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08-04-2015, 12:44 PM   #1
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Need help choosing out two totally different things

I am stuck 50/50 on which I should get. 100 2.8 Macro WR or a studio lighting equipment.

I have totally no knowledge of macro photography and I think it'd be fun to get into the game. I always see ultra sharp, close-up photographs of bugs and flowers, it is crazy awesome. As for lighting set-up. I know how to set