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03-25-2008, 12:23 PM   #1
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Macro Newbie - 50mm or 100mm

I am interested in getting into the world of MACRO.....My goal is to be able to take photographs of book illustrations - 5x7 to 8.5 x 11 and to be able to photograph stamps...

I have a K10D and a MX and will soon purchase a 20D and a copy stand.....I have reviewed copy stands - including the new Pentax Copy Stand III but do not know which would be good....

In addition, i have looked at the reviews for the 50mm and the 100mm f2.8 Pentax Macro's but do not understand which would be better for my use.

Any help or guidance would be greatly appreciated.


Last edited by jswcpm; 03-25-2008 at 12:27 PM. Reason: add signature
03-25-2008, 01:06 PM   #2
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It's a no brainer, really: try to find a second hand FA 50 macro. I have one, and without any problem, the best lens that I have... Alternatively, you could go for the DFA 50 new, but I can't say anything practical about that lens...
03-25-2008, 07:15 PM   #3
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50mm macro or 100mm macro

ok, let's just assume for a moment that i am made of money - no, really i am not, but the 100mm is about $125 more than the 50mm...why would that be?...or..to put it differently, for my purposes why would a 50mm be better than a 100mm.....
03-25-2008, 08:22 PM   #4
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The 100mm give you more working distance, the distance between the lens and the object. However, since your object is static, the 50mm would work just fine (especially being cheaper). For 50mm macro, i think only the FA (not DFA) 50mm is worth buying. There is the upcoming DA 35mm macro, that would fit your style as well.

However, the 100mm would be more versatile. The longer working distance, the more comfortable you are, less restricted.

03-25-2008, 08:27 PM   #5
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50mm macro and ?copy stand?

Much thanks!!..at least i am now understanding the differences between the two lenses....

any suggestions on a copy stand??...i have seen the Pentax copy stand but no reference to anyone using it....if i have a budget of $500 or so, including lights, does anybody have any suggestions?????
03-25-2008, 08:39 PM   #6
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Bear in mind that the closer you are to your photographic subject, the more difficult it gets to light it correctly.

If you're going to photograph stamps and book illustrations, why don't you just use a scanner? Much more time efficient and you'll get higher quality images IMO.
03-25-2008, 08:47 PM   #7
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Try to find a used copy stand or an inexpensive one. They all basically do the same thing. I found a ROWI portable copy stand at a garage sale for a song and a dance. I removed the light bars, preferring to use flash guns over the continuous bulb lighting. I find it more portable and versatile. Just be sure the copy stand you have gives you micro adjustment in several planes.

As for the macro lens, there is one thing to consider. With greater working distance, you can also control lighting better. The 50s shorter working distance may cause troubles in properly lighting the subject. Likewise, you can also run the risk of the lens creating a shadow on your subject depending upon the lighting direction. The 100 macro gives you a little room to breath in this regard. Also, it can double as an insect macro lens if you decide to do this in the future. The 50 isn't suitable for live insects unless you have the patience of a praying mantis.

EDIT: Ha...looks like you beat me to the lighting punch.
03-26-2008, 04:35 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by jswcpm Quote
ok, let's just assume for a moment that i am made of money - no, really i am not, but the 100mm is about $125 more than the 50mm...why would that be?...or..to put it differently, for my purposes why would a 50mm be better than a 100mm.....
A 100mm macro is just more difficult to make and, because of the greater working distance, more sought after, hence the difference in price... But really: in terms of optical quality the 50 always beats the 100 hands down (all brands considered.)

Since for your work, the larger working distance is not really required, and given price diffrence between the two, I would go for the 50...

Now there are a lot of 50mm macro lenses made by Pentax:
Welcome to Bojidar Dimitrov's Pentax K-Mount Page

The best one of them is the FA 50, but that one is discontinued; so you will have to find it second hand. I found mine two years ago and paid the lovely amount of 89,- Still can't believe it... It was in absolute mint state (still is, actually) and is hands down the best lens in my collection (of an amount of 30+ lenses - in which some Limited lenses - I guess that is saying something.)

The only 50mm macro that can be found new is the D-FA 50 of which I have heard some good things too, but since I don't have one (don't have the need to ) I can't say this to be true or not...

One last thing: people or insisting on the larger throw distance between a 50mm macro and a 100mm macro. Sure enough there is a difference, but it's only 12cm, which IMHO is not a deal braker. I never found making photo's of insects a lot of problems with the FA 50, and I never found myself in a situation in which I wished I had a 100mm...

Here are some photo's made with the FA 50:







03-26-2008, 07:27 AM   #9
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If you're doing copying work and plan to use a copy stand (a modified enlarger can also work), the 50mm macro is much better than the 100mm macro imo. Working distance aside, if you need to shoot A5 or A4 sized illustrations the 50mm (or even better the new DA 35mm Macro) would provide a much better FOV compared to the 100mm.
03-26-2008, 07:42 AM   #10
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in very quick and dirty testing, it seemed that between the DFA 50 and 100, the 50 had better color, and also didn't klunk as much when moved around.

I'm holding out the 35ltd though...but would probably buy the 50 DFA if that wasn't on the immediate horizon.
03-26-2008, 11:49 AM   #11
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Working distance test

jswcpm,
I just did a simple setup on my copy stand. Using my K100D and a Nikkor 55mm Macro lens, my max working distance is 9.5". The 55mm gave me 4x2.5" coverage. This would be 6x3.75" with a FF SLR. A 35mm lens on the K100 has a 19.5" working distance. This proves to me that you would need a very tall copy stand to shoot a full page with a APS-C sensor camera and a 100mm+ lens. So the shorter lens is better in this case. In the past I had always shot things the were very small, so this is new to me. The Nikkor is tak sharp. Even wide open.

