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05-22-2020, 10:49 AM   #1
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Budget macro lens advice

Hi everyone, would anyone be kind enough recommend the best bang for buck macro lens in the focal range of around 50-100mm (vintage prime possibly as working on a tight budget). It'll be used for flower photography (isolating flowers at a distance creating blurred foreground and background). I currently own a tamron 135mm f2.5 but the focal length is a little too long. Maybe somebody reading this has one they are possibly selling? Thanks everybody.


Last edited by davy5toes; 05-22-2020 at 11:03 AM.
05-22-2020, 11:11 AM   #2
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A couple of extension tubes on the back of your 135mm Tamron will probably be all you need for flowers, and probably the cheapest option ... close-up "dioptres" would be another alternative, though the 58mm filter size will push the price up a bit.

After that, macro doesn't usually come cheap, the Russian N-61L/Z in M42-mount (often called an Industar) can be well priced, but you'll need an M42-PK adaptor. As you'll be using it for macro, infinity focus shouldn't be an issue, so you can go for one of the "flanged" adaptors which are available for "not-a-lot". Leave it fitted to the lens and you've got a fully-manual 50mm macro lens in PK mount ... don't forget to get a lens-cap

I always recommend the Tamron 90mm, but you'll need to get lucky to find one in budget ... at least you've already got the Adaptall adaptor

Good luck

Last edited by kypfer; 05-22-2020 at 11:14 AM. Reason: afterthought
05-22-2020, 11:16 AM   #3
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The best bang for buck will probably be some extension tubes combined with a 'good' prime lens.
The only downsides are:
-that you have to insert or remove a tube whenever you want to make significant changes of your magnification
-and that the cheaper ones don't have A-contacts so you can't use Av or other automatic or half-automatic exposure programs on your camera.
05-22-2020, 11:17 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by kypfer Quote
A couple of extension tubes on the back of your 135mm Tamron will probably be all you need for flowers, and probably the cheapest option ... close-up "dioptres" would be another alternative, though the 58mm filter size will push the price up a bit.

After that, macro doesn't usually come cheap, the Russian N-61L/Z in M42-mount (often called an Industar) can be well priced, but you'll need an M42-PK adaptor. As you'll be using it for macro, infinity focus shouldn't be an issue, so you can go for one of the "flanged" adaptors which are available for "not-a-lot". Leave it fitted to the lens and you've got a fully-manual 50mm macro lens in PK mount ... don't forget to get a lens-cap

I always recommend the Tamron 90mm, but you'll need to get lucky to find one in budget ... at least you've already got the Adaptall adaptor

Good luck
Great stuff kypfer, I'll keep my eyes peeled for the tamron 90mm. As always great advice kypfer, much appreciated.

05-22-2020, 11:26 AM   #5
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I have the SMC Pentax A 50mm f/2.8 macro that I am very happy with (see below). It should be on the less expensive side of the spectrum but YMMV. Cheaper than a new AF lens, definitely. Manual focus is not a hardship in macro work and in all other aspects all the auto exposure functions of your Pentax will work.

SMC Pentax-A 50mm F2.8 Macro Reviews - A Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

For something a little cheaper, you can also look around for the SMC Pentax M 50mm f/4 macro. It has a very good reputation.

SMC Pentax-M 50mm F4 Macro Reviews - M Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

In M42 mount, the Macro Takumar 50mm f/4 would be a good choice as well.

S-M-C/Super Macro-Takumar 50mm F4 Reviews - M42 Screwmount Normal Primes - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

Which one to get may be a matter of availability in your valley as well as budget.

05-22-2020, 11:53 AM   #6
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The extension tubes on a 135 sounds like something worth trying. I've no experience there.

If I wanted to do flowers close-up's and didn't care about 1:1 reproduction images, I would grab my Tamron 90mm f2.5 Adapatall Telemacro. It reproduces at a maximum of 1:2 which may or may not matter to you. If I wanted to do full-tilt 1:1 macro work, I would grab my Kino Precision 105mm f2.8 macro (mine was relabeled as a Ricoh, there's also Lester Dine and Vivitar branding as well as Kino's Kiron house branding).


A Cosina 100mm f3.5 macro would be worth looking for if I didn't want to go with the above ideas. I think a case could be made for the Tamron 90 f2.5 and a set of extension tubes both. It's a great lens.
05-22-2020, 12:01 PM   #7
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The 105mm f/2.8 Vivitar/Kiron/Lester Dine might do the trick although it might be still too long for your tastes. 1:1 magnification without an added tube or lens. Rock solid construction and outstanding image quality for a vintage lens. My Lester Dine copy is lens I use most. They go for under $200 USD easily these days.

