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02-06-2013, 02:46 PM   #1
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"Best" K-Mount Macro Lens for $200 or Less?

I normally shoot nature/landscape but I want to experiment fairly un-seriously with macro work. My primary interest will not be shooting bugs, so being able to stay far away from my subject with a 100mm lens, being able to resolve the super tiny insect details with a 1:1 magnification ratio, or having autofocus to keep up with a moving subject aren't really a big concern (my understanding is that MF is much more useful for macro photography anyway). I'm interested in nature but I mostly want to shoot more static objects, such as vegetation, snowflakes/water droplets, etc. I think I'd rather have a lens that is at least auto-aperture, but I don't know how difficult/cumbersome exposing on a DSLR with a manual aperture ring can be; I'd appreciate it if someone could weigh in on this.

So what would be the best option in terms of IQ, with sharpness being the first priority? I've so far heard good things about the Pentax-A 50mm f/2.8 Macro and very good things about the Tamron SP MF 90mm f/2.8 Macro.

02-06-2013, 02:52 PM   #2
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I have the cosina AF 100mm f/3.5 macro, paid about 100 quid for it - absolutely superb lens, noisy AF, wobbly construction, but the IQ is absolutely amazing, I got mine with the matched adapter and I can't speak highly enough of it
02-06-2013, 03:23 PM   #3
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You might be able to score a FA 100 F3.5 Macro. Its not 1:1 but its well liked and may well do what you want.
As mentioned by edgedemon, the Cosina looks an option too - see: Cosina AF 100mm f/3.5 macro (Pentax) - Review / Lab Test Report

I was lucky and scored a FA 100 f2.8 macro for $330 but I think you would be very unlikely to get one of these for $200.

Oh and one last one. I started with a Raynox 250 clip on, attached to my 55-300 and got some pretty amazing results for an add on solution. While not as good as a dedicated macro, in a number of ways, it surprisingly capable - search for the "Raynox Club" hear on the forums for examples. I am actually reluctant to sell my Raynox even though I have the FA100 - some day I will have get over LBA (yeah right).

Last edited by kiwi_jono; 02-06-2013 at 03:28 PM.
02-06-2013, 03:24 PM   #4
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I have the FA 100mm 3.5 macro, which is similar to edgedemon' is ridiculously sharp even wide open, and i'm annoying when it comes to sharpness!
It is reaaally good, and super light...You can carry it with you all the time.
+1 for that.

02-06-2013, 03:29 PM   #5
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Sigma 50mm F2.8 Macro Lens Reviews - Sigma Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database

One of these days I'll get around to doing a review...paid about $100 for mine in 2010.

Last edited by boriscleto; 02-06-2013 at 04:02 PM.
02-06-2013, 04:42 PM   #6
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Pentax M 100 f4 Macro. Got mine for less than 100 bucks. It's only 1:2, but you can crop big time with it, or add a couple of tubes. It's also manual focus which is what you want for macro shooting.

Last edited by bluestringer; 02-11-2013 at 10:41 AM.
02-06-2013, 05:19 PM   #7
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I've owned several of the above and also the Tamron 90mm, which never gets very low in price. I didn't use the SMC-M 100 often enough for a strong opinion, but I really liked the Sigma DG 50mm/2.8. I had the 50 and 90 at the same time, and it was a draw for IQ for my tastes so I let the Tamron go. I felt I was set with the Sigma, but the DA40 arrived and kept stealing its place in line - then I found an AF copy of the Cosina/Promaster 100/3.5 and off went the Sigma. As edgedemon notes it has excellent optics in a flimsy-feeling body, and without the correcting lens it only goes 1:2 - so if you see one be sure the matched lens is included to reach 1:1. I paid under $180 for mine with AF and the matched lens; manual focus copies will be less expensive. I love how light the 100mm lens is, that was one strike against the Tamron in my eyes: weight and bulk both were more than I liked to carry.

The 50mm (and I presume the DA35Ltd) need to be very close to objects to reach max magnification, so if you like live critters that can be spooked the longer focal lengths will serve you better. I tend not to shoot 1:1 all that often so the 50mm focal length was OK for me.

02-06-2013, 06:39 PM   #8
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If you can find one, the Komine made Vivitar, Panagor, Elicar etc. 55mm f/2.8 and 90mm f/2.8 lenses are superb and the 55mm version usually sells for around $100.
I can't recall ever really hearing about any proper macro lenses that weren't superb.

Here's a shot from my Panagor 55/2.8 Macro
02-06-2013, 06:46 PM   #9
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Well just about all dedicated macro lenses are sharp, they solved those optical problems many moons ago. The key is using a good tripod and managing lighting. For your sane budget to start, I'd aim for a 50mm macro and the Pentax ones are really good. On a cropped sensor that focal length is excellent--especially for your purposes. . I also like 70mm but the newer Sigmas are past your budget. I would recommend an "A" model for convenience. If you start using a ring light, moving the aperture ring is a bit of a drag if you have fat fingers.
I think 1:2 capabilities would suffice if you are not doing bugs or true macro.

There are alternatives such as extension rings and reversing a normal 50 mm that you may have already researched.

02-06-2013, 07:31 PM   #10
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Sharpness being your 1st priority, Tamron SP 72B, 90/2.8 no question. All versions of the Tamron 90/2.8 lenses (past and present) share the same optical formula with the 72B. Unfortunately, it's not easy to find the 72B for sale and if you add the PK/A adapter to the equation, trying to buy it for less than 200.00 is almost impossible. I have two copies of the 72B and one 272EP AF version (none for sale), with the focus limiter set for non-macro focus range, the 272EP makes for an excellent AF, short telephoto lens.
02-06-2013, 08:13 PM   #11
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I was not really dedicated to macro and settled on a Tamron 90mm f2.5 (1:2 magnification) because of that. I had some combinations to get to 1:1 but found that I never wanted it that bad. The extra focal length gets you off the ground a little. The auto aperture alllows some flash laziness too; sometimes the popup flash works just fine and there's no need for my external flash.
02-06-2013, 08:35 PM   #12

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The Pentax FA 100 3.5 *is* the Cosina -- same lens. Also sold as Promaster, Vivitar, and others. The manual focus version is much better put together (Pentax branded was only AF version), but optically they are the same...
02-06-2013, 09:02 PM   #13
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I have the Vivitar/Cosina/Whatever 100 mm f3.5 manual focus. Really good, but as others have noted a "plastic fantastic." Mine is manual focus, which I consider no problem; macro work is by nature slow and considered. If you find one second hand be certain it comes with the dedicated 1 to 1 achromat plus lens, otherwise it is "only" 1 to 2. With this and a set of extension tubes you're really ready to go close.
02-06-2013, 10:05 PM   #14
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I have ever had only one macro lens and it's Tokina AT-X 90mm/2.5 macro. I don't know how much those go for nowdays but if you can find one at reasonable price, go for it. I paid 100€ for mine about 5 years ago and it's a beautiful lens. Sharpest lens I got with beautiful bokeh. It's a manual focus lens and does only 1:2 but produces beautiful pictures (in the hands of skillful enough photographer).
02-07-2013, 12:50 AM   #15
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Do the Pentax F-series zooms (with macro function at the tele end) count? They can be had at $50-100.


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