Dave

Last edited by Big Dave; 03-26-2008 at 11:32 PM.
03-26-2008, 02:08 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by jswcpm Quote
I am interested in getting into the world of MACRO.....My goal is to be able to take photographs of book illustrations - 5x7 to 8.5 x 11 and to be able to photograph stamps...

I have a K10D and a MX and will soon purchase a 20D and a copy stand.....I have reviewed copy stands - including the new Pentax Copy Stand III but do not know which would be good....

In addition, i have looked at the reviews for the 50mm and the 100mm f2.8 Pentax Macro's but do not understand which would be better for my use.

Any help or guidance would be greatly appreciated.
Bear,
I tried to shoot an 11x8.5" target with my Pentax 100mm F4 bellows lens. The working distance was about 51 inches. WOW! I think that this focal length is great for general macro photography, but useless on a copy stand for 11x8.5 inch subject. I think that I would use my scanner instead. The 50mm or shorter would be more suited for this work.

Dave

Last edited by Big Dave; 04-26-2008 at 12:48 PM.
03-26-2008, 04:24 PM   #13
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Excellent Discussion - Thank You!

Everybody, thank you for your advice and comments...

1) i tried a scanner but really didn't work very well...especially with the stamps....and the book illustrations required me to bend the book too much...and i think the colors and details of these hand-painted illustrations would be better using a copy stand.

2) loved the insects...but it does show that there is very little depth of field

3) from what i have read - i do think the 50mm f2.8 would be better (i would like to be able to use the 100mm as both macro and a telephoto (portrait) lens but i do have a 50 to 200 zoom and a 200 fixed so, for now, i am ok with getting the f2.8.

4) I do appreciate the advice on getting a used copy stand (i realize they are a lot cheaper..and they really are a ratcheted arm and a wooden stand with lights attached but since this my first attempt i would prefer to get a new stand...any suggestions - the pentax is about $400 plus lights..
Pentax | Copy Stand III for 35mm Cameras | 30075 | B&H Photo

but i do recognize Bogen and Besseler as brand camera names...

Does anybody have any experience with them...or advice...

thanks again...



ps. i got my K20D today!!


Pentax | Copy Stand III for 35mm Cameras | 30075 | B&H Photo
03-26-2008, 05:19 PM   #14
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For a copy stand, keep in mind that you probably don't even need autofocus. Or metering. Maybe going for something cheap (old) would do the trick and save a bit of $$$.
03-27-2008, 07:48 AM   #15
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I sent a PM to Marc about some of his macro shots and this was his reply to me. For new guys like me, I am posting this so we all can learn.

Thanks again Marc.

QuoteOriginally posted by Pentaxke:
QuoteOriginally posted by willis:
Marc-
I hope you don't mind me asking...you posted 3 photos on the thread where the OP was asking about either a 50mm or 100mm lens to do macro work.

How did you get photo number two that you posted?(And even the other photos of the fly(?) on your website?

I am new to the whole DSLR world and would love to take photos that close up...

Thanks for the info-

Wil
Hi Will,

I'm all to glad to answer...

all photo's are made with the FA 50, which is a lens that goes straight down to give a 1:1 ratio (or lifesize) macro photo. That means that a subject of 1 inch will measure exactly 1 inch on film. On digital you have to multiply this by 1,5 because of the crop factor of digital sensors.

The first photo is taken this way. The butterfly (I don't have a clue of the exact name )
is about 1 inch, and the span-width of the antenna's would probably have been half an inch or so... This is the sort of photo you can take directly with any descent macro lens that has a 1:1 ratio. You have to be very patient though: the bloody thing wouldn't sit still for very long, and it was also very windy that day, so because of the lifesize ratio, if the subject only moves by 1/10th of a mm, it is out of focus. You also have to hold the camera very still, so you don't have motion blur.

The second one (the dead fly) I made with the FA 50 and a Pentax K auto bellows:



I placed the old MX body as a reference only. What you see is that the bellows is like a gliding extension tube that is fitted between the lens (FA 50 macro) and the camera (MX.) With the wheels under the bellows you extend or collapse the distance between lens and camera and this way you focus on the subject. If you are lucky you are about an inch away from the subject, if you are not, you sit even closer. The bellows is very hard to use, and to say it all, the photo's of the dead fly are the only ones in which I succeeded.

The last photo is made using a macro extender (here I used the FA 1,7x as a macro extender - the one to the right on this photo):



I also have the Vivitar macro converter (the one on the left.) Now this is a good idea to do macro photo's on the cheap: you should be able to find a used Vivitar macro converter for not much money, and together with a 50 f/1,7 you get a powerfull tool to do macro's. Lots of peopl on the forum make macro's this way. Of course if you combine the converter with a dedicated macro lens (like the FA 50 macro) you get bigger than lifesize ratio's.

Be aware though: if you are not familiar with macro photo's I advice you to begin modestly and try half life size macro's of dead things (flowers, plants) that will be challenging enough to start with. Then you can grow and try out life size photo's, and try insects and the likes...

Hope this helps. If you have any questions, please fire away....

Greetings,
Marc
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