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03-27-2021, 06:12 AM - 1 Like   #1
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Macro advice

Hello, I'm hoping to get a little advice on macro lens selection.

I'm very much a beginner, so please excuse any ignorance I may show, and remember my level when / if you reply.

I want to take nice clear close-up photo's of frogs, snakes, insects and plant life. I would say my distances would vary from say 15' to inches away from my target.

I come from a bridge style camera that had a lot of zoom, and I was always struggling with the focus and zoom level not agreeing, if that makes sense.

The lens I am considering is this one, SMC Pentax-D FA 100mm F2.8 Macro WR. I also see a couple of other Pentax 100mm macros are available on the used market that have been discontinued.


From my quick and simple description, would this be a good lens to start with? Or should I be looking at something else?

I've seen posts about turning the lens around, and extension tubes, but to be honest, I think that is above my expertise level at this point.

I appreciate any advice. Thank you.

03-27-2021, 06:20 AM - 4 Likes   #2
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tons of macros available on the used side of things, both AF and MF....

the D FA 100/2.8 is an amazing lens, not just as a macro, but as a telephoto lens as well...
03-27-2021, 06:21 AM - 2 Likes   #3
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Great lens. I use that as my fixed prime, along with my 17/55 and my 50/300.
Fast and crisp.


Hang up and DRIVE!
03-27-2021, 07:12 AM - 1 Like   #4
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If you plan to reverse it you might want the slightly older version without WR designation. The older version has an aperture ring. However for what you describe I think you won’t need to reverse it and you will find it works well in either version. The WR version is weather resistant which can be handy.

03-27-2021, 07:22 AM - 2 Likes   #5
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That is a great lens. You can't go wrong with it, and it will provide countless hours of fun.
03-27-2021, 07:49 AM - 1 Like   #6
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any of the 100mm F2.8 Macro " family " would be an excellent choice for 1:1 macro

QuoteQuote:
Pentax-D FA 100mm F2.8 WR Macro Review
Specifications
The lens covers the full 24x36mm format, not just APS-C. The aperture blades are rounded, delivering a smoother bokeh which is important for a macro lens. However, unlike its predecessor, it has no aperture ring.



The optical design is the tried-and-proven formula of the previous generation D FA 100mm F2.8 Macro lens, which in turn had inherited the optical design from the well-respected FA 100mm F2.8 and F 100mm F2.8 macro lenses introduced in 1991 and 1987, respectively. None of these earlier lenses had rounded aperture blades.

Read more at: Pentax-D FA 100mm F2.8 WR Macro Review - Specifications | PentaxForums.com Reviews

personally I like have the aperture ring on a lens

QuoteQuote:
The Advantages of a Dedicated Macro Lens
Achieving lift-size magnification
By PF Staff in Tutorial Videos on Apr 4, 2016

Read more at: The Advantages of a Dedicated Macro Lens - Tutorial Videos | PentaxForums.com
03-27-2021, 07:53 AM - 1 Like   #7
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Tamron also offers a 90mm macro in Pentax mount and it has favorable ratings in the Pentax lens coverage. There is one listed at Amazon right now (used). This model is no longer made, hence the used status. Just thought you might want to check it out. I have the Tamron 90mm that proceeded this one and it's a great performer. As pepperberry farm mentioned, there might be a used option that will save you some money (not that I'm discounting the Pentax 100mm - would love to have one of those myself).

amazon.com : Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8 Di SP A/M 1:1 Macro Lens for Pentax Digital SLR Cameras (Model 272EP) : Camera Lenses : Camera & Photo?tag=pentaxforums-20&
03-27-2021, 08:26 AM - 1 Like   #8
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I have had excellent luck in finding " experienced " equipment via the forums' marketplace " buy/sell "

it can be sorted by country where the sale item is located:

The Pentax Marketplace | Buy & Sell Pentax Cameras and Lenses (United States) - PentaxForums.com

03-27-2021, 09:34 AM - 3 Likes   #9
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The lens you have in mind is an excellent choice as others have said. I have one of its predecessors, the Pentax-F 100mm f/2.8. I bought it used and have been super happy with it.

You say you are a beginner. Are you aware of the relationship between lens aperture and depth-of-field? This is an important concept in macro photography. You may want to read this article: The Fundamentals of Exposure - Introduction - In-Depth Articles Pay particular attention to page 5, which discusses aperture and depth-of-field. In macro photography, the closer you are to the subject the shallower the d-o-f will be. For a Pentax APS-C camera with a 100mm lens set to a focusing distance of 12 inches and f/2.8 for instance, the total depth of field is 0.04 inches! So the bug's nose may be in focus and its eye may not. Stopping the lens down improves dof as does moving farther away from the subject. There are several online dof calculators; this is my favorite: A Flexible Depth of Field Calculator

A 100mm lens is a good choice for skittish subjects like dragonflies because you can be farther away from the subject. For plants a 50mm or 35mm macro lens will give you greater depth of field by default. In the above example, going from a 100mm lens to a 50mm lens changes the dof to 0.16 inches, and increasing the focus distance to 24 inches raises the dof to 0.63 inches. It's all a trade-off, because the farther away you are the smaller the subject will be in the viewfinder. If your camera has lots of megapixels you can crop the image to make it look like you were closer.

