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08-24-2010, 06:18 AM   #16
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Thank you all for the replies! I've been taking it all in and realized that yeah, I don't think I understand well enough what exactly I'm looking for. I think I was too eager to move beyond my kit lens thinking that my mediocre shots were primarily because of the lens, but I probably have a lot more exploration to do before investing into an expensive, worthwhile lens.
BUT in the meantime...since the M 50mm F/1.7 is so cheap, would it still be recommended against if I got that just to learn a manual lens? Is the extra adapter and extension tube setup necessary or can I use it without them (for now)?

08-24-2010, 07:33 AM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by yoon395 Quote
...since the M 50mm F/1.7 is so cheap, would it still be recommended against if I got that just to learn a manual lens? Is the extra adapter and extension tube setup necessary or can I use it without them (for now)?
The M50/1.7 really is a great lens and yes, you should get it and no, you don't need extension to use it... unless you want to use it for macros, in which case yes, you need extension. Here are some options:

* The easy and not-too-expensive way to shoot CLOSE is to use a Raynox DCR-150 or -250 adapter lens. The DCR-150 magnifies more. Set on your kit lens, you can work with total automation. But you should get the M50/1.7 anyway! Manual primes teach you to SEE.

* There are several ways to add extension, basically classed as AUTO and MANUAL.

--- MANUAL: Cheap tubes (under US$10) or a bellows (under US$50). These don't feed signals between camera body and lens, so all adjustments are manual, and flash can be tricky. Especially with my cheap ringflash. Grrr...

--- AUTO: Expensive tubes (over US$100) or an auto teleconverter: intact, as a magnifier, or gutted, as auto extension. Lens-to-camera signals pass, and flash use is much easier. My cheap ringflash DOES have a purpose!

* Besides cutting down light, extensions have implications:

--- REVERSAL: Many non-macro primes work better close when reversed. A mount-reversal ring (~US$5) has a PK bayonet on one side and threads on the other. If the lens objective is inset, mere reversal lends some extension, but you get more magnification with bellows or cheap tubes. Reversal means, no automation, thus problems with flash. Reversal also means that you're not limited to Pentax-mount lenses. ANY lens from ANY maker can be reversed. That's how I recycle Canons.

--- WORKING DISTANCE: With ANY non-reversed lens, the closest you can focus is the focal length, no matter how much extension is there. More extension gives more magnification (and less light) but your working distance has a limit. Many prefer longer lenses (in the 90-150mm range or more) in the field because you don't have crowd the subject. With a reversed lens, working distance is the lens register, which on Pentax-Nikon-Sony glass is around 45mm.

* If you've decided on extensions, there's a lot to play with. Your new M50/1.7, straight or reversed, sure. Or any other normal lens with an aperture ring, sure. But enlarger lenses can be had CHEAP, often under US$15, and they're designed for close work. I love putting large and medium format and enlarger lenses on bellows, for macros or just general photography. My Wollensak Enlarging Raptar 162/4.5 (US$7) really wails!

OK, I'd better calm down. Macros and extensions are just so much FUN! I've read that macro photographers are the happiest of camera workers. Peering into little-seen corners of reality certainly is satisfying.
08-24-2010, 08:43 AM   #18
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Just my 2c, but if you can swing it buy an A50/1.7 instead of the M, the auto function is well worth the money, and you can always use it as an M lens if you are feeling masochistic. It's simply MUCH more convenient to just mash the button and take a photo than to remember to hit the green button to meter and then take the photo - and hope it got the settings right.

I'm a recent convert to pentax digital, and I picked up a Tamron 90/2.8 SP Macro here on the for sale section for a very fair price, it is an amazing lens. Definitely my favorite of what's in my stable. You can check the photos section for macro shots and see what lenses you like that way. There are some vivitar 50/2.8 macro lenses floating about that have pretty amazing quality too, I have seen one of those go for $75 on the marketplace. I gave $265 for the tamron, but it is an autofocus lens and takes shots with the big boys.
08-24-2010, 09:09 AM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by yoon395 Quote
Hello, everyone
I'm still fairly a beginner but have been building experience using a Pentax K-x with a 18-55mm kit lens. In the somewhat near future I'm looking to upgrade to a nicer macro lens but I'm clueless in regards to several things:

1) Is a nicer macro lens all about lens speed (the max aperture) or are there other factors involved?
2) I don't know how ranges are classified, but I would primarily be taking macro shots, portraits, or full body shots (not much at a great distance). Is there something that could be a noticeable upgrade from the kit lens?
I've heard good things about the DA 40mm but it's a little steep for me. Any alternatives?

Any input appreciated, thanks!
I have found this a good book for an introduction to close up and macro photography. It is available on line. You may want to check your public library as they may have a copy.

Understanding Close-up Photography: Creative Close Encounters With or Without a Macro Lens by Bryan Peterson

08-25-2010, 06:20 AM   #20
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Nice story, for cheap with some guidance, I will also have to dive into macro!!!

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