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01-30-2012, 05:10 PM   #1
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Cheap Macro Setup Suggestions - Here is what I've got...

I've read over CHEAP MACRO -- Buying or exploiting a lens for ultraclose work. There are many different options, reversing, bellows, tubes, filters...oh my. I'm hoping to get some advice based on the gear I already have.

Lenses:
- Pentax M 50mm F2
- SMC Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED
- Pentax DA 18-55mm AL II
- Pentax DA 16-45mm
- Lensbaby Composer

Enlarger Lenses: I believe both are m39
- Minolta CE Lens 1:2.8 50mm
- Rodenstock Rodagon 1:4 80mm

Other
- 52mm Lens Reversal Ring (Which I bought for my 18-55 but never used)
- 52-58mm Step Up Ring

I spend a lot of time in the woods in the summer so my setup can't be too cumbersome that I don't want to take it with me. I've seen some beautiful macros taken with a lensbaby, and am not opposed to close up adapters if it's of good quality. The lensbaby macro kit runs at $40, but I've ruled that out because if I'm going to go that route, I'll get something that can be used on my other lenses via a step down ring.

I'd rather have a bigger set up if it means better quality, however if a difference between close up adapters and bellows/tubes is hardly noticeable... I'd rather go with the adapters. Lets put a budget at around $100.

I'm a little overwhelmed by all the options right now, so I'm looking forward to what everyone has to say. Thanks in advance!

01-30-2012, 05:24 PM   #2
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Honestly, your best bet is to double your budget (bump to $200) and purchase a 90mm 1:1 manual macro. You will probably get a bunch of responses to get this and get that, adapters, tubes, etc - in the end for the best quality, get yourself the dedicated 1:1 macro and pocket some extension tubes for the times when you need to get closer than 1:1...
01-30-2012, 05:41 PM   #3
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I picked up a used Pentax M 100mm f4 macro for less than 100. It does 1:2 on it's own, and the image is sharp enough to crop it a lot. If I want to go 1:1 I can add 50mm of tubes, which I have converted two cheap 2x teleconverters for. Can add more tubes if I want to go past 1:1. You can use that 50 f2 with tubes and get some good macro images, and you can reverse it for extreme macro stuff. You will probably need some good light. I have used my on camera flash with a homemade diffuser and got some decent shots.
01-30-2012, 06:08 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by JenniferLeigh Quote
I've read over CHEAP MACRO -- Buying or exploiting a lens for ultraclose work. There are many different options, reversing, bellows, tubes, filters...oh my.
Yup, are many possibilities. I listed as many as I could think of. I haven't yet added using an M42 focusing helicoid with shorter enlarger lenses, but such helicoids aren't really cheap.

QuoteQuote:
Lenses:
- Pentax M 50mm F2
- SMC Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED
- Pentax DA 18-55mm AL II
- Pentax DA 16-45mm
- Lensbaby Composer

Enlarger Lenses: I believe both are m39
- Minolta CE Lens 1:2.8 50mm
- Rodenstock Rodagon 1:4 80mm

Other
- 52mm Lens Reversal Ring (Which I bought for my 18-55 but never used)
- 52-58mm Step Up Ring
Reversing DA lenses doesn't really work, because aperture control is difficult. Reversing other primes generally requires working very close. And mere reversal doesn't gain magnification, which only comes from extension, or optical tricks. One cheap option: buy a set of ultra-cheap PK macro tubes (about US$8 shipped) and a 49-52mm step-up ring (under US$3). Then you can use the M50/2 either straight or reversed. That's rather a classic setup.

I can't discuss the LensBaby 'cause I'm inexperienced there. The enlarger lenses will require either a cheapest M39-M42 adapter ring and M42-PK adapter, or a cheap M42 body cap with a hole drilled in it, plus extension (tubes and/or bellows). The 50mm EL will only work VERY close; the 80mm gives a little more elbow room.

My recommendations: A Raynox DCR-250 (working distance: 4in) or DCR-150 (6in) mounted on your DAs is the simplest option. The tubes+step.ring setup I mentioned is the cheapest and cleanest. Buying a 90-105mm macro lens is even simpler but costs more. It's up to you. Good luck!

01-30-2012, 06:11 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by JenniferLeigh Quote
I've read over CHEAP MACRO -- Buying or exploiting a lens for ultraclose work. There are many different options, reversing, bellows, tubes, filters...oh my. I'm hoping to get some advice based on the gear I already have.
....
Thanks for the well posed problem.

Here's my first recommendation - and rationale:

1) A Marumi +5 close-up lens with your DA 55-300:4-5.8. This combination will give excellent results for natural subjects up to as large a magnification that can be comfortably hand-held ~ 1.5x. The working distance will be about 8" at all magnifications, which is greater than the working distance you can expect from a dedicated IF 100mm macro lens at 1:1. - good enough for bugs..

