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02-21-2014, 07:01 PM - 1 Like   #16
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Extension tubes with A contacts cost $4 (plus shipping):
http://www.keh.com/camera/Pentax-Manual-Focus-Lens-Converters/1/sku-PK100090102400?r=FE
EDIT: make sure if you order that you are getting whats pictured (quick phone call), the description sorta implies that its a sample photo and they have other stuff listed with no pics too.
Some idiot left a cheap piece of glass in the middle of it, but a hammer and a nail makes quick work of that if you don't have a lens spanner. Not sure of its exact length though which would effect macro zoom, mine is about 50mm as I recall.
Attach it to whatever A series lens you feel like and control aperture and shutter speed with the front and rear dials like normal, stop down metering is a joke.

Ideally I use a gutted 2x converter as a macro tube with my A35-105 F3.5, its fast enough to handle the light loss, plus you can use the zoom as a focus when in macro rather than moving the whole lens closer or farther (try it with any fixed aperture parfocal zoom and it'll make sense). That combo also has many other attractive benefits.
You could use many different lenses, some far cheaper or even something you already own to save even more money, I just happened to have that lens already and found it the most convenient for quite a few reasons.

For your viewing pleasure:
This is my "gutted" 2x tube, its actually a rare and amazing toy with a bayonet core so you can pop the guts out in 2 seconds with no tools and put them back in just as fast (I do use it as a 2x on occasion).
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/members/46390-pppppp42/albums/4594-pictures/picture48139.jpg

This was taken with that and my A35-105 F3.5 its cheap Kodak gold 200 film with a K1000 in case you were wondering:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/members/46390-pppppp42/albums/4594-pictures/picture48399.jpg

In case you were concerned about minimum focusing distance, when you set the A35-105 into its own macro mode and combine it with the tube your minimum focus distance is actually inside the lens, here is a coin touching the front lens, wonder what the magnification is for a dime to fill the image, that's uncropped:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/members/46390-pppppp42/albums/4594-pictures/picture48136.jpg


Last edited by PPPPPP42; 02-21-2014 at 07:23 PM.
02-21-2014, 07:48 PM - 1 Like   #17
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Just got the Tamron 90mm from KEH a couple months ago for my K30 and it's great...macro and great for portraits is a bonus. I already have a Vivitar 55mm 2.8 macro (1:1) and the Pentax M 50 f4 macro(1:2) which are both great but I wanted something longer for insects.
02-21-2014, 08:39 PM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by EdithCosmos Quote
When my new camera arrives, I will have much to play with in the way of attempting macro shots. and get closer than I ever have. Exciting! But, because I like macro so much, and really want to explore it, I want a lens or device that can guide me to new places.
The lens you're getting should be a pretty good general purpose lens, and it will probably do a pretty good job with closeups. My advice would be: play around with it, try different things, and see what kind of shooting you enjoy before worrying too much about buying more gear.

When you start to feel like the lens you've got is limiting you, and preventing you from getting the kind of shots you want, then it might be time to explore other lenses. Hopefully, at that point you'll also have a bit
more of an idea of what kind of lens will get you where you're trying to go.

There's usually more than one way to skin a cat, as the saying goes, and different approaches are going to involve different trade-offs. With something like macro, people will suggest a variety of perfectly viable workarounds for doing it on the cheap, each with their own set of tradeoffs. This can get confusing when you don't yet know which trade-offs are going to work for YOUR style of shooting.

I started off with an an old close-focusing zoom that could get to 1/4 life size on 35mm film. It wasn't bad, but it didn't have enough reach ( 70mm at the long end ), and I couldn't get enough magnification for what I was shooting. Perhaps if I had been shooting digital, i would have been content with just cropping my images to "get closer". Then I tried a telephoto lens on extension tubes, but I found that with live subjects, it was a bit awkward ( it was a long time ago, I forget exactly why I gave up on that option ).

Eventually I got a dedicated macro lens, but it was an old manual focus lens. It worked fine for many years, and I only upgraded because the old lens was starting to fall apart, and repairing it would probably have cost half as much as replacing it. Given how much I was using the lens, I could (finally) justify the upgrade to a new, modern macro lens.

But that doesn't mean that a dedicated macro lens is the right solution for you.

By all means, read what others have written on the subject to see what approaches have worked for them. But the only way you're going to finger out which approach will work for you is to work with the camera a bit. Once you know your way around the camera, you might be able to "see" how some different approaches will work. If you're shooting relatively static subjects, with your camera on a tripod, then maybe a bellows or extension tubes will be the best approach. Maybe you find that you're always shooting on the move, so the whole tripod thing and swapping extension tubes doesn't work for you. If you find you don't really need to get super close, then maybe a close focusing zoom will get you all the magnification you need, and the added flexibility is preferable. Don't get discouraged if one approach doesn't work for you.
Just keep shooting till you find your niche.

