I decided to try to get even closer with the 105mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor, and since it is listed as compatible with the Nikon 1.7x Teleconverter I put them together to see what came out of the mix.
The Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-17E-II multiplies the effective focal length by 1.7x of select compatible NIKKOR lenses, so this combination yields a close-focus macro lens with a focal length of 180 mm. The combination loses 1.5 stops of exposure but the magnification is significant. I took some test shots with the combination mounted on my D300, and I raised the ISO so that I could shoot hand-held for these tests. I liked what I saw.
Not every subject lends itself to this combination, of course, but I was fascinated by the colors produced when I came in close on flowers using this lens combo. The flower parts filled the screen and more, and the spray of colors was fantastic! I didn’t measure the reproduction ratio accomplished with this lens combination, but I estimate that it can easily surpass 1:1. My interest here was not magnification, however, but abstractions of colors from the flowers. This goal was helped to be achieved by the out-of-focus swirls of color in those flower parts which were outside the plane of focus.
The lens combination retained the autofocus function of the D300 so that I was able to hand-hold the camera and obtain a focussed image. In order to give me some leeway, I set the ISO to 1600, a higher value than I ordinarily use when shooting with the D300, but one that worked well within the goals I had set here. The higher ISO produced some digital noise which I could remove with the processing tools in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4.1, and the resulting smoothing of the images enhanced the color swirls even more. I liked this effect, so I decided to try it in a number of shots with different-colored flowers using the lens combo on my D300.
Some of my favorites are shown here. I am looking forward to seeing how these shots display when I print them. I think they will be striking primarily because of the strong colors, but I also expect these photos to be popular because of the close-focus plant features in the shots.