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Choosing a macro lens...
Posted By: Zephos, 03-04-2015, 06:28 PM

I've committed to buying a 1x1 mag. macro lens... at some point. That point in time will be determined by the price of what I decide to buy. I'm considering these three:


SMC Pentax-FA 50mm F2.8 Macro - I could do this in a month or two. Less that $200. Don't like the pics I've seen taken with this as much.
SMC Pentax-A 50mm F2.8 Macro - I could do this in a month or two, but no AF. Less than $200. I've seen very nice images taken with this one.
SMC Pentax-DA 35mm F2.8 Limited Macro - I couldn't do this for a few months to a year. Around $300 on ebay. I love the IQ of images taken with this one.

Side note: Is there a significant difference between SMC Pentax-DA 35mm F2.8 Limited Macro and HD Pentax-DA 35mm F2.8 Limited Macro?

Okay what do you all suggest? I really like that DA 35mm but its going to be tough on the budget... gotta find some stuff to sell in a spring yardsale or something.

Thanks for your advice!


Edit: Hey everyone thank you for your replies. After rethinking things, I realize that as much as I love the DA 35mm IQ, I want a better working distance for bugs, etc.

Can you suggest any 1:1 macro lenses that can match or come close to the DA 35mm macro IQ?

Last edited by Zephos; 03-04-2015 at 10:49 PM.
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03-04-2015, 07:13 PM   #2
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I love my smc DA35, but it's best used as a close focus lens like 1:2, rather than 1:1 macro. Due to the fact that at 1:1 it focuses so close you are actually taking photos inside the hood. Image quality is unbelievably good, non the less.
It's great for copying art work and where you want to get really close to a large subject. Not a macro for critters - that would be better with 70 or 100mm

The HD version is newer with a slightly less reflective coating - see the PF review on the new HD lenses.
HD vs. SMC Pentax Limited Primes Review - Introduction | PentaxForums.com Reviews

I can't imagine that images you've seen with the 50 macros that you didn't like were the lenses fault...
03-04-2015, 07:37 PM   #3
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Some people prefer the working distance of a 70/90/105mm macro - especially for bugs, or if you want some room for lights.

You can find them for under $300 in the forum marketplace from time to time.
03-04-2015, 07:52 PM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by SpecialK Quote
Some people prefer the working distance of a 70/90/105mm macro - especially for bugs, or if you want some room for lights.

You can find them for under $300 in the forum marketplace from time to time.
Tamron 90 2.8... $295 new on eBay with Canada warranty...

03-04-2015, 08:15 PM   #5
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I have the HD 35, and a Sigma DG EX 50 -- both are great for flowers and stuff that doesn't move. Like the other poster said, 35 is too close for 1:1. I have a Tamron 90 that I use for all kinds of stuff (portraits, bugs, flowers, etc.). So it's more about what you want to shoot. I think a 50 is great for flowers because of the easy handling. Any of the lenses you have above are great, and I would honestly look at a 50 over the 35, as you'll have an easier time with 1:2. and getting closer to 1:1 + the difference in cost.
03-04-2015, 08:22 PM   #6
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You lost me on your first two listed. Is one the FA, or a 50mm f4 manual perhaps? The A50/2.8 is naturally 1:2, but results are excellent.
03-04-2015, 08:22 PM   #7
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The A50/2.8 only goes to 1:2.

Why do you want AF? Sure, other being equal, it's better to have it than not, but AF is rarely useful at high magnification and macro lenses are naturally optimized for close focus.
03-04-2015, 08:24 PM   #8
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I second what others have said above,
The DA 35 Macro is a fine lens, but not going to work well as your only macro if 1:1 is your goal, there is no working distance from the lens to the subject at 1:1. But it is a fine, sharp, versatile lens.
I prefer a 100 mm Macro with APSc, for working distance, and if you can only get one macro lens right now, would go for something in that range. The difference in working distance between 35 mm and 50 mm at 1:1 is not enough to make a difference.

I have both the DA35Macro, and a DFA100Macro, I like the 100 for bugs and flowers, and the 35 as a general lens that can do most anything, kind of like a 50 on a full frame camera. I rarely get real close with the 35.

