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09-07-2010, 10:18 PM   #1
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Looking for a macro lens for bug photography

hi guys, sorry about this being my first post, anyway...

id like to get into bug photography and i dont know what lens to get to fully cater my needs for this, i want to get really close up shots of bugs, other models will be used but "bugs" is the best description.

right now i have a kit lens that came with my camera, its the 18-55 one, it isnt really that great for macro.

i would love something i can stay at a small distance to the model/target im shooting and get a really great really close up shot of a bee or something!

id also like to get photos of ULTRA close stuff, say... inside a flower? would this be a separate lens?

im not a tight ass but i dont want to go to town spending money if i dont need to, im only an amateur but id still like something that does the job well.

what do you all recommend?
i have a pentax k200d camera

09-07-2010, 10:48 PM   #2
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You will get a lot of answers, here are some that I use..

Pentax A 100 f4 Macro - a set on Flickr

Pentax DA35mm Limited - a set on Flickr

Pentax DFA 100mm f2.8 WR - a set on Flickr

You'll find a few from the A50 f2.8 in here.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/13300089@N08/sets/72157622584832652/detail/

There are also options such as a front teleconverter (rayonox 250), Bellows, reverse mounting lenses, closeup lenses, etc.

Take a look here for some suggestions from some of the masters (a group which I am not yet a member of)..

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/groups/macro-photography/

09-07-2010, 10:50 PM   #3
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whats the difference between the 35mm and the 100mm? one for zooming one for being at the scene?
09-07-2010, 11:05 PM   #4
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what do you think about this lens?

Tamron SP AF 90mm F2.8 Di Macro 1:1 | Digital Cameras and Camera Accessories | Video Cameras | Teds Cameras Australia

does this one look like it suits my needs?

thanks for your advice so far

09-07-2010, 11:28 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by mantis Quote
whats the difference between the 35mm and the 100mm? one for zooming one for being at the scene?
QuoteOriginally posted by mantis Quote
what do you think about this lens?

Tamron SP AF 90mm F2.8 Di Macro 1:1 | Digital Cameras and Camera Accessories | Video Cameras | Teds Cameras Australia

does this one look like it suits my needs?

thanks for your advice so far
Any will suit your needs. The difference between 35mm and 100mm, is literally, 65mm. With the 35mm to do 1:1 (life sized) macro, you have to get nearly close enough to touch your subject. Not quite but it may not suit well for live bugs at that magnification. With a 100mm you don't have to get so close but you're still pretty close.

The Tamron is a nice and highly regarded lens. If my budget and concience wouldn't have allowed me the Pentax DFA 100mm f2.8 WR, I would have one myself.

I would suggest though that you spend a little time learning what macro is, and all the different ways you can achieve it. Learn what Else these macro lenses can be used for. Many, including the Tamron, make fantastic portrait lenses if that sort of thing appeals to you. My DA35mm is a great all purpose lens that happens to do, 1:1 macro..

In case you don't know, 1:1 refers to a reproduction ratio. So a 1" tall object will be 1" tall on the sensor (or if you prefer, 2.54cm) or film. If you have 2:1 magnification, your 1" tall object will be 2" tall on your sensor. Obviously, with our APS-C sensors, only a portion of that 2 inches will be recorded. A 1:2 ratio refers to half sized. Your Kit lens is capable of something like 1:3 or 1/3 sized. Some say this is good enough to call macro, I say it isn't. That's a fight I won't get into here, that's just my opinion. Beyond 1:2 you are out of macro range and into Close Up range. This includes all in one 'macro capable' zooms.

Don't overlook Used options. There are a couple Pentax M 100mm f4 (1:2) macro lenses in the marketplace. For the money you'd be hard pressed to do better in a dedicated macro lens. Put some cheap extension tubes behind them and you can do better than 1:2 but I think you'll need a full 100mm of extension tubes to do 1:1 without adding glass. Another worth considering is the Tamron LD Di 70-300. At 300mm it can do 1:2 and is pretty respectable at it.


Last edited by JeffJS; 09-07-2010 at 11:35 PM.
09-07-2010, 11:33 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by mantis Quote
what do you think about this lens?

