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07-28-2008, 10:06 AM   #1
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Macro options (on a budget)

I'm currently having a lot of fun taking pictures of things close up using my K100D. It all started with a simple +2 close up filter, and then I tried (handholding) my SMC-M 50mm f2 backwards over the lens mount. Next step was using a rear element of an old (scrap) 50mm prime held in front of the lens. Tests today showed I can get 3:1 using an old 70-200mm zoom at the long end with the aforementioned rear element in use also. Alternatively, better quality and almost 1:1 can be obtained with the 50mm f2 and the rear element. However, quality is still not good enough.

I don't have a lot of cash so I'm thinking along a couple of lines. Firstly, extension tubes and a proper reversing ring. This seems very cost effective, and I have seen great results using this kind of setup. Secondly, used bellows (for greater magnigication than extension tubes allow). Lastly, a proper macro lens. I'm not really sure what the options are here. I know the Sigma/Tamron lineup etc, and Pentax 100mm and 50mm, and have been quite impressed even with the 35mm DA, but all are outside of my budget, for now at least. What are the older (and cheaper) macro lenses like? Which ones can do a proper 1:1 or greater (with tubes or reversed etc). I like the idea of something a bit longer than 50mm, as I have been finding it requires getting a little too close to the subject. Fine for flowers etc, but for bugs a bit of a distance makes for less hassle.

What advice can you guys offer?

Oh, just remembered - what about the helicoid extension tube - is this just a 'zoom' extension ring or does it do something special?

07-28-2008, 10:11 AM   #2
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what's you budget?
07-28-2008, 10:13 AM   #3
Zou
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As little as possible.

No more than 100 (which doesn't go far this side of the Atlantic)...
07-28-2008, 10:13 AM   #4
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Unfortunately, I do not have a specific lens to recommend, but I would look at third party dedicated manual focus macro lenses. You can get them used and you really do not need AF when shooting macro. I have picked up Sigma 50mm 1:1 MF macro lens and I like it. Might not be as good as Pentax or other high quality macro lenses, but I doubt I could tell the difference with my casual shooting. I have purchased it as a package so I can't tell you how much it would be used here on the marketplace though.

07-28-2008, 10:19 AM   #5
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I just did a quick search and two lenses like the one I have (Sigma 50mm f/2.8 MF macro) sold here on marketplace for $95 and $100 plus shipping. So knowing what's dollar value overseas, it would be within your budget if it shows up here again.
07-28-2008, 10:20 AM   #6
vlo
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One option is to look for old m42-lenses and get an adaptor for them. I have a new Sigma 105 mm macro but also an old Vivitar 55 mm (1:1) m42 lens that is really quite good and cost next to nothing.

vlo
07-28-2008, 10:44 AM   #7
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If you have a normal or short tele prime (wide angle working distance is a bit tight), any of these options can get you started for less than $100 USD:
  • Bellows
  • Extension tubes
  • Auxiliary lenses (mount like a filter)
  • Reverse mount adapter

Steve
07-28-2008, 11:01 AM   #8
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You might want to read the following 2 threads that discuss several options. IMO the cheapest is a decent set of extension tubes with a good 50mm lens. But bellows can be just as cheap and give great results.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-photography-knowledge-base/24622-m...l-bellows.html

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/11161-answer-macro-question.html

07-28-2008, 11:17 AM   #9
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Bargain Macro

Have you considered the Pentax M series 50mm f4? From what I have seen on Ebay it should fit your budget. I have one and although I didn't use it much on film it becomes a 75mm macro on digital. This gives you a little more working room. Lately I've developed a greater appreciation for this little macro. It is a bit slow at f4 but razor sharp and very light weight. Check out the M Club on this forum. There are several examples from this lens. You might even be able to find an M 100mm f4 macro in this range.

Tom G
07-28-2008, 11:51 AM   #10
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Sounds like you've tried some fun options. Reversing rings are great if you have a bellows or some other way of being very precise. But since you have no working distance to speak of it's not that practical in the field.

If you want a dedicated lens the Vivitar/Cosina 100mm f/3.5 goes 1:2 on its own and 1:1 with the included adaptor. It is light and small and works well for flowers. You don't need the AF version. It's not razor sharp but is cheap and gives you more working distance. There was one still for sale in the marketplace yesterday.
07-28-2008, 12:54 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by rparmar Quote
Sounds like you've tried some fun options. Reversing rings are great if you have a bellows or some other way of being very precise. But since you have no working distance to speak of it's not that practical in the field.

If you want a dedicated lens the Vivitar/Cosina 100mm f/3.5 goes 1:2 on its own and 1:1 with the included adaptor. It is light and small and works well for flowers. You don't need the AF version. It's not razor sharp but is cheap and gives you more working distance. There was one still for sale in the marketplace yesterday.
I second the idea with Vivitar/Cosina/Phoenix 100mm f/3.5 1:2 Macro with adapter 1:1 diopter adapter. I don't own the lens, but I have the Cosina 1:1 matched achromatic diopter adapter, and I can use the adapter on other lens with 49mm filter thread such as Pentax FA 50 f/1.4 and changes my FA 50 from 1:6 to about 1:3 in magnification.

Some posts and results in using the matched 1:1 adapter on FA 50 f/1.4 and Pentax A 50 f/2.8 1:2 Macro

And there is Vivitar 2x 1:1 Macro Teleconverter that both acts as a macro and tele converter. I have the similar Kenko 2x Macro Teleplus MC7 adapter and it changes my 50mm to a 1:1 macro lens. Both macro and 2x works reasonably well but there are caveats with light loss, corner softness, added weight, and potential slight loss of color and contrast.

And I have tried extension tubes with Vivitar AT-22, though I have reasonable pictures in using extension tubes, I find 1:1 macro with extension tubes extremely difficult if not impossible to do with hand-holding. It is easier with the 50mm but way harder with 100mm due to longer extension tubes and weight added to the setup.

If you don't mind for a tele-zoom lens, you can consider looking into 1:2 Macro with two zoom lens with Tamron 70-300 Di LD Macro and Sigma 70-300 APO DG Macro. The other cheaper option is to use Raynox 250 adapter on either the Tamron, Sigma or even Pentax DA 50-200 zoom with good close focusing distance.

Thanks,
Hin

Last edited by hinman; 07-29-2008 at 04:42 AM.
07-29-2008, 12:06 AM   #12
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I just bought a Phoenix 100 f/3.5 with 1:1 adapter from the marketplace last week. It was new in the box for 100.00. I have only took a few flower images with it but it looks very sharp to me and you can't beat the price. I will warn you. It looks and feels like a toy. I don't think you can beat these for the price. I've been trying to snag a Viv 105 but this will hold me until I find a good deal on one. It also gives me a chance to decide if I really want to get into the macro thing without investing a lot of money.
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