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Macro for beginners - What lens should I buy !
Posted By: old4570, 09-05-2017, 07:51 PM

Wow - probably opening a can of worms here !
Because everyone will have an opinion here and people might think their opinion is more valid than some one else's . So here is my $1 opinion . ( is that over priced ? )

If you are new to photography , or relatively inexperienced = Don't Buy A Macro Lens !
Chances are you purchased a Camera Kit with a 18-55 kit lens that is capable of close focus .
Honestly this is good enough for a prospective macro photographer to go out and see what results they can get .

If you are getting good results and your interest is growing then maybe some close focus filters or Tubes to get you even closer . Good thing about tubes is the value is increasing , the bad thing is a good set of auto tubes is getting harder to find and more expensive . ( Probably as new old stock is drying up ) so even used tubes are increasing in value . ( Get them while you can )
Good news is there are relatively cheap Auto focusing tubes available , the bad news is that the Pentax one I tested was NQR . Out of all my cameras the tube only worked with one camera . I also tested the cheap Canon Tubes and they worked just fine .. ( Haven't tried the Nikon tubes yet - Cheap nasty budget tubes )

So my advice would be to spend as little of your hard earned as possible till you actually know that you are going to like macro photography . And screwing on a close focus filter to a kit lens has given me some really good results , for Pentax - Canon and Nikon kit lenses . ( I would recommend +4 and +8 close focus filters )

To a beginner - If you have to buy a Lens ! , then I would say find a 50 in your price range . You can still pick up the Pentax M 50 F4 for less than $100 and this lens can produce some wonderful results as well as maintain its resale value should you decide to upgrade or what ever . ( Tubes might be cheaper and give you 1:1 macro )

I see developing skill in macro a little like developing driver skill .. You dont put learner drivers in a formula one car , you try and start them of gently in a user friendly car that is not challenging to drive . And I see developing Skill in Macro along the same lines , gently using equipment that rewards rather than punishes ..
Obviously everyone will have their own thoughts on this , just sharing mine .

Another consideration to keep in mind : What are you going to Macro ?
Insects - objects ( jewelry perhaps ) - Macro landscapes ( lots of people shoot mushrooms ) or maybe lizards and frogs ( also popular ) .. Are you going to venture into your back yard or perhaps the Bolivian Jungle ? And then there is obviously the question of money . Do you have an endless supply or do you have to work within a budget .

And not everyone can have the same perspective on things , especially equipment . One person might be happy wit ha 2nd hand $100 digital camera with a $50 kit lens and a $5 close focus filter and a $10 flash .. ( and take very good pictures ) , whilst some one else might look down on this equipment only too happy to ridicule it because they have a $15K camera with a $2.5K lens and a $1k flash solution . My perspective is - surely there is enough room on this planet for more than one way of doing things .

Here is my perspective on perspective and opinion :

2 people are looking at a mountain , both are 50 miles away from said mountain . One is sue south from the mountain and the other is due north ..
Bot hare looking at the same mountain , but have a completely different perspective and there for opinion regarding the mountain . Who's opinion is right , and who's is wrong ?
Just in case you dont know , neither is right and neither is wrong - its just an opinion born of perspective . Because there are so many ways of looking at the mountain , there simply can be no right or wrong .

Is this all confusing , well yes and no .. If you have no clear direction , then yes perhaps . Which is why I recommend doing ! ( Doing ! ) Do the deed , take the photo .. As cheaply and easily as possible - Do ! It is in the doing that we gain perspective and direction . So if you invest $5 only to find out you don't like Macro , then that's $5 well spent . If you invest $500 or $1000 in Macro only to find out you don't like it , then that's perhaps money poorly spent .

