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07-29-2011, 02:41 PM   #1
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Macro lens for ME Super?

Can anyone recommend a good current production 100mm macro lens that will work with my ME Super? I'm aware of the non-WR Pentax D FA F2.8 but I'm ticked off about the idea of paying $150 over the cost of the WR version just to get the aperture ring, when IMO it should be included on a so-called high quality lens.

Maybe the D FA 50mm would work OK for me? I mostly want to take (realistic) pics of my model railroad and insects in my backyard. Is 50mm enough focal length or would the 100mm be better?

Thanks,
Ken

07-29-2011, 02:58 PM   #2
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I suggest you check the market place for a macro with an aperture control. There are some good buys found there. I would go short for the model train setup rather than long. The 100mm is fine for shooting insects, and the 50mm would be a bit short for that. Your most economical solution might be a set of extension tubes, if you have a non-zoom lens in your arsenal. There are also some close up lenses that do not cost a huge amount but have decent quality. Check out the reviews on this site.
07-29-2011, 03:01 PM   #3
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Unless you are buying the auto focus lens for a future body upgrade, why in the world would you buy an auto focus lens for a manual focus body? Some of the modern lenses will not work on a full frame film body.

There are a slew of good manual focus macro lenses out there to be had for a very reasonable price. I loved my old 70-210 macro Sears lens on my ME and I currently enjoy using a 28mm macro with my digital.
07-29-2011, 03:06 PM   #4
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50mm will be fine for your trains but is a bit short for chasing live insects around. Depending on how large the trains are and how much space you have available they might actually be easier to shoot at 50mm so that you don't have to back as far away to get them in frame.

I believe that the current version of the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro lens still has an aperture ring, and it sells for about the same amount as the Pentax D-FA 50mm. The non-WR version of the Pentax 100mm macro should actually be cheaper than the WR version if you can still find one in stock.

If you are only going to use the lens on manual focus film bodies you could save a decent amount of money by buying one of the many excellent manual focus macro lenses available second hand. You might even be able to get both a 50mm macro and a 90/100/105mm for around the same cost as a new autofocus lens.

07-29-2011, 03:33 PM   #5
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I cover many macro methods (but not specific production lenses) here: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-lens-articles/152336-cheap-macro-b...lose-work.html

As mentioned, an AF lens will do you no good (and may not even work) on your ME-Super. Yes, you'll want a longish macro setup to shoot live bugs outside, Depending on what lenses you already have, macro tubes may be all you need. You can reach 1:1 magnification with tubes as long as the focal length you're using. So if you have a 100mm lens, then 100mm of tubes will do. Yes, a 50mm lens is too short, putting you too close to the bugs; they will likely flee when your lens approaches.

Your model railroad isn't really a good subject for 1:2 or 1:1 macro shooting (unless you are John Allen reincarnated). A close-focus setup is all you need, with a short lens. I would use a 28mm lens, or shorter, that can focus closer than 30cm / 1ft. Websites and forums on model railroad photography will probably be helpful here. Good luck!

EDIT: I was thinking of HO layouts. If you have OOO or N-gauge, then true macro might be best. And for 'realistic' photos you'll need great depth-of-field. Stop-down to f/22 when you shoot!

Last edited by RioRico; 07-29-2011 at 03:41 PM.
07-29-2011, 03:41 PM   #6
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Thanks for the replies...

QuoteOriginally posted by Canada_Rockies Quote
Your most economical solution might be a set of extension tubes, if you have a non-zoom lens in your arsenal.
Extension tubes are something I definitely want to try, especially after reading Understanding Close Up Photography. I've been told they won't work with a lens that doesn't have an aperture ring though, because they lack the circuitry for the camera to control the aperture. Is that correct?

QuoteOriginally posted by Colbyt Quote
Unless you are buying the auto focus lens for a future body upgrade, why in the world would you buy an auto focus lens for a manual focus body? Some of the modern lenses will not work on a full frame film body.
I forgot to mention that I want to share the lens between my ME Super and my K200D. I know most of the Pentax lenses are specific to their DSLR line but the D FA claims to be compatible with their film cameras.


QuoteOriginally posted by Steinback Quote
I believe that the current version of the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro lens still has an aperture ring, and it sells for about the same amount as the Pentax D-FA 50mm. The non-WR version of the Pentax 100mm macro should actually be cheaper than the WR version if you can still find one in stock.
I'll have to check out the Tamron lens, it sounds interesting. I've found 3 shops that still have the older version of the D FA 100mm macro and they all want full MSRP ($849). Lots of places have the WR version for around $700 and I've seen it as low as $620. Is the image quality of the Tamrom as good as the Pentax macro lenses?

Thanks again,
Ken
07-29-2011, 04:46 PM   #7
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If you really want to get into comparing the look of the different lenses you might want to search for the ones you're considering on Flickr.

The Tamron 90mm should be pretty competitive with the Pentax 100mm, and I think they're running around $400 US. I have both the D-FA 50mm and an older manual focus Tamron 90mm. Arguably the highlights on the Tamron are nicer because it has 9 blades instead of 8, but the Pentax is a a tiny bit sharper. Generally speaking the macro lenses from Pentax, Tamron and Sigma are all excellent. The price and features (focus lock/limiter, quick shift focus, number and shape of aperture blades, etc.) might be more appealing to somebody on one lens over the others.
07-29-2011, 06:42 PM   #8
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QuoteQuote:
Yes, a 50mm lens is too short, putting you too close to the bugs; they will likely flee when your lens approaches.
Yep. I use a Lentar 135mm screw mount with extension tubes, gets me further away and insects still tend to shy away when I try to get close. I still get plenty nice shots, but it takes patience, sometimes I have to let a damselfly or robber fly move and light a half dozen times before it will finally let me get close enough. It focuses around a foot away from the subject or a bit more maybe.

Lots better then the binocular lens rig, it has to be within 6 inches. I still got quite a few insect shots, but it was really tedious. But that might be an option to consider if your train setup is really small. I think Rio put a link to it in his Cheap Macro thread. Works with any lens that has a thread ring diameter that will wiggle onto your binocular lens. Mine came from a junk pair of 10x50 binocs, fits 49 mm filter rings great, so it will work with any of my 50mm lenses and the Pentax 28mm too. That rig on a 28mm might be worth checking out for the trains too for extreme close up shots.

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