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02-12-2007, 02:42 PM   #1
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Macro lense help....

OK I will eventually get a macro lense because I wish to have the best quality shot if I am going to make the effort and time involved to get a shot. A lot of photos shown on this forum have convinced me. I am a total novice at this and wish to know enough to make the best selection I can afford so if you would all be so kind as to bring me up to speed, I will have a better idea of the lense I should be putting aside $$$ toward.

On this forum I have seen shots from various mm lenses but I don't totally understand why. Macro lenses 50mm, 100mm, 150mm, 200mm. Could you please explain why for each length and what would be the best choice, in your personal experience and opinion.

Also I understand these lenses could have other uses than macro, such as portrait, which I probably will do very little except a cat or two, so what other uses can these lenses provide.

I have a K10D, Kit 18-55, and DA50-200

02-12-2007, 04:00 PM   #2
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a true "macro" lens will typically get you more magnification that the zooms that have macro function.

The focal length typically gives you different working distances. 50mm is good for things you can get close to. The 100mm allow you to sit back a bit further to get the same magnification - nice for buzzing bees and such
02-12-2007, 04:26 PM   #3
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as ccallan says, about the only difference is working distance, however, the other difference is $$$$. after you go beyond 100mm the cost starts rising. i use an old vivitar 105f2.5.. it's always been a classic and performs neck and neck with any modern lens.. makes a good club against muggers also. with maco AF isn't worth a flip as you are usually leaning in and out to acheive focus. i like to use off camera flash and a camera grip for macro. expect a lot of deletions.. here's a shot with a 25 year old lens. sharp as a tack.

02-12-2007, 07:45 PM   #4
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There is a group who will tell you that macro means 1:1; what gets to the film, gets there full sized. This would give a 35mm frame enough coverage to show about 1 and 1/2 US quarter dollars. The quarter is roughly 1 in in diameter.

Manufacturors believe slightly differently. Each lens you acquire will typically have a near focus limit. On the typical 50mm it's about 1.5 feet (1/2 meter) It cannot focus on a subject closer than that distance. On a longer focal length lens, say 200mm, the near focus limit is about 6 feet (2 meters).

Macro is then defined as any lens that will continue to focus inside this near focus limit; down to some closer near limit--typically an inch (2.5cm) at 50 mm and about 1.5 feet (0.5Meters) at 200mm. And that's the big advantage: you get the magnification of a tele, up real close to where you stand!

Take your typical Monarch butterfly. On a 50mm normal lens you get an itti-bitty butterfly and lots of background. The same thing happens with a 100mm normal lens--just not quite so much background. But if you stalk that monarch with a macro , say 50 mm, you can get a frame filled with just his body! That would take a lot of luck because you must get very close!

More typically you would mount a 105mm macro and get that frame filling view from about 14 inches away vs say 6-7 inches with the 50mm. If you jump to a 180mm macro, you can fill the same frame from 3-6 feet away (1-2 meters). That doesn't require as much luck as just very steady hands! Or a support: monopod/tripod.

The side benefit of macro lenses is that they need to be fairly good glass to pull-off the macro stunt and at more normal distances they give exceptional results similar to more expensive glass! Not that macros are inexpensive by any means, but you get two effects for you money.

Macro-zooms are not quite the same standard of glass. They typically have the macro feature at only one end of their zoom range, they are usually slower glass, and a higher level of tolerances for aberrations is part of the game.

The most common first true macro acquisition is probably the 105mm lens; a bit of a tele, an excellent macro. Once one gets hooked they typically need the macro effect further away so something in 135 or even 180mm is probably next. If you get really goofy, like me, you'll get them in 50mm and 24mm too. The near focus on the 24mm is about 4 inches. Here I get a modest wide angle that effectively focus from where I stand out to infinity and it's incredibly sharp all the way! And an f/1.8 too!

Well, I hope that's helpful; and good luck!

02-12-2007, 08:15 PM   #5
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Depends on what you want to shoot. For copy work the 50 is probably the easiest to use. You are close enough to the original print to position it while looking thru the viewfinder. It also fits on a copy stand easily. For flowers and insects the 100 is much easier to use. You don't want to stand in the middle of the plant to shoot the bloom. The 100 also gives you a much better chance of shooting insects. Many won't let you get as close as a 50 requires. The 200 gives you even greater working distance for very skittish creatures.
The lenses can all give the same magnification but do so at different working distaces. So at 1:1 the 50 would be approx 6" away, the 100 12", and the 200 about 22" away. The other thing you need to know is if all three lenses were at the correct distance to give the same subject magnification the background would still look totally different! The 50 would look like a wideangle and include large areas of background. The 100 would allow much less background ( simpler background - less distracting). The 200 would allow only a few different out of focus patches of background. The 50 background would also look more in focus than the 100 & 200. The 50 background won't be in focus just closer. Its kind of a limbo land.
For most the 100 is the macro I would recommend first. I am looking for the 200 (maybe Sigma 180) though to supplement my Pentax DFA 100.
Best macro book I have ever seen is John Shaws CLOSEUPS IN NATURE. A must read. You will totally get macro after reading it. Only other books that have been as helpful tp me is the Ansel Adams books.

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