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04-20-2014, 02:24 AM   #1
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Macro Photography Advice

I slowly want to get into macro photography but at the moment dont want to spend loads on a macro lens. I have a pentax A-50 f1.4 lens which after reading a bit might actually be a good idea to pair with extension tubes or with a reverse adapter.
im pretty much totally new to the macro world so i would like some advice on how i can actually use my current lens setup to achieve some good magnification and good images.
lenses can be seen in my sig, i already have a couple of tripods and i might invest in a flash since my old nissin flash i had from my film days wont quite cut it....

thanks

04-20-2014, 05:12 AM   #2
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What are you looking to shoot, things out in the field or indoors where you dont have concerns about portability?
Also do you what kind of magnification are you looking for? You can get greater than 1:1 magnification very cheaply with a lens coupler.

Anyway, I have found that lighting is the key for good macro. I dont have an interest in going greater than 1:1, so I use a single non-reversed macro lens and an off camera flash with a lumiquest mini softbox. I use a wimberley bracket to get the flash right next to the lens. I like this setup because it adds directionality to the light which gives depth. I typically set my shutter speed to 1/180, the fastest sync speed for my k-5iis, the aperture to f16 or smaller, then use my flash to expose the subject, usually a bug in my case.
That setup is a tad cumbersome, but it allows for great mobility because I am off the tripod.
04-20-2014, 05:20 AM   #3
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Tubes will work great with the 50 f1.4. The cheap tubes on ebay have no contacts or aperture control, I would avoid those. But you can take an old cheap 2x converter and remove the glass, they make great tubes and will have aperture control. You could also use a reverse ring. Good lighting really helps with macro. I use an old sunpak ring flash, but even the onboard flash will work but may need a diffuser.
04-20-2014, 05:27 AM   #4
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For starting out, your best bet is probably to find a couple of manual teleconverters, take the glass out and use them as extension tubes. I used a couple that didn't get acceptable pictures, they have the mechanical connection to let the aperture work properly and do an excellent job. You can find extension tubes, but usually more costly.

You can also use a lens reversing ring, but I know nothing about them. I used some good tape to put two lenses together, one attached to the bayonet mount in the normal way and the other reversed, worked pretty well but was just a temporary measure to try it. Seemed to work OK but I didn't use it a good while and really get to know what it was capable of.

Use the search box at top right and search for macro, you should get some good links, this is a pretty common question. I think the most common recommendation will probably be extension tubes.

The A50mm lens should do a very good job, I have the same lens and love it, basically any of the 50mm versions will do great with extension tubes. The only issue will be that the extension tubes (and the teleconverter method I suggested) probably won't have the electrical contacts to allow the lens to communicate with the camera, so you'll have to set the aperture manually, rather than with the rear thumbwheel the way the A series lens usually works. It will still work great though, I use mine both ways.

Also be aware, your working distance will be only a few inches. I was using my M50mm f1.7 yesterday on some very small flowers, with 30mm of extension tube I was no more than 3 inches from the flowers. That means insect shots will be pretty uncommon, but stationary subjects sghouldn't be much trouble.

For what I do it's usually not possible, but a tripod is very useful, you'll find it really easy to get a lot of camera shake. I try to rest my left hand on a knee or the ground to help with stability and let the camera rest on a finger to help hold it steady. A flash might help a lot too, unless you have very good lighting. I use a white card to reflect the flash downward onto the subject since it fires above and beyond my subject. Mine also has adjustable power levels, even at f16 and ISO100 full power results in highly overexposed shots.

Speaking of aperture, you won't have much depth of field at all, so I usually try to keep it at f11 or f16 to get a little depth of field. Sometimes I'll go to f22 but then you risk getting into aberrations, but usually I don't have too much of that to worry about. So normally I stick to f11 or f16 and get pretty good results.

Finally found it, here's a thread with a lot of good info, should answer a lot of questions about macro options.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/54-pentax-lens-articles/152336-cheap-macr...lose-work.html

Here's an example, I took this yesterday using the M50 f1.7 lens with 30mm extension tube made from an old teleconverter. Flash at 1/4 power, reflected with a card, f11, ISO100. This flower is slightly bigger than a pencil eraser.



