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12-06-2008, 06:20 PM   #1
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Looking for suggestions on a macro Lens for butterflies and bees

I own a Pentax K10D, along with a Pentax kit 18-55, a Pentax 50mm 1.7, and a Tamron 70-300mm f4-5.6 with a macro switch for 180-300 built in, but I'm having trouble capturing a tack sharp photo of butterflies and bees. I'm not very experienced, and I'm sure my inexperience has a lot to do with it, but I also feel if I had the proper lens I'd do much better, so before I sell this K10D, I'd like to give it a try with another lens for what I'm looking to shoot. I can sure use your help. I'm not sure what my top $ amount for a lens would be at this point.

12-06-2008, 07:05 PM   #2
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Jim,

Welcome to the forums!

I will be honest with you, based on what you describing, I believe it is your technique, not the lens or the camera. Macro work takes a lot of patients and practice. Having dedicated 1:1 macro lens, that allows you to closer to the subject than your Tamron would take even more practice and skill development.

Tamron is a very capable lens, so is K10D, take a look at our members using this lens for the subjects you are after:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/post-your-photos/40217-tamron-70-300-only-macro-option.html


Even 18-55 is more than capable producing great closups of insects, butterflies (as it can focus pretty close to the subject), just lack the focal length, so less working distance.

Here is a link to a very well respected site with tips and suggestions on macro and should aid anyone who is venturing into the "small world" of photography:

Plonsky - Macrophotography Article

Hope this helps.

Regards,
D
12-07-2008, 08:14 AM   #3
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I agree with everything Duh Vinci said. The Tamron's 1:2 macro means it isn't a true macro lens, but I don't think it's causing your difficulty. A 1:2 ratio lens is actually a much easier lens to work wth than a true 1:1 macro system.

It would be easier to diagnose what you're doing wrong with the Tamron if you would post some examples. The biggest problem with any macro work is usually depth of field. DOF requires very small apertures, which means low shutter speeds unless you add some light. The linked article is a good start, but be aware that his description of aperture is in relation to a prosumer camera, not a DSLR. With the Tamron you should be working with F11 to F22 to get decent DOF, and unless it's a very bright day, you will need to add flash. Even on a bright day it's best to have flash to keep the shutter speed up and freeze motion.

If you want to step up the magnification to 1:1 and even beyond, you could add a Raynox DCR-150 to the Tamron for about $50. A high quality hot shoe flash is extremely valuable for macros, but you can make do with a diffuser on your popup flash (e.g. Gary Fong Puffer) if you don't want to spend the dough. Of course a Pentax 100mm Macro lens is a nice lens to have, but not necessary at all for good macros. The first two photos in this set were taken with a K100DS, Tamron 70-300 and Sigma 530 Super flash + diffuser. The rest were taken with the Tamron/Sigma plus a Raynox 250. I like the Raynox a lot, but I recommend the Raynox 150 over the 250 now because it's easier to handle and has a longer working distance. For these photos I used apertures of F11 to F40, so without a flash I would have been screwed. https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/post-your-photos/32970-spider-macros-warn...squeamish.html

Last edited by audiobomber; 12-07-2008 at 08:20 AM.
12-07-2008, 08:59 PM   #4
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Dan,

All I can say is WOW. Now that's the kind of photography I'd like to get into. You have taken some
of the best shots I've ever seen. Being new to this game, I guess I have lots of practice shooting
and reading in front of me. I purchased the K10D after reading reviews on it, and honestly thought about selling it along with everything I have and purchasing a Nikon D80, but now I can see that it's not the camera that's the problem, it's my inexperience. Thanks for posting those great shots.

Jim

12-07-2008, 09:03 PM   #5
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Duh Vinci,

Thanks a bunch for your help. I greatly appreciate it. I viewed the links you attached and found them to be extremely interesting. What a great way to gain experience and to communicate with some fantastic people like yourself. Thanks again.

Jim
12-07-2008, 09:13 PM   #6
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K10DJIM

Good advice above. Like yourself I use a K10D and I have the SMC A 100mm 2.8 macro. I like this combination a lot. Here's a hand held shot from last summer:







The M 50mm f4 is also very good and a lot cheaper. Good luck with your macro search.

Tom G
12-07-2008, 09:30 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by K10DJIM Quote
Duh Vinci,

Thanks a bunch for your help. I greatly appreciate it. I viewed the links you attached and found them to be extremely interesting. What a great way to gain experience and to communicate with some fantastic people like yourself. Thanks again.

