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12-08-2010, 04:13 AM   #1
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Pentax K-r and macro - what do you think?

Hi,

I'm looking into getting a Pentax K-r as my first dslr. I like that it has in-body image stabilisation and good low-light performance.

My question is: How is its macro mode? How much are simple macro lenses, and would it be cheaper going with Canon or Nikon that have a huge range of lenses, new and second-hand, available?

I'd love to get into macro, but do not want to spend a fortune on a camera and lenses for now.

Many thanks!

12-08-2010, 11:46 AM - 2 Likes   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by lisali Quote
Hi,

I'm looking into getting a Pentax K-r as my first dslr. I like that it has in-body image stabilisation and good low-light performance.

My question is: How is its macro mode? How much are simple macro lenses, and would it be cheaper going with Canon or Nikon that have a huge range of lenses, new and second-hand, available?

I'd love to get into macro, but do not want to spend a fortune on a camera and lenses for now.

Many thanks!
There really isn't such a thing as macro mode on a DLSR. Some of them have a wheel setting for macro, but all that might do is lower the ISO and change the color/contrast settings. I use a flash for my work, so the low light/stabilization doesn't really matter that much.

You can get a "macro" lens for cheap with old pentax film lenses. Grab some extension tubes and/or a reverse ring and a 50mm/28mm manual lens. Total cost = $85 or so.

results?

from my older K20D, i'd say the results look just fine.







12-08-2010, 12:05 PM   #3
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Hi enoeske,

Thanks so much for your reply. Those photos are amazing! I love, love, love them. That's the kind of thing I'd love to get into. I just tried searching online for 28mm lenses but they came up quite expensive; maybe I'm no searching correctly?

When you say $85 - do you mean just for the extension tubes and/or a reverse ring? Or a lens as well?

Thanks so much!
12-08-2010, 12:50 PM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by lisali Quote
Hi,

I'm looking into getting a Pentax K-r as my first dslr. I like that it has in-body image stabilisation and good low-light performance.

My question is: How is its macro mode? How much are simple macro lenses, and would it be cheaper going with Canon or Nikon that have a huge range of lenses, new and second-hand, available?

I'd love to get into macro, but do not want to spend a fortune on a camera and lenses for now.

Many thanks!
Hi Lisali, and welcome to the forums. The most inexpensive way to get good quality macros is to use a Raynox 250 or 150. We even have a "Club" thread where you can check out about 15 pages of macro photos etc.
the raynox macro club
The Raynox 250 goes for about $60 and the Raynox 150 is usually about $50. Sometimes one or the other can be on sale. Both give excellent results.

NaCl(it's not quite pure macro photography, but it also doesn't cost $300)H2O

ps the K-r is an excellent camera, and not just for macro.

12-08-2010, 01:21 PM - 1 Like   #5
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A cheap macro lens would be the Cosina 100mm 1:3.5. This has also been sold as Phonix, Promaster and Vivitar (at least). It does 1:2 by itself and 1:1 with the included "matched adapter" (a lens that fixes to the filter thread). There is one currently on sale on ebay.uk: Cosina 100mm Macro Lenses - Pentax K fitting bei eBay.de: For 35mm SLR (endet 10.12.10 01:02:40 MEZ). Reviews:

Cosina 100mm F1:3,5 MC Makro Lens Reviews - Pentax Third-Party Lens Review Database
Cosina AF 100mm f/3.5 macro (Pentax) - Review / Lab Test Report

Another cheap and decent macro option would be the Raynox 150 or 250 add-on (see: The Raynox Macro club). For the 18-55 kit lens I'd think the 250 would be suitable, the 150 would be good with e.g. the 55-300 DAL that can be had for a good price when bought as a part of a two lens kit (this is worth consideration when buying a new k-r).

For lenses that can be bought new the options are Tamron 90mm, Pentax 100mm and Sigma 105mm. All are highly regarded, Tamron seems to be the cheapest and the Pentax the dearest (although this can currently had cheaper under the Samsung brand: Samsung 100mm Macro Lens For Samsung GX Series & Pentax: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics).
12-08-2010, 04:18 PM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by lisali Quote
When you say $85 - do you mean just for the extension tubes and/or a reverse ring? Or a lens as well?
If you are very lucky, you can get all of it for that price.

As a 1:1 macro that also doubles as portrait lens I'd recommend the Sigma 70/2.8 EX but I believe no standard 1:1 macro will give you the magnification visible in the images by enoeske (without excessive amounts of cropping).

You get such high magnifications by a reverse mounting a short focal length lens (e.g., 28mm) to extension tubes, bellows, or -- even better -- a long focal length (could be a zoom set to its longest focal length). Such arrangements are typically cheap (you just need the reverse adapter or reversing ring (some make do with just tape)) and an old affordable manual prime (e.g., 28mm) will do but you a) will be very close to your subjects with the high potential to scare them away, and b) you'll have to be careful no to scratch the rear element of your lens, and c) you'll need a lot of (artificial) light since magnification eats light.

