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12-07-2010, 08:53 AM   #1
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Macro w/ m42 Extension Tubes & Takumars

Hi I have the following taks which I use on my K-X: 28/3.5, 55/1.8, 50/1.4, 135/2.5 & 200/4.

1. Which of these lenses is best to use with an extension tube for macro photography?
2. What length or set of lengths extension tubes do I need? Especially what combination of lengths will give me the most flexibility to use with the lenses I have.

Thank you!


Last edited by bigjonnee; 12-07-2010 at 09:07 AM.
12-07-2010, 02:13 PM - 1 Like   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by bigjonnee Quote
Hi I have the following taks which I use on my K-X: 28/3.5, 55/1.8, 50/1.4, 135/2.5 & 200/4.

1. Which of these lenses is best to use with an extension tube for macro photography?
I've tried an extension tube with the K 200/4, which is virtually the same lens as the tak 200, and you're not going to get close enough with standard size tubes. The 28/3.5 is too wide. Tubes should work with the 50/1.4. I've used them quite successfully with both the K 50/1.2 and the M 50/1.7, which, I believe, have the same min. focus distance as the tak 50/1.4. I have no idea how tubes would work with 135/2.5.

Any standard set of tubes should do. The cheap $10 K-mount ones on ebay can be tricky with m42 mounts, because the adapter tends not fit very snug in the tube's mount.
12-07-2010, 02:16 PM - 1 Like   #3
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The 55 and 50mm lenses will work very well for macro. The longer lenses will also work, but they will need more extension and they will be more difficult to use without a tripod at high magnification. The 28mm lens would probably work better with a reversing ring than with extension tubes.

I would suggest the you look into M42 bellows rather than extension tubes. They sell for similar prices and give both greater flexibility and a wider range of magnification. My bellows adjust from about 10mm to 135 mm of extension, which gives 1:1 magnification with a 135mm lens or about 2.2:1 with a 55mm lens.
12-07-2010, 05:20 PM - 1 Like   #4
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Actually, M42 bellows cost rather more than tubes, but are much more flexible to use. Bellows are usually in the US$30-50 range; last week I bought a little Bellowscope with a Steinheil Culminar 105/4.5 lens for US$41 shipped. The new sets of tubes I bought a couple months ago were each around US$8 shipped. With longer lenses, it is good to have both a bellows and a couple sets of tubes. All this can be mounted on a PK camera with a safe cheap flanged non-infinity-focus M42-PK adapter, usually under US$5.

Using non-reversed camera lenses for macro can be a problem, depending on your subjects and expectations. Non-reversed, non-macro camera lenses are generally not flatfield. If your subject doesn't require edge-to-edge sharpness, no problem. If edge-to-edge sharpness is important, you have two options: use a flatfield lens, or reverse a camera lens.

A non-reversed lens can focus no closer than its focal length. A reversed lens always focuses at its register (flange focal distance), which with a Pentax lens is ~45mm (just under 2 inches), and with a Leica lens is ~28mm (just over 1 inch). Reversal ALWAYS means working very close. A flatfield lens, like a camera-macro or enlarger or bellows-macro lens, lets you work up to the focal length. A longer lens on bellows can also be used for non-macro work. And great enlarger lenses are still REAL CHEAP now. Many enlarger lenses have 39mm threads, so you also need a real cheap M39-M42 adapter ring, usually under US$3 shipped. I have maybe 20 of them.

Longer lenses need more extension (bellows and/or tubes) to reach macro magnification than do shorter lenses, and they allow (or force) you to work further from a subject. I used to put a cheap 400mm long-lens on a 2x telextender and 500mm of extension, to shoot closeups of rattlesnakes from a safe distance, like 10 feet away. Now I put a Wollensack Enlarging Raptar 162/4.5 (US$7) and 50mm of tubes on a 110mm (max) bellows, for both macro and non-macro shooting. And I avoid rattlesnakes.

I'll echo the previous advise. Use the 28mm reversed. The two Fifty's will work nicely, reversed or not - reversed for flatfield, non-reversed for atmosphere. The longer lenses will need more extension and probably a tripod. But I'd really recommend 1) a bellows, 2) 2 or 3 sets of tubes, 3) adapter and reversal rings, and 4) enlarger lenses, preferably in the 75-150mm range. Enlarger lenses longer than 80mm or so can also be used on bellows for non-macro work. Projector lenses are fun too. My one buck TDC VIVID Anastigmat 127/1.8 on bellows is a really wizard portrait lens.

12-07-2010, 10:00 PM   #5
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Played with my ST 85mm 1.9 on tubes the other day - works well as the wide aperture allows lots of light which is constrained by the tubes.

Example:


Try using tubes on the 135 - should work well with lots of working distance (relatively speaking).
12-08-2010, 07:15 AM   #6
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the math is simple:

magnification_change= extension_change/focal_length short lens = big magnification.

working_distance_change = focal_length(1/new_magnification-1/old_magnification) long lens = big working distance.