That's the kind of results you can expect with just about any 50mm lens and extension tubes, after a little practice to get the hang of it. Also take a look at the Tiny Flowers thread, you'll see loads of excellent shots taken using different macro options, and pretty often folks willl list what equipment was used.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/26-mini-challenges-games-photo-stories/10...y-flowers.html


Last edited by Paleo Pete; 04-20-2014 at 05:33 AM.
04-20-2014, 06:47 AM   #5
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great replies from all of you guys.much appreciated. im mostly interested in insects actually (for the time being). not really sure about magnification so i'll do some more reading on that. thanks for the link @Paleo Pete, seems quite informative

Last edited by schnitzer79; 04-20-2014 at 06:57 AM.
04-20-2014, 08:29 AM   #6
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Vivitar sold a Macro Teleconverter that works well with a 50mm f1.4, it will turn it into a 100mm f2.8 that does 1:1 macro. That will give you double the working distance of a 50mm on tubes, which is helpful with bugs. You can get them with A contacts as well for full metering support, but mine doesn't have them.

This was a crop, even at 1:1 he was tiny in the frame.
04-20-2014, 08:32 AM - 1 Like   #7
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Insects can be done with tubes also. The working distance is close with a 50 and tubes, but catching them at the right time like early morning or when they are busy gathering pollen can help. I don't use a tripod as it just gets in the way, but a flash is really needed for handheld shots.

Last edited by bluestringer; 05-01-2014 at 02:47 PM.
04-20-2014, 09:57 AM   #8
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Hand-Held Flash Macro Photography | NatureScapes.Net – The Resource for Nature Photographers

Fyi, this is similar to the setup I run...but this technique will work just as well with your 50mm and extension tubes.

04-20-2014, 11:01 AM   #9
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Here's a good thread to give you much food for thought:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/54-pentax-lens-articles/152336-cheap-macr...lose-work.html
04-20-2014, 12:47 PM   #10
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In respect of IQ degration, in most cases tubes will have an advantage compared with macro converters.

I use a Panagor macro converter (scaling 1:10-1:1) with my A 1.4/50, and resolution suffers visibly (without pixel peeping). Generally (so I heard) converters switchable between tele and macro converter will be worse.

You can find such converters branded as Panagor, Albinar, Vivitar, Kiron, Tokina, Exakta, and many more. Some of them seem to be identical. The biggest advantage compared with tubes is the flexibility, as you usually can seemlessly vary between 1:20...1:1 mag.

I will get a SMC-M 4/50 macro next week (quite cheap), but for insects 50mm would be too short. For stills ok. The 50mm macros originally were ment for reproductions, as they are Tessar-type flatfield designs. But as such, they are super sharp from center to borders even fully open.

Last edited by RKKS08; 04-20-2014 at 12:54 PM. Reason: Info added
04-20-2014, 06:30 PM   #11
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I don't think the 50 is too short for insects. That's what I used on the hover fly photo above, a 50 f4 macro on 30mm tube. You just need to catch them at the right time, and be real sneaky. :-)
04-21-2014, 04:36 AM   #12
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i was thinking in getting the raynox dcr-250 to use with my DA 55-300. would that be a better option than a reverse adapter (or extension tubes) with my A-50mm lens?

Last edited by schnitzer79; 04-21-2014 at 04:52 AM.
04-21-2014, 05:25 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by schnitzer79 Quote
i was thinking in getting the raynox dcr-250 to use with my DA 55-300. would that be a better option than a reverse adapter (or extension tubes) with my A-50mm lens?
A Raynox (or other close-up filter) does have some advantages. You retain all the camera's auto-exposure functions, and it's less of a fuss to switch back and forth between macro and normal shooting -- just pop the filter on or off. Working distance will still be short, but no loss there. But see this post before picking a Raynox for this lens:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/122-lens-clubs/74221-raynox-macro-club-4.html#post766591
04-21-2014, 08:20 AM   #14
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basically i was thinking that it will hardly take any space in my camera bag as opposed to an extension tube etc... and also read that IQ is pretty good also.
thanks for the link. so the raynox 150 will be better with longer lenses and the 250 with shorter ones...considering the lenses i have in my sig, which of the 2 would be a better option?
would the A-50mm with the raynox 250 have enough mag?
04-21-2014, 08:34 AM   #15
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Look through the Raynox Macro Club thread and you should be able to find answers as to how each filter works with various lenses. I think 50mm is too short to make a good combination with either the 150 or 250. The 150 on the DA55-300 does seem to be a particularly good and versatile combination (based on what I've seen; I've never used either).
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