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11-18-2013, 12:28 PM   #1
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Macro lens for K-5

My wife wants to get into Macro photography. She like me is a novice photographer but wants to get a macro lens that will work on her K-5. I have looked at the lenses Pentax makes but not really having any experieince in macro photography I can't really help her with a selection.

Any suggestions?

Assume she is willing to pay up to $700 or so.

11-18-2013, 01:29 PM   #2
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Do you want a long macro or a shorter lens?

The DA 35mm, DFA 50mm and DFA 100mm are all sound choices depending on the focal length you're looking for. We have reviews of each lens on our homepage and plenty of reviews in the lens database as well.

There should be some nice deals on these lenses during the black friday weekend, so stay tuned!

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11-18-2013, 01:50 PM   #3
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The shorter vs. longer question is an important one. Shorter focal lengths tend to be more compact and easier to hand-hold, but the drawback is shorter working distance. The short working distance is a non-negotiable and is determined by the laws of physics. I have a Sigma 50/2.8 EX DG Macro. It is a great performer and an excellent value. I use it primarily for flower and close-up photography. It will do 1:1 macro, but it is cumbersome for subjects other that jewelry, coins, and such...

Going one-to-one with the Sigma 50/2.8 Macro

The DA 35 macro has even less working distance at 1:1.


Last edited by stevebrot; 11-18-2013 at 01:56 PM.
11-18-2013, 02:19 PM   #4
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Advantage of pentax WR 100 it is very light and will take some rain and dust. It's an excellent lens. It hunts on the K5 but seems to not have the problem on the k3. Without the lens hood on (which you have on all the time) it looks ugly. Good for insects as well as other macro application and keeps the background tight. I would be surprised if this lens couldn't match any other 100mm macro on the market
Advantage of the 35mm ltd is a great walk around lens. I like it for flowers, gardens and wildflowers, It is a gorgeous lens in every respect and I often have it on the camera all day. Great start to get into primes.
My first modern macro was the sigma 70mm. It gets rave reviews. I actually prefer this as a normal 70mm compared with the macro. My two pentax lenses seem to have something extra big time.
I recently purchased second hand a sigma 50mm. I prefer to have all my functions including flash on manual. I wanted a lens with an aperture ring so it was logical to get a 50mm as I didn't have one in kmount. It is manual focused which I prefer for macro seems to be a great lens but still bulky compared to pentax.

In your case I wouldn't get the 100mm sigma or equivalent tamron when you have top quality in a smaller package even if the 100mm hunts. For macro I usually have manual focus and move back and forth.

I think the price of the pentax 50mm macro is outrageous and you would be better of with the 35mm ltd

11-18-2013, 02:25 PM   #5
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Work out what she wants to photograph, work back from there for the lens
11-18-2013, 08:39 PM - 1 Like   #6
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What do you mean by macro--mostly people do up to about 1/3 magnification--and if that's good enough a good diopter lens on one of your better primes is excellent.

Actually get Lefkowitz's book "manual of close up photography"--the best reference book on the subject. Doesn't matter that its pre-digital. Otherwise you will get everyone's prejudices as opposed to a source that gives you all the options and the trade off of each one.
11-19-2013, 03:25 AM   #7
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Macro Starter?

Hello Budster, Welcome to the Forum!
There's a couple considerations for macro lens selection that make a huge difference when it comes to actually using them. As you can see from the previous posts, one of these is 'working distance'. A short telephoto (70mm-100mm range) makes it easier to maintain a bit of space from the subject. In the case of skittish creatures, bees, bugs, that's very handy. It also makes life easier when setting up a tripod, often necessary for the slower shutter speeds and greater depth-of-field required. The longer camera-to-subject distance means you won't be creating a shadow on the subject, depending upon the direction of the light source.
I'd assume you're looking at auto-focus lenses. Most modern macro lenses offer 2 additional features, but not all do. To me, they're both essential and become more so as you and your wife become more proficient.
One is called 'quick shift' (it may have other designations with different brands), and means that the lens functions normally when set to 'AF' on the camera, but allows the user to manually 'touch up' the focus (adjust it slightly) without disengaging the AF. Sort of a clutch or manual over-ride. As you will soon see, AF doesn't always agree with you, on where the exact point of sharpest focus should be. This tiny difference becomes a major issue at extremely close range, where the depth-of-field is so small, like mm!
The second function is labeled 'Focus Limiter'. Since most macros have a very long focus 'throw' (the lens barrel extends much further from infinity to closest-focus, almost doubling the normal length), it makes no sense to have the lens rack through the entire focal range when you only need the close-up portion.
A limiter switch allows you to set the lens for either close-focus (lens stays in the shorter distance range, but still auto-focuses), or 'Tele' range, more of a normal AF range-function. This saves time, wear-and-tear on the lens motor and frustration on the part of the user!
I'd go so far as to say quick shift and focus limiter are deal-breakers.
Macro is a whole different world, a special category of photography that has its own rules, equipment and issues. But it's incredibly rewarding, too!
Last, I'm as loyal to Pentax as anyone, but must admit that the Tamron and Sigma macro lenses are very good and offer great value. Check some of the user reviews in the lens review section for more detailed information.
Good Luck!
11-19-2013, 01:18 PM   #8
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I have the DFA 100mm WR plus the Pentax ring flash. I love that combo

11-19-2013, 01:54 PM   #9
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My husband and I have the Tamron Macro 90 mm f/2.8. I haven't experimented with a lot yet but I've been satisfied with the photos I've taken so far and it's pretty reasonably priced (I've seen some stores pricing it around $400).

I don't know if this would make sense for Pentax, but the approach I took with my Sony NEX when I first got interested in macro was simply to buy a set of Kenko macro extension tubes, which were less much less expensive than buying a macro lens. I wasn't sure if I would get into macro photography and this seemed like a good way to experiment without making a major financial commitment. (Also, the only e-mount macro lens for Sony was getting mixed reviews.) Another thing I like about using the extension tubes is that they're a relatively small and light item to include in my camera bag when I go out with other lenses, but I can attach them pretty quickly to my walk-around lenses and add a little macro to my day's portfolio of photographs.

Having found that I do like macro photography, I decided to get a macro lens for our Pentax cameras. Of course, the 90 mm is also useful for other purposes, such as portraits and when we want a slightly faster lens in a mid-telephoto range.

When I first started experimenting, I took an online course on macro/close-up photography through It was a helpful introduction, the assignments were interesting (and got me exploring a lot of possibilities) and there was good one-to-one feedback from the instructor.

I also find Tracy Hallet's book Close-up and Macro Photography to be helpful (through Barnes & Noble and Adorama, I think).
11-20-2013, 12:35 PM   #10
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I have two. The FA100mm Pentax lens, which is a good lens for insects. It's very versatile with a wide f-stop range and focuses accurately on the K-5. I'd like to see it on the K3 with its improved focus - and perhaps more importantly, faster AF screw system. Almost all of that photography is hand-held, though often I use an LED ring light to give some balance.

The Sigma 28mm f1.8 macro is good for taking pictures of larger things, like models under controlled lighting. I've also used it at museums etc and find it does a very good job catching the "eye's view" and gives some feeling of depth. It also makes a pretty nice indoor walkaround type lens. I was looking for the DA35mm macro, but after renting this 28mm (someone was late returning the 35) I wound up really liking the lense wide-open so I looked for a used copy.

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