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05-15-2012, 09:13 PM   #1
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Best Budget(ish) macro for the K-5???

As a recent K-5 adopter, anyone have a favorite budget(ish) macro lens to recommend? I'm mainly looking to shoot flowers, insects, small animals on an upcoming trip to Costa Rica. I'm trying to be budget minded, but I also want some good glass. Any thoughts are appreciated!

05-15-2012, 09:25 PM   #2
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See: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-lens-articles/152336-cheap-macro-b...lose-work.html

If you want to work close and don't need edge-to-edge flatfield sharpness, some budget alternatives to the sometimes pricey 'dedicated' AF macro primes in the 90-105mm region include:

* DA18-55 kit.lens stopped-down a bit -- its close focus distance (CFD) is ~20cm from the front.
* Vivitar-Komine 28/2 CFWA (manual focus) -- its CFD is under 15cm from the lens front.
* Put a Raynox closeup adapter onto a midrange zoom -- working distance is in 12-20cm range.

Are many possibilities, depending on how close you want to go and how much you want to spend. I'm a cheap bastard, so I mostly use a Raynox on an AF lens, or some more labor-intensive manual-focus solution. Good luck!
05-15-2012, 09:32 PM   #3
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What kind of budget are we looking at? The Tamron 90mm is a great lens if you're looking for something affordable with AF.
Tamron 90mm Macro vs Pentax 100mm WR: Review - Introduction - PentaxForums.com

You can also get some great manual lenses for under $100, such as the Pentax M 50mm F4.

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05-15-2012, 09:54 PM   #4
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Some people would consider the new price of the 16-50 f/2.8 a budget lens. And it may be compared to the equivalents from the other players, but I wouldn't consider it a budget lens.

The point is the term "budget" is very relative. You may be a millionaire or a starving student.

I consider the 100mm WR Macro to be one of the best Macro lenses available, and at around $850 at the new price (I got mine for $400 in early March so I got lucky) is still a good value. I am consistently amazed at the images it produces, whether on digital or film. Here's a digital example I took a few weeks ago: 500px / Photo "B&W Flower" by Tyler Puckett . That isn't a true macro shot (not 1:1 anyway), so it probably isn't the best example. But it is a very good shot I think.

You can go cheaper; Pentax has produced many macro lenses over the years. You can also go really cheap: grab any 50-100mm lens (doesn't matter the mount, the manufacturer, etc), and hold it up in front of your lens mount backwards (the front of the lens pointing down the throat of the camera). You have a macro lens.

05-15-2012, 11:30 PM   #5
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I'm hanging out, saving to buy the 100mmWR macro, but for a very long time had a particularly good 70-300 "macro" from Tamron. It wasn't really a macro lens as such, but would shoot 1:2 in the 180-300mm range. The lens itself doesn't get a lot of love in these forums, but I found it to be a good starting point for not a lot of money. I ended up selling it on, and got a 35mm limited macro which is great for anything that doesnt get scared and run/fly away. I may yet buy another Tamron, it wasn't too heavy to handhold.
05-15-2012, 11:48 PM - 2 Likes   #6
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The FA 100/3.5 (and a matching two element adapter, which is in fact a universal close up filter of 49 mm diameter) is great optic. Build is plastic but optics are great. There're third party equivalents (Cosina, etc) that are exactly the same sans the coatings. Wonderful optic for like USD 150 or so.
05-16-2012, 12:19 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Boris Quote
The FA 100/3.5 (and a matching two element adapter, which is in fact a universal close up filter of 49 mm diameter) is great optic. Build is plastic but optics are great. There're third party equivalents (Cosina, etc) that are exactly the same sans the coatings. Wonderful optic for like USD 150 or so.
Boris is right - the Cosina 100/3.5 is really quite good. After I got the DFA 100WR I sold all my 100ish macro lenses but the Cosina. It's available in both AF and MF models, and available under many different brands. See the reviews here on this site.

The Cosina is nice and light for travel, and you won't worry much about damage due to the low cost. The DFA 100WR is the best overall macro lens you can get for Pentax, being good for non-macro shots too. But I'd say save your money for now, or spend the rest toward a DA15, FA77, DA*55, or the like, depending on what you need.
05-16-2012, 01:04 AM   #8
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Pentax DFA 100WR macro - unless you tell us your budget,
I would recommend this lens which costs much less than any Nikon/Canon/Zeiss macro of similar focal length. Face it, Pentax provides some nice glass at a budget.

