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01-13-2011, 10:48 PM   #1
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Best macro lens under $100?

I have been hunting some prime lenses, I sniped a 28mm f2.8 Albinar and a Takumar 135mm f2.8 today and I'm looking for a 50mm, a 105mm and a 200mm prime. I was wondering if there is a 1:1 100mm or 105mm or 90mm macro that can be found in $100? I know the Tamron 90mm MF lenses are in the range of $200 but perhaps there's a cheap macro in $100 that I haven't come across?

01-14-2011, 01:25 AM - 1 Like   #2
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Do a search for the Promaster/Cosina/Phoenix/Vivitar/Pentax 100mm 3.5 Macro
It was recommended to me by another forum member, I have the Promaster manual focus version and it is very good.
It comes with a matching closeup lens that lets you do 1:1.
https://www.pentaxforums.com/userreviews/Cosina-100mm-FF3.5-MC-Makro-for-Pentax.html
01-14-2011, 03:28 AM - 1 Like   #3
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From my readings, few macro primes suck. (Note: Some lenses are labeled 'macro' when "close-focus" would be more accurate. If it ain't at least 1:2, it ain't macro.) I got my two M42 1:1 macros cheap on eBay -- the Vivitar-Komine 90/2.8 was US$3 and the Macro-Takumar 50/4 was US$50. But I get lucky. (Also, both were cosmetically dinged but functionally superb.) Snipe for M42 macros and you'll probably get lucky too.

The CHEAP way to go macro, but still be usable for non-macro shooting, is with bellows+tubes and enlarger lenses, which give flatfield edge-to-edge sharpness. M42 bellows: ~US$35. Macro tubes: US$8 per set. Lenses: ~US$10-20 each, or more depending on reputation. I recently acquired an M42 Bellowscope with a Steinheil Cuminar 105/4.5 and metal hood for US$40 shipped. These bellows are calibrated with magnifications for 50mm and 105mm enlarger or macro-bellows lenses: 3x for the 105, 12x for a 50. Almost anything longer than 80mm will focus to infinity on these and most common bellows, so this really is a general-purpose rig.

The problem with bellows or M42 or M-type PK lenses is the lack of aperture automation, which makes shooting with flash tricky. If you want to use flash without going through gyrations, get an A-type lens. Like I said, few macro lenses suck.
01-14-2011, 10:16 AM - 1 Like   #4
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Well, your options are somewhat limited in this price range if you want 1:1.

crewl1 noted the Cosina 100mm lens (photozone has a review of it), and RioRico mentioned the Vivitar-Komine 90mm f2.8 lens, both of which are (from what I've read) very nice lenses, although not the best in their category.

There is also the Tamron adaptall 2 90mm f2.5 lens, although it only is 1:2 (provided you get it with just the K and not the KA adaptall 2 mount it can be had under $100).

My favorite lens (and I have a number of macro lenses) is the S-M-C Macro-Takumar 50mm f4, which also came in both K and M versions in the K mount. You are probably better off with the Pentax-K or Pentax-M 50mm f4 versions, as then you don't have to buy an adaptor. You should be able to get one in the $80-$100 region on ebay. It is only 1:2 again, but I cannot recommend a lens more highly in terms of IQ.

One final excellent option is the Sigma 50mm f2.8 macro. This lens has the A setting and goes to 1:1, as is a nice performer overall (not quite as good as the Pentax competitors, but by no means bad). It makes for a rather fast and flexible lens. It is also dirt cheep--you should be able to pick one up on ebay in the $40-70 range.

01-14-2011, 12:24 PM - 1 Like   #5
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Probably the least expensive macro solution is a set of extension tubes which, if manual exposure and focus is acceptable to you, can be had for around $20.
01-14-2011, 02:33 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone for the input.

The 100mm 3.5 macro looks good.

I do have a screw mount adapter and the Takumar 135 3.5 will be my first screw mount lens, I wonder whether I'll enjoy the full manual control (not sure about Super Albinar 28mm, I didn't even check if it's k-mount or screw ).

I will look up how the extension tubes work. I checked the close-up filters and when compared with dedicated macro lenses the result with filters doesn't look good but then again I don't want to spend $300+ at this time (or $200 for MF).