Cheers
02-21-2014, 09:48 PM   #19
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Thank you for that wonderful comment arkav. You really calmed me down. I was getting a bit overwhelmed. I am going to take your advice, enjoy my new camera when it arrives, and let it all unfold in due time. Meanwhile, I have a little book on macro to read that might help me along. I will give the online lens research a rest for now and breathe.

Cheers to you too!

02-21-2014, 10:25 PM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by EdithCosmos Quote
Thank you for that wonderful comment arkav. You really calmed me down. I was getting a bit overwhelmed. I am going to take your advice, enjoy my new camera when it arrives, and let it all unfold in due time. Meanwhile, I have a little book on macro to read that might help me along. I will give the online lens research a rest for now and breathe.

Cheers to you too!
There are so many ways to approach photography that it does get overwhelming fast.

I found my own way over the years of relying mostly on what I can find at thrift stores, flea markets and yard sales. Every once in a while I get lucky and find something that opens up new possibilities for me, just acquired my first lens beyond 210mm recently.
02-21-2014, 11:40 PM   #21
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Here is some more rambling from me:
I threw my comments about macro in without really reading through your whole situation, the 18-135WR is one of the most versatile lenses Pentax makes at the moment, there are lenses that are better image quality and speed wise but they all have to limit themselves greatly in focal range to do it and cost at least twice as much so you are off to a very good start there for one lens especially since its WR.
I honestly have no idea how that lens will behave with an extension tube I just tried my 18-55WR and the results were a little bizarre because the camera decided it was a suddenly a fixed minimum F4 rather than a 3.5-5.6 probably due to the way the contacts meet up inside. It also focused on objects touching the front lens at about 24mm so half its range became kinda useless. My 80-320 F4.5-F5.6 becomes a fixed minimum 4.5 and was a much more useable focal range.
I am finding that most of the really cool results I was used to getting with the A35-105 F3.5 were a combo of that lens with its built in full range macro ability allowing me to focus much closer at 105mm when combined with the close focus of the extension tube than I otherwise would be able to.
Really all an extension tube does is allow the lens to focus closer. The main thing a true macro lens gives you is greater speed because you wont have the light loss you get with the tube, and the convenience of a smaller package with a more useable focus and functional AF on the newer stuff.

Camera body wise thankfully the K-50 unlike the previous budget bodies has all the critical features like WR and front and rear dials as well a good sensor and improved AF system so you shouldn't be outgrowing that soon either.

Since you have the focal ranges covered from the very bottom up to short zoom, you might consider a cheap telephoto that reaches up to 300 like one of the Tamron 70-300's or something like the Pentax 80-320 that I have. They are a small investment to see how often you use that sort of range, and you could decide if you want a more expensive and faster lens in that range. Personally I never seem to use my telephoto at anything but 320 so if I got something better it would probably be a fast 300+mm prime lens rather than a zoom.
The cheaper variable aperture lenses in this range need to be stopped down for any kind of sharpness and aren't the best on chromatic aberrations with lots of blue and purple fringing but they are a good start.
02-22-2014, 05:41 AM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by PPPPPP42 Quote
I honestly have no idea how that lens will behave with an extension tube I just tried my 18-55WR and the results were a little bizarre because the camera decided it was a suddenly a fixed minimum F4 rather than a 3.5-5.6 probably due to the way the contacts meet up inside.
Maybe you've got an older set of tubes that don't have the electrical contacts on the mount. Because that lens doesn't have an aperture ring, the camera depends a lot on those electrical contacts and
depending on what exposure mode it's in, you might get some bizarre behaviour.

I've got a set of "A" tubes, which have most of the electrical contacts. When I used them, it was mostly with M series lenses on an MX, so everything was 100% manual. If I recall correctly, when I put the kit lens on one of these extension tubes, the only function I lost was autofocus ( because there's no mechanical coupling for the screw drive ). Otherwise, the lens behaved as expected.

QuoteOriginally posted by PPPPPP42 Quote
Really all an extension tube does is allow the lens to focus closer. The main thing a true macro lens gives you is greater speed because you wont have the light loss you get with the tube, and the convenience of a smaller package with a more useable focus and functional AF on the newer stuff.
This isn't 100% correct - you do lose light when you get really close with a true macro lens. If you look at what happens with the Pentax 100mm macro lenses, they get REALLY long when you get close to maximum magnification ( at least, that's true with the M and DFA versions that I own ). So basically, the extension is happening inside the lens. What the macro gives you is it optimizes how the extension is done to minimize the light loss. The macro lens is also optimized in other ways for things like a flat field of focus. Because the lens is designed for a specific purpose, the designer can optimize the design accordingly. Also, because dedicated macro lenses usually sell at a premium price, they tend to not be compromised for the sake of economy as might be the case with something like a consumer grade zoom lens.

