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05-17-2013, 09:08 AM   #1
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Macro recommendation

I'm into reefkeeping. I have a 90 gal saltwater tank and a 39 gal tank. I'm looking for a good macro lens to take pictures of fish and corals. My main concern is that I cannot use a flash of any kind because of the reflection of the glass on the tank. I'm looking for something that I can use close to the glass. My 90 gal is 24 inches deep but most of what I will be photographing is in the first 2/3 of that distance. I was looking at the Sigma 70mm, the Tamron 90mm, and the Pentax 100mm but really dont want to spend the 800.00 that would take.

Right now I've been using my Cannon G12 because I can shoot raw format and it has a pretty good macro function but want something more dedicated.
This will mount on my Pentax K7.

05-17-2013, 09:28 AM   #2
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The Vivitar 100mm f3.5 is good and inexpensive. I'm not sure whether it is still in production. Build quality is nothing to write home about, but my copy, manual focus, gives excellent images both on film, my K10, and my K5. Here's a write up: Vivitar Lens: Primes - Vivitar 100mm f/3.5 AF Macro - SLRgear.com! covering the AF version.

Note that reviewers praise the image quality, but are unimpressed with the build. BTW if you score a used example be sure that it comes with the dedicated "plus" lens, otherwise it will go only to 1/2 life size.
05-17-2013, 09:30 AM   #3
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You can use a flash if you shoot at an angle to the glass so the light get reflected away.
05-17-2013, 09:41 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Not a Number Quote
You can use a flash if you shoot at an angle to the glass so the light get reflected away.
Shooting through glass at an angle has a tendency to distort the image.

05-17-2013, 10:15 AM   #5
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For an inexpensive option, you could try one of the M series macros. My M 100/4 is a top notch optic, but it goes only to 1/2 life size. I have a 50mm entension tube that turns it into a 1/2 > 1/1 macro. I don't think you will need a 1/1 macro for your purpose, and the M series are top notch optically. You really won't need auto exposure, and the Pentax cameras make manual exposure easy. Depending on the size of the fish you are photographing, you might not even need a 100mm macro. A 50mm might do better. You will be closer to the glass of the tank which helps a bit on reducing reflections.
05-17-2013, 10:31 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Canada_Rockies Quote
For an inexpensive option, you could try one of the M series macros. My M 100/4 is a top notch optic, but it goes only to 1/2 life size. I have a 50mm entension tube that turns it into a 1/2 > 1/1 macro. I don't think you will need a 1/1 macro for your purpose, and the M series are top notch optically. You really won't need auto exposure, and the Pentax cameras make manual exposure easy. Depending on the size of the fish you are photographing, you might not even need a 100mm macro. A 50mm might do better. You will be closer to the glass of the tank which helps a bit on reducing reflections.
This is why I was considering the 70mm Sigma. The 1:1 macro is mainly for closeups of corals.
05-17-2013, 11:31 AM   #7
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There's an old-ish manual focus version of Sigma's 50mm f/2.8 Macro that I really like. It sells for just a little over $100, and it's full 1:1 macro. It has an A mode on the aperture ring, so it's only missing autofocus, which isn't that useful for macro anyway.

QuoteOriginally posted by rworegon Quote
Pentax 100mm but really dont want to spend the 800.00 that would take.
The older DFA (non-WR) and FA versions can easily be found for half that much. They're not weather-sealed, but the FA version has a focus limiter, which really improves the autofocus speed. The optics are identical in all three versions.
05-17-2013, 11:53 AM   #8
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The Tamron 90 macro isn't $900, I got mine used for $250.
Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro Autofocus Lens AF272P-700 B&H

05-17-2013, 11:56 AM   #9
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Sorry to have to post a second message.... or these guys... $388 US.
New Tamron AF 90mm F 2 8 Di SP Macro Lens for Pentax DSLR 4960371004457 | eBay
05-17-2013, 02:14 PM   #10
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i recommend the legendary vivitar 105mm f2.5. amazing legacy lens. built like a tank and tack sharp starting f2.5. it has an A mode, so the only thing it lacks is auto focus, which is useless with macro anyways. if you have the patience to wait for one to pop in an ebay auction, they usually go for around $250. in the meantime you can just get yourself a reverse mount ring ($5) and use a 50mm or 35mm lens in reverse to keep yourself occupied
05-18-2013, 03:24 AM   #11
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I recently bought an FA 100mm lens from an eBay dealer in Japan. About $300, and he regularly lists that model lens.
I'm very happy with mine.

Regards

Edit: just looked on eBay. The seller is tom1803 and he currently has an FA 100 for sale. Go for it.

Last edited by sam-joseph; 05-18-2013 at 03:30 AM. Reason: Details added
05-18-2013, 08:11 AM   #12
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Any macro capable lens should suffice, i.e. macro lens or normal lens with extension etc. Maybe use existing lenses to determine best focal length. Just look through, even if the image is severely out of focus, and see which focal length gives about the right view. Use a rubber lens hood pressed against the glass, and reflections from flash or other lighting will not be a problem. Flashes could then best be positioned to the side or even overhead, rather than head on - particularly since particles in the water could reflect back.
05-18-2013, 10:17 AM   #13
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2nd vote there for the Sigma 50 f2.8. Inexpensive, and does the job wonderfully. Lighting the tank from the top (wireless flash, etc.) will really enhance aquarium images.
05-19-2013, 12:26 AM   #14
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Why not use an off camera flash? If you put it above the tank, you don't have to worry about reflections.
05-19-2013, 09:09 AM   #15
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In terms of price/performance
1) Tamron 90mm
2) Sigma 70mm
3) Pentax 100mm

I have used all three. The pentax has a good build but the autofocus sounds worse than nails on a blackboard, not to mention that the other two are just as sharp. Choose between the 90 and 70 by what focal length you want. Both are sharp and have great bokeh
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