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04-13-2011, 08:33 AM   #1
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Macro focal length for wildflowers

I've got an old Vivitar 100mm macro. I've been using it to take pictures of wildflowers this spring. It seems to work alright. It's a bit heavy for a travel kit though. The 35mm macro fits into one of the lens scenarios I've come up with, but I hesitate to purchase this lens for fear of ending up only using it when I travel. I know it can be used as an all around but I've got a zoom that covers that range now.

Anyway, my question is this, is there any benefit to using a 35mm macro over a 100mm macro for wild plant photography? Or are there some scenarios where a 35mm would work better than a 100mm?
Thanks,

04-13-2011, 09:15 AM - 1 Like   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by kbrede Quote
I've got an old Vivitar 100mm macro. I've been using it to take pictures of wildflowers this spring. It seems to work alright. It's a bit heavy for a travel kit though. The 35mm macro fits into one of the lens scenarios I've come up with, but I hesitate to purchase this lens for fear of ending up only using it when I travel. I know it can be used as an all around but I've got a zoom that covers that range now.

Anyway, my question is this, is there any benefit to using a 35mm macro over a 100mm macro for wild plant photography? Or are there some scenarios where a 35mm would work better than a 100mm?
Thanks,
for macro work, the 35mm would be tricky to use since you have to focus much closer which blocks any potential light source that illuminates the object, unless you are using a macro ring flash. a 35mm is an advantage if you want a wider perspective and is also small for travel. a 100mm would give you a lot of headroom to work on, doesn't necessarily block the light source needed to illuminate the scene, great for critter photography, and gives a flatter image best suited for macro images.
04-13-2011, 09:42 AM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pentaxor Quote
for macro work, the 35mm would be tricky to use since you have to focus much closer which blocks any potential light source that illuminates the object, unless you are using a macro ring flash. a 35mm is an advantage if you want a wider perspective and is also small for travel. a 100mm would give you a lot of headroom to work on, doesn't necessarily block the light source needed to illuminate the scene, great for critter photography, and gives a flatter image best suited for macro images.
+1

for travel, a 50mm macro may be the best compromise, or, in my kit, I always make sure that at least one of my zooms can do close focus/macro.

Although I have both 50mm and 100m macro primes, when I travel,, I usually only take my Sigma 10-20, tamron 28-75 and my Sigma 70-200. The Tammy has a "macro" capability which can do close focus if I want it, without carrying an extra lens
04-13-2011, 10:08 AM   #4
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A rule of optics: no unreversed lens can focus closer than its focal length. With macros, this rule allows you (or forces you!) to work closer with short lenses and further with long lenses. That minimum focus distance (MFD) is also where you reach maximum magnification. So with a 100mm lens, you reach 1:1 at 4 inches; with a 50mm lens, at 2 inches; with a 24mm lens, at 1 inch; etc.

Macro lenses in the 24-28-35mm range are good for studio work in controlled conditions. Macros in the 80-105-135mm+ range are better for field work, so as not to scare the bugs so much. But longer macro lenses get massive. My old M42 Vivitar-Komine 90/2.8 macro (1:1) weighs-in at 470g. Hoppin' hernias, Batman, this stuff is HEAVY!

Even traveling, I'm likely to prefer a small bellows and some enlarger lenses, and cheap tubes for the longer EL's. So with my M42 Bellowscope (extends to 110mm) I'll carry a Leitz Varob 50/3.5, Vivitar-LU 75/3.5, Novoflex Noflexar 105/3.5, and Ilex Solar 140/4.5. The Novoflex and Ilex will reach infinity focus on the bellows, so they double as short tele's for general work. The Novoflex on bellows plus 50mm of tubes reaches 1:1 at almost 6 inches working distance, very useful when I can't get closer to a subject. Just be aware that most EL's aren't multi-coated, aren't meant to be aimed into lights, and so need hoods.

The downside of longer macro lenses: they magnify vibration. Shooting flower macros on a day with any breeze gets pretty frustrating. Take an assistant to hold a wind-shield around the flowers, eh?

04-13-2011, 11:28 AM   #5
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Thanks guys. That helped me make my decision. For a "city" travel kit, I was either going to go:

Sigma 10-20
DA 15
DA 35 Macro
DA * 50-135/Sigma 50-150

or

Sigma 10-20
DA 15
Tamron 28-75
DA * 50-135/Sigma 50-150

I just pulled the trigger on the 10-20 and the 28-75. I think the latter combination will give me more flexibility, even though there's some overlap in focal length. I can just take the 15 and 28-75 if I want to go lighter. Go to a church, take the 10-20 and 50-135/50-150. I've got an AF1.7 that might work OK with the 50-135, that would give me some extra reach if there's wildlife to shoot. And the 28-75 has close focus capability (I didn't know that), so I can leave the heavy macro behind.

Now I just have to decide on which to keep, between the 50-135 and 50-150.
04-13-2011, 12:12 PM - 1 Like   #6
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The 28-75 offers a very useable close-up mode with a minimum image size roughly that of a deck of playing cards.

For additional versatility, get an AE-capable (one with electronic contacts) TC and remove the optics to provide an auto extension ring useable with all your lenses. The typical 2X TC with a length of 23-25mm has about the same effect as a single, #2 extension ring and image size data for a #2 ring can be substituted with confidence for all practical applications. The Tamron 28-75mm lens plus a 25mm extension ring is "almost" capable of 1:1 images.

Tokina and Quantaray both sell units that allow easy removal of the optic elements and may be found with AE and PZ-contacts and screw-drive AF if desired. The weight is less than half of an SMC-M 50 lens and slightly smaller in size.

Another universal alternative is one of the Vivitar Variable Macro-focusing 2X converters which work OK for close-up applications (although they're not impressive as tele-converters.) These are also available with, and without, AE-contacts but are fairly heavy.

A "gutted", AE-capable 2X TC and a Tamron Pz-AF 1.4X TC nest together, they're about the size and weight of an AF 50mm lens in the bag, and they provide such a versatile extension of of the range of any lens kit that they're almost always with me.

H2
04-13-2011, 09:11 PM - 1 Like   #7
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I think you will be very happy with the Tamron 28-75, it is a great lens. I really like that little extra reach over a normal 50. Pacerr mentioned the use of a #2 extension tube so I figured I'd go take a couple pictures to give you an example.

Here is a couple pics with the Tamron 28-75 with a #2 extension tube. Better resolution on Flickr.




04-14-2011, 05:39 AM   #8
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Thanks for the tips about the extension ring and the DIY variety guys! I'm going to be looking into this.

04-14-2011, 06:53 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by MCsquared Quote

Here is a couple pics with the Tamron 28-75 with a #2 extension tube. Better resolution on Flickr.
Well done and nice examples of the combination.

I sort'a like a #1 tube with the DA 16-45 too if you wanna try that as well.

H2
04-14-2011, 07:50 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by pacerr Quote
The 28-75 offers a very useable close-up mode with a minimum image size roughly that of a deck of playing cards.

For additional versatility, get an AE-capable (one with electronic contacts) TC and remove the optics to provide an auto extension ring useable with all your lenses. The typical 2X TC with a length of 23-25mm has about the same effect as a single, #2 extension ring and image size data for a #2 ring can be substituted with confidence for all practical applications. The Tamron 28-75mm lens plus a 25mm extension ring is "almost" capable of 1:1 images.

Tokina and Quantaray both sell units that allow easy removal of the optic elements and may be found with AE and PZ-contacts and screw-drive AF if desired. The weight is less than half of an SMC-M 50 lens and slightly smaller in size.

Another universal alternative is one of the Vivitar Variable Macro-focusing 2X converters which work OK for close-up applications (although they're not impressive as tele-converters.) These are also available with, and without, AE-contacts but are fairly heavy.

A "gutted", AE-capable 2X TC and a Tamron Pz-AF 1.4X TC nest together, they're about the size and weight of an AF 50mm lens in the bag, and they provide such a versatile extension of of the range of any lens kit that they're almost always with me.

H2
Tell me if I should start a separate thread for this, but looking around I'm not finding these options you mention. These are the two I've found:

Amazon.com: Vivitar Series-1 4-Element 2x Tele Converter, Pentax Autofocus Mount: Camera & Photo

2XPX Pro-Optic Multi-Coated 2x Tele-Converter for Pentax Autofocus SLR Cameras.

I'd hate to spend that much money and then have to bust out the elements. I see that manual focus extension tubes are reasonably priced but how hard would they be to use with the focus ring on the 28-75? I don't mind using manual focus on my Vivitar but it's focus was designed for manual focus, not auto.

Any advice here appreciated.
Thanks,
04-14-2011, 08:18 AM   #11
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in my view, you might want to drop the 50-135/150 all together.

My minimum kit is sigma 10-20 and tamron 28-75.

if I add on I take either the K135F2.5 or vivitar 85F1.4
04-14-2011, 09:07 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by kbrede Quote
I've got an old Vivitar 100mm macro. I've been using it to take pictures of wildflowers this spring. It seems to work alright. It's a bit heavy for a travel kit though. The 35mm macro fits into one of the lens scenarios I've come up with, but I hesitate to purchase this lens for fear of ending up only using it when I travel. I know it can be used as an all around but I've got a zoom that covers that range now.

Anyway, my question is this, is there any benefit to using a 35mm macro over a 100mm macro for wild plant photography? Or are there some scenarios where a 35mm would work better than a 100mm?
Thanks,
I termed the DA 35 Macro "the flower macro" when it was first released. With flowers too much magnification can be distracting from the aesthetic. With bugs magnification adds wow.
04-14-2011, 05:01 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
. But longer macro lenses get massive. My old M42 Vivitar-Komine 90/2.8 macro (1:1) weighs-in at 470g.
470g is heavy? I use a voigtlander 125mm f/2.5 on a Nikon D3s I also use the Pentax FA*200mm f/4 ED IF Macro and the Sigma 180mm f/3.5 APO EX DG - I find that using heavy cameras and lenses can enhance stability.
04-15-2011, 04:52 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
470g is heavy?
It's relative, of course. Somewhat lighter than a Bigma. And indeed heavier than the little bellows+EL unit I've come to favor, and a bit more awkward when handheld at full extension, but also less fragile. Trade-offs abound.

QuoteQuote:
I find that using heavy cameras and lenses can enhance stability.
Quite so, and another trade-off: heavy & stable vs light & agile (and less muscle fatigue). Mass does indeed swamp-out vibrations. But for knockabout shooting, I'm more likely to carry the lighter lens. Thus my 1kg wonders tend to stay home too much. More motivation to get another housecar, to carry more lenses on extended journeys.
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