I've never seen one, but from what I've read, the A35-105 F3.5 you mention is a very good lens. It may be cheap to buy on the used market today, but I'll bet it wasn't cheap back in its day. The build quality of those A series lenses was very high.

---------- Post added 02-22-2014 at 08:23 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by arkav Quote
The lens you're getting should be a pretty good general purpose lens, and it will probably do a pretty good job with closeups.
I just looked up the 18-135 WR in the lens database on this site to get the following statistics:

Closest Focus: 40cm
Max magnification: 0.24x ( I'm assuming this takes the crop factor into account )

It doesn't mention the focal length at which those stats are achieved - let's assume it's at 135mm. So basically, the original poster will be able to get to within 16" of their subject - just over 1 foot. That's not bad for a general purpose zoom.

0.24x is not bad for a zoom. Once upon a time, zoom lenses that could do that were labelled as "macro" zooms. The M 100mm F4 macro lens topped out at 0.5x without extension tubes.

Technically, it's not true macro until you're at least 1x, but 0.24x is almost 1/4 life size on the sensor, and that will work reasonably well for flowers and larger insects ( eg. many butterflies, dragonflies, etc. ).

For comparison, the max magnification on my 18-55 WR is 0.34x. I just checked, and something around 6cm wide fills the frame. So with the 18-135, a subject that's around 3 inches wide should pretty much fill the frame.

That's not bad for a start. I would go to the lens reviews and read what people have to say about this lens in terms of where the "sweet" spot is. Zooms are often not at their best at the extreme ends of their range, but there are exceptions. Maybe the 18-135 is sharper at say, 120mm than at 135mm. It may make sense to sacrifice a bit of the reach to get a sharper image. Play around with it, try different focal lengths and apertures.

Good luck!

Last edited by arkav; 02-22-2014 at 06:26 AM.
02-22-2014, 08:30 AM   #23
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Thanks all.

If only the camera were in my hands! 4 more days and it should be. Provided the snow storms allow. I joined the macro group here, and have been checking out other's photos. Truly exciting. Macro really does open up a whole new world of perspective. I will share some photos there when I have a collection and look forward to feedback. This site is really helpful. When I researched my Pentax, I talked to some camera experts and was discouraged from buying a Pentax. He said the lenses were hard to find and that they don't make enough for Pentax. But it seems they are out there if one digs around. I like the approach of slow hunting around at garage sales and thrift shops. That is actually my favorite way of finding items of any kind. It is almost as if they find you. Like the universe says, here, have this lens, you are ready. Finding gems and being taken by surprise is half the fun, right? I bought the Pentax even after being discouraged because I just knew it was the right camera for me. It is fun to chat with other people who feel the same way about the camera I just spent a bundle on and waited years to afford.

Have a good one and thanks again for taking the time to respond with great advice.

02-22-2014, 08:38 AM   #24
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02-22-2014, 08:57 AM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by EdithCosmos Quote
When I researched my Pentax, I talked to some camera experts and was discouraged from buying a Pentax. He said the lenses were hard to find and that they don't make enough for Pentax.
There's an element of truth is what he said, especially if he's a photographic professional who needs certain specialized lenses. Pentax might not make those lenses. Or if they do, they aren't readily available at retail outlets. Some professionals rent certain specialized lenses when they need them - Pentax lenses aren't as readily available for rent as Nikon/Canon.

A friend of mine went on Safari in Africa a few years back. Normally, he doesn't really have a use for one of those super long zoom lenses, so he just rented one for the trip for shooting wildlife. Lucky for him, he shoots Nikon, so renting was easy. With Pentax, you'd have a harder time renting equipment ( at least you would here in Canada ).

But how often does the average photographer find themselves in that kind of scenario? Even if you did, if you're not a professional, with proper insurance, you can find yourself in a bind. I know a photographer who shoots Canon. He rented a $20K lens for a project, and then had it stolen when his car was broken into. Canon wanted the full list price of the lens, but his insurance wouldn't cover that. He had to make up the difference.

So in the reality, most of us will never encounter these limitations in the Pentax lens lineup. Do they exist? Absolutely. As far as my inability to get a $20K zoom lens for my camera goes, I'll burn that bridge when I get to it. Even if I could afford one, I'd be terrified to carry it to the kinds of places I visit. For my own part, I think Pentax turned out to be the best choice for the photography I do - hands down.

