I love taking my Nikkor 200mm F/4 out of the bag for some serious macro. I call this lens my bug catcher because it lets you keep a few feet back and sill obtain super close ups. This lens is the definition of pro grade glass and build. - I wrote a review on this lens and you can find it in the more links.
Best Uses: Outdoors in good light chasing insects. I enjoy the late spring for macro, many small flowers are still around and the insects are beginning to make themselves available to my lens.
Example: Today was like most other days when I came across this small plant that looked like a great candidate for a macro shot and as I got down to obtain a good angle - this bug just landed right on the flower portion. - Fantastic.
Since I was already basically set up to take the shot, this was really simple - or at least less likely I would scare off the insect, since he did not mine me being this close when he landed. My camera was in manual mode, which I normally leave it in for Macro and I had two small Nikon SB-R200 flashes attached to the lens with a SU-800 commander running the lighting show. I normally set the flash as to be about 60% apart with one 3/4 and the other about 1/2. I enjoy using the flash to fill in not overpower, or at least that is what I strive to do. This Macro combination works well, but there is a few down sides - check out my review.
I was able to snap off about 15 shots using various shutter and aperture combinations but as we all know focus is a macro killer, so I was very careful on several shots to get the correct focus and depth of field. At least I would have one shot. As it was things turned out well I think the sun was out casting indirect light and I had fill light all taken care of - and as they say the rest is history.
The Good: Arguably the best Macro on the market. A bit dated in focus and VR but optically superior. Strap this to a good camera and you have a winner.
Comparable: Similar to a Sigma 180mm; optically similar with great images from both, and yes both have good focus acquisition. The Nikon is slow but sure, the Sigma is slow and less sure - more hunting. This Sigma Image to the right shows good contrast and detail (windy day). I find the Nikon edges out the Sigma optically but we can argue this based in dx marks for both lens on the Macro end - why we buy these lenses in the first place. As a standard lens, the Nikkor is superior but not as fast as the Sigma so, I have both for a reason!
Close up Photography is not always about the extreme, sometimes you run across something with detail an character worthy of moving in closer to isolate the details or contrast. It is a different world of composition when you are close in, like a window within a window. Always consider your composition when framing the close up because it matters just like a good portrait.
I hope you enjoy the many macro photos on the site, don't forget to visit the galleries for many more.