05-16-2012, 08:06 AM   #9
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The DFA 100/2.8 WR doesn't have an aperture ring,
so you wouldn't be able to use it very well with most extension tubes for the really small stuff.
But maybe all the insects you'll meet in Costa Rica will be large ones!
05-16-2012, 09:12 AM   #10
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Thanks for the responses and sorry for the "budget" ambiguity. $100 or under would be great! But I would be willing to go to the $250-$300 range for much improved glass...
05-16-2012, 09:18 AM   #11
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With that budget, look on this forum's Marketplace. Often times manual focus macros appear for around $100. Seems like I saw one last night, a 50 f/4 Macro. Terrific lens.

You could also shop KEH or eBay. I'd go with either the market here or KEH personally. Also don't discount your local Craigslist; when I'm looking for a body or a lens I'll put up a WTB and many times I'll get an offer within a few weeks. A lot of people have this stuff in their closets sitting around from family members who have passed or old hobbies, and would love to sell it if they get the opportunity.
05-16-2012, 09:18 AM   #12
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Sigma 50mm f/2.8 does not cost a moon. Has a focus limiter, quite ok at daily situations, not very sharp at 2.8, has some CA. Would not buy again, though.
05-16-2012, 09:59 AM   #13
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Parameters of the problem:

* For shooting bugs in the field, you don't want a 28-35-50-55mm macro, the working distance is too close. Below 90mm might be too close. Macro lenses above 110mm get expensive.

* If you want to use flash, then an A-type or AF macro lens is right. No matter how superb the optics, M42 or M-type or other lenses without 'A' contacts are just more difficult to use with flash.

* If you want a general-purpose lens that shoots good macros, then an AF macro in the 90-105mm range works. If shooting in a rain forest, you'll want WR or other water protection.

The DFA100WR is great... and far from cheap. A Tamron or Phoenix 90, with a plastic bag as a rain shield, may be your best bet. Or a medium-long (50-150mm) AF zoom with a Raynox close-up adapter -- this offers more flexibility. Have fun!
05-16-2012, 09:49 PM   #14
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If the 100wr is out of the budget, I would either go with the tamron or the 35 ltd. the short focal length of the 35 in macro could be an issue with insects and small animals, but you get versatility out of the lens in landscape and that might suit you in costa rica. That said, I am only 15 days into owning the 100wr and I am completely in love.
05-16-2012, 10:12 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
Parameters of the problem:

* For shooting bugs in the field, you don't want a 28-35-50-55mm macro, the working distance is too close. Below 90mm might be too close. Macro lenses above 110mm get expensive.

* If you want to use flash, then an A-type or AF macro lens is right. No matter how superb the optics, M42 or M-type or other lenses without 'A' contacts are just more difficult to use with flash.

* If you want a general-purpose lens that shoots good macros, then an AF macro in the 90-105mm range works. If shooting in a rain forest, you'll want WR or other water protection.

The DFA100WR is great... and far from cheap. A Tamron or Phoenix 90, with a plastic bag as a rain shield, may be your best bet. Or a medium-long (50-150mm) AF zoom with a Raynox close-up adapter -- this offers more flexibility. Have fun!
There are a lot of bug shooters out there using the DA 35 LTD macro. Go over to the Pentax Photo Gallery if you don't believe me. At 1:1, the wider fov allows you to get bigger bugs in the screen. Plus, since it is a short focal length, it is easier to hand hold. I agree that a 90 to 105 is a good all around focal length but there are plenty of times when a 35 or 50 fits the bill and others when a 180 or 200 would fit the bill. There is also the Sigma 70 that is still in production. The other cool thing about the 35 and 50 focal lengths is they can be used for other things quite nicely.
QuoteOriginally posted by Allison Quote
If the 100wr is out of the budget, I would either go with the tamron or the 35 ltd. the short focal length of the 35 in macro could be an issue with insects and small animals, but you get versatility out of the lens in landscape and that might suit you in costa rica. That said, I am only 15 days into owning the 100wr and I am completely in love.
The DA 35 and D FA 100 WR are my 2 current work horses. I frequently use the DA 35 for insects. Like you said, it is also very versatile. I have 10 macro lenses, 3 Canon, 2 Pentax, 2 Tamron, 1 Sigma and 1 Nikon in focal lengths of 20 (for a bellows), 35, 50, 100 and 105. I am going to get that down to 3 or 4 in the next few months. The Canon lenses I have had 2 for ~ 20 years and the FD longer. I have had the Nikon micro Nikkor 100 af for 10 years, the Sigma 105 for 4 years and a pre-set macro tak (maybe the best of the bunch). The Sigma was my favorite straight macro until I got the D FA WR. The Tammy Adaptall 2 lenses I have aren't bad either and may be something for someone on a budget to consider.

Last edited by Blue; 05-16-2012 at 10:17 PM.
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