The advantage of this combination is that the light-weight, pocketable close-up lens can be quickly and easily put on the zoom, even in messy conditions. Once mounted, just point & shoot - ie. all your automatic functions continue to work including your built in flash.

I suggested the achromatic Marumi rather than the equivalent Raynox because it costs less & should perform as well (but I have no direct experience with it.) The 52mm +5 Marumi is about $56 and can be used with your step up ring to fit the 55-300 zoom. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Delectronics&field-...rumi+52mm+%2B5 or you can get the 58mm version for about $30 more.

I carry the very similar Raynox DCR 150 (+4.8 diopter) & 55-300 always, even though I've good dedicated macro lenses - you just never know when a macro-op may arise!

Dave
01-30-2012, 07:57 PM   #6
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Ok

I'll run through my setups and what I spent ( note one is hard to quantify because I bought the lens I 1986)

Set 1. SMC-M 100f4 macro plus Vivitar extension tubes plus Vivitar macro focusing 2xTC lens 169(1986 price used) extension tubes $75 macro TC $40

Set 2. SMC tak 50mmF4 macro plus extension tubes plus 15-30mm focusing helix total cost within last 2 years $115

Set 3. 135mm F4.5 enlarging lens plus Miranda bellows modified to k mount plus m44 extension tubes total cost $ 130

Set 1 can do about 1:3 with everything put together. Set 2 about 1:1.5, set 3 about 1:1.2. The difference is the working distance.

Note I can also mount the m42 50mm macro in the bellows and get to something like 1:6 if I mount it on extension tubes first
01-31-2012, 11:23 AM   #7
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One end of the spectrum is inexpensive, high quality, flat field,, and is exceedingly cool: Your enlarger lenses on a bellows.

You'll need an m42 bellows, an m39-m42 adapter and an m42 (lens) - PK(body) adapter.-shiny flanged type. Here's a selection of items that will do it for you.

M42 Bellows - $41.50 M42 Macro Bellows Extension Thread/Screw Mount in Orig Box | eBay
M39-M42 adapter - $4.95 Leica Leitz M39 lens M42 Zeiss Camera mount adapter | eBay
M42-PK adapter - $6.60 (shiny with a flange) M42 Lens to Pentax K100D K200D K10D K20D Adapter | eBay

The system will take excellent flat field macrographs & you will look very cool while using it. Everybody will be impressed. Plus, you'll be working entirely manually & have the satisfaction of being truly involved in the process, like a photo pioneer. - hard to beat for $53 delivered.

For a little more than a paltry $100 you can have a bellows system and a good close-up lens for your DA 55-300.

you might alternatively reverse mount your enlarger lenses to a Pentax PK bellows for about the same cost; to do so, use a 40.5-52mm step-up adapter for the lens' 40.5mm filter threads and a 52mm - PK reversing ring.

Last edited by newarts; 01-31-2012 at 12:11 PM.
01-31-2012, 12:25 PM   #8
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You can use your reversed kit lens for macros. Here's a trick to control the aperture.


Just shoot with the aperture close to wide open - that's because the way the optics work out, wide open is at about the diffraction limit when the magnification is taken into account.

Any way to hold the aperture open will do. It might be wise to add a bit of a hood to minimize flare from side lighting. PK extension tube segments would work well for that task.

01-31-2012, 12:48 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the great responses! I've been thinking about this all night, and honestly the excitement kept me up last night.

While a macro lens would be ideal, and probably the ultimate goal. However I'm going to hold off on this for now, since I can't justify the extra $100...yet.

I love the idea of the close up lens for its portability and convenience. I'm going to take a look at some samples and options about Raynox/Marumi.

At the same time, I'm really interested in getting some use out of my enlarger lens. What does the term flat field macrographs mean?


QuoteOriginally posted by newarts Quote
You'll need an m42 bellows, an m39-m42 adapter and an m42 (lens) - PK(body) adapter.-shiny flanged type. Here's a selection of items that will do it for you.
Will an enlarger lens not work with tubes? Also could I not get pentax bellows, a m39-42 and then a m42 to pentax adapter?
01-31-2012, 01:57 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by JenniferLeigh Quote
......What does the term flat field macrographs mean?
Flat field means when you take a photo the area in-focus is really flat & not curved like the surface of a sphere. For most lenses this doesn't matter much but it can be important when taking close-up photos (macrographs) of truly flat things like postage stamps. It also implies (but does not guarantee) rectilinearity ie squares remain square.

These considerations don't matter much when taking photos of curvy things like flowers and bugs. Edge sharpness doesn't matter much for natural subjects either - that's fortunate because that's an area where close-up lenses are weak.


QuoteQuote:
Will an enlarger lens not work with tubes?
Enlarger lenses work fine with tubes although there is no way to adjust focus other than to change tubes. In my view tubes are a pain in the neck to use but are otherwise great for macros!

