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07-25-2008, 06:32 AM   #1
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Let's talk macros...

I'm an experienced amateur photographer. Right now I take bird photos using a K20D through high end astro scopes. I don't have any conventional camera lens' except the kit lens.

Anyway lately I've been shooting close ups just for the fun of it using the kit lens and have been wondering about getting a decent prime macro.

So a general discussion about what folks think is important in a good quality dedicated prime macro would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Wildman

07-25-2008, 07:08 AM   #2
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judging by the quality you get (and probably expect) of your beautiful bird pics, I think you want to try and find a voigtlander 125, or a F / FA 100 (not sure whether f / fa is next best)

Phil
07-25-2008, 07:15 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by wildman Quote
I'm an experienced amateur photographer. Right now I take bird photos using a K20D through high end astro scopes. I don't have any conventional camera lens' except the kit lens.

Anyway lately I've been shooting close ups just for the fun of it using the kit lens and have been wondering about getting a decent prime macro.

So a general discussion about what folks think is important in a good quality dedicated prime macro would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Wildman
1:1 focusing without the addition of an extension tube
If it will do this, then you can be sure it will be a good optic. They all seem very good in this class, no matter who's name is on the lens bezel. Sharpness is rarely an issue with macro lenses.
Good bokeh is more important to look for, since a lot of macro shooting involves out of focus backgrounds.
I prefer a bright maximum aperture and somewhat of a telephoto. My A100mm f/2.8 macro is my most used macro lens, followed by my FA200/4, and last my M50/4.
07-25-2008, 07:46 AM   #4
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Macros

Find myself in agreement with Wheatfield here. I have the A 100 macro as well as the M 50 f4 macro. Both are excellent lenses. I note he also has the 200mm macro which is reputed by many to be the "best" macro Pentax or anyone else ever made.


Cheers

Tom G

07-25-2008, 07:46 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by philmorley Quote
judging by the quality you get (and probably expect) of your beautiful bird pics, I think you want to try and find a voigtlander 125, or a F / FA 100 (not sure whether f / fa is next best)

Phil
The Voigtlander is, indeed, among the best of breed. I know of a couple of people who have bought this lens and have sold their 100mm macro lenses after comparing pictures.
07-25-2008, 08:08 AM   #6
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oh, how could I have forgot the 200.

(hides head in shame
07-25-2008, 08:20 AM   #7
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which lens you choose is a choice all your own but I can say that there are some 'to look for' attributes in a good macro lens.

  1. 1:1 magnification ratio (without extension tubes)
  2. good working distance 100-200mm is ideal 50-90 are ok.
  3. larger aperture 2.8 is usually the highest behind that you usually get 4, I would look for 2.8
  4. manual focus or a focus lock/limiter for AF lenses, I think you will find that MF is much more ideal for macro work so as to easily fine tune your focus (just make sure that when buying a used MF lens that the focus ring is smooth and well dampened). a long focus throw is ideal (and typical for 1:1 lenses.)
  5. having the 'A' setting is a huge plus for macros (that is if you choose a K mount over an older M42) because it allows for easy changing of aperture without to much camera movement and of course so you don't have to do stop down metering.
for pentax lenses 2.8 aperture usually signifies 1:1 whereas 4 usually signifies 1:2 (but not always)

there are allot of great lenses to look for but a few that come to mind are (all 1:1 and in no particular order):

Pentax smc-A 100mm 1:2.8
Pentax smc-F 100mm 1:2.8
Pentax smc-FA 100mm 1:2.8
Pentax smc-D FA 100mm 1:2.8 (not as highly regarded as its FA and F autofocus counterparts)
Pentax smc-A* 200mm 1:4 (probably pentax's highest regarded macro)
Pentax smc-FA* 200mm 1:4
Tamron MF SP 90mm 1:2.8
Voigtlander APO-Lanthar 125mm 1:2.5
Vivitar Series 1 105mm 1:2.5
Kiron/Lester A. Dine 105mm 1:2.8
Sigma 70mm EX DG 1:2.8
Sigma 105mm EX DG 1:2.8
Sigma APO 150mm EX DG 1:2.8
Sigma APO 180mm EX DG IF 1:3.5
Pentax smc-F 50mm 1:2.8
Pentax smc-FA 50mm 1:2.8
Pentax smc-DA 35mm Ltd. 1:2.8


anyone willing to add any lenses be my guest.

Last edited by séamuis; 07-25-2008 at 02:14 PM.
07-25-2008, 09:47 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by séamuis Quote
which lens you choose is a choice all your own but I can say that there are some 'to look for' attributes in a good macro lens.

