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08-13-2016, 03:03 PM   #1
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Which Manual macro lens good for digitizing film?

I plan on eventually digitizing some 35mm B&W film I have (will eventually be doing 6x7 film down the road), and am debating on which manual macro lens to choose, I plan on going 1:1 (and in some cases 2:1). I plan on using film lenses since I'm more comfortable focusing with them, and am debating on using either a 50mm or 100mm macro.


With the 50mm Macro with some extension tubes, I can get to 1:1 (even to 2:1) (http://bit.ly/2b2aTP6), for me it's the cheaper route.

With the 100mm Macro, the majority of the film lenses I've seen go to 1:2, which I would have to add extension tubes to get 1:1 (or greater than 1:1), and a bit more expensive ($100+ dollars more compared to the 50mm macro route).

Can anyone here give any advice? Pros & cons of each macro lens?

08-13-2016, 03:16 PM   #2
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There are certainly some older 100mm range macros that go to 1:1 (the famous Lester Dine 105mm in its various forms, the Pentax-A 100/2.8 macro, and few 90mm models I can think of). But think of the whole set-up -- I've used bellows w/ slide copier with a 90mm macro that goes to 1:2 on its own, but of course on the bellows can be much greater. Takes some doing to get it lined up just right. I saw someone that posted good results just by using the camera/lens itself pointed straight down, just resting on the front of the lens right on top of the negative strip on a light table so it was focused just off the front of the lens (may have been a hood involved too) taking highly magnified shots where they'd have to stich together the results just for one 35mm negative.

Figure out what you are going to use to hold and illuminate the film square to your camera, and go from there. Most slide/film duplicators are designed for a particular length lens I think, but that's not necessarily 1:1 or better magnification...
08-13-2016, 03:49 PM   #3
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For digitizing negatives/chromes, especially if some are 6X7, I would stick to a 50m macro. The lens-to-subject distance using a 100mm macro will be awkward, especially for 6X7. Just about any version of a Pentax 50mm f2.8 macrro is about as good as a macro lens gets.
08-13-2016, 05:27 PM   #4
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I use an Elicar V-HQ 55mm f2.8 Macro. Goes to 1:1 and is some of the sharpest glass I've ever used. I believe it's just a Komine rebrand but I'm not 100% certain about that. You can generally grab them for sub $100 but I was able to get the PKA version for $55. Usually they can be bought under Panagor and Vivitar too.

08-13-2016, 06:02 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by kmurphy220 Quote
I use an Elicar V-HQ 55mm f2.8 Macro. Goes to 1:1 and is some of the sharpest glass I've ever used. I believe it's just a Komine rebrand but I'm not 100% certain about that. You can generally grab them for sub $100 but I was able to get the PKA version for $55. Usually they can be bought under Panagor and Vivitar too.
Yep, most commonly found as a Vivitar in K or m42 -- the Elicar version is the only one I've seen with A contacts though. (I grabbed the first and only one I've seen in KA and sold my previous m42 Vivitar version.) It is in fact a Komine. Design seems to be a close cousin of the earlier Tomioka 60mm f/2.8 macro (which also came under many names) which commands much higher prices but I think the Komine is even sharper (the later ones definitely have improved coatings, so that helps). Along with the Sigma 70mm, it is the sharpest macro I've seen. They used to go pretty consistently around $110-$120, but the last year or so you can find them for as little as $50-$60 (as you did, apparently). Really nice lens (and goes to 1:1).
08-13-2016, 06:35 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by vonBaloney Quote

Figure out what you are going to use to hold and illuminate the film square to your camera, and go from there. Most slide/film duplicators are designed for a particular length lens I think, but that's not necessarily 1:1 or better magnification...
I'm going to be using a tripod & lightbox for digitizing the film. For me (at least) it's the most simplest set-up.
08-13-2016, 06:56 PM   #7
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Vivitar Series One 100mm f2.5 macro does 1:1. I use it with slides on a light box.
08-14-2016, 09:40 AM   #8
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I've used the #1 Pentax extension tube from the set with the Pentax M 50mm f4 on my K20D to digitize the full frame of a 35mm slide.

12-17-2017, 07:05 PM   #9
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I found this old thread when about to post a similar question. It occurs to me that, given that all 1:1 macros seem to be pretty good resolution-wise, the entire issue would be the qualify of the multi-coating, since 100% of the shots will have severe backlighting. So it would seem that more modern digital-era lenses would have a substantial advantage here, no? Has anyone compared a lens with the latest coatings to an older lens, specifically with backlit film?

Of course mounted slides vs. other 35mm film present a unique challenge because the last thing you want is a flat-field lens. I'm guessing there are no curved-field macro lenses - would be kind of a limited market. i guess something like focus stacking might work (I've never tried it), or you could stop down far enough (maybe sacrificing resolution in the process?)
12-17-2017, 07:35 PM   #10
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50mm macro has more DOF at any given aperture when compared to 100mm macro. 50mm is cheaper too.
12-18-2017, 02:11 PM   #11
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I've used the 35mm macro on a crop-sensor to digitize and I liked using it. I stopped down to f8 and no issues with film curl once I used the Lomography Digiliza device to hold the negs.

I found more of an issue with off-axis light causing reflections from the surface of the film and making it difficult to focus, so I used an old metal dryer tube coated with flocking paper to control this issue.

I still use this method to "scan" loose negs that don't fit holders (126, 110, etc).
12-20-2017, 08:43 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by tibbitts Quote
I found this old thread when about to post a similar question. It occurs to me that, given that all 1:1 macros seem to be pretty good resolution-wise, the entire issue would be the qualify of the multi-coating, since 100% of the shots will have severe backlighting. So it would seem that more modern digital-era lenses would have a substantial advantage here, no? Has anyone compared a lens with the latest coatings to an older lens, specifically with backlit film?

Of course mounted slides vs. other 35mm film present a unique challenge because the last thing you want is a flat-field lens. I'm guessing there are no curved-field macro lenses - would be kind of a limited market. i guess something like focus stacking might work (I've never tried it), or you could stop down far enough (maybe sacrificing resolution in the process?)
Yeah, I've been woundering how the older manual 1:1 macro lenses compare to the Venus 60mm Macro lens
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