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03-10-2011, 02:23 PM   #1
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Macro Lens Help

Hi Everyone,

After having my LBA kick into full gear, I found myself scouring Ebay for the past month looking for a macro in the 90-100mm range. A few weeks ago, I won an auction on a Sigma 90mm 2.8 Macro. The lens came with a 2x TC which allowed me to get to 1:1 magnification, but it seriously reduced the resolution to the point that I sold the TC. The lens on its own goes to 1:2 magnification and I would like to get to 1:1 with the cheapest setup possible, without reducing the resolution in any way. I understand that extension tubes are a good way to go, as they simply slow down the lens due to the reduction of light available to the lens and sensor. I have also heard about bellows, but I like to take my K-x around town with me at lunch and don't want to carry any bulky equipment around with me. I have heard of, but don't know much about, close-up filters that attach to the filter thread of the lens. Would reverse-mounting a M50 1.7 with reversing ring be cost-effective too? I'm looking for the highest IQ-producing setup that will allow me to explore the world via macro photography. Any advice you might be able to provide would be much appreciated.

Thanks,

Brian

03-10-2011, 02:32 PM   #2
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Anyone looking into macro should own ATLEAST one set of cheap extension tubes. Than go from there
03-10-2011, 04:47 PM   #3
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Mr. B.:

Each of the available options has it good and bad points. Close up filters are fine in a pinch, but they are really auxiliary lenses that force your current lens to focus closer. Tis can decrease sharpness.

A tele converter is a series of lenses and as such, can distort the image some, depending on the converter quality and how well it is matched to the standard lens. If the TC was designed for the Sigma Macro, then I am surprised you would have the problem you indicate.

Extension tubes and bellows do NOT have extra glass, so the chances of them distorting the image are much less. But if your main lens does not do well when focusing at close range, then that cannot be helped. Macro lenses are designed for close-up work so they should not have a problem in this way (and should give the best results). Extension tubes and macro lenses (not macro zooms) would give the best results technically speaking.

Reversing the lens can be good as the back end of the lens is designed to give good focus on a flat field (film/sensor). Therefore, working in close up where the front-to-back distance differences are less, has advantages. You give up some controls to the lens however (as is the case with most all bellows and some extension tubes).

I have all the options. I like using the bellows the most, have the extension tubes for a pinch (they are light weight) and also use the CU filters for quick stuff. They are light and easy to pack in the camera bag as well.

It may come down to what you can afford and your shooting style.

Good luck!

Last edited by BigDave; 03-10-2011 at 04:50 PM. Reason: additions
03-10-2011, 04:50 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by yeatzee Quote
Anyone looking into macro should own ATLEAST one set of cheap extension tubes. Than go from there
Quite. And anyone interested in this should read the dozens of recent threads that ask the same questions. BTW, not all bellows are monstrous -- I got an M42 Bellowscope with a 105mm bellows-macro lens for US$40 a few weeks ago, and the setup is discretely small, similar to a (non-Takumar) 135mm camera lens.

The highest-quality, least-expensive ways to do macro are: 1) reverse a good lens and put it on extension, and 2) put an enlarger or bellows-macro lens on bellows and/or tubes. But (1) makes you work real close, and (2) requires a bit of extension on longer lenses. Screw-in (strap-on) +dioptre closeup lenses are cheap, easy, and degrade IQ a bit. Hi-quality Raynox strap-ons are the easiest way to get close, have good IQ, and allow you to retain full lens automation.

So, a Raynox is easiest, and extension is cleanest. Now search out the details.

03-11-2011, 10:39 AM   #5
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Thank you all for your advice and input on all of the various options that I have available to me. However, I do have a few more questions, for clarification purposes.

If I get extension tubes like these Zykkor ones, what type of magnification might I get from my other primes (m50 1.7 and Samingon 135mm 2.8) which aren't macro lenses? With the close-up lenses, how much would they degrade the quality? Also, would I fit them over the lens directly or can I use it over the UV filter? Would the lens and filter combo result in some vignetting? I know the filter leads into a whole other topic of discussion, but I like to protect my investments.