I recommend a used bellows. Much easier to use than tubes.
12-08-2010, 10:40 AM   #7
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Thanks everybody. I think I will get an m42 bellows unit. I see vintage units on ebay. Are there any new ones, still in manufacture, sold online where I don't have to deal with bidding or getting a broken one? Links? Thanks!
12-08-2010, 01:35 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by bigjonnee Quote
Thanks everybody. I think I will get an m42 bellows unit. I see vintage units on ebay. Are there any new ones, still in manufacture, sold online where I don't have to deal with bidding or getting a broken one? Links? Thanks!
Fotodiox lists a new K mount bellows for $50; it'll work with your m42's. Maybe they also have an m42 type?
Fotodiox

My experience with Fotodiox has been good.

Also look for "buy it Now" on ebay - there are a number of new bellows listed; both m42 and K type.

12-08-2010, 03:40 PM   #9
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If the price is similar, getting K mount bellows and then using your M42 adaptor on those probably makes more sense. Depending on the design M42 bellows can be a pain to unscrew from the body if they interfere with the flash hump (which didn't exist on M42 film cameras, so it wasn't a problem. I originally used my M42 bellows on a short extension tube to clear the flash; later I removed the locking pin from the M42 to K adaptor so that it stayed on the bellows.
12-09-2010, 06:00 PM   #10
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I now have two M42 bellows and one PK bellows. The PK is actually a bit clumsier to use. Both M42's have locking rings that let the bellows be rotated a desired position. But some of my lenses are simple or odd things stuck into PK body caps, so I need the PK bellows too. Bellows don't cost much; tubes are very cheap; I like having many around, to try all sorts of combinations.
12-10-2010, 08:11 AM   #11
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While a bellows is the Best overall for macro, it is not an absolute necessity, and depending on th elens you use, will suffer all the same limitations as extension tubes. For what it is worth, here is my $0.02

I would consider using either your 55mmor 135mm lens depending upon the total magnification you wish.

the "standard' Asahi extension tube set for M42 is 9mm + 19mm + 28mm which can be used in any combination up to 56mm, and can therefore provide 1:1 macro with your 55mm lens with a working distance of 110mm (lens to subject)

On the 135mm lens this will give you reduced magnification but greater working distances tyoically a 135mm with 56 mm of extension will yeild 1:2 magnification at minimum focusing distance and a working distance of 400mm.

You can also get a variable focusing helix. Asahi made one for M42 lenses, and this is a variable length extension tube ranging from 15-30mm extension.


If you want to go for true macro, get either the Takumar 50mm or 100mm macro lens,. These have two advantages over normal lenses, FIrst they are optimized for close focus, and second they are flat field lenses, which will produce better overall images than standard lenses.

If you do go for a bellows, again while any lens can work, a macro for bellows, or enlarger lens is the best option because these lenses are designed for close focus and flat field.

I use a 135mm enlarger lens on my bellows.

The other advantage of an enlarger lens is that many of them have a large number of aperture blades and round aperture openings at all aperture settings. This was done to avoid the enlarger lens from adding aborations due to point source light spots on the negatives cauisng funny effects at the blade junctions.,
12-10-2010, 08:32 AM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
While a bellows is the Best overall for macro, it is not an absolute necessity, and depending on th elens you use, will suffer all the same limitations as extension tubes.....
I second everything Lowell said; as usual he says true and wise things.

But I want to expand a little on the differences between tubes and bellows. The differences are not optical; they are equivalent optically. The essential difference is (perhaps minor) convenience.

Tubes require slow, disruptive operations of stacking/unstacking as you home in on the magnification and framing you want; with bellows, you turn one knob.

Typically almost 3 sets of tubes are required to get the same range of magnifications a bellows covers.

Finally, and not to be considered lightly, bellows are WAY cooler looking than tubes! Impress both friends and strangers!
12-10-2010, 08:46 AM   #13
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Alright, thanks some more. I was about to bid on some Asahi Penax II Bellows (m42) but now I am worried it will bump into my "flash hump". Anybody know for certain if that bellows wont fit on K-X without a short extension tube? The old bellows look pretty bitchin to complement my vintage Takumars.

A few people suggest K mount bellows (definetely more versitile, since I could use all my lenses), but a few say that the m42 adapteres don't work great on them... I might be leaning towards the fotodix.
12-10-2010, 11:33 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by newarts Quote
I second everything Lowell said; as usual he says true and wise things.

But I want to expand a little on the differences between tubes and bellows. The differences are not optical; they are equivalent optically. The essential difference is (perhaps minor) convenience.

Tubes require slow, disruptive operations of stacking/unstacking as you home in on the magnification and framing you want; with bellows, you turn one knob.

Typically almost 3 sets of tubes are required to get the same range of magnifications a bellows covers.

Finally, and not to be considered lightly, bellows are WAY cooler looking than tubes! Impress both friends and strangers!
just to add one point, specifically something that has not yet been addressed.

You need to consider as well as extension tubes or a macro bellows, the need for a macro focusing rail. to allow translation of the whole camera and lens assembly in and out (i.e. towards and away) from the subject. Due to the magnification involved, this is almost an necessity.

Some bellows have a tripod mount that permits the focusing rails of the bellows unit to slide for rough focus, and then use the thumbwheel for fine focus adjustment, these are preferrable but not always available.
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