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10-18-2016, 04:09 AM   #1
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Macro lens suggestions

Hello all.

My next lens purchase for my K-3II will be a dedicated macro. So far I have been using manual macro tubes with my A 50mm f1.7 or my new-to-me Helios 44-2 58mm. I'm getting on OK, but there are a couple of major annoyances - auto aperture would be a big improvement, but much more so the freedom to compose and then focus, rather than needing to focus by composing (if that makes sense).

I don't actually do much in the way of bugs and bees, more inanimate objects so I'm not that bothered by auto-focus or not. I also have plenty of options for other subjects so non-macro performance is not too important, it will be used purely for macro. Thirdly, I would like to spend as little as possible. Absolute tack-sharp is not important at all, in fact I like a little character as you can see. I also will be doing a lot of PP, usually in B&W, so CA and colour rendering is not so important. But if there is good reason, I'm happy to spend what's necessary.

I am a little confused about focal length - obviously I'm using ~50mm's on tubes, so does this mean a ~50mm macro will give similar results? If so, do I really need look much further than a used A 50mm f2.8 Macro? Or is there a 3rd party hidden gem out there that will work? The Tamron 90mm is an obvious contender...

Any suggestions?

Example shot using Helios 44-2 on manual tubes, processed in Silver Efex

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10-18-2016, 04:23 AM   #2
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1) If you like tubes , then you will love Auto Tubes ( With aperture levers )
2) If you like the 50 then it might be worth sticking with it ..
3) A good value for money lens is the M 50 F4 Macro lens from Pentax
4) Pentax 100mm F4 Macro ( M or A )
5) Owning both the 50 and 100mm M F4 Macro lenses and some auto tubes ( Yeah baby )

There is a lot of choice out there .. the 50mm A f2.8 is about the same value as the 50 f4 and 100 f4 combined .. ( Price )
You makes your choices .
10-18-2016, 04:27 AM   #3
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Focal length depends primarily on what you intend to photograph. This is an old page - Great manual macro lenses, ideal for starting out in macro photography - and I now have several more, but there are all sort of good options out there, cheap ones too.
10-18-2016, 04:45 AM   #4
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I was just searching ebay again and up popped the older Sigma 50mm f/2.8 macro: Sigma 50mm F2.8 Macro Lens Reviews - Sigma Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database
It's only a little more than the M50 f/4 (100 vs 80), and judging from the reviews here is a reasonably good lens. There was an A 50mm f/2.8 from Japan for 120 but that disappeared pretty quick!

10-18-2016, 05:36 AM   #5
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This is an excellent macro lens that can be found cheap. Cosina AF 100mm f/3.5 macro (Pentax) - Review / Lab Test Report

There is is also an MF version. Be sure it comes with the diopter to make it 1:1. The filter thread is 49mm so it can also be used to turn a lot of Takumar/Pentax primes into close-up lenses.
10-18-2016, 06:01 AM   #6
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For macro, the general rule on focal length is:

1. the shorter the focal length, the greater the magnification with a given set of tubes
2. the shorter the focal length, the less the working distance to the subject

There's a bunch of math formulas for figuring all these things out, but if you don't want to get technical, then don't.

A 50mm macro lens will give a similar look to what you've been doing except: it will be much much sharper and if you add tubes, then the potential magnification with the lens set to it's closest focusing position will be much higher.
10-18-2016, 06:09 AM   #7
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I do really like AF Sigma 70mm but MF Tamron 90mm is excellent as well. The plastic fantastic 100mm F3.5 made by Cosina is also very good.
Either of them will be excellent choice. You do have also manual focus version of Cosina lens.
Some examples bellow...

Cosina AF 100mm ƒ3.5 Macro (mine is Vivitar branded and it is recognized in camera RAW as SMC Pentax FA 100mm ƒ3.5 Macro as it is identical or same)






Manual Focus Tamron (2nd image with matching tube for 1:1)






AF Sigma 70mm ƒ2.8 EX DG Macro






Last edited by RAART; 10-18-2016 at 06:14 AM.
10-18-2016, 07:14 AM   #8
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Extension tubes

QuoteOriginally posted by victormeldrew Quote
Hello all.

My next lens purchase for my K-3II will be a dedicated macro. So far I have been using manual macro tubes with my A 50mm f1.7 or my new-to-me Helios 44-2 58mm. I'm getting on OK, but there are a couple of major annoyances - auto aperture would be a big improvement, but much more so the freedom to compose and then focus, rather than needing to focus by composing (if that makes sense).

I don't actually do much in the way of bugs and bees, more inanimate objects so I'm not that bothered by auto-focus or not. I also have plenty of options for other subjects so non-macro performance is not too important, it will be used purely for macro. Thirdly, I would like to spend as little as possible. Absolute tack-sharp is not important at all, in fact I like a little character as you can see. I also will be doing a lot of PP, usually in B&W, so CA and colour rendering is not so important. But if there is good reason, I'm happy to spend what's necessary.

I am a little confused about focal length - obviously I'm using ~50mm's on tubes, so does this mean a ~50mm macro will give similar results? If so, do I really need look much further than a used A 50mm f2.8 Macro? Or is there a 3rd party hidden gem out there that will work? The Tamron 90mm is an obvious contender...

Any suggestions?

