies. It’s distinguished by useful controls such as an AF lock and a focus-range limiting switch.
Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di ($460, street) A full-framer with life-size magnification, this lens is available in most mounts. It’s very light for an f/2.8 (14 ounces), focuses to a tight 11.4 inches, belongs to Tamron’s pro-ready SP series of lenses, and is priced right.