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02-07-2009, 01:25 PM   #1
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Cheap macro options compared

I admit I do a lot more collecting equipment than taking photos, and this is much more true of macro equipment. Today I decided to try and use some of this stuff that I had to have. Maybe someone could learn from my results.

What I attemped was a rough comparison of minimum focus distance and maximum magnification of each method. I used natural light, 2 second delay and an inadequate tripod. The exposures are close but not perfect or perfectly equal. The angle to the subject varies somewhat to achieve the minimum focus distance for each method. I resized the image without cropping and sharpened slightly to compensate for resizing.

First, the old DA18-55 kit lens which most already have. This is at f8, 55mm:



Now a super zoom that claims macro capability. This is at f8, set at 300mm, but as you can see, not exactly 300mm results:



Now I'm going to explore some uses of a 50mm. I'll use the common Pentax-M 50mm f1.7. First, just the lens itself at f8:



Now with a Kalimar #3 closeup filter. I think this is 4 diopters but it's not labeled:



So far, the kit lens is looking pretty good, probably the best looking photo overall. It has a better lighting angle but I used a homemade softbox so the lighting is mostly similar. Because of the low magnification, none of these methods so far have been too difficult, again with the kit lens as a winner.

Here are some options with geater magnification. I'll start with the Vivitar Macro Focusing Teleconverter, with the M50/1.7 again at f8:



Here's a real macro lens, the Panagor PMC 90mm f2.8 made by Kiron, at f11. I think I could have done better, I usually do with this lens - lighting angle may be the difference again:



Now the M50/1.7 is back, with 68mm (all 3 of a set) of extension tubes:



Last, a Kiron Reverse-Mate adapter and a Kiron 24mm f2 lens. I had the lens on f2. (I don't know if stopping down gives greater DOF or less CA.) This photo could probably be better with more patience, but this is where my patience with the cheap tripod ran out:



Large magnifications need some sort of method to move the camera precisely, which I don't really have. The Vivitar MFTC is pretty flexible, also useful as a general TC. A dedicated 1:1 macro lens makes the whole process easier with no adapters, reversing, modifications, etc. Extension tubes are very useful, it's just annoying how expensive the fully functional ones are.

02-07-2009, 02:25 PM   #2
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Interesting that you bring that up right now, as I'm testing my M 50/1.7 with extension tubes.
There are some results at f16 and 3 extension tubes mounted. No croping done, just resize and some USM...












Last edited by pentagor; 02-07-2009 at 02:33 PM.
02-07-2009, 10:20 PM   #3
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Thanks a lot for this comparison! I've been investigating various options of getting macro out of my FA 50. It seems like either extension tubes or a Raynox 250 is the way to go.
02-07-2009, 11:02 PM   #4
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Extension Tube is cheap way to do good Macro, but DOF is very limited. specially on big aperture. Which means needs very good lighting.

02-08-2009, 01:24 AM   #5
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hmmm.. i think that pentax-m needs a good clean :P
02-08-2009, 03:16 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Vylen Quote
hmmm.. i think that pentax-m needs a good clean :P
I agree!
It looks perfectly clean when not using the extension tubes
02-08-2009, 07:59 AM   #7
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Do extension tubes allow auto exposure?

I agree a dedicated lens is the way to go. A Raynox diopter is easy and very effective but won't give you 1:1 macro on a 50mm. I tried stacked lenses and found it annoying and difficult, and the results were quite poor due to the difficulties of two apertures (loses lots of light, serious vignetting).

Last edited by audiobomber; 02-08-2009 at 08:30 AM.
02-08-2009, 08:15 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by pentagor Quote
Interesting that you bring that up right now, as I'm testing my M 50/1.7 with extension tubes.
There are some results at f16 and 3 extension tubes mounted. No croping done, just resize and some USM...











I used FA J75-300mm to take this








The FAJ 75-300mm has a very high magnification factor of 1:3 . There is no need even for an extension tube. But DoF is still little no matter what

Subsequently I sold both M28mmF3.5 and FAJ75-300mm


Daniel

02-08-2009, 08:28 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
Do extension tubes allow auto exposure?
.
Not mine, bu I think Kenko makes them and they are very expensive (200US$ mark).

I took my shots with focusing wide open, then closed aperture to f16 and took a shot. I also used on-board flash with home made extension to the lens front element.

This is a setup with a different lens..
02-08-2009, 08:38 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
Do extension tubes allow auto exposure?
QuoteOriginally posted by pentagor Quote
Not mine, bu I think Kenko makes them and they are very expensive (200US$ mark).
That's too bad. Macro is tough enough without having to figure out manual exposures at tiny apertures.

For lighting I use the Sigma 530 Super flash, which can be angled down below horizontal. It's best with the wide panel or better yet a diffuser. Or best, off-camera and wireless.

Here's a comparison with the Raynox diopters and the D FA 100mm macro. https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/467738-post12.html
02-08-2009, 08:43 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
Do extension tubes allow auto exposure?
Yes. Use the green button or its equivalent. Bellows are good for high magnification & not much more of a pain than extension tubes.

QuoteQuote:
I agree a dedicated lens is the way to go, the Raynox is easy and very effective but won't give you 1:1 macro on a 50mm. I tried stacked lenses and found it annoying and difficult, and the results were quite poor due to the difficulties of two apertures (loses lots of light, serious vignetting).
A Raynox 150 (+4.8) diopter yields a minimum magnification of about 1:1 on a 200mm lens so is a good starting point. The stronger Raynox 250 (+8 Diopter) is a little harder to use.

Reversed lenses are no panacea; a good, fast lens should be reversed & even then you'll have vignetting problems with shorter focal length primary lenses.

In effect, a reversed lens is an add-on close-up lens (like a Raynox) with a Diopter strength of 1000/focal-length_mm so a reversed 50mm lens is a +20 diopter close-up lens; very strong. Hand-holding is impractical with the resulting high magnification.

A real macro lens is best.

Dave
02-08-2009, 08:53 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by newarts Quote
A real macro lens is best.
Highest quality and easiest to use for sure, but limited to 1:1 macro. Which is enough for me 99.99% of the time, but it's fun to have stronger options available.

I can do 2.76:1 with the Raynox 250 on the 55-300mm. I can get 3.6:1 with stacked 100mm/28mm lens, but the stacked option is so hard to use that I won't bother wiith it any more.
02-08-2009, 10:02 AM   #13
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I got some pretty good results with a reversed 50mm on top of the 18-250mm



see some of my shots here with that setup
02-08-2009, 10:06 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
Highest quality and easiest to use for sure, but limited to 1:1 macro. Which is ...
Yes, I should have added a bellows too.

I make frequent, good use of achromatic add-on closeup lenses just as you describe, but haven't gotten quite the same image quality. Here's a demo; showing the difference between a good macro lens, good add-ons (stacked, which isn't optimum), and non-achromatic add-ons:


The center sharpness & color for the achromatic close-up lenses isn't bad, and the convenience of carrying the add-on around is sure better than a bellows.

There's a not-very-costly Pentax bellows on eBay as I write this.

Dave
02-08-2009, 10:27 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber:
Do extension tubes allow auto exposure?

QuoteOriginally posted by newarts Quote
Yes. Use the green button or its equivalent. ....
Dave
This is possible only if the extension tubes have the aperture lever. Most cheap Chinese ones doesn't.

But using the green button isn't exactly the auto exposure metering. Auto exposure is IMO only possible with PKA mount lenses (and newer of course).
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