If only I could get a few $3 macro lenses to play with like RioRico...

I don't have a 50mm at this time, I will watch out for Sigma 50 2.8 or Pentax-M 50 f4.
01-14-2011, 04:02 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by waqas Quote
I will look up how the extension tubes work.
The benefit of any extension vs any supplementary glass is: no IQ degradation. The next benefit of just tubes is: cheap cheap cheap. Just last month I bought new M42 and simple PK tubes for ~US$8 per set, shipped from Hong Kong. PK-A-type tubes aren't so cheap but you retain aperture automation. The downside of tubes-alone use is: lack of flexibility. That's why I prefer enlarger lenses on bellows.

QuoteQuote:
I checked the close-up filters and when compared with dedicated macro lenses the result with filters doesn't look good but then again I don't want to spend $300+ at this time (or $200 for MF).
Basically two types of close-up strap-ons exist: Corrected optics like the Raynox or a stacked (reversed) manual prime, which give great results; and cheap +dioptre filter-type lenses, which won't. But they have their place. I'll use a +1 to drastically thin DOF when I don't care if the margins are soft, for portraiture etc. At ~US$10-15 per set (less if you buy someone's old camera kit) they're fun to play with. Just don't depend on them for forensics work or NAT.GEO assignments.

QuoteQuote:
If only I could get a few $3 macro lenses to play with like RioRico...
How to get lucky: 1) search and shop obsessively; 2) don't be off-put by ugliness; and 3) set yourself a bidding limit, and don't exceed it by five (bucks / euros / pounds / kilo-yen / etc). My three-buck Vivitar was in a batch of great old camera gear, cheap, and it was missing its knurled focus-ring wrap, which I've replaced with duct tape. My fifty-buck Macro-Takumar is worn and has a dented front ring -- so what? And some enlarger lenses are almost literally about a buck per kilo. Well, maybe five bucks per half-kilo. But cheap cheap cheap...
01-14-2011, 07:26 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by macTak Quote
One final excellent option is the Sigma 50mm f2.8 macro. This lens has the A setting and goes to 1:1, as is a nice performer overall (not quite as good as the Pentax competitors, but by no means bad). It makes for a rather fast and flexible lens. It is also dirt cheep--you should be able to pick one up on ebay in the $40-70 range.
I second the Sigma A 50mm f/2.8 macro. Followed by gratuitous examples.
















01-14-2011, 09:39 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
The benefit of any extension vs any supplementary glass is: no IQ degradation. The next benefit of just tubes is: cheap cheap cheap. Just last month I bought new M42 and simple PK tubes for ~US$8 per set, shipped from Hong Kong. PK-A-type tubes aren't so cheap but you retain aperture automation. The downside of tubes-alone use is: lack of flexibility. That's why I prefer enlarger lenses on bellows.
While there is no IQ degradation from extension tubes versus a supplemental add on such as a close-up filter, I would point out for the OP that most regular lenses are not as well corrected for what becomes such close focusing, and perform more poorly than a dedicated macro lens designed for such work (the better a lens you use with extension tubes the better; the kit zoom would not be a great choice, say the Pentax 50mm f1.7 prime an excellent choice. In my opinion it depends on your budget, how much macro work you'll actually be doing, and what lenses you already have). I started with the Vivitar 2x Macro teleconverter (another nice option) with my Pentax-M 50mm f1.7 and had such good results with it and found that type of photography so much to my liking that I then went out and got proper macro lenses.
01-15-2011, 04:31 AM   #10
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Plus one vote for the Vivitar etc F3.5 100mm. like all macros this lens does other stuff quite well - see my single in september gallery here all done with this lens.
01-15-2011, 07:33 AM   #11
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Have a look at the Raynox thread. The less powerful Raynox DCR-150 would give you true macro and a nice working distance mounted on your 135mm. This is an inexpensive and versatile way to get started. Quality is well beyond what you can get with a simple close-up filter for not much more outlay. I have a D FA 100mm macro lens which gives more reliable results, but I will never get rid of my Raynoxes.
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/74221-raynox-macro-club.html
01-15-2011, 07:41 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
Have a look at the Raynox thread. The less powerful Raynox DCR-150 would give you true macro and a nice working distance mounted on your 135mm. This is an inexpensive and versatile way to get started. Quality is well beyond what you can get with a simple close-up filter for not much more outlay. I have a D FA 100mm macro lens which gives more reliable results, but I will never get rid of my Raynoxes.
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/74221-raynox-macro-club.html
I agree.

