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05-07-2017, 09:23 PM   #1
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Macro Lens

I'm new to photography and just bought a k-3 with a 18-135mm lens. I was looking at lenses and wondered if anyone would have recommendations for a good startup macro lens that works with the k-3. Also, because I'm new... do I need a macro tube and a lens? Or just one or the other?

05-07-2017, 09:43 PM   #2
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If you're a cashed up beginner, a D FA 100 f2.8 Macro would be great.

If you're a technical photographer, a macro extension tube works well with cheap vintage primes like the M50 f1.7.
05-07-2017, 10:17 PM   #3
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Depends on your budget and how much magnification you need. 'Macro' is a somewhat loosely defined term. Generally accepted to be 1:1, where the object is represented life size in the frame. Is that what you want? Or are you looking for flower closeups? Which can be done quite well with your 18-135. Try shooting what you have in mind with the 18-135 and see if it works for you. If not then look into a macro lens.

On a budget try looking for the Pentax FA 100mm f/3.5 it is slower and not built as sturdily as some others but produces good results at a good price. Comes up on ebay occasionally.
On a real budget get a manual 50mm and some macro tubes, but everything will be manual. Not bad or even an issue with macro, but different than using your 18-135
With more cash the best one to get is the DFA 100mm f/2.8 WR which is all metal and a dream to use.
But any of the Pentax 100mm macros will work just fine. I have the F 100mm macro and the DFA 100mm macro WR. As well as the truly amazing F 50mm macro. And the Pentax-A 50mm macro which is also a great lens.
You can even go completely old school and get a 100mm bellows lens with bellows and track. You will be the talk of all camera club meetings

Bottom line, decide what you want to achieve before rushing out and buying a 'macro lens' because that term can mean a lot of different things.
05-07-2017, 10:54 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by endintro Quote
I'm new to photography and just bought a k-3 with a 18-135mm lens. I was looking at lenses and wondered if anyone would have recommendations for a good startup macro lens that works with the k-3. Also, because I'm new... do I need a macro tube and a lens? Or just one or the other?
G'day and welcome to the forums, hopefully you've found the macro thread to seek some answers there already.

I'm not sure what you're specifically aiming to capture with your 'macro' set up but I'll assume it's more than just having the ability to do close photo work. I Don't do a lot of macro myself, I've only dabbled. I have the Tamron 90mm ( Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro Autofocus Lens AF272P-700 B&H ) it's an excellent lens and worth considering if you want a longer focal length and happy to forgo WR to save a few dollars. However it's a matter of knowing what the correct focal length is for your subject and pursue the option that suits your budget and subject matter.

Some points to consider:
  • Currently you can buy new macro lenses in K mount from Pentax at 35mm, 50mm and 100mm. All of these will give you 1:1 macro capability. The only other new 1:1 macro option for K mount that I know of is the Tamron 90mm. All of these four lenses are sharp and higly regarded around the forums.
  • If new is something you really want you can see these lenses listed at the big online stores, but you may also come across new 'old' Sigma macro lenses in K mount at some B&M stores if you can find any in your neck of the woods.
  • You do not need extension tubes to shoot macro with any of these lenses, however the extension tubes will act to magnify or enlarge the image if this is something you want now or in the future. So you can buy a macro lens and add the extension tubes but you don't have to.
  • Consider this; you can buy extension tubes and 'create a macro lens' out of a non-macro lens. This is a cheap option to consider though a dedicated macro lens can be simpler to use. If extension tubes interest you have a read of this: Macro Extension Tubes & Close-up Lenses
  • The longer the focal length the further away you can be from your subject, so if insects and other skittish subjects are on your list to capture then you will find the 35/50mm are going to have you close to your subject and it's likely they could get spooked. If however you're after super-detailed close-ups of watches or jewellery then maybe the wider focal length will better suit the subject.
  • If you're prepared to hunt around the second hand market this will open up some options in macro lens focal lengths to include the discontinued Sigma 70mm, 105mm, 150mm and 180mm lenses. Again, all are well rated lenses so a good condition copy willl serve just as well as a new lens.
  • There are 'macro' zoom lenses but I'd recommend you look for a prime lens. There are less compromises in a prime so for your money you will get a faster and sharper lens than any of the macro zoom options.

Good luck with sorting out your set up.


Tas

05-07-2017, 11:30 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by endintro Quote
I'm new to photography and just bought a k-3 with a 18-135mm lens. I was looking at lenses and wondered if anyone would have recommendations for a good startup macro lens that works with the k-3. Also, because I'm new... do I need a macro tube and a lens? Or just one or the other?

You have not indicated what you might like to use a macro lens for. Something the size of flowers? Insects? Do you need a dedicated macro with 1:1 abilities or better?
If you need AF in a 1:1 macro lens you will need to think about lots of money. Otherwise some of the budget 70-300mm AF lenses like Tamron and Sigma have 1:4 macro.
If you are prepared to manual focus there are options with the "A" setting on the aperture scale. I have a Sigma 50mm F2.8 (1:1) and a Tamron SP90mm F2.5 (1:2 or 1:1 with a 2x teleconverter or tube)
If you are prepared for green button metering and would like macro on the cheap, as others have mentioned, a tube on a 50mm lens is a reasonable start.
Other budget options include a good close focus screw on lens, can be found to screw on any lens with the correct filter thread size.
Other options also include reversing a lens and bellows.
There are quite a few "what macro" threads in the forums, might be worth reading these and having answers to questions you have not thought of yet.
Enjoy your new hobby and camera.
05-08-2017, 12:10 AM   #6
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This youtube video can be a great help in explaining the various options.

