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11-05-2009, 03:18 AM   #1
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best non macro prime for close ups?

I suspect this has been covered many time so please point me to the thread but,

I wonder in the prime range of lenses available [any make] which would give the best IQ for taking images with a view to heavy cropping /enlargement??

my reasoning is the a "dedicated micro lens" is silly money. but given what you can achieve with top class prime and the 10-14mp cameras we now use , if a image has a nice low ISO and you are lucky enough to get that perfect in focus image with a decent DOF you can enlarge way past the magic macro figure of 1:1 with little loss of IQ.

So given the proliferation of used k lenses that are available from various sources, what are the best of the IQ ones to look out for?

11-05-2009, 05:00 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by adwb Quote
I suspect this has been covered many time so please point me to the thread but,

I wonder in the prime range of lenses available [any make] which would give the best IQ for taking images with a view to heavy cropping /enlargement??

my reasoning is the a "dedicated micro lens" is silly money. but given what you can achieve with top class prime and the 10-14mp cameras we now use , if a image has a nice low ISO and you are lucky enough to get that perfect in focus image with a decent DOF you can enlarge way past the magic macro figure of 1:1 with little loss of IQ.

So given the proliferation of used k lenses that are available from various sources, what are the best of the IQ ones to look out for?
Here's a resolution list (lines per millimeter) derived from Photodo.com's data - you choose!

SMC Lens Cntr Cnr WOcntr Contrast%
18mm f/3.5 56 32 50 70
20mm f/4 M 63 36 60 73
24mm f/2.8 66 39 49 47
24mm f/2.8 A 70 46 49 57
28mm f/2.8 M 60 50 58 54
28mm f/2.8 A 66 47 57 63
40mm f/2.8 M 64 46 56 60
50mm f/1.2 64 49 42 60
50mm f/1.4 73 58 54 68
50mm f/1.4 M 63 56 63 62
50mm f/1.4 A 68 49 46 68
50mm f/1.7 M 71 51 69 61
50mm f/1.7 A 70 62 51 69
50mm f/2 M 61 46 46 40
85mm f/2 M 52 57 40 74
135mm f/3.5 M 50 43 45 51
135mm f/2.8 A 47 44 44 60
200mm f/4 M 44 39 40 57
300mm f/4 A 45 39 41 59
11-05-2009, 05:08 AM   #3
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Depends really.

If you want to do closeups by cropping then you'll need ultra-high resolution lenses such as the 43mm Ltd but that's hardly cheap now.

However in terms of the old manual k-mount lenses I am not sure many of them really have the required resolution - excellent image quality to be sure but in terms of absolute sharpness (ignoring contrast, bokeh etc) they might be found wanting with really serious crops.

There are exceptions of course. The K-135's peak sharpness isn't too far of the DFA 100mm Macro's for example. But its got a long minimum focus distance so you'd need to crop quite harshly. A lot of the older primes suffer from a similar problem I think.
11-05-2009, 05:20 AM   #4
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Thank you very much , only thing is how do ii decode it?? I am not expert yet!!
seriously thank you but what does this mean
Alistair


QuoteOriginally posted by newarts Quote
Here's a resolution list (lines per millimetre) derived from Photodo.com's data - you choose!

SMC Lens Cntr Cnr WOcntr Contrast%
18mm f/3.5 56 32 50 70
20mm f/4 M 63 36 60 73
24mm f/2.8 66 39 49 47
24mm f/2.8 A 70 46 49 57
28mm f/2.8 M 60 50 58 54
28mm f/2.8 A 66 47 57 63
40mm f/2.8 M 64 46 56 60
50mm f/1.2 64 49 42 60
50mm f/1.4 73 58 54 68
50mm f/1.4 M 63 56 63 62
50mm f/1.4 A 68 49 46 68
50mm f/1.7 M 71 51 69 61
50mm f/1.7 A 70 62 51 69
50mm f/2 M 61 46 46 40
85mm f/2 M 52 57 40 74
135mm f/3.5 M 50 43 45 51
135mm f/2.8 A 47 44 44 60
200mm f/4 M 44 39 40 57
300mm f/4 A 45 39 41 59


11-05-2009, 05:25 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by adwb Quote
I suspect this has been covered many time so please point me to the thread but,

I wonder in the prime range of lenses available [any make] which would give the best IQ for taking images with a view to heavy cropping /enlargement??

my reasoning is the a "dedicated micro lens" is silly money. but given what you can achieve with top class prime and the 10-14mp cameras we now use , if a image has a nice low ISO and you are lucky enough to get that perfect in focus image with a decent DOF you can enlarge way past the magic macro figure of 1:1 with little loss of IQ.