A $50 Raynox 150 on your 135:2.8 should give excellent results on natural subjects at magnifications up to about 1:1. It is a great little lightweight lens to carry in your bag "just in case".

Dave

EDIT: there's a sigma 50:2.8 PKA 1:1 macro lens on ebay right now (2011-1-15); the current bid is $62. It is worth bidding on at the $100 level. http://cgi.ebay.com/Sigma-f-2-8-50mm-1-1-Macro-Lens-Pentax-PK-A-Mount-/33051...item4cf46fb03a

Last edited by newarts; 01-15-2011 at 08:56 AM.
01-15-2011, 09:31 AM   #13
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I recently picked up a 1:2 Tamron Adaptall 90mm f/2.5 with the matched 1:1 extension tube for $100. The mount was another $10 from a camera store's bin is miscellaneous clearance parts. If you're patient than it should be possible to find a similar price as the 90mm Adaptall lenses are reasonably common and if they have an unpopular mount on the lens many people aren't aware that the mounts are interchangeable.

The bellows plus enlarger lens route also works well but it is less convenient for shooting outdoors.
01-15-2011, 10:51 AM   #14
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Macro does not need to be expensive. M42 tubes are easy to find and a bargin. M42 Bellows (I use Asahi Pentax Auto Bellows) allow for ease of magnification. Good enlarging lenses allow one to have sever focal lengths to mount on the tubes or bellows at very reasonable prices.

https://sites.google.com/site/inexpensivemacrophotography/

01-15-2011, 02:34 PM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by macTak Quote
While there is no IQ degradation from extension tubes versus a supplemental add on such as a close-up filter, I would point out for the OP that most regular lenses are not as well corrected for what becomes such close focusing, and perform more poorly than a dedicated macro lens designed for such work (the better a lens you use with extension tubes the better; the kit zoom would not be a great choice, say the Pentax 50mm f1.7 prime an excellent choice.
And that is why I recommended macro or enlarger lenses on extension, not standard camera lenses. Of standard lenses, one low-cost favorite is the Industar-50/3.5, which can still be had for ~US25. On 50mm extension it goes to 1:1; on 100mm extension, to 2:1. With tube sets at ~US$8 each, shipped, a good macro setup need cost only ~US$40. I think you'll find a number of Industar-50 shooters here.

@OP,
Here's how it works: Every lens sees two visual fields, the subject (input) and image (output). (A visual field is the entirety that a lens sees or projects.) The image field (output) MUST be flat and sharp, to project the image onto the flat camera frame (film or sensor), else it is utterly worthless. Designing a lens so the subject field (input) is flat is rather tricky and costly, thus many standard lenses make-do with a somewhat curved subject field. Macro and enlarger lenses are designed with flat subject fields, for edge-to-edge sharpness; portrait lenses don't require that, and cheap lenses don't even bother. That's how the optics business goes.

Now, reverse a standard lens. The flat-field side now sees the subject, and the curved-field side projects the image onto the frame. Ah, but being so close to the frame, the field curvature is too insignificant to matter, unless it's a REALLY lousy lens. So now you get edge-to-edge sharpness (pretty much) on both sizes of the lens. Thus can almost any lens be turned into a fine macro lens! Glorioski! Que milagro!

But optics giveth and optics taketh away. Reversing a lens means your working distance is the lens register, the normal distance from lens mount to frame. With Pentax-compatible lenses, that's ~45.5mm, under two inches. And reversal alone provides sharpness and close-focus, not magnification. To magnify, the reversed lens still needs some extension behind it. Also, some lenses just don't work well reversed: lenses without aperture rings, and many zooms, and especially AF zooms (like the kit lens). And, as with simple tubes and bellows, you lose any aperture automation, so using flash is tricky. Lens reversal is good in studio settings with controlled light, and not so good for field work.

And that's why I recommend enlarger lenses on bellows (cheap and flexible), or a Raynox on a lens you already have (cheap and easy).

Last edited by RioRico; 01-15-2011 at 03:17 PM.
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