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08-29-2012, 02:16 PM   #1
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Best choice for a first macro lens?

Looking to experiment with some macro. Lot's of options. What's a good first choice? A good length? Zooom? Fixed fast glass?



08-29-2012, 02:26 PM   #2
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What sort of budget and quality are you shooting for?

If you're just curious and/or cheap, I'd suggest putting a Raynox adapter onto a telezoom lens.

If you have a larger budget, a 1:1 prime macro lens would be a good choice. Pentax has a 50mm f2.8, 100mm f2.8. Other good options include Sigma 70mm f2.8, Sigma 105mm f2.8 and Tamron 90mm f2.8.

Most users use manual focus for macro, whether the lens is AF or not. As a consequence, MF macros tend to cost a fair bit.

Other cheap options would include Takumar 50mm f4 (1:2 reproduction ratio), and M100 f4 (1:2 reproduction ratio).
08-29-2012, 02:26 PM   #3
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Extension tubes(Dumb, non-A ones) are the easiest(Cheapest) way to experiment. Diopters produce slightly better IQ if you invest in good ones though. Really depends on your price range, for ~100$ a good diopter is easy to come by, though for the same price, you might find an old manual focus macro lens.
08-29-2012, 02:27 PM   #4
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You will not go wrong with the Pentax DFA 100mm or the Tamron 90mm. But there are lots of less expensive choices if you do not think you will be using it a lot. I have the DFA 100mm and use it for both macro and as telephoto prime so it is worth the cost to me.

There are also lots of manual focus Pentax 100mm macro lenses that are quite good and much less expensive than the newer ones.

08-29-2012, 02:29 PM   #5
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To experiment? Some extension tubes, various manual lenses and reverse mount rings. If you already have manual prime or two laying around, you can get everything else for under $50. Fast glass is not needed for macro, you're already dealing with shallow DOF at f8, f2.8 is nearly useless at 1:1.

I have a dedicated macro lens that gives great results, a Tomioka made 60mm f2.8, but I still find myself using some of my other lenses on an extension tube.
08-29-2012, 02:39 PM   #6
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I picked up a Pentax-M 100 f4 Macro for under 100 bucks. I figured I would learn with it and upgrade later. I have not upgraded, use it all the time, and have not seen anything that can beat it. Yes, it's only 1:2, but you don't need 1:1 anyway. It's sharp enough I can crop heavily and if I want 1:1 all I have to do is add a de-glassed 2x converter and I'm good to go.
08-29-2012, 02:44 PM   #7
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Don't forget the Vivitar/Consina/Phoenix and maybe under the Pentax label 100mm f3.5 macro. It goes to 1:2 continuously then reaches 1:1 via a dedicated plus lens, which is probably an achromat. While I have the manual focus version, there is also, I think, an autofocus edition. Mine has an "A" on the diaphragm ring, so it talks to my K5. Yes, it is a "plastic fantastic" but is sharp, and not expensive. I bought mine new some years ago for about $100. Also makes a nice portrait lens.

Put this sucker on extension tubes and you could photograph a gnat's eyelash! Well, maybe.

I question whether autofocus is needed for macro work, but YMMV.
08-29-2012, 03:07 PM   #8
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Macro Lens?

Hi Ken,
My first "true" macro lens was a Pentax M 100mm f/4.0 Macro. I'd tried the macro function on various zooms and wasn't too impressed with the results.
It turned out to be the best $100 I'd spent to that point. Yes, it's fully manual, but that taught me some valuable lessons and the lens itself performed beautifully.
For a budget entry into the macro world, it's a great choice!

08-29-2012, 03:13 PM   #9
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Tamron adaptall 2 90mm f2.5 is a great lens, fully manual with a k adapter or with a k/a adapter you get some auto functions. It really is a great lens useful for more than just the macro function.
08-29-2012, 03:43 PM   #10

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I think the answer is "something inexpensive." There are many surprisingly good macro lenses. My choice was the Cosina 100/3.5 macro (, available under many different brands. Mine is an Auto Focus Vivitar version.
08-29-2012, 04:45 PM   #11
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I would also suggest either cosina or if you can pay more, tamron 90mm.
tamron is very sharp from wide open with beautiful bokeh. if you don't mind the bulk, it works great as a portrait lens as well.
08-29-2012, 04:51 PM   #12
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I don't think anybody here mentioned the Pentax 35mm macro. It also goes to 1:1, but its focal length makes it more suitable for very static subjects I guess. It costs less than the 100mm macro, though.
08-29-2012, 04:55 PM   #13
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I have 3 of the macro lenses mentioned in this post so far, the M100/4, an SMC tak 50/4 and an Adaptall II 90/2.5

I can't really fault any of them, they are all excellent, inexpensive<$100, and relatively easy to find.

The best option for someone without an *istD is to get the Tamron Adaptall with a KA mint, because it can then use P-TTL flash. Otherwise, an *istD with TTL flash and a non A lens. Regardless 6 to 16 MP the images will be worthwhile
08-29-2012, 05:44 PM   #14
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Get a cheap set of extension tubes from ebay for 10-15 bucks and try them with whatever lens you have so if you decide to get serious about macro you will have an idea about what focal length would be best suited for you.These tubes are cheap made and probably not very durable but a cheap way to get into macro,did this myself but now have a set of Pentax tubes.
08-29-2012, 07:44 PM   #15
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I would go with the da 35 macro. It works nice as a walk around and it has features like quick shift which make it easier to go into macro.

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