So given the proliferation of used k lenses that are available from various sources, what are the best of the IQ ones to look out for?
If you want to print anything 8x10" or bigger you have less room to crop than you can imagine.
For the best print results, at a pro lab they'll usually require the photographs to be 2400 pixels x 3000 pixels.
I've tried pushing the limits while cropping a few times and have rarely been satisfied with the results
11-05-2009, 05:35 AM   #6
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litttle laker, I would not want to go above 8 x 10 hence the enquiry. I have found the resolution to drop as you have one heavy crops but never the less I have also had by chance great results with a standard zoom and well cropped , hence the question,

caat, thank you for pointing out the focal distance, so question is now-
what is a good prime k mount any make manual or A type with a high IQ and with a short focal length
11-05-2009, 06:12 AM   #7
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The SMC 50mm 1.7 A & M versions are among the best on the list I posted earlier. That's because they have the highest center sharpness with good contrast.

But I think you might ultimately be disappointed with your enlargement approach to macros; that's because simply moving the lens closer to the subject (farther from the sensor) does not degrade the image - while even modest enlargement must at least modestly degrade an image.

I suggest that you consider extension tubes, an achromatic close-up adapter, or an old macro lens. A good Pentax smc 1:2 mag 50mm marco lens won't cost more than a good non-macro lens of that vintage. KEH.com now lists one for $69.
11-05-2009, 07:19 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by adwb Quote
I suspect this has been covered many time so please point me to the thread but,

I wonder in the prime range of lenses available [any make] which would give the best IQ for taking images with a view to heavy cropping /enlargement??

my reasoning is the a "dedicated micro lens" is silly money. but given what you can achieve with top class prime and the 10-14mp cameras we now use , if a image has a nice low ISO and you are lucky enough to get that perfect in focus image with a decent DOF you can enlarge way past the magic macro figure of 1:1 with little loss of IQ.

So given the proliferation of used k lenses that are available from various sources, what are the best of the IQ ones to look out for?
First of all, a dedicated macro lens is not "silly money" if you are going to do a lot of serious macro work.

Why? because a dedicated macro lens lets you focus from infinity to either 1:2 or 1:1 without any need for add on filters or extension rings.

Don't get me wrong, but

- with for example a +1 macro lens your working range instantly becomes limited to 1 meter or less, a +2 cuts that to .5 meters or less and so on.

- with extension tubes, for example, on my SMC 50mm F1.4 a 12 mm tube makes the lens focus from between about 0.25 m and 0.17m

These are still good tools but you will find that they are simply not as convenient as a 50mm macro that can focus from infinity to 100mm and give you 1:1 directly.

Also, there are not only tons of good K mount prime lenses out there but also tons of good 50-100mm K mount macros out there as well, all reasonably priced.

My advise would be to look for an SMC-M 100mm F4. It is a nice compact macro, that goes to 50% life size without extension tubes, and I prefer 100mm focal length because it offers increased working distance to achieve the magnification ratio

11-05-2009, 09:18 AM   #9
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When I said you were right in principle that you don't need 1:1 magnification, and that with some modest cropping you could get decent results from other lenses, you have to realize it's a matter of degree. I mentioned 1:3 on a 14MP camera as kind of an approximate lower bound for getting 1:1-like results in an 8x12" print, but few primes that are not macros get you anywhere near 1:3 on their own. You'd need an extension tube or a closeup lens attachment - and that means focusing close, and having shallow DOF, just like a real macro lens. See the "Raynox Club" thread in this forum for examples of what this little $40 adapter can do with a variety of lenses.

BTW, to read the numbers in the chart above: bigger = better. The first number is labeled "cntr", meaning center. That's what you'd presumably be using when cropping, so that's the number to look at.
11-05-2009, 09:22 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
When I said you were right in principle that you don't need 1:1 magnification, and that with some modest cropping you could get decent results from other lenses, you have to realize it's a matter of degree. I mentioned 1:3 on a 14MP camera as kind of an approximate lower bound for getting 1:1-like results in an 8x12" print, but few primes that are not macros get you anywhere near 1:3 on their own. You'd need an extension tube or a closeup lens attachment - and that means focusing close, and having shallow DOF, just like a real macro lens. See the "Raynox Club" thread in this forum for examples of what this little $40 adapter can do with a variety of lenses.

BTW, to read the numbers in the chart above: bigger = better. The first number is labeled "cntr", meaning center. That's what you'd presumably be using when cropping, so that's the number to look at.
marc

as a point of interest, do you know what focusing distance these tests were done at. Lens performance could be considerably different focused close as opposed to far away depending on lens arrangement.
11-05-2009, 09:26 AM   #11
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Depending on your needs, a macro lens usually features a more flat field of focus, which may be of interest depending on situation.

