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11-15-2013, 11:07 AM   #16
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Dedicated Macro?

Hello NicoleC,
From my experience with Macro shooting, a longer lens works better with skittish creatures than a shorter one. Unless you need the 35mm or 50mm focal length for other purposes in addition to macro, I believe you're better off with a short telephoto. It does require a somewhat faster shutter speed when hand-holding, as mentioned. Much of my Macro shooting is done with a tripod anyway, because of the smaller apertures needed for depth-of-field.
In the 'new' lens group, there are three I'd recommend;

Pentax-D FA 1000mm f/2.8 WR Macro, $850
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro $450
Sigma 70mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro $500
Prices from B+H. All three are 1:1 magnification.

Please note that I don't own any of these, but do have an older 100mm FA Pentax and 90mm f/2.5 Vivitar Series 1 (Bokina).
However, I do belong to two large photography clubs (Meetup groups) and we shoot Macro regularly, at the Denver Botanical Gardens, Butterfly Pavilion and other locations. What I've observed there may interest you.
As you might guess, most of the cameras used are Canon and Nikon. There's also a sprinkling of Sony, Fuji and 2 (including myself) Pentax.
By far, the most popular 3rd party Macro is the Tamron 90mm. I've counted as many as 6, in a typical group of 50 members. This includes one Nikon and one Canon (body) user. I've seen at least 2 Sigma 70mm's and one Tokina 100mm f/2.8 AT-X, but that isn't available in Pentax mount.
Now, this isn't a select group of advanced or 'pro' users, it's a club (well, 2 clubs, actually, with some overlapping members), with a wide range of ages, income brackets and experience. But even the 'vets' including one club organizer, recommend the Tamron as a good value Macro, when asked.

Last edited by rbefly; 11-15-2013 at 02:49 PM.
11-15-2013, 12:03 PM   #17

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QuoteOriginally posted by NicoleC Quote
My concern with going with a prime like the D FA 50mm or the DA 35 is that really short working distance would preclude any insect shots. (Not that I do a lot of insects, but sometimes.) Am I understanding the trade-offs correctly?
The working distance with the DA 35 Macro does not preclude shots of insects.
You just have to approach with due care, so as not to bug them!

11-15-2013, 02:02 PM   #18
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The Pentax DFA 100mm is a great lens, its tele and true 1:1 macro, covers full frame so it can be used with film cameras as well, and the latest version is WR. Actual macro lenses are usually very sharp with great IQ overall. The current Pentax macro lineup can also be used as general lenses, for landscapes and such (example of a photo with the Pentax DFA 100mm WR of a landscape photo that I took recently: 500px / Moment of light by Stolpulus II )

The best alternatives are Sigma 70mm and 105mm. Tamron also makes a 90mm, I think, or at least used to.

With macro lenses, you often want them to be tele, because with wide angles you would need to get very very close to subject. This can be a problem with skittish subjects or if you cast a shadow over the subject. But I have seen some amazing sample photos with the DA 35mm macro limited posted on this forum, too.

More info: Generally 1:2 or better is considered "macro." Older macro lenses usually only went to 1:2, and would achieve 1:1 magnification with an extension tube. But sometimes the label macro is misused, especially on lower end zoom lenses, some of which don't even get to 1:3. In these cases, macro is being used instead of saying "this lens allows relatively near focusing). You can usually find the actual magnification specs online, so check those out for any lens you are interested in. That being said, 1:1 can be pretty extreme. Many users are perfectly happy with the kit lenses' close focusing capability. The Pentax kit lenses, when it comes to macro, are better than average. Just use MF, put focus as close as possible, and then move closer to the subject until it comes in focus. Or an older 1:2 macro prime. These can be optically great, won't cost too much, and can still reach 1:1 with extension tubes if you really need it . Especially because you will probably use the lens on a crop sensor camera, which basically makes the magnification appear even greater.

Edit: extension tubes and bellows are also a decent choice, but they don't allow much automation. "macro filters" are a lesser alternative, but some people like them. Raynox is generally beloved and hailed as producing amazing quality. But you need a good lens to start with. Another way to achieve macro is by reversing a lens, using reversing ring. I think there is a thread about these various methods that you can find

Last edited by Na Horuk; 11-15-2013 at 02:07 PM.
11-15-2013, 02:27 PM   #19
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Hmmm. I have problems with avoiding shadows now so that is certainly a point against the shorter macros out in the field.

It's terrible when there are several good options to choose from, isn't it?


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