If I'm shooting close with my 100mm lens, the aperture is usually set to f/8 or smaller. Macro photography is a lot of fun, but the dof can be razor thin depending on distance and aperture. Some people take a series of shots where they are making tiny adjustments to the focus point each time, and then stack the images in software designed for the purpose. The results can be stunning, but it takes a fair amount of effort.
03-27-2021, 09:59 AM - 2 Likes   #10
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The SMC D-FA 100mm f2.8 WR is a pretty good choice. Its minimum focus distance is 30cm, call it a foot or so. At that distance it has a 1:1 magnification ratio - your picture shows everything full size. If you're using an APS-C camera (K-70, KP, K-3II) the sensor is 16mm high, 24mm wide. A US quarter is 25mm wide so it wouldn't quite fit. You can't zoom with the lens but you just back up a bit, no big deal. The weather resistance is a nice feature, unless your camera is older and doesn't have it.

Different focal lengths are available, such as the Tamron 90mm f2.8 (three different versions). The weird thing is focal length doesn't have the same impact on the photo at close distances as you might be used to. You can take a shot with the 90mm or even the HD Pentax-DA 35mm f2.8 Limited Macro that has the same magnification; a US quarter still is too large to fit. The focal length at macro distances just tells you how close you are to the subject.

Reversing lenses is a good way to get even higher magnification, but it's more complicated. You probably need some DIY solutions for protecting the lens, extra lighting, etc.
03-27-2021, 10:56 AM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lucky Dog Quote
... SMC Pentax-D FA 100mm F2.8 Macro WR ... From my quick and simple description, would this be a good lens to start with? Or should I be looking at something else?...
Yes, this is an excellent lens to start with. It's also a good lens to continue using as you gain more macro experience.
03-27-2021, 11:44 AM - 1 Like   #12
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I would suggest a zoom w/ macro capability. The ultimate image quality is in principal less, but the zoom ability allows you to adjust image magnification w/o moving the camera (w/o other equipment)--this is a huge benefit in the field. Something like the Adaptall-2 35-80mm SP (01A) lens. Just take care because lots of zooms say macro capability but in fact are terrible. You can add extension rings, or teleconverter to get more magnification (I think it is a toss up--unless you want more working distance--then the latter). This lens is excellent except it flares badly (light sources will doubly appear)** but not likely an issue for macro.
_____
** For me for theatre work it is unusable.

Last edited by dms; 03-27-2021 at 12:11 PM.
03-27-2021, 02:03 PM   #13
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As stated above,
QuoteOriginally posted by aslyfox Quote
any of the 100mm F2.8 Macro " family " would be an excellent choice for 1:1 macro
I have both the FA-100mm F2.8 Macro (which I bought back in 1991) and the D-FA 100mm F2.8 WR Macro (which I bought in 2018). Both are excellent lenses, for macro and everything else. I find I use the D-FA 100 more that the FA-100 these days. I use it a lot out doors at the beach, so the peace of mind of the WR feature is comforting. Plus, though the FA-100 is very sharp, I find the D-FA 100 to be even sharper.
03-27-2021, 04:45 PM - 2 Likes   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lucky Dog Quote

I want to take nice clear close-up photo's of frogs, snakes, insects and plant life. I would say my distances would vary from say 15' to inches away from my target.

I come from a bridge style camera that had a lot of zoom, and I was always struggling with the focus and zoom level not agreeing, if that makes sense.
The SMC Pentax-D FA 100mm F2.8 Macro WR is a very exceptionally sharp lens, the only drawback is it id very slow autofocusing. But normally, if you are using it for macro you are probably going to use it on a tripod, and that won't matter, or you can manually focus. A macro lens excels at shooting things from very close range. 15' however is more telephoto, and 100mm macro will not give you much of a closeup on a snake or frog from that distance. I see from your previous posts you have a new K70, and you already have a Sigma 170-500. That will better serve you from 15 feet into probably 5 or 6 feet.

I owned the SMC Pentax-D FA 100mm F2.8 Macro WR at one time but sold it to fund a DA* 300, I did not use the macro enough, even though it is an exceptional lens, I did try shooting butterflies using it handheld, but usually the butterflies flew before it was focused (you can overcome that with Quickshift). Years later I have obtained a manual focus Sigma 50/2.8 macro, and an autofocus Tamron 90/2.8 macro. Those are two other lenses that I would also recommend. The SMC Pentax-D FA 100mm F2.8 Macro WR is the king of the macros for Pentax, it is built like a tank and is weather sealed. When I do macro work I use manual focus, even on the AF lens. But I don't use macro for insects, amphibians, or reptiles, for those I use the DA*300 or DA 55-300 PLM. I do use macro for plants. The fact that I don't use a macro lens for those purposes does not mean it cannot be done, and that many other people do use it, it is what I found works best for me. I just want to give pros and cons that I know of.
03-27-2021, 08:55 PM   #15
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I take a lot of macro photos. Two affordable ones I've owned and cost $150 or less are below.


For an automatic lens, the Pentax SMC-FA 100mm f3.5 Macro Autofocus lens: SMC Pentax-FA 100mm F3.5 Macro Reviews - FA Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

For a manual lens, and my personal favorite because how sharp it is the Asahi Pentax m-100mm 1:4 macro: SMC Pentax-M 100mm F4 Macro Reviews - M Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

I've found, in the field and handheld, the manual lens becomes just as easy to use, as an autofocus lens sometimes will autofocus into the distance on something else. Also, you're going to end up moving your head back and forth a lot with either lens - more or less making the auto focus part almost useless. Of course, if you're using a tripod it's a different story.

Addendum: I would like to add, that I use my Pentax 55-300mm for macro in the field. I can take close up shots of frogs & dragonflies (and yes you could safely photograph snakes) from around 10 feet away (I don't know the exact minimum distance).

Last edited by Michael Piziak; 03-28-2021 at 07:30 AM.
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