Tamron SP AF 90mm F2.8 Di Macro 1:1 | Digital Cameras and Camera Accessories | Video Cameras | Teds Cameras Australia

does this one look like it suits my needs?

thanks for your advice so far
This would be an excellent choice. There are 3 excellent macro lenses about 100mm:
Sigma 105mm
Pentax 100 mm
Tamron 90mm

All are very highly regarded and considered as outstanding.

The Tamron is the cheapest and also the lightest. That's why I bought it and I love it.... but you would not be wrong with any of the others.
09-07-2010, 11:51 PM   #7
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wow thanks for the replies jeffjs and hcc

i have been trying to get macro shots with my kit lens for a long time, and only now have i decided it isnt good enough (cant get close enough) im very tempted to go with the one i linked, but i want to make sure i know fully what it can do, as i dont want to purchase it, test it and think, hey it isnt getting as close as i want to my bug, i want to see hairs! :P but yea.

im pretty confident about the one i linked, ive also ordered a bellow for my current kit lens to see what its like before purchasing the one i linked, but i think im due for a new lens since the kit lenses are a bit

thanks again guys appreciate the info!
09-08-2010, 12:01 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by mantis Quote
wow thanks for the replies jeffjs and hcc

i have been trying to get macro shots with my kit lens for a long time, and only now have i decided it isnt good enough (cant get close enough) im very tempted to go with the one i linked, but i want to make sure i know fully what it can do, as i dont want to purchase it, test it and think, hey it isnt getting as close as i want to my bug, i want to see hairs! :P but yea.

im pretty confident about the one i linked, ive also ordered a bellow for my current kit lens to see what its like before purchasing the one i linked, but i think im due for a new lens since the kit lenses are a bit

thanks again guys appreciate the info!
If you got a bellows that you can stop your kit lens aperture down with (via a cable, the camera isn't going to do it), it may work ok with the kit lens. The Pentax Bellows A will allow this. Otherwise, you'll be wide open and nearly 0 Depth Of Field full time. That isn't to say that if you were to mount say a 50mm f2.0 or f1.7 or (better yet) f1.4 on there, it wouldn't be a stellar macro outfit. In other words, anything with an Aperture ring will work with the bellows. Anything without, is going to be a challenge to use. Put that Tamron on the bellows, and you can go 2:1 or larger.

Your next issue to solve is going to be lighting. Getting that close to something typically requires artificial light of some sort. Either by flash or strategic set up in daylight (or flood lights).

Welcome to the world of shooting things small..



09-08-2010, 03:53 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by JeffJS Quote
If you got a bellows that you can stop your kit lens aperture down with (via a cable, the camera isn't going to do it), it may work ok with the kit lens. The Pentax Bellows A will allow this. Otherwise, you'll be wide open and nearly 0 Depth Of Field full time. That isn't to say that if you were to mount say a 50mm f2.0 or f1.7 or (better yet) f1.4 on there, it wouldn't be a stellar macro outfit. In other words, anything with an Aperture ring will work with the bellows. Anything without, is going to be a challenge to use. Put that Tamron on the bellows, and you can go 2:1 or larger.

Your next issue to solve is going to be lighting. Getting that close to something typically requires artificial light of some sort. Either by flash or strategic set up in daylight (or flood lights).

Welcome to the world of shooting things small..

heh, my bellows should be here soon hopefuly, and my macro lens that im about to order not to long after, and we're in busness

as for light, the k200d comes with a build in flash, but thats not to say the light from the flash is going to be ok since the bellows may be in the way

as for that lens im about to buy, is the F2.8 going to be ok? what does this mean? isnt lower better? say 1.7 like you said?
09-08-2010, 04:05 AM   #10
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hi

wellcome. as said many times, you can not really go wrong with any macro lens, they are all very good. but some reading before that might do as well.
lets say: Inexpensive Macro Photography

good luck
janko
09-08-2010, 06:10 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by mantis Quote
heh, my bellows should be here soon hopefuly, and my macro lens that im about to order not to long after, and we're in busness

as for light, the k200d comes with a build in flash, but thats not to say the light from the flash is going to be ok since the bellows may be in the way

as for that lens im about to buy, is the F2.8 going to be ok? what does this mean? isnt lower better? say 1.7 like you said?
I doubt the built in flash is going to play well with the bellows. You may be able to get creative with some reflectors and help it along but I'm referring to dedicated off camera (or front of camera) lighting of some sort. I encourage you to go ahead and try it out however. For your application you may not even need it. The problem is going to be that your subject (the Bug) is going to be so close to the lens, the light from the built in flash won't even hit it. I want to correct something I said earlier though. I said that your kit lens would be wide open on a bellows that cannot control it. In fact, it will be completely stopped down at f22.