So that's my advice to Noobs - Don't buy a macro lens till you actually know that you are actually going to like macro ..
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09-06-2017, 12:37 PM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
I don't set up for macro, I just go for walks and let them happen.. . . .
some thing ( one ) inspired me

I went out to the Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center with my K 3 and two lenses -

HD Pentax-D FA* 70-200mm F2.8 ED DC AW

and

SMC Pentax-D FA 100mm F2.8 Macro

here are some of the results with the 100 macro

1 and 2 were slightly cropped and pp

3 and 4 no crop no pp ( 3 has two bees in the blossom )

5 heavy crop, no pp ( another one with two pollinators at work )

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09-06-2017, 12:42 PM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by BrianR Quote
This is worth repeating! I know too many people who keep their macros tucked away for small subjects, but any of the modern ones (last 30 years or so) seem dandy at any distance.

I'd be interested to hear how you're finding the autofocus of your dfa100mm on the K1 at normal distances, specifically does it do much hunting? It's a common criticism for its use as an all-rounder that I found definitely true on my k100d (manual focus was the game at any distance), and mostly not an issue with my k5iis.
AF is not as zippy for sure. The focus throw is long, and in low light it misses. It's not an action lens but for stills they are awesome.
09-06-2017, 12:55 PM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by old4570 Quote
Perhaps ... Prices on certain items are going up up up ... Do you wait for a good deal ? or do you buy something that is good ? That is not for me to decide ..
Prices on tubes are very variable ( luck ) . Lens prices are rising , the M lenses far more slowly than A lenses .

I see M lenses going cheap on Ebay , but the cheap lenses are usually moldy oldies .. Finding a good clean lens ! is getting harder .. Easy if you are prepared to spend $
A good example is the A 50 F2.8 , a few years ago you picked up a clean one for around $100 USD , not so any more . Want a nice clean one , be prepared to shell out $200 USD or more depending on condition . So with the number of available lenses for sale dropping , and the rising prices . The time for waiting is over ! Really good deals are going to be a rarity . Exactly the same thing happened with tubes . A few years ago you could pick up a mint or new set for around $30 USD , not today .. You see K mount auto tubes for $30 , snap them up quick ..

Those good clean M 50 F4 lenses ? I am just not seeing so many any more .. And the lower priced ones are usually NQR ( mold / fungus mostly )
I can't say I agree with that... the A 50 2.8 hasn't been selling for 100 dollars since pre-K10D days! When I started shooting Pentax (and DSLRs) 4 years ago it was selling for about the same it sells now. The M 50 f4 sold for more (about 100 dollars or more).

So don't go by the Ebay buy-it-now offerings, those are usually overpriced. If you look at Ebay history, those don't sell and they keep re-posting them! The Ebay history shows two that did sell, that seemed to be in good condition: one went for 43 dollars and the other for 69 dollars.

Recently we have had a few nice copies of the M 50 f4 here in our Marketplace, priced at about 50-60 dollars, that were not selling for weeks or even months. An store's webpage (Kenmore Camera) had one priced at 39 dollars that was also there for a while. I think it's the fact that it's a slower lens (f4) and it's all manual (except for aperture) that makes it unattractive to modern DSLR users - but it still beats close up lenses and extension rings at a similar price.

I have the Tamron 70-300mm LD DI 1:2 Macro that was mentioned here previously, but I don't think it's a good lens at 1:2 (300mm). It's very decent for close ups at 180-200mm though, where it's about 1:3 magnification. But at the long end... not very good even stopped down.
09-06-2017, 06:16 PM   #19
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We dont have many places to look for used stuff here ..
We have gumtree and ebay and prices are usually high .
What I see on Ebay is usually NQR , and over priced .
I spend too much time on Ebay looking at used lenses and I am kicking myself for not buying a A 50 F 2.8 a few years ago ...
I was seeing MINT lenses for $130 USD , and clean ones for around $100 ...
I tend to buy from Japan if I can , thankfully most Japanese sellers are fussy and overly critical ( For me so far ) .. Which has been good .
I find local sellers to be overly kind to the lens they are selling , ... And asking to much .

It is what it is , and if you see something that scratches your itch , buy it .... Why wait ? ( I keep making that mistake of waiting - especially with stuff no longer made - its a terrible habit )

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