Having said all that, you'll get great images with a standard 1:1 macro as well and you can put the latter on extension tubes as well to increase the magnification, plus add close up filters (but use good ones like the Raynox only). Just don't expect to fill the frame with a fly's eye with a standard macro.
12-09-2010, 05:39 PM - 1 Like   #7
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Just as many fine lenses are available for Pentax cameras as for Canon or Nikon. And with the built-in Shake Reduction, Pentax bodies offer better performance than other brands.

The least expensive way to shoot good macro is with:

1) a set of basic macro tubes, usually under US$10;
2) a 50mm enlarger lens, usually under US$20;
3) any adapters needed, usually around US$5.

That is the cheapest way, but not the easiest. The easiest is to put a US$60 Raynox DCR-250 onto the kit lens that comes with your camera. Some will argue that this isn't really macro, but it is close enough.

Slightly more expensive, but much more flexible, is to add a bellows to the above setup. Good used bellows often cost under US$40; last week on eBay, I got a small bellows WITH a fine bellows-macro lens for US$41 total! Bellows and tubes allow use of many lenses for both macro and non-macro shooting.

The problem with basic tubes and bellows, and with many manual macro lens setups, is light -- flash is difficult with them. You would have no flash problems with a Raynox on the kit lens, nor with an aperture-coupled macro lens such as the Cosina that jolepp mentioned -- but that costs a bit more. Many people like such automated macro lenses because they are easiest to use for the quality of their images. Like enlarger lenses, macro lenses tend to be the sharpest available. BEWARE: a lens labeled MACRO-ZOOM is probably NOT a macro lens!

There are many many ways to shoot macro, on almost any budget. This website is full of information and advice. Have fun!
12-09-2010, 06:18 PM   #8
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You can get it for cheaper than $85 actually.

extension tubes = $10
reverse ring = $15

28 F2.8 SMC M = $62
or
50 F1.7 SMC M = $47

I used the extension tubes and 50mm for my shots. That works out to $57.

12-09-2010, 10:59 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by enoeske Quote
I used the extension tubes and 50mm for my shots.
But you reversed the lens, right?
Also it seems you used a flash with a diffuser?
12-10-2010, 06:22 AM - 1 Like   #10
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The first image of the fly, that had my 50mm reversed on a set of extension tubes. Its rather difficult in that the aperture is stuck closed down and almost no light gets through to see your subject and help you focus. You can hold the lever down to focus, then let go and shoot, but then your hand is awfully close to the subject. You would get even more magnification if you used the 28mm reversed.

The other are just a 50mm straight on the extension tubes. I used auto extension tubes from vivitar that has the aperture lever. Still fully manual, but the lens isn't always stopped down and focussing is much easier.

here's my elegant setup:


there's some tin foil at the end of the tube inside that makes a quarter circle shape, directing the light down in front of the lens.
12-10-2010, 06:38 AM   #11
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A thing to note of various budget solutions vs. a dedicated (100mm ish) macro lens is that while the former can indeed yield great results like shown here, the dedicated lens gives a longer working distance which means that the subject is not as likely to be in a shade created by the gear and that insects and such are less likely to mind it (and go elsewhere). Of the budget solutions the Raynox 150 + a tele lens around 200-300mm is similar in this respect; this in combination with the DA(L) 55-300 seems to be popular and produces respectable results. Another thing common with the budget solutions is that images lose sharpness towards the edges compared to a dedicated macro lens. Most of the time this doesn't matter much as the interesting thing (in focus) would be around the center of the frame anyway. [edit: one more thing, with tubes, reversing adapters and macro add-on lenses focusing is achieved by moving the camera, instead of the regular focus mechanism, which works more like a 'fine tune' with these]

Last edited by jolepp; 12-12-2010 at 10:13 AM.
12-12-2010, 09:51 AM   #12
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Hi guys,

Thanks so much for all your replies and comments. It's great that you can get good quality macro shots without spending 629 on a macro lens, that's really what I wanted to know!

I think I'm gonna go for the K-r twin lens kit, as Pentax has 70 cashback on K-r now. After I've tested the camera for a bit, I will start expermenting with macro.


A BIG thank you to all of you who replied with your helpful comments!
12-12-2010, 04:44 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by lisali Quote
A BIG thank you to all of you who replied with your helpful comments!
Glad we could help. Have fun with your new equipment!

BTW, if you want to say "thanks" for a particularly helpful post, you can do so by adding to the user's reputation through pressing the corresponding button. I just did so to thank enoeske for sharing his "elegant" setup with us.
12-12-2010, 04:46 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by enoeske Quote
here's my elegant setup:
Thanks a lot for sharing!

I'm amazed that you didn't scare your tiny subjects away with this, what must appear to them like a, battleship.
12-13-2010, 06:23 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Class A Quote
Glad we could help. Have fun with your new equipment!

BTW, if you want to say "thanks" for a particularly helpful post, you can do so by adding to the user's reputation through pressing the corresponding button. I just did so to thank enoeske for sharing his "elegant" setup with us.
Thank you and thanks for the reminder, have added rep to all who have replied!
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