QuoteQuote:
Also could I not get pentax bellows, a m39-42 and then a m42 to pentax adapter?
Yes. That'll work just fine & you'll wind up with a PK bellows - there are new ones available for around $55 IIRC - I have one & it is ok. With your 80mm lens it should focus all the way to infinity

Also consider a reverse mounting scheme - ie. buy a 40.5mm-52mm step-up ring & add it to your existing 52mm-PK reversing ring - common wisdom says enlarger lenses work better mounted backwards but I've not seen direct evidence of that.
01-31-2012, 02:14 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by JenniferLeigh Quote
Will an enlarger lens not work with tubes? Also could I not get pentax bellows, a m39-42 and then a m42 to pentax adapter?
I made my own adaptor using an old T mount ring and then epoxying the lens into the T mount, because the front of my bellows uses a t mount.

Almost any bellows can be used, if you are at all handy, because it is so easy to mount a flanged M42 adaptor to the back and use that as the camera mount.

I have attached my bellows setup with enlarging lens to give you some ideas


everything but the enlarger lens (and of course the K10D) cost me $30.

With this, I can mount any M42 on the front, and I have both an M42 extension tube set as well as the shown M44 (miranda screw thread) extension tube set.

Last edited by Lowell Goudge; 01-31-2012 at 02:45 PM.
01-31-2012, 02:47 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by newarts Quote
Thanks for the well posed problem.

Here's my first recommendation - and rationale:

1) A Marumi +5 close-up lens with your DA 55-300:4-5.8. This combination will give excellent results for natural subjects up to as large a magnification that can be comfortably hand-held ~ 1.5x. The working distance will be about 8" at all magnifications, which is greater than the working distance you can expect from a dedicated IF 100mm macro lens at 1:1. - good enough for bugs..

The advantage of this combination is that the light-weight, pocketable close-up lens can be quickly and easily put on the zoom, even in messy conditions. Once mounted, just point & shoot - ie. all your automatic functions continue to work including your built in flash.

I suggested the achromatic Marumi rather than the equivalent Raynox because it costs less & should perform as well (but I have no direct experience with it.) The 52mm +5 Marumi is about $56 and can be used with your step up ring to fit the 55-300 zoom. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Delectronics&field-...rumi+52mm+%2B5 or you can get the 58mm version for about $30 more.

I carry the very similar Raynox DCR 150 (+4.8 diopter) & 55-300 always, even though I've good dedicated macro lenses - you just never know when a macro-op may arise!
I'll agree with this choice. I just purchased both the +5 and +3 52mm Marumi achromats and they are very good quality. I added an inexpensive Arca plate from the same seller to get the 10% discount on the entire order (enter "OECGET10" at checkout from the Amazon store).

I already own a Nikon 4T (+2.9) and the Raynox DCR 250 (+9) achromats and wanted some additional flexibility for macro shooting with both my K-5 and the Q. Achromatic Close Ups are multi-element filter-like add ons that allow much higher quality images than the inexpensive Close Up filters usually offered in sets. The acrhomats show much less CA/PF and offer a flatter field (better sharpness from edge to edge) -- more costly, but worth it, IMO.These can be stacked to add additional magnification if wanted.

BTW, I also own dedicated 100mm and 180mm macro lenses for my DSLR. As stated, the acrhomats add the convenience of always having some macro capability, without carrying the extra bulk of dedicated macro lenses.

Scott
01-31-2012, 02:50 PM   #13
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STOP...

There are too many choices here! It is like choosing wallpaper!

Just hold your breath & plunge.

I say first order a Raynox 150 or Marumi 52 +5. Then you'll instantly be able to take good closeups, anytime, anyplace, no messing about figuring out exposures, etc.

Simultaneously -or not- go the bellows route if you really might get serious about macro - or the lens route for more convenience than bellows.

PS If you are going to pursue the quality macro with bellows route, get some way to hood the lens on the end of the bellows.... if you reverse mount your enlarger lens, then a m39-m42 adapter and some tubes from a cheap m42 extension tube set will work well as a hood.

Last edited by newarts; 01-31-2012 at 02:56 PM.
02-01-2012, 09:11 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by newarts Quote
STOP...

There are too many choices here! It is like choosing wallpaper!

Just hold your breath & plunge.

Haha your telling me!

I was looking at the Raynox club thread, and I must say, my mind was blown. I had always been under the impression that close up lenses were a waste of money and really degraded the image but these Raynox images are really impressive. For it's size and convenience, and after comparing the price between bellows and Raynox/Marumi, I am going to go with the lens. So far I'm leaning towards Raynox, it seems like the 150 is a perfect fit for my 55-300.

I'd still like to put those enlarger lenses to use, so I will probably purchase some bellows in the future.

Thanks again to everyone who participated in this thread, you gave me a lot of food for thought.
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