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10-12-2011, 01:09 PM   #1
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New old macro, at 50mm range.

So, I saw a thread of 100 macros, which to buy? Now I have been scratching my head with which one to get A 50/2.8, F/FA50/2.8 or DFA... I saw also this thread where two later ones were compared, with 6, or 8 aperture blades. In sharpness there isn't much to desire more. I can see at fleabay all of lenses mentioned before, A' is the cheapest with out AF and 'only' 1:2, but others has 1:1 and AF. Also much expensive. Not too much. 'A'- mode is good too. More convinient.

So, any good ideas/ examples why to pay more...than for what would pay for A version. Thank you!

10-12-2011, 01:47 PM   #2
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To save money, see https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-lens-articles/152336-cheap-macro-b...lose-work.html

To spend money, a 'dedicated' macro lens is nice. 35-40-50-55mm lenses require working CLOSE, which means that it's easy to fill the frame, but such short focal lengths are best for studio work. 90-100-105mm lenses (or longer) give more working room, better for field shooting.

AF on any macro lens isn't for macro work, but for using the lens for general photography. Many folks get 90-100-105mm AF lenses to use for portraits or short tele work also. But real close up, AF is not your friend. For general-purpose shooting, AF is great. For macro, read on.

AF or A-type lenses have an advantage over manual-aperture lenses: you can shoot with P-TTL flash. When shooting such lenses on P-TTL-only cameras like most of our modern dSLRs, flash is just a bit trickier. Not impossible, as seen in yeatzee's spectacular work, just trickier.

More iris blades don't really matter at macro range. More blades are nice for general photography. Many of my cheap enlarger lenses have 15 blades. But one of my favourites is the Schneider Betavaron 50-125mm enlarger zoom with with just 5 blades, brutally sharp with good bokeh.

So, how much to spend depends on how hard you want to work, and with what light. I can put a 105/3.5 enlarging lens (US$20) on my M42 Bellowscope bellows (US$20) shooting with ambient or controlled light, and get images just as good as with a rather costlier AF macro lens.

EDIT: I can also put an Industar-50/3.5 (US$25) on a set of M42 macro tubes (US$6) and get superb 1:1 shots.

Last edited by RioRico; 10-12-2011 at 02:01 PM.
10-12-2011, 01:50 PM   #3
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Consider the Sigma A 50/2.8 macro. It's cheaper than the Pentax A and it is 1:1.
10-12-2011, 02:01 PM   #4
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repaap--

I just stepped into the macro side of things and this is the only area where I don't feel that 'A' capability and AF would be a huge benefits. Mind you I have the Panagor 90mm and not a 50mm. I find that in what I've done so far it is easier to keep the aperature constant to maximize DOF adjusting shutter speed and flash for exposure. From there, I would say that focusing seems easier moving the camera back and forth rather than focusing the lens. I'm sure an AF lens would do a fine job but the amount of time hunting may be frustrating (can't say for sure since I've never tried an AF macro lens--I'm extrapolating from my AF use in other areas). Might save you some cash to consider going without these two though.

10-12-2011, 03:16 PM   #5
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I do own the DFA version. It is crazy sharp from wide open not only for macro purposes. I actually sold the FA50/1,4 after buying this one. Very recommended. I was nervous a bit abou how it extends for 1:1 but never actually had problems with it. I like it also in combination with AF1,7 - it yields an effective 85mm f4 macro lens with 1,7:1 reproduction ratio. Great for really tiny critters.
10-13-2011, 12:41 AM   #6
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Thanks for replies.

RioRico, I do know that cheap alternatives are there, but they do need more fuzzling with settings, besides at here in finland those lenses do tend to cost more even that I could find them from web marcetplaces...

So why 50, I actually don't mind for closer distance. I wan't to have opportunity to shoot handheld too. For extreme sets I can stack lenses\use tubes. But now easy fun macro/ multi purpose is key. BTW. Ot is funny that DFA macro is 'only' 350€. As brand new. I have seen pentax A going around 200€, wich is quite much IMO -is it just me who thinks so?-.

I have to check that sigma out too. Thanks for tips
10-13-2011, 01:01 PM   #7
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which macro lens

Remember that with a reduced sensor DSLR a Macro lens that is marked 2:1 actually focus down to 1.25:1
Do you really need 1:1 ??? If not your options are greater. I own two macro lenses: a Sigma MF 90 2.8 (which has an "A" setting and came with a matched 1:1 accessory lens) and a Pentax-M SMC 50 f/4 (plenty fast for macro work). They both produce fine results, especially if you consider I got them for about $100 each.
As has been said above, manual focus and lack of an "A" setting are no problem for macro work. I have no desire to get a new DA macro lens. I also prefer the shorter 90mm focal length over a 100 or 105, especially on my K20.
10-13-2011, 01:24 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by jeverettfine Quote
Remember that with a reduced sensor DSLR a Macro lens that is marked 2:1 actually focus down to 1.25:1
Not so. A 1:1 lens is 1:1 no matter what camera it is on. This is easy to show. For instance: Mount an Industar-50 on 50mm of M42 macro tubes for a 1:1 macro setup. Put it on a Spotmatic and look at a ruler. You'll see that the image is 36mm wide. Now put it on a Kx or whatever and look at the ruler. The image is now ~24mm wide. In each case, that's the width of the frame (film or sensor). The image seen is the same size as the subject. That is 1:1 magnification.

