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11-23-2014, 09:53 AM   #1
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Hello and SOS

Hi, I have been interested in photography for a very long time and now I am just starting with a Pentax K-30 and I need help . I have a Pentax DA 50-200mm and a Tamron AF 17-50mmF/2.8 (Di II), and I realized these are not the best for food photography, so I am thinking I might need to get a macro... but I am not sure which one: a Pentax or Tamron? 35mm or 100mm? what is the difference between a macro 35mm and a macro 100mm (is it the DOF, how the background looks)? My main focus will be food photography but since I am just starting and doing this for love, I need a lens that is versatile and not super expensive. Those will come later. Any recommendations?

Thanks you!

11-23-2014, 10:09 AM   #2
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The main difference is going to be the angle (or "size") of its view.
If you are sitting at the table,
A 35mm lens will take a picture of most of the table.
A 50mm lens will take a picture of your plate.
A 100mm lens will take a picture of one item on your plate.
A 135mm lens will let you take a picture of one item on your plate, but you will have to stand on your chair to do it.
A Macro lens will let you take the picture from six inches away.

I recommend the DA50mm/1.8, though it isn't a "macro". The aperture goes to 1.8 (good for indoors low-light) and its view should be good for plates of food.
Next would be the SMCP-M50/4 Macro. It is manual focus, but sharp and Macro with excellent bokeh.
If you want to go 35mm, the DA35mm/2.4 is one every APSC shooter should have in the bag.
If you want 35mm Macro, the DA35mm/2.8 Limited Macro is more expensive (about the price of these other three combined), but gives you more options.
You can stand back and use it like a regular 35mm lens, or get real close and pretend you've got a 50mm or even closer. Plus it has awesome image quality.
11-23-2014, 10:32 AM   #3
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Morning and Welcome to the Forum!!!

A bit more information would help.
  • Are the food photos targeted to print or for web pages? Overall, you are going to need higher quality for print, as opposed to something on web pages.
  • Also, can you explain how you want (or intend) things to be? For instance, obviously the food dish to be in focus, but the entire dish? - i.e., just the front of the hamburger, or the entire hamburger? How about the background - in focus or blurred a bit?
  • Do you want to have only the food item in the picture or be part of the picture with a table settings be in the picture for context.
What you currently have should be just fine - especially in starting off. There is learning involved here. Your current lenses should be ok, especially when stopped down to f8. Where you might have problems is the minimum focusing distance. You might need to be some distance away in order to focus properly. That is where the Macro lens may help.

Before you go scooting off on lenses, you probably need some other things....
  • Lighting - You are going to need some lighting, to light the dishes. This is going to help you decide what lenses you MAY need. You can use anything from table lamps to professional lighting. The type of lights you use will influence the look of the plate using white balance. White balance is connected to the type of light you have. This can also be modified in post processing. Start out with what you have and see how that works. Then adjust from there.
  • Tripod - Its going to be difficult to hold the camera and arrange the dish, and everything else. A tripod will hold the camera with it pointed, while you arrange everything to take the shot. Tripods can run anywhere from $50 on up. You should be able to find a good one for about $150 or so. You are also going to need an external shutter release (these run about $10). This will let you take the picture with out touching the camera, thus making it shake (blurring the picture).
  • Head - This sits on the tripod holding the camera body. You can adjust it to point the camera to frame the shot. You are going to need to be able to make small adjustments, across all three axis - independently. A ball head will not work for you so well. You will need a head that you can adjust each axis independently of the others. A video head allows you to do this, and they are usually the general head that comes on the package tripods. A geared head will be really helpful (manfrotto 410 @ ~$270)
So to your questions....
What are the difference between the macro lenses 35mm and 100mm. Think Angle of View. the 35mm lens will have an angle of view of 37 degrees. The 100mm will have an AoV of 13 degrees wide. So the 35 is used for wide shots, and the 100 is use for "telephoto" shots. Also, the 35 will have a deeper depth of field, while the 100 will have a somewhat shallower depth of field.
I would consider just using the lenses that you have, start shooting and processing the shots. You will quickly learn how everything is going, what works for you and what does not. In this way you will develop a process. You will develop a look and that will determine the type of equipment you will need. You might not want to use a tripod. In this way, you actually wind up spending money on what you really need, rather than just something that you just think you need.

Photography is a capital intensive operation.

I see you have a K30. It has focus peaking. What this means is that you can put the camera in live view, turn focus peaking on, and it will highlight what is in focus. You can then turn the focus ring to put the focus in different places, or you can adjust the aperture to make the depth of field deeper or shallower.

Last edited by interested_observer; 11-23-2014 at 10:59 AM.
11-23-2014, 11:45 AM   #4
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Welcome aboard, as most macro work is done by moving the camera to achieve focus.

There's a whole range of very capable manual macro lenses out there for reasonable money which you might want to check out.


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