I am vaguely familiar with bellows, only based off of research that I've done on this forum and looking it up on Wikipedia, but I am very much interested in finding out more. How large are the smaller bellows (like the one mentioned that is similar in size to the 135mm lens?

Just as a reference, for what might be the best solution to my dilemma, I shoot outside on my lunch hour, and when using my macro, I love to take pictures of flowers and plants, along with random objects like large nuts and bolts and whatever else I can get close to. I do a little bit of inside shooting with the macro at home, but not as much as I like to do outside. I got rid of the ProMaster TC, as I didn't need to double my focal length in any way, even though I know it'd achieve 1:1 magnification, as all I want is 1:1 or greater than 1:1.

With reversing rings, if I were to use it on something that is not a macro lens with another non-macro, would it created macro-level magnifications? With the reversing ring idea, I am thinking of using the ring with either a combo of the Sigma 90 with my M50 reversed or using Samigon 135 with the M50 reversed. What are the (possible) pros and cons of using a reversing ring on non-macro lenses?

I have no worries with spending some money to create a nice setup, but I would like to have something portable that might be able to work with my other lens to help me explore my creative side.

Thank you again for all of your help, as I am confused and would like to get into more macro work next week and am ready to do some shopping on Amazon to find what I need.
03-11-2011, 11:59 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by mr.b.snowden Quote
Thank you all for your advice and input on all of the various options that I have available to me. However, I do have a few more questions, for clarification purposes.

If I get extension tubes like these Zykkor ones, what type of magnification might I get from my other primes (m50 1.7 and Samingon 135mm 2.8) which aren't macro lenses? you will get roughly 1:1 with the M 50mm attached. Much less with the 135mm. With the close-up lenses, how much would they degrade the quality? Also, would I fit them over the lens directly or can I use it over the UV filter? With the UV filter? I presume quite a bit.... atleast way to much for me.Would the lens and filter combo result in some vignetting?Depends on the filter sizes. I know the filter leads into a whole other topic of discussion, but I like to protect my investments. Personally, adding a UV filter to your say raynox would be one of the stupidest things I've heard yet. I dont know, maybe you are a clutz or something, but simply taking an extra second to be mindful of your surroundings will ensure you dont slam the raynox or similar into a wall or something Take it slow, and eventually you will get more comfortable with it (assuming you go this route).

I am vaguely familiar with bellows, only based off of research that I've done on this forum and looking it up on Wikipedia, but I am very much interested in finding out more. How large are the smaller bellows (like the one mentioned that is similar in size to the 135mm lens? You answered your own question..... or rather Rico did.

Just as a reference, for what might be the best solution to my dilemma, I shoot outside on my lunch hour, and when using my macro, I love to take pictures of flowers and plants, along with random objects like large nuts and bolts and whatever else I can get close to. I do a little bit of inside shooting with the macro at home, but not as much as I like to do outside. I got rid of the ProMaster TC, as I didn't need to double my focal length in any way, even though I know it'd achieve 1:1 magnification, as all I want is 1:1 or greater than 1:1.
be careful, 1:1 and beyond is a whole different animal than 1:2. Light loss starts to become a huge issue no matter the setup.

With reversing rings, if I were to use it on something that is not a macro lens with another non-macro, would it created macro-level magnifications? I HIGHLY suggest buying a 49mm to whatever filter thread size your 135mm is male to male adapter and try it yourself. You will get with the 50mm stacked on the 135mm roughly 2.7:1 magnification. So yes, it would.With the reversing ring idea, I am thinking of using the ring with either a combo of the Sigma 90 with my M50 reversed or using Samigon 135 with the M50 reversed. What are the (possible) pros and cons of using a reversing ring on non-macro lenses? IQ? Depends on the lenses. My F 135mm with the reversed 50mm has better IQ than my sigma 105mm macro and reversed 50mm.

I have no worries with spending some money to create a nice setup, but I would like to have something portable that might be able to work with my other lens to help me explore my creative side. Ultimately, im thinking your going to find beyond 1:1 to difficult to deal with all of the time (it will require a flash setup if you want good results, period.) so I think you should just sell some stuff and pick up a native 1:1 macro and be done with it. Buy those adapters anyways though for your "creative side." They are fun.