Besides, AFAIK, no other company offers the equivalent of the limited lenses. I don't own any yet, but I'm sorely tempted to get me one of them 15's....
02-22-2014, 10:04 AM   #26
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As far as the lenses bizarre behavior, the tube does have the A contacts which read fine on a fixed aperture lens, but these variable aperture lenses seem to baffle the camera because it doesn't know the focal length in use with the extension tube in the way so its doing something else to figure out what wide open is and I have no idea what.
I actually have no idea how the camera keeps track of focal length and automatically adjusts for the variable aperture as you zoom since the electrical contacts really don't change.

And not to digress but who leaves a $20k lens in their car under any circumstances? I am abnormally protective of my camera gear, probably because I am poor.
I also would agree that any piece of gear you can't afford to replace you will never use to its full extent and thus shouldn't bother to own in the first place.

As far as Pentax lens availability goes, read up on green button metering so you know what you are getting into with pre A series lenses, and be aware of how shake reduction will work with non autofocus lenses, this is a non issue with primes since you just tell the camera the focal length on startup, but a huge hassle on zooms since picking a number in the middle of the range only works so well especially if its a wider range zoom like the 35-105. You almost have to turn SR off and just flip it on for the few odd shots that need it.
You will find more used lenses than you will ever need available for Pentax, they have been making them for a very long time.
Our marketplace is a good place to get used stuff safely, or ebay if the person has a guarantee. I use KEH to gauge the current fair used price on equipment, plus they are very good about grading equipment condition accurately and taking it back if there is an issue.
A good way to determine which prime lenses you might like is to look in the exif data on the pictures you take with your 18-135 and see what focal lengths you use the most heavily, most people see clear patterns there.

I would agree that the complaints about availability are mostly from pros looking at the new lens lineup which does have some issues though I expect most of those to get sorted in the next few years under Ricoh.
Doesn't really matter so much unless you are really rich though as the missing stuff costs more than my truck for the most part.
02-22-2014, 12:09 PM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by PPPPPP42 Quote
As far as the lenses bizarre behavior, the tube does have the A contacts which read fine on a fixed aperture lens, but these variable aperture lenses seem to baffle the camera because it doesn't know the focal length in use with the extension tube in the way so its doing something else to figure out what wide open is and I have no idea what.
I actually have no idea how the camera keeps track of focal length and automatically adjusts for the variable aperture as you zoom since the electrical contacts really don't change.
I don't know the details of the evolution of the K-mount, but there are different electrical contacts, communicating different information about the lens to the camera body. At each stage of the evolution, Pentax just added another contact, and that way they were able to maintain backward compatibility. Unless I'm mistaken, with a constant F stop zoom lens ( like your 35-105 ), the aperture varies as the focal length changes to maintain a constant F stop ( F stop is a ratio ). Doing this is more complicated, so this feature tends to be found in higher quality zooms. Cheaper zooms just keep a fixed aperture diameter as you zoom, so the F stop changes. I just took my F 70-210 ( not a constant aperture zoom ), and with it dismounted and the aperture ring set to f11, the aperture appears to stay constant as I zoom in and out. Important to look at it from the back, as from the front, it looks as though the aperture is changing in size ( presumably an optical effect ). I don't have a constant aperture zoom to compare it to.

An auto-focus lens communicates the focal length electronically to the camera body, the camera tells the lens what the F-stop should be, and the lens ( presumably ) handles setting the actual aperture diameter accordingly.

I just put the F series zoom on my K-30 with one of my extension tubes on and except for auto-focus being disabled, everything else seems to function normally. I can control the aperture with the dials on my camera, and the EXIF data looks to have the focal length, F-stop, etc. recorded correctly.

Same goes when I have my 18-55 WR mounted.

My guess is that your extension tubes are for an older version of the mount and while they have the electrical contacts required for an A series lens, they may not have the additional contacts required for a DA lens. Maybe they'll work "normally" for for a F series lens.

Cheers
02-23-2014, 07:02 AM   #28
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0.24x magnification that your incoming lens can do is not too shabby for many flowers and larger insects. Before spending too much money to move to higher magnifications, either a tripod or external flashes for lighting (or both) would be a good idea or be prepared to be frustrated if you're trying to take close ups in anything but direct sunlight. Camera shake is more and more of a factor at high magnifications and you need something to combat that.

That said, keep in mind that the dedicated macro lenses also work great at normal working distances so do double duty. Those in the ~100mm range are generally swell for people portraits for example, or will work for many of the tamer backyard feeder birds (patience is required here)
02-24-2014, 02:09 AM   #29
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Lots of good responses so far, I'll try to keep it short:
Look for a M50 (macro or non-macro), M100/4 macro maybe with magnifiers or try a reversing ring with manual lenses.
Budget would be between 50 and 100 bucks. I can higly recommend the M50/1.7 and the M100/4 which I managed to get for a fair price.

Seb
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