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01-17-2014, 09:59 AM   #31
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QuoteOriginally posted by beebs Quote
I can see why "Lens Addiction" is one of the biggest threats to financial health!
I don't want to contradict the lens recommendations made here, and I'm not familiar with the M 50mm lens you have, but I have the A 50/1.7 and based on it, you may not need to buy a lens. The shot below was taken wide open with lighting from two small bulbs in a track light on the ceiling. Other than a mild scenic sharpen preset in Lightroom, no post-processing has been applied. Getting focus right was my biggest problem, in other shots the bricks on the right were in focus and the bricks in the centre were out of focus. You can see the out of focus areas better in the cropped picture. The distance from the camera to the centre of the picture was exactly 9 feet, and with the A 50, minimum focusing distance is 18 inches. I would worry about getting even lighting with consistent colour before worrying about getting a sharper lens. On the other hand, if you are looking for an extra reason to buy a new lens, don't let me discourage you.

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01-17-2014, 11:54 AM   #32
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I'm going to do some tests with the old M50 today. Just got back from Precision, and they really didn't have much in stock. The guy showed me the DFA 50mm Macro, which I really liked, but they wanted $525 for it...which, according the the reviews here is way too much money. That's pretty much all he had that was of interest. They're more interested in selling Nikon and Canon, still...they've only just started being a Pentax dealer, so they don't give it the space it deserves.

And I think I finally understand the film/digital equation...basically he said that multiply what's on the lens by 1.5 and that's what you've got. So a 50mm lens is really like 75mm, and a 100 would be 150, etc. OK...so I think I understand that now.

So I will go and see what the M50 does...if it doesn't look much better than what I was getting with the 18-135, then I will look into a new lens.

I doubt if anyone would think that $525 for the DFA 50 Macro is a "good deal"...while it was good to actually put the lens on the camera and aim around the store with it (it was very sharp, esp on the Macro end), that's over $100 more than the review says is the "average" price now.
01-17-2014, 12:21 PM   #33
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Yeah, way too much for the DFA50. Stop the M50 down, pour on the light and keep your ISO low. Exposure time shouldn't be an issue.

Then worry about exposure in PP.
01-17-2014, 01:45 PM   #34
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Well, my preliminary tests show that the M50 is sharper at the edges, and virtually no lens distortion (at least the "squeezing in of the sides") that I could see...see the two att'd details of the upper left corner of the self-portrait painting. As you can see, the M50 makes the 18-135 look like mush at the corners. The M50 seems to be "soft" in the center, but that could just be at certain apertures. I took a shot at each click of the aperture ring from f2 up to f22...I think there might be a "sweet spot" somewhere around f5.6, but it'll take more experimenting to figure that out for certain.

At this point (at least from a monetary and practicality standpoint) I think it might be worth working with the M50 (and work on improving my light situation) before I slap down $500 for another lens...at least for now.

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01-17-2014, 09:13 PM   #35
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f/5.6 is probably about right. Beyond that you would only be gaining additional depth of field but since you're photographing flat surfaces I don't think you need to go there.

LiveView with manual focus and focus peaking... you're all set!
01-18-2014, 02:16 PM   #36
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Thank you all, very much!

Many thanks to everyone for the input. I needed to have my brain jostled about all this, and all your suggestions made me think. This site is an invaluable resource...I am no longer afraid to turn the dial away from "AUTO"

Been working all morning on tweaking the setup, and I think I stumbled onto exactly the right thing. The tests from this are turning out beautifully. I re-thought the lighting and realized I had everything I needed, but was just using it incorrectly. I set up both the halogen work light rigs, but assembled them to better suit what I'm doing. Instead of both lights (500W ea) mounted on top of the mounting bar, I mounted one underneath. Arranged the two so that the upper box of each hits the white ceiling, and the bottom box of each hits the white board lying on the floor. Positioned one rig to either side of the center of the working wall. The wall has a neutral-beige indoor-outdoor carpet stapled up, with a large piece of black velvet push-pinned over the center.

After several tests, this is really providing some excellent results. After hanging each piece, and leveling it, I just use the lever-handles on each light box to position the "beams" to just below the frame (for the bottom-aimed boxes) and just above the frame (for the upper boxes)...from the photo below, you can see that this gives me a consistent "band" of purely indirect light as tall as the piece is. It's the best "indirect" lighting I can get with these work lights, while the harsh part of the beams are above and below the work, this band of indirect light is just about perfect. It even works with pieces that have glass over them...no reflections that I can see in the finished shots. The only change I'm having to make between pieces is to adjust the lights so that they are positioned just above and just below, and to adjust the tripod until the work is dead-center in the viewfinder. The black velvet made a huge difference. It isolates the work so that the exposures end up being much more accurate.

I'm shooting with the M50 on f11, and the lights are bright enough for me to be able to use 100 as an ISO. After I got the black velvet behind the pieces, the exposures that the K-30 makes are almost perfect. And I'm not really having to do much color-correcting at all.

This is one of Char's mixed-media collage pieces. (a large jpeg, about 4 MB) If you view that at full-size, you can see just how well it's capturing the piece. The detail shot att'd here below shows just how it's picking up all the textures...the paint, the paper, the vintage barkcloth fabric, it's all there. Using a very small amount of "unsharp mask" after I've done the RAW adjustments, and that's really about it. I will probably end up changing the way I'm doing the text/info about the piece, but this was just a test.

So thank you to everyone here...I finally feel as though I'm understanding all this a bit better and am finally on my way to having a "workflow" with this project. I did some rapid-succession changing of pieces...hanging, leveling, adjusting lights and shooting...I got through four paintings and a framed oil-pastel drawing under glass in about a half hour, just as a trial, and I'm feeling that this is now a setup I can get things done with. Minimal hassle between shots, and consistent results. And I didn't have to spend another five hunnert bucks!!!!

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01-18-2014, 04:58 PM   #37
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You should also experiment with some foam core boards for side bouncing. The bounce you have going now seems to be doing a great job. I tell you the color rendition with the old lenses can be really great.

This is an interesting project, thanks for sharing your progress.
01-18-2014, 05:09 PM   #38
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Many thanks...yes, I am going to go get two full sheets of foam core and positiion them as "wings" angled in toward the velvet and see if that will give me even better light.

I will make an album or gallery after I get more things "done." I am finally more excited than apprehensive about doing this. I think I will be able to do my darlin's work the justice it needs, and help me keep my promise of finally getting her work "OUT THERE" and into the world.

And now that I am no longer afraid of the "M" setting on the dial, I am definitely going to be looking for more of that good vintage "M" glass...!


Last edited by beebs; 01-18-2014 at 05:15 PM.
01-18-2014, 05:21 PM   #39
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I made a PVC pipe backdrop for photographing models, and use paper as neutral backdrop. PVC is a bit more pricey than wood, but more tidy. Some frames, zip ties and PVC should give you a flexible setup which you can store flat and out of the way.

look for A series lenses, too. The auto aperture is convenient, but not necessary for studio work.
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