05-08-2017, 03:52 AM   #7
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DA35 limited f2.8 macro. There are others, but that's the one you want. The fact it also doubles as a damned good standard prime, and it does macro, and both of them very well; it makes it the perfect starter prime. (But it's not great for insects that fly, due to the really close minimum focussing distance)

The 100, whilst fantastic, isn't that great as a walk around prime. You could leave home with the 35 ltd, and that's all you need. If you took out the 100, you will always have the 18-135 in your bag.

Just get the DA35 f2.8 limited. No one has ever been disappointed in that purchase. (It is better for macro shots of things that can't fly, than things that do, but it's also one of the best 35mm standard primes in the normal range money can buy)

honestly, as prime lenses go, the DA35 macro is one of the best there is (and to others responding here: the OP has 1 lens, a (good) zoom. Why not combine that with the DA35 macro?) It's one of the easiest macro lenses to use with AF, and if the OP decides to move to a 100mm lens later on for bugs, they still have a fantastic standard prime.

Last edited by robthebloke; 05-08-2017 at 04:03 AM. Reason: Other people were recommending the 100, I disagree
05-08-2017, 07:07 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by dcshooter Quote
Gotta disagree. While the 35 is probably my favorite overall of the DA Limiteds, I think its severe subject distance limitations alone make it an extremely poor choice a first macro lens. There's no sneaking up on insects with that lens, since you literally have to be right on top of them to acheive decent magnification.

If anything, I look at the 35mm on APS-C as an extremely fine normal with the macro capabilities as a bonus, but I would never rely on it as a primary macro.
But the OP has only one lens, the 18-135. Compliment that with a 35 macro, and you have a good zoom, a great standard prime, and a pretty decent macro to boot. Is it the best macro? Maybe not if you want to capture insects. Is it the best standard prime? possible not. But as a compromise that's pretty damn good at both, can you recommend a better lens as a first prime? Because I can't.

05-08-2017, 08:07 AM   #9
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Thanks for all the replies. I am thinking about macro as water droplets and insects. I would love to get something that gets extremely up close.
05-08-2017, 08:09 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by endintro Quote
Thanks for all the replies. I am thinking about macro as water droplets and insects. I would love to get something that gets extremely up close.
I do a bit of that sort of stuff. There are many equipment options - have a look at Extreme Macro Photography

Good luck!
05-08-2017, 08:28 AM - 3 Likes   #11
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I shoot insects and droplets in the wild. But I use any manner of macro setups, from closeup filters, to a prime Tamron 90mm macro lens , to extension tubes with an adapter called a Raynox. Presently I'm using the Raynox DCR-150. This little gadget will fit most any focal length lens. You can even use it with your present lens.

Be aware, macro requires no autofocus, it's manual all the way. And usually a flash of some type, be it ring, onboard or hotshoe attached. You'll need some type of lighting.

I'll give you one I shot yesterday.

05-08-2017, 10:19 AM   #12
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Nass beat me in posting the link to his site. This is a great primer too:CHEAP MACRO -- Buying or exploiting a lens for ultraclose work - PentaxForums.com

At some point lighting is likely going to be a concern, so check out hints and tips for getting the most out of the pop-up flash built into your camera (search the Forums using the term "Pringles" for a start), or adding diffusion to an auxiliary flash. There are lots of inexpensive DIY solutions to macro shooting and lighting. Enjoy!
05-08-2017, 11:34 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by photolady95 Quote
I shoot insects and droplets in the wild. But I use any manner of macro setups, from closeup filters, to a prime Tamron 90mm macro lens , to extension tubes with an adapter called a Raynox. Presently I'm using the Raynox DCR-150. This little gadget will fit most any focal length lens. You can even use it with your present lens.

Be aware, macro requires no autofocus, it's manual all the way. And usually a flash of some type, be it ring, onboard or hotshoe attached. You'll need some type of lighting.

I'll give you one I shot yesterday.
That's an awesome shot. I would love to get things this detailed.I am definitely investing in a speed-lite. And I'll take a look at the DCR-150. Thanks for the help.
05-08-2017, 11:49 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by endintro Quote
That's an awesome shot. I would love to get things this detailed.I am definitely investing in a speed-lite. And I'll take a look at the DCR-150. Thanks for the help
You're welcome.
Macro work doesn't have to be expensive, requiring expensive equipment or elaborate setups. I've been shooting macros for about 20 years, using all manner of equipment.
05-08-2017, 05:00 PM - 1 Like   #15
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Unless you find and can afford a Sigma 180, or one of the Pentax 200s, I'd recommend something in the 100mm range if you want a 1:1 macro lens. It gives a bit of distance between the lens and your subject. Great for insects. The only 100mm macro I've owned is the SMC Pentax-FA 100mm F2.8 Macro.

I've enjoyed my copy. But you don't need to limit your use to macro only. I used it to good effect once at a conference where f2.8 was very helpful in no flash, dim rooms.


I saw what appeared to be a nice copy sell for around $250 this past year. It was a nice deal for someone on a budget. If you are patient and watch our marketplace, folks offer great deals on macro lenses from time to time.
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