  1. 1:1 magnification ratio (without extension tubes)
  2. good working distance 100-200mm is ideal 50-90 are ok.
  3. larger aperture 2.8 is usually the highest behind that you usually get 4, I would look for 2.8
  4. manual focus or a focus lock/limiter for AF lenses, I think you will find that MF is much more ideal for macro work so as to easily fine tune your focus (just make sure that when buying a used MF lens that the focus ring is smooth and well dampened). a long focus throw is ideal (and typical for 1:1 lenses.)
  5. having the 'A' setting is a huge plus for macros (that is if you choose a K mount over an older M42) because it allows for easy changing of aperture without to much camera movement and of course so you don't have to do stop down metering.
for pentax lenses 2.8 aperture usually signifies 1:1 whereas 4 usually signifies 1:2 (but not always)

there are allot of great lenses to look for but a few that come to mind are (all 1:1 and in no prticular order):

smc-A 100mm 1:2.8
smc-F 100mm 1:2.8
smc-FA 100mm 1:2.8
smc-D FA 100mm 1:2.8 (not as highly regarded as its FA and F autofocus counterparts)
smc-A* 200mm 1:4 (probably pentax's highest regarded macro)
smc-FA* 200mm 1:4
Tamron MF SP 90mm 1:2.8
Voigtlander APO-Lanthar 125mm 1:2.5
Vivitar Series 1 105mm 1:2.5
Kiron/Lester A. Dine 105mm 1:2.8
Sigma 105mm EX DG 1:2.8
smc-F 50mm 1:2.8
smc-FA 50mm 1:2.8


anyone willing to add ny lenses be my guest.
Like to add here.

1)sharpness of the subject.

2)bokeh.. out of focus areas that isolate the subject.

3)working distance of the lens ie FA 200 f4 is great for bugs and moving insects and DA 35 macro is good for product shots.

marcus

07-25-2008, 09:53 AM   #9
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I have 2 suggestions, one is pretty main stream, the other is a little off the wall.

In my opinion (mainstream idea here) you should go for something in the 100mm + range, and get a true macro. Why, these lenses give you a better working distance from your subject, and a true macro is a flat field lens, optimized to be sharp at close focusing. This is not always true with normal close focusing lenses. There are lots of SMC-M 100mm F4 macros, and if you get a set of extension tubes you can get 1:1 (lens on its own gives you 1:2.

You already have a tripod to hold your scope, so you are OK there, and Manual Focus is good for a macro anyways because you can't always focus on what you want with AF.

Now for the off the wall suggestion. How close does your 'scope focus?

My celestron C90 will go doen to about 1 meter, giving you 1:1 macro with a working distance of 1 meter it's not fast, and you can't go chasing bugs around the garden with it, but it can do some interesting stuff if the subject is relitively still
07-25-2008, 11:33 AM   #10
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"smc-A 100mm 1:2.8
smc-F 100mm 1:2.8
smc-FA 100mm 1:2.8
smc-D FA 100mm 1:2.8 (not as highly regarded as its FA and F autofocus counterparts)
smc-A* 200mm 1:4 (probably pentax's highest regarded macro)
smc-FA* 200mm 1:4
Tamron MF SP 90mm 1:2.8
Voigtlander APO-Lanthar 125mm 1:2.5
Vivitar Series 1 105mm 1:2.5
Kiron/Lester A. Dine 105mm 1:2.8
Sigma 105mm EX DG 1:2.8
smc-F 50mm 1:2.8
smc-FA 50mm 1:2.8


anyone willing to add ny lenses be my guest."

OK:how about this one?...

Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 2/100 ZK
07-25-2008, 11:58 AM   #11
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Voigtlander APO-Lanthar 125mm 1:2.5...

Sounds good but I can't find one in K mount. Any ideas where?
07-25-2008, 12:00 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by marcusyoung Quote
Like to add here.

1)sharpness of the subject.

2)bokeh.. out of focus areas that isolate the subject.

3)working distance of the lens ie FA 200 f4 is great for bugs and moving insects and DA 35 macro is good for product shots.

marcus
'good working distance 100-200mm is ideal 50-90 are ok.'

I don't think sharpness of the lens is an issue with macros even at wide apertures. they are generally considered the sharpest lenses, period.

pleasing bokeh is rather subjective but I agree thats important.

sharpness of the subject comes down to proper focusing and useage of a tripod/monopd (which is essential for most people for macro work) not the lens.
07-25-2008, 12:00 PM   #13
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So, if you are not using a tripod then presumably it will be harder to hand-hold macro shots with a longer focal length lens. Seems to me that this would be a benefit of shorter focal length options. Of course then you have the closer working distance. Is this correct?
07-25-2008, 12:01 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by wildman Quote
Voigtlander APO-Lanthar 125mm 1:2.5...

Sounds good but I can't find one in K mount. Any ideas where?
as far as I know they are no longer being manufactured, and to find a used one will still set you back about $1000 USD.
07-25-2008, 12:06 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by sewebster Quote
So, if you are not using a tripod then presumably it will be harder to hand-hold macro shots with a longer focal length lens. Seems to me that this would be a benefit of shorter focal length options. Of course then you have the closer working distance. Is this correct?
correct, it is a trade off. longer focal lengths get you 1:1 at a greater distance but naturally make it harder to hand hold. shorter focal lengths however are easier to hand hold but require you to be much closer to get 1:1. it really comes down to what kind of subjects will you be most commonly choosing for your macro work, and will you be utilizing a tripod/monopod.
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