A couple rules of macro optics:

1) No non-reversed lens can focus closer than its focal length. Regardless of how much extension you put behind a 50mm lens, you can't focus closer than 50mm from the lens' optic center.
2) That close-focus distance (CFD) is where we get maximum magnification, again no matter how much extension is behind the lens. Less extension means less magnification and a further CFD.

Put those together, and you'll see why we use shorter lenses for studio work, and longer lenses for field work. Shorter lenses allow|force us to work closer to fill the frame; longer lenses allow|force us to work further. Longer lenses mean the wee tiny creatures won't be scared off by the huge lens bumping their arses.

A 50mm lens on 50mm tubes is great if subjects are 16x24mm or smaller. For subjects 24x36 or smaller, use 25mm tubes. Use more tubes or bellows for smaller subjects at more magnification. Play with the gear and it becomes easy.

10-13-2011, 01:30 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by jeverettfine Quote
Remember that with a reduced sensor DSLR a Macro lens that is marked 2:1 actually focus down to 1.25:1
Do you really need 1:1 ??? .
No they do not. The macro ratio is independent of sensor size. All that 1:1 means is that 1mm covers 1mm of the sensor. It doesn't matter if the sensor is 36mm across or 24mm across. A 2:1 ratio lens would be double life size. 1:2 would be half life size.

Rio beat me to it again!

Last edited by boriscleto; 10-13-2011 at 01:31 PM. Reason: Grumble
10-13-2011, 01:40 PM   #10
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Oh yeah, you'v got me there all of you...well actually I don't care so much if it is 1:1, 1:1,25 or even 1,25:1. It can be 1:2. What I jave read/ seen in forums even 1:2 would be rnough. Now, I see prices to be neck to neck for some lenses, sigma was nice surprice BTW(manual), but main question is wether I gain anything wit more €€€. Confortable and good quality is needed. Thank you for your comments thou...
10-13-2011, 01:52 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
Rio beat me to it again!
Fastest keyboard in the West.

[/me blows away smoke, holsters index fingers]

QuoteOriginally posted by repaap Quote
but main question is wether I gain anything wit more €€€. Confortable and good quality is needed.
What you gain with more €€€ is more convenience and flexibility. An AF macro can be used for more than just macro, and flash is fairly easy with any AF or A-type lens. You don't necessarily gain image quality or lens quality. For very little €€€ you'll get great edge-to-edge flatfield sharpness with an enlarger lens on extension, or a reversed prime, or even the crappy A35-80 zoom reversed.

Example: I was real lucky to get a great M42 Vivitar-Komine 90/2.8 macro (1:1) for US$3. The rubber grip was rotten; I replaced that with duct tape. It's sharp and accurate and heavy. It generally goes for over US$100. But for wandering around, I'm more likely to put a cheap (US$5-$20) enlarger lens in the 100-140mm f/3.5-4.5 range on my M42 Bellowscope (US$20) and shoot both macro and general tele. Such a setup weighs half as much. I'll have the camera in Av or M mode, depending on my mood.

Or to be really cheap, that crapulous A35-80, arguably the worst lens Pentax ever sold, is sharp when reversed. Mine cost all of US$13 shipped. I put it on a 49mm-PK mount-reversal ring (US$5). At 35mm it gets over 1:1 magnification at a CFD (close focus distance) of maybe 4cm. At 80mm it gets to about 1:2 at a CFD of about 15cm. And it focuses past infinity! A true macro zoom for under US$20! Be sure to fashion a hood for it.

So: Spend hundreds of euros for a new AF macro lens? Or spend the price of a supreme pizza for the A35-80 plus reversal ring? Hmmm...

Last edited by RioRico; 10-13-2011 at 02:10 PM.
10-13-2011, 08:37 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by repaap Quote
Oh yeah, you'v got me there all of you...well actually I don't care so much if it is 1:1, 1:1,25 or even 1,25:1. It can be 1:2. What I jave read/ seen in forums even 1:2 would be rnough. Now, I see prices to be neck to neck for some lenses, sigma was nice surprice BTW(manual), but main question is wether I gain anything wit more . Confortable and good quality is needed. Thank you for your comments thou...
Many people have decided they need 1:1 magnification, so 1:2 lenses are often a bargain. I was like this until I discovered how challenging it was to focus and keep the camera in the right place at high magnifications. So if you know in advance you don't need it, you can save some money getting a 1:2 lens.

The Tamron Adaptall-2 90mm f2.5 is sometimes a bargain 1:2, but you have to get an adapter too, which can ruin the bargain. The Pentax-M 50mm f4 and 100mm f4 are excellent, but the f4 means a darker viewfinder and especially darker with long extension tubes. The Vivitar/Promaster/Cosina/Pentax FA 100/3.5 is like jeverettfine's Sigma, only 1:1 with a diopter.

From what I see in tests, dedicated macro lenses like these are all exceptionally sharp, and it's much easier to separate them on features than performance.
10-13-2011, 09:42 PM   #13
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If you don't need AF, and if you think 1:2 mag ratio is good enough, the Pentax A 50/2.8 is hard to beat. It's one of my favorite lenses, and probably the most used one (mainly for product photos)
10-13-2011, 11:37 PM   #14
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I have an older Vivitar M42 55/2.8 1:1 macro. Pin-sharp from f/2.8 onward, perfect portrait length FL on my K-x as well.
10-14-2011, 12:03 AM   #15
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It's only 1:2, but I really like my Pentax-A 50mm f/2.8 Macro.

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