The old M and A 100ƒ4 macros are good sharp lenses, but no autofocus (mixed bag for Macro) and kind of dark for focusing in normal field macro conditions (they also only go to 1:2 without added extension). I did a lot of work on film with my M100 back in the day before I knew about ƒ2.8 macros.
They may be a good bargain way to get into a macro lens

03-04-2015, 09:18 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by jimr-pdx Quote
You lost me on your first two listed. Is one the FA, or a 50mm f4 manual perhaps? The A50/2.8 is naturally 1:2, but results are excellent.
Sorry my mistake! Yeah one is the FA. I corrected the original post.
03-04-2015, 10:50 PM   #10
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Thanks everyone. I realize that I want a longer focal length now. Are there any 1:1 macro lenses that can rival the DA 35mm IQ?
03-05-2015, 01:34 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Zephos Quote
want a longer focal length now. Are there any 1:1 macro lenses that can rival the DA 35mm IQ?
The D-FA 100mm f/2.8 WR Macro should do the trick. There is also the FA*200mm f/4 ED Macro* with is one of the greatest macro lenses ever made - but it is a rare and costly lens.




Pentax K5IIs - Pentax SMCP-FA*200mm f/4 ED [IF] Macro


Pentax K5IIs -
SMCP-FA* 200mm f/4 ED [IF] Macro With AF160FC Ringflash.

*
There is a manual focus A* version of this lens. The A* and FA* versions are both optically identical. However, the FA* has newer optical coatings, the ability to transmit subject distance for flash exposure and has AF capability, along with focus limiters which are very useful.

Last edited by Digitalis; 03-05-2015 at 01:40 AM.
03-05-2015, 03:00 AM   #12
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Have a look over here:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/10-pentax-slr-lens-discussion/288412-look...ml#post3175518
03-05-2015, 05:54 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Zephos Quote
Thanks everyone. I realize that I want a longer focal length now. Are there any 1:1 macro lenses that can rival the DA 35mm IQ?
Macro lenses as a group tend to be excellent at the close-focus end of the range. Performance at the far end is more of a mixed bag. If what you mainly want is excellent IQ for macro subjects even an old manual lens can give excellent results. You might need to stop it down more than you would a modern design for best performance, but you usually want to stop down for macro anyway, to get a reasonable depth of field. So rather than looking for a macro lens that is also an excellent all-round lens, you could consider buying two inexpensive lenses, one for macro and one for general use. You could get very high quality this way and stick within your budget. This would probably be manual focus lenses, though, and maybe even full manual (stop-down metering only).

What lenses do you currently have? You might already have something that would work well with a relatively inexpensive close-up lens.
03-05-2015, 07:12 AM   #14
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If you can live with the slightly slower 3.5 maximum aperture on the less expensive FA 100 I've seen some good work from this lens and it should be well within your budget. If you're set on the 2.8 aperture there are often DFA 100 (non WR) from Japan on eBay for a little under $300.
03-05-2015, 08:24 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by jamarley Quote
If you can live with the slightly slower 3.5 maximum aperture on the less expensive FA 100 I've seen some good work from this lens and it should be well within your budget. If you're set on the 2.8 aperture there are often DFA 100 (non WR) from Japan on eBay for a little under $300.

Isn't that lens .5x mag, not 1x?

---------- Post added 03-05-15 at 08:27 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by baro-nite Quote
Macro lenses as a group tend to be excellent at the close-focus end of the range. Performance at the far end is more of a mixed bag. If what you mainly want is excellent IQ for macro subjects even an old manual lens can give excellent results. You might need to stop it down more than you would a modern design for best performance, but you usually want to stop down for macro anyway, to get a reasonable depth of field. So rather than looking for a macro lens that is also an excellent all-round lens, you could consider buying two inexpensive lenses, one for macro and one for general use. You could get very high quality this way and stick within your budget. This would probably be manual focus lenses, though, and maybe even full manual (stop-down metering only).

What lenses do you currently have? You might already have something that would work well with a relatively inexpensive close-up lens.

This is what I have:

DA L 18-55mm WR
DA L 50-200mm WR
DA 50mm f1.8
Quantaray(Tamron) 70-300mm LDO Macro <-- This lens is not very sharp and only gets .5 Mag, thus my desire to get a true macro.
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