To my knowledge, f2.8 is the fastest out there for a dedicated macro lens that is readily available. Anything faster (if it exists) is going to increase the price exponentially. Yes, in general, 'lower' is better And, more expensive. My suggestion for f1.7 was for a lens to mate up with your bellows.

I can tell by your questions you have much to learn about Macro as well as Exposure. Without understanding exposure, you'll have a hard time bringing your macro rig around to your way of thinking. Once you understand exposure, you can master any photographic endeavor you choose to follow.

The f number of a lens is determined in general, by dividing the lens focal length by the diameter of the front element. For a given focal length, the larger the diameter of the lens element, the faster the lens (and the more expensive). Look in the lens database at the 50mm lenses to see what I mean.

I don't want to discourage you but before you toss $500+ (AU$) at a macro lens I think you should spend a little time getting a handle on general photography, especially exposure.


Last edited by JeffJS; 09-08-2010 at 06:18 AM.
09-08-2010, 09:28 AM   #12
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Cheap extensions (bellows and tubes, often used together) on any lens with an aperture ring are great for available-light or flood-lit shooting. EXPENSIVE tubes better support flash work with A-type (auto-aperture) PK lenses. The 18-55 kit lens is NOT suitable for any extension.

If you want to work very close to a subject, use a short lens on extension, or a reversed lens. A non-reversed lens can focus no closer than its focal length, and that's about the distance needed for 1:1 (full-size) shooting. A reversed lens always works at its registry distance, which for Pentax-type lenses is about 45mm (under two inches). If you want to work further from a subject, use a longer lens on extension. The bugs might not run off if you're 6 inches away with a 150mm lens. I used to use a 400mm tele with 400mm extension, added to snap rattlesnakes from a safe distance, like 4m / 13 ft.

Most standard lenses are NOT designed for extreme close-ups. They project a sharper image when reversed, using a cheap (~US$5) mount-reversal ring. But reversal doesn't magnify; only extension provides magnification. Enlarger lenses ARE designed for extreme close-ups, are extremely sharp, and can be quite cheap. Enlarger lenses longer than 75mm can also work on bellows for general as well as macro photography, as I often use a 162/4.5 EL lens.

Much available-light macro work requires a tripod. Very fast lenses, and AF, aren't needed or even desirable for much macro work. New fast AF macro lenses are good for portraits and general photography as well as macro work, especially with flash. So-called Macro-Zoom lenses usually AREN'T really macro, nowhere approaching 1:1 magnification, and are not necessarily very sharp. (Exception: my Schneider Betavaron 50-125mm enlarger zoom, but that's another story.) Real macro lenses tend to be quite sharp, thus their usually high prices.

The simple way to shoot bugs close is with a Raynox DCR-250 or -150 magnifier on your kit lens -- the -150 magnifies more. A ringflash is a good light source for that setup, or with any A-type lens (macro or general) with or without a Raynox added. See THE RAYNOX CLUB here for splendid examples of Raynox capabilities.

Have fun! And oh yeah, if you MUST buy a new macro lens, make sure it's Pentax. Support PenHoya financially; keep the management and shareholders happy!
09-08-2010, 12:46 PM   #13
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Hi Mantis,
I have the Tamron 90mm lens and like it very much. I've mostly used it for flowers and inanimate objects. I've also recently picked up a set of Kenko Auto Extension tubes to increase my magnification. I'm just getting started in macro and from my initial experiences, bugs are tough !

Take a look at the Macro Photography Group on this website. It has lots of information from experienced macro photographers who have phenomenal shots. I use it as a learning tool myself.

