What's the big deal about a macro lens? For a lot less money I could take my old point and shoot Canon A70 and get within an inch or two in macro mode no problem. The resulting Close-ups were pretty good.
The problem lies with distance and control. Sure, we can take a macro with the A70, but it's going to take all afternoon wandering around the yard to get close enough to photograph a butterfly, if you can do it at all.
With other subjects you might not have a problem getting close, but instead the camera is blocking the light. Photography is all about light. Our eyes, wonders that they are, make us think that everything else should be able to see as well and clearly across all ranges of available light. Digital sensors are getting pretty good, but they still do a much better job when there is plenty of light. If your camera has to be two inches away then it is tough to properly illuminate the subject.
Those are some of the main selling points of these expensive macro lenses. Nikon's 105mm micro lens can focus 1:1 (an inch in real life is an inch in the image) from a foot away. The Nikon 200mm can focus 1:1 from almost twenty inches away. Not only that but they are faster lenses. A fast lens means it can open the aperture wider to allow more light in. This is, and the precision lens elements, are why the 200mm weighs almost four pounds.
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