Check the Market Place.
05-22-2020, 12:12 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Not a Number Quote
The 105mm f/2.8 Vivitar/Kiron/Lester Dine might do the trick although it might be still too long for your tastes.
All due respect but this is in the OP's post; "isolating flowers at a distance creating blurred foreground and background" and I can't see how having a lens too long is a realistic issue here for real and affordable macro's (so, you know, not something 500mm or longer). If the lens feels too long for something like this, take another step back. When I've used my 105 Ricoh copy of this lens to take flower photos (did it once) I remember wishing it was 150mm or longer.


Before the 105 I would put a cheap 'macro filter' on my DA 50-200 and I thought that made for a nice playtime macro setup. Honestly I think Pentax should have sold an accessory to do exactly that but of high quality with optics meant to mate with that lens specifically. It's by far my favorite use for the 50-200.

05-22-2020, 12:27 PM - 1 Like   #9
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I bought a used FA 50 macro on the forum last year for $150. Great at twice the price. If you can spend a couple hundred more, you could probably find a used 100, though maybe not the WR version. The 100 is one of my favorites.
05-22-2020, 12:33 PM   #10
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FA-100 macros are often available for well under 200, even under 150, US dollars. Not weather sealed. No quick shift. No lens shade. Performance close.

$150 to $200 for a good macro qualifies as "budget" for a good macro to my mind.

Added: there is a 90mm Tamron macro available right now on the marketplace for 160 OBO.
05-22-2020, 12:37 PM - 3 Likes   #11
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I have another suggestion. A Raynox DCR-150 on the end of that lens would give you blurred (bokeH) background, and it's fairly cheap to own. I have both Raynox adapters and when I was well enough to take photos with them, I was impressed as were other members here.
05-22-2020, 12:49 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by pres589 Quote
If the lens feels too long for something like this, take another step back.
Come shoot in some of the overcrowded greenhouses that I have. A step back puts you on top of of a plant covered greenhouse bench, flood table, through the glass wall or in some plants that you practically need a machete to get through. Moving the plants is not always an option. A 50mm macro comes in handy at that point but being f/4 may not be practical in dim light.
05-22-2020, 01:06 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by davy5toes Quote
Hi everyone, would anyone be kind enough recommend the best bang for buck macro lens in the focal range of around 50-100mm (vintage prime possibly as working on a tight budget). It'll be used for flower photography (isolating flowers at a distance creating blurred foreground and background). I currently own a tamron 135mm f2.5 but the focal length is a little too long. Maybe somebody reading this has one they are possibly selling? Thanks everybody.
To be honest, if you want very cheap: use the DA 18-55. In the manual of this lens they recommend(ed) to use it for macro and I did so quite often. It can focus 0.25m so you can get quite close to the subject. The 0.25mm works from 18-55 so you have a lot of combinations to make a good picture. The 0.25m is also quite close to the shortest focus distance of the several 50mm macro's Pentax produced. Give it a try. Contrary to the general thought of this lens it is better than you expect. It gives you time to decide if you really want to buy a (short) macro or not. The Pentax 18-55mm is probably the best kit-lens for APS-C on the market. Most of the time Macro lenses are not that cheap second hand, even the old manuals remain costly. So play with that kit-lens if you have it.
05-22-2020, 01:10 PM   #14
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Another option if you want to go beyoned 1:1 is to get an old 28mm f/3.5 and a reverse mount adapter (K to 49mm filter size). When doing this the focus ring basically does nothing so you get to focus by moving closer of farther from the subject. However you will be at about a 2:1 macro. If you already have an old 50 or 55mm with a 49mm filter thread you can reverse mount one of those as well and basically be at 1:1 macro.
05-22-2020, 01:19 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Not a Number Quote
Come shoot in some of the overcrowded greenhouses that I have. A step back puts you on top of of a plant covered greenhouse bench, flood table, through the glass wall or in some plants that you practically need a machete to get through. Moving the plants is not always an option. A 50mm macro comes in handy at that point but being f/4 may not be practical in dim light.
If I only get one macro lens for a walk-around and the point is close-focused shots, I'd rather have a 90 or 100. If what I'm envisioning is accurate, that's a focal length(s) that would be more useful. And f4 in dim light is not a problem if we're talking about a digital Pentax from the K-5 or newer.
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