Good luck & enjoy !
09-08-2010, 12:54 PM   #14
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Mantis, have you seen this topic? https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/post-your-photos/51505-macro-my-macro-photos.html

Go have a look and enjoy!
09-08-2010, 04:08 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by JeffJS Quote
I doubt the built in flash is going to play well with the bellows. You may be able to get creative with some reflectors and help it along but I'm referring to dedicated off camera (or front of camera) lighting of some sort. I encourage you to go ahead and try it out however. For your application you may not even need it. The problem is going to be that your subject (the Bug) is going to be so close to the lens, the light from the built in flash won't even hit it. I want to correct something I said earlier though. I said that your kit lens would be wide open on a bellows that cannot control it. In fact, it will be completely stopped down at f22.

To my knowledge, f2.8 is the fastest out there for a dedicated macro lens that is readily available. Anything faster (if it exists) is going to increase the price exponentially. Yes, in general, 'lower' is better And, more expensive. My suggestion for f1.7 was for a lens to mate up with your bellows.

I can tell by your questions you have much to learn about Macro as well as Exposure. Without understanding exposure, you'll have a hard time bringing your macro rig around to your way of thinking. Once you understand exposure, you can master any photographic endeavor you choose to follow.

The f number of a lens is determined in general, by dividing the lens focal length by the diameter of the front element. For a given focal length, the larger the diameter of the lens element, the faster the lens (and the more expensive). Look in the lens database at the 50mm lenses to see what I mean.

I don't want to discourage you but before you toss $500+ (AU$) at a macro lens I think you should spend a little time getting a handle on general photography, especially exposure.

i was reading up on the lighting via that macro link that lidy linked me below and got some ideas for diffusers, its good that i can make one at home, but would you suggest getting a remote flash? or adapt it to use the build in flash?

the only thing im a bit iffy with is how he/she got such great pics of the bugs with black backrounds, is this using the flash/diffuser at night time?

QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
Cheap extensions (bellows and tubes, often used together) on any lens with an aperture ring are great for available-light or flood-lit shooting. EXPENSIVE tubes better support flash work with A-type (auto-aperture) PK lenses. The 18-55 kit lens is NOT suitable for any extension.

If you want to work very close to a subject, use a short lens on extension, or a reversed lens. A non-reversed lens can focus no closer than its focal length, and that's about the distance needed for 1:1 (full-size) shooting. A reversed lens always works at its registry distance, which for Pentax-type lenses is about 45mm (under two inches). If you want to work further from a subject, use a longer lens on extension. The bugs might not run off if you're 6 inches away with a 150mm lens. I used to use a 400mm tele with 400mm extension, added to snap rattlesnakes from a safe distance, like 4m / 13 ft.

Most standard lenses are NOT designed for extreme close-ups. They project a sharper image when reversed, using a cheap (~US$5) mount-reversal ring. But reversal doesn't magnify; only extension provides magnification. Enlarger lenses ARE designed for extreme close-ups, are extremely sharp, and can be quite cheap. Enlarger lenses longer than 75mm can also work on bellows for general as well as macro photography, as I often use a 162/4.5 EL lens.

Much available-light macro work requires a tripod. Very fast lenses, and AF, aren't needed or even desirable for much macro work. New fast AF macro lenses are good for portraits and general photography as well as macro work, especially with flash. So-called Macro-Zoom lenses usually AREN'T really macro, nowhere approaching 1:1 magnification, and are not necessarily very sharp. (Exception: my Schneider Betavaron 50-125mm enlarger zoom, but that's another story.) Real macro lenses tend to be quite sharp, thus their usually high prices.

The simple way to shoot bugs close is with a Raynox DCR-250 or -150 magnifier on your kit lens -- the -150 magnifies more. A ringflash is a good light source for that setup, or with any A-type lens (macro or general) with or without a Raynox added. See THE RAYNOX CLUB here for splendid examples of Raynox capabilities.

Have fun! And oh yeah, if you MUST buy a new macro lens, make sure it's Pentax. Support PenHoya financially; keep the management and shareholders happy!
yea i learnt that my kit lens is no good.

i have ordered my bellow, so with my lens ive ordered also it should be a good combo, but what are reverse lens and ring? (i know its a google search away, but better coming from you guys)

i assume AF means autofocus? i only real use this for still shots as the camera dosent focus quick enough on fast moving objects.


QuoteOriginally posted by lidy Quote
Mantis, have you seen this topic? https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/post-your-photos/51505-macro-my-macro-photos.html

Go have a look and enjoy!
i had a good read of this thread, got lots of ideas! thanks
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