Thank you again for all of your help, as I am confused and would like to get into more macro work next week and am ready to do some shopping on Amazon to find what I need.
I will answer my best...
03-11-2011, 12:18 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by mr.b.snowden Quote
If I get extension tubes like these Zykkor ones, what type of magnification might I get from my other primes (m50 1.7 and Samingon 135mm 2.8) which aren't macro lenses?
The Zykkor tubes are essentially the same as no-name PK-mount tubes available on eBay for under US$10 shipped.

QuoteQuote:
With the close-up lenses, how much would they degrade the quality?
With quality adapters like those from Raynox, IQ is quite good. With uncorrected cheap +dioptre lenses, degradation may be slight to moderate, especially at the edges, and especially if you stack lenses for greater magnification. But at ~US$10 for a 49 or 52mm set, they're a cheap way to try.

QuoteQuote:
Also, would I fit them over the lens directly or can I use it over the UV filter? Would the lens and filter combo result in some vignetting?
A closeup adapter will protect your lens as well as a filter will. IMHO UV filters are unneeded except in extreme environments, but as you say, that's another fight.

QuoteQuote:
How large are the smaller bellows (like the one mentioned that is similar in size to the 135mm lens?
The small Bellowscope I mentioned extends to 110mm, as does another larger M42 bellows. The overall length of the Bellowscope is 150mm; bellows section (including protruding knobs) is 70x70mm. Naked, it weighs 230g. Size comparison: A couple 135/2.8 manual primes I have are 120mm long (extended) and 65mm in diameter. And a couple of my manual zooms (Tokina 35-135 and Tomioka 55-135) are 140mm long and 70mm diameter.

That's part I of answers -- part II follows.

Last edited by RioRico; 03-11-2011 at 12:37 PM.
03-11-2011, 12:31 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by mr.b.snowden Quote
I shoot outside on my lunch hour, and when using my macro, I love to take pictures of flowers and plants, along with random objects like large nuts and bolts and whatever else I can get close to. I do a little bit of inside shooting with the macro at home, but not as much as I like to do outside. ...all I want is 1:1 or greater than 1:1.
If IQ isn't critical, put a +dioptre closeup adapter on your Sigma. For better IQ, put a Raynox on your Sigma. If IQ *is* critical, some more expensive auto macro PK tubes will be most convenient. Two possibilities there: tubes that support AF (costly) and tubes that just have aperture-info contacts -- TC's with the glass removed can double there. Two TC's or one set of tubes will take the Sigma to 1:1.

QuoteQuote:
With reversing rings, if I were to use it on something that is not a macro lens with another non-macro, would it created macro-level magnifications?
Reverse-stacking a prime onto another lens means you're working distance is under two inches. Reverse-stacking is best done in controlled conditions, not handheld in the field.

QuoteQuote:
I have no worries with spending some money to create a nice setup, but I would like to have something portable that might be able to work with my other lens to help me explore my creative side.
If money is no problem, get a good 100 or 150 or 200mm AF 1:1 macro lens, and a Raynox to push the magnification. That would be simplest. Have fun!

03-11-2011, 12:55 PM   #9
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Yeatzee and RioRico, once again you have my utmost thanks for helping me out. With your advice and first-hand knowledge, do you think the reversing ring might be best for me, or adding either a bellows or Raynox to the mix? I want to reduce any chances of reducing IQ that I might encounter if I went with the cheaper CU filter route. I am keen on buying this reversing ring so I can use the 90 and 50 together, as my 90mm has a 52mm filter thread and my 50mm has a 49mm thread. I can't find a 55-49 reversing ring on Amazon, as that's what I'd need for the 135 & reverse 50 setup. Should I just go for the 52-49 so I can get 1.8:1 magnification or should I get a Raynox too? If I get a bellows, is it thread-specific like a reversing ring, or is it like an extension tube, which mounts to the camera and the lens then mounts to the tube? Please guide me on which specific bellows I should be looking for.
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