Jim
what you want to do is technically the most difficult thing there is.---small moving things.----

Usually flash photography is necessary for these things because you need the lens shut down to F16 or so to get thte depth of field, and you need a quick exposure to stop the action.

One of my favorite accessories is a 'ring light' but unfortunately
Pentax changed their flash technology a few years ago when they abandoned support for the 'TTL' flash automation and adopted the P-TTL solution. There is an announced but as yet undelivered rightlite supporting this new technology which hopefully will be available soon. The ring light screws into
the filter holder on the front of the lens and is thus usable at extremely short distances---- even an inch or two.

I have an old style pentax ringlite which works in manual flash mode and is usable, but a flash that suported flash automation
would be so much better. There are other ways such as bounces and reflections from conventional flash units that will work.
12-07-2008, 09:43 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by K10DJIM Quote
Dan,

All I can say is WOW. Now that's the kind of photography I'd like to get into. You have taken some
of the best shots I've ever seen. Being new to this game, I guess I have lots of practice shooting
and reading in front of me. I purchased the K10D after reading reviews on it, and honestly thought about selling it along with everything I have and purchasing a Nikon D80, but now I can see that it's not the camera that's the problem, it's my inexperience. Thanks for posting those great shots.

Jim
Thanks for the compliment Jim. Macros are their own world, and they do take some technique and practice to get right. The Tamron is a good start, but I would strongly recommend you look at spending another $50 for the Raynox DCR-150. You won't be sorry.

Raynox | DCR-150, 1.5x Macro Lens | DCR-150 | B&H Photo Video

12-08-2008, 05:59 PM   #9
Igilligan
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Hi Jim, with the 70-300 the secret is a tripod.

And Practice.... welcome to macro world...

Thank you for the kind comments about those dragonfly pics in the PM. I thought I would look for this thread to answer you here.

Those shots are indeed with the K100d and tam 70-300. The first may have been in the regular mode, as the exif says 160mm. And I looked at
the original and it is a fairly tight crop.


I try to shoot in A mode, between F9- to F13 ish in natural light or up to F22 if using a flash.

I know when I use the tammy for bugs, especially if I am in the 'macro' mode... I always try to use a tripod/monopod or brace
myself against something. Especially when at 300mm, like the last shot. It is the best way to have a chance at a sharp shot.
300mm with the macro on is really hard to handhold perfectly as just a slight movement and the minute details begin to blur.
This is the same dragonfly at 300mm with almost no crop... Definately had the tripod for that one.


As others have mentioned, the raynox 150 or 250 on a zoom like the da 50-200 or even some primes give some really nice results too
although the focus distance gets close with the macro adaptor lenses.
Here is a shot with a raynox 250 macro adaptor lens on a old 58mm lens


And one with a sony 3358 macro adaptor (about the same magnification as the raynox 150) on the same 58mm lens


And here two with the raynox 250 on the 85mm jupiter 9




You may not need to get this close for most butterfly and bee shots... First I would practice with the tamron 70-300 in macro mode and on a tripod...
you get more distance from your subject and you can zoom to frame the shot.

If you want to go closer in, then by all means get a raynox 150 or a dedicated macro lens...

But with macro's, practice gets you closer...

and P.S. If you get 1 bug macro keeper in 20... you are doing better than me.
Feel free to pm me anytime.

Last edited by Igilligan; 12-08-2008 at 06:17 PM.
12-08-2008, 07:58 PM   #10
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Hi Gus,

Well, if you could see me now, you'd see the drool I can't wait for the daylight, so I can get outdoors for some practice shots. Ok, before I set myself up in the morning I need a tip or two on my camera settings. I'll use aperture priority, I'll use the only lens I have for macro, which is the tammy 70-300, I'll try for f9 - f13. Question --- should I auto focus or MF? In the past, I haven't been able to get very close at all to the subjects, I'd say 4-5 feet, but then the results are very small and need a good cropping. Is this normal or am I doing something wrong. Let me know how you'd set up for the shot. I'll use a tripod of course, since my hands shake quite a bit.
I'm on my way to N. Ca. for some camera lessons :-) How does the Raynox go on the camera, does it screw on like a filter or what? Thanks Gus, this newbie appreciates your time.

Jim
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