Some K-compatible third party manual focus macros (e.g. Tamron 90 Adaptall, etc) may not be silly money. Also, the Tamron SP 35-80 actually has very good macro performance, and can be had cheap.

I agree with Marc - extension tubes or a bellows will give you what you need with any prime you may already own. If lowest cost is an objective, go screw mount for this & use the Pentax M42 adapter. (In fact, if screw mount doesn't turn you off, there are good Takumar macros to be had at reasonable cost).
11-05-2009, 09:39 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by adwb Quote
... I have also had by chance great results with a standard zoom and well cropped ...
I'd recommend the Pentax DSLR kit lens, it's a great macro lens.

I can only second the hints given here to use macro rings, bellows, macro teleconverters or macro lenses put on front of the lens. The put-on lenses give for less IQ in theory, but let's say you got a small format lens with a small format macro lens and on top would cut out the center - not too much to lose I guess.


Summicron 2/50 (not a macro lens at all) + macro lens Panagor Varioprox on K100D



Pentacon 1.8/50 + Panagor Tele Macronet 3x = 1.5/1 150mm macro lens

Last edited by georgweb; 11-05-2009 at 09:46 AM.
11-05-2009, 10:29 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
marc

as a point of interest, do you know what focusing distance these tests were done at. Lens performance could be considerably different focused close as opposed to far away depending on lens arrangement.
Lowell, that was photodo data. I don't know for sure but I suspect the charts were a couple meters from the lens.
11-05-2009, 12:18 PM   #14
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A macro lens will give you:

1-better enlargment and closer focus (you knew that);

2-this leads to better DOF control, which cropping will not give you, plus:

3-better bokeh, the macros are usually the best at this. They are also:

4-the sharpest. They are up there with the best non-macro, so when you crop those you loose sharpness compared to the macros. The macros also give you:

5-much better, MUCH longer manual focus throws, emaning MF is much easier to achieve.

6-They are also flat field lenses, with much lower distorsions than even the best non macro lenses.

7-They usually also excel at protrait lenses.

8-In addition to sharpness, they deliver best-in-class saturation and contrast. In this they compare well with the best lenses (like the limiteds).

I got my FA 50 macro for 150$ (a steal, granted). I would never part with it, for all the reasons mentionned above. I would never say getting a macro lens is stupid, if you do really like macro.

One other solution if you don't want to shell out much money is to get a 28 mm or a 50 mm and a reversing ring. Focusing and exposure are tough as heck but you same money and get good enlargments.
11-05-2009, 03:26 PM   #15
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Several good solutions are suggested above, but I will add my two-cent's worth anyway. You were not very specific about what you mean by "close up". In general, that means 1:2 to 1:5 reproduction ratio. True macro generally starts at 1:1. If you are mostly interested in close-ups (action figures, flowers, toys, etc.), most good zoom or prime lenses with close focus capability will do quite nicely.

Close-focus Examples:
  • Tamron SP 35-80 (mentioned above)
  • Volna-9 50/2.8 (Yes, it is Russian...1:2 with great image qualities...and did I mention that it is cheap? See Volna Posting)
  • Vivitar 28/2.8 CF (On APS-C, it is one of the better near-macro lenses that you can buy. See Vivitar 28/2.8 CF Reviews)
If you have the occasional need to go smaller, adding the Raynox to your close-focus lens is a super solution.

Edit: I just checked some current pricing on the Volna-9. Apparently the word is out about this lens and it is no longer dirt cheap.

If you are sure that you are wanting to photograph the truly tiny stuff and get great results, here are some of the cheaper options:

Cheap True Macro Options:
  • Older manual focus macro lenses (M42 and K-mount)
  • Raynox (again)
  • Reversing ring + 50mm lens (the absolute cheapest)
  • Extension tubes + 50mm lens (the next cheapest...think Volna...)
  • Bellows + 50mm lens (a little more money, but you can get some really incredible magnifications)
If you are considering an older macro lens, don't be put off by brands other than Pentax or by the lack of autofocus or need for an M42 adapter. Almost all dedicated macro lenses do an excellent job.

A few other things you might need for high magnifications:
  • Tripod (Hard to do macro without one unless you have a good flash setup)
  • Good flash setup (Really nice to have even if you have a tripod)
  • Focus Rail (Used with tripod...in the macro range it is easier to move the whole camera to focus.)

Steve

(Uses a dedicated macro lens, bellows, and/or reversing ring...still needs good flash setup...)

Last edited by stevebrot; 11-05-2009 at 04:12 PM.
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