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05-29-2011, 08:19 AM   #1
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Help Choosing a Macro Lens

With the advent of spring and summer, I find myself constantly interested in taking pictures of flowers and bugs... But I don't have a macro lens and I can never get close enough to really fill the frame! I've decided now's the time to invest in macro!

Perhaps unusually for Pentax, there seem to be many many choices when it comes to a dedicated macro lens.

I count: the DA 35mm, the DFA 100mm WR, the Tamron 90mm, and then three sigma's 50mm, 70mm, and 105mm. Thats not to mention the pentax DFA 50mm macro and the non WR 100mm. Plus there are tons of zooms out there that have the macro designation...

Too many choices!!

I want to be able to focus close, get super sharp images, have an easy learning curve, and be useful when not used for macro photography, for example, be a decent medium telephoto lens, or a decent portrait lens.

I want it to feel awesome in my hand. Not cheap.

I sort of think I should either get the DA 35mm Macro or the 100mm WR macro. I've also read great stuff on the Tamron 90mm.

What are the respective advantages and disadvantages of having a longer focal length?

I'm going to use a tripod and if I get into it, I might buy an inexpensive set of focusing rails (like the velbon one).

So thank you in advance pentaxians! Help me spend my money!

05-29-2011, 08:37 AM   #2
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The longer, the better- go with the pentax 100mm or the sigma 150mm (just came out) unless you're also interested in having your macro lens double for other uses, in which case a search should prove useful to check the merits of the 35 and 50mm's.
05-29-2011, 09:05 AM   #3
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You don't mention any of the manual focus macro lenses such as the Takumar 50mm or 100mm. I do not think auto focus is all that useful for macro anyway and these can be had for significantly less than the newer AF versions.

Of course if you need this to be a dual purpose lens then perhaps manual focus is not for you.

Also be aware that most of the zooms that state they are 'macro' are really more 'close focusing' than macro. There does not seem to be a real definition of the term as used by lens manufacturers and so it is used rather loosely.

Most texts will consider a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio as macro. And with extension tubes you can get out to 1:2 or even 1:4. (image:subject) Most of the zoom 'macros' will only go to 5:1 or 4:1
05-29-2011, 10:50 AM   #4
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I have the 100mm WR macro and the 35mm limited macro.
If the use will be 1:1 macro and the distance to the subject is not important I will go for the DA35 macro.
The distance with 1:1 pictures for the 100mm is 30cm and for the 35mm the distance 14cm.
The 35mm macro will not have so shallow DOF as the 100mm macro at 1:1 shot .
DOF at f/5.6 for the DA100mm WR at 1:1 is 0.14cm.
DOF at f/5.6 for the DA35mm at 1:1 is 0.27cm.
I have problem with the K-7 and K-5 using the 100mm WR macro - it hunts a lot with the focusing.
( the 100mm WR is 55mm longer than DA35 when focused to 1:1 - so the difference with total distanse from the front off the lenses to the subject will be 11cm not 16 cm)


Last edited by Caddis; 05-29-2011 at 10:57 AM.
05-29-2011, 11:01 AM   #5

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I have Sigma 105mm and absolutely pleased with it, thought I rarely shoot MACRO and it doubles as very sharp portrait lens. I chose it over Tamron 90mm just because I already have FA77 and 105mm is slightly different focal length than 90mm. Sigma build quality is definitely better. 100mm WR would be the best choice but that's expensive. Here is one shot from Sigma 105mm

05-29-2011, 11:12 AM   #6
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Consider getting a Raynox DCR 150 for use with a DA 55-300. It is difficult to find anything more cost effective.
05-29-2011, 11:32 AM   #7
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advantage of a longer telephoto would be for macro since it gives you enough breathing room to shoot flowers and bugs. not to mention it avoid disturbing the bugs or sting/bite you if they are the aggressive type. also it avoids you to block the light source or cast shadow on your subject. the disadvantage however is that it could be long for medium telephoto shots, especially for indoor use. it would work out for headshots but for half/full body shots, it's a bit of a challenge for close-ups. also another advantage is that it gives you a flatter image which is nice for macros and portraits. manual focusing would be advisable for macro use as well as having a focusing rail, tripod and some set of flashes. AF is a luxury for portraits or candid telephoto use.

personally, I would highly recommend the Sigma 70. it is very very sharp and contrasty. the focal length is highly ideal for portraits since it gives a wider FOV and decently and conveniently long enough as a medium tele for macro use. I would be willing to provide some images if it would help you to make up your mind.
05-29-2011, 01:47 PM   #8
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You can consider this one: Voigtlander Macro APO lanthar 125mm 2.5, Pentax Mount | eBay UK
Great lens for macro/portrait/anything. Really.

05-29-2011, 02:49 PM   #9
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Thanks for all this advice! I knew that there would be superb older lenses out there, but being new to pentax, I'm not sure what to look at. The Takumar 50mm or 100mm seem to be really good recommendation. Despite not too many people mentioning it above, I'm inclined to go for the tamron 90mm. There is that $50 rebate and I've read enough other reviews that I feel good about it. I like the idea of the longer reach, it seems like it might make getting into this a little easier.

Does anyone have any specific thoughts on the Tamron? The tamron is brand new $409 (after the rebate)... For that money, are any of the other choices real contenders?
05-29-2011, 06:20 PM   #10
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Macro-Zooms, mostly aren't macro, not reaching 1:1 or 1:2 magnification. I happen to have a Schneider Betavaron 50-125 enlarger zoom, one of the very few true macro-zooms, but that's a whole 'nother thang.

I now have a few classic manual dedicated camera macro lenses. But what I mostly use are cheap enlarger lenses (EL's) on tubes and/or bellows. These feature edge-to-edge flatfield sharpness for a fraction of the cost of a new dedicated AF macro lens. But flash is tricky to use with such lenses without aperture automation. If you plan to use flash, the Tamron is probably a good choice. If you don't want to spend that much, the Raynox DCR-250 produces excellent results on many lenses.
05-31-2011, 10:32 AM   #11
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I love my Tamron 90mm. I use it for portraits and macro shots. Tamron sent me the $50 rebate very quickly.
06-06-2011, 07:27 PM   #12
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Argh... This decision seems so hard!

I'm either going to buy the 35mm limited or the 100mm WR. I guess the question is which will be easier to use for a beginner macro photographer? I also think the 35mm will be more useful as a multipurpose lens than the 100mm WR will be as a telephoto (for me anyways).

Can anyone weigh in on these two?
06-06-2011, 08:48 PM   #13
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I went with the 35 Macro only because I figured it would work better for me as an overall multipurpose lens as well. I'm not a huge macro shooter, just like the ability to do it occasionally.

However, I will say I likely would never shoot bugs with it. You'd have to get too close, and that's not at all up my alley

All three with the DA 35mm Macro...

06-06-2011, 09:43 PM   #14
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price: tamron 90mm

WR and looks: DFA 100mm WR

Versatility: 35mm Macro

Best: Sigma 180mm Macro

just my opinion. =]
06-06-2011, 10:14 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Eagle_Friends Quote
DFA 100mm WR
I'm going to make this my first macro. I like shooting bugs and creepy things.

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