Example shot using Helios 44-2 on manual tubes, processed in Silver Efex

In some of the posts in the forums regarding macro photography there are many suggestions on what can be used to provide macro. The cheapest might be;
A reversing ring that allows you to fit a zoom to your lens, handy if you are using a lens that has "A" contacts on the camera and may help with your composing requirements.
A de-glassed TC with "A" contacts as an extension tube.
Macro options at possibly less than the price of a pint of beer.


I have very little experience with taking macro images even though I have tubes, bellows, TC's I could de-glass and a reversing ring 49mm / 52mm.
I have that Sigma 50mm F2.8 and it's great for hand holding apart from the requirement to get very close to the subject for 1:1 magnification and battered as it is, I got it cheap. I also have a Tamron 90mm F2.5 52B with an adapter with "A" contacts, provides 1:2 magnification as I don't have the matched TC. Both of these seem good to me.

10-18-2016, 07:26 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Skodadriver Quote
I have that Sigma 50mm F2.8 and it's great for hand holding apart from the requirement to get very close to the subject for 1:1 magnification and battered as it is, I got it cheap..
Yeah, I'm managing to get the shots I want with tubes and I do also have bellows and reversers, but it's all a bit of a faff. I would much rather just pop on a lens, point and shoot. I've no problem getting in close - that's what I'm doing now, and my subjects don't run away.

I'm definitely erring towards the Sigma for these reasons and because it is good value and available. I'm not a big fan of 'lying in wait' for unusual lenses to crop up...but I will keep an eye out in the meantime for the cosina/vivitar types and if another cheap Pentax A 50mm f2.8 crops up that might be preferable. They seem to either be in the hands of someone who thinks it's a sought-after rare lens for silly money, or someone who thinks it is old tat for peanuts...so I can only hope for the latter.
10-18-2016, 08:50 AM   #10
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If you wanted something a bit longer I can highly recommend the Sigma 105mm EX DG Macro. Unfortunately they no longer make it in K-mount so it can only be found on the used market, I got really lucky as mine came from Ebay and it was listed as new-old-stock, it even came with the extended Canadian warranty. The seller was a liquidator and was selling off the remaining stock from a bricks and mortar camera store that had closed down.

Being a longer prime it means you can stand off from the subject and still get the shot which is great for outdoor flower/insect shots. Indoors I sometimes feel as though it might be a touch long as I take up half the room by the time I've set up my table, light tent, desk lights, tripod etc. However, the stand-off distance does mean you have room between the lens and subject to get plenty of light in.
10-18-2016, 02:48 PM   #11
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Those Sigma 50mm F2.8 Macro lenses are very good . ( Excellent in fact )
I own one , and would not part with it .
10-26-2016, 04:36 PM - 2 Likes   #12
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Thank you for all your suggestions. My new (to me) Sigma 50mm f2.8 Macro (MF) is now proudly mounted on the K-3II . I have popped out to the garden for a quick test and I am mightily impressed.
Now I just need family and work and long-postponed odd jobs to get out from under my feet for a day, so I can get out and stretch its legs properly.

Image of palm frond with raindrops, low res jpeg taken straight from RAW with only exposure adjusted. Handheld.
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10-26-2016, 05:37 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by victormeldrew Quote
Hello all.

My next lens purchase for my K-3II will be a dedicated macro. So far I have been using manual macro tubes with my A 50mm f1.7 or my new-to-me Helios 44-2 58mm. I'm getting on OK, but there are a couple of major annoyances - auto aperture would be a big improvement, but much more so the freedom to compose and then focus, rather than needing to focus by composing (if that makes sense).

I don't actually do much in the way of bugs and bees, more inanimate objects so I'm not that bothered by auto-focus or not. I also have plenty of options for other subjects so non-macro performance is not too important, it will be used purely for macro. Thirdly, I would like to spend as little as possible. Absolute tack-sharp is not important at all, in fact I like a little character as you can see. I also will be doing a lot of PP, usually in B&W, so CA and colour rendering is not so important. But if there is good reason, I'm happy to spend what's necessary.

I am a little confused about focal length - obviously I'm using ~50mm's on tubes, so does this mean a ~50mm macro will give similar results? If so, do I really need look much further than a used A 50mm f2.8 Macro? Or is there a 3rd party hidden gem out there that will work? The Tamron 90mm is an obvious contender...

Any suggestions?

Example shot using Helios 44-2 on manual tubes, processed in Silver Efex
You might also want to consider the Lester Dine 105mm f2/8. There's one for sale in the marketplace.

Kiron / Lester A. Dine 105mm f2.8 Macro Lens Reviews - Miscellaneous Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database
10-27-2016, 08:52 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tako Kichi Quote
If you wanted something a bit longer I can highly recommend the Sigma 105mm EX DG Macro. Unfortunately they no longer make it in K-mount so it can only be found on the used market,
I second this suggestion. I'm very pleased with my Sigma 105 EX DG Macro!
10-27-2016, 11:21 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by victormeldrew Quote
Thank you for all your suggestions. My new (to me) Sigma 50mm f2.8 Macro (MF) is now proudly mounted on the K-3II . I have popped out to the garden for a quick test and I am mightily impressed.
Now I just need family and work and long-postponed odd jobs to get out from under my feet for a day, so I can get out and stretch its legs properly.

Image of palm frond with raindrops, low res jpeg taken straight from RAW with only exposure adjusted. Handheld.
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I don't believe it!....well somebody had to say it.
Good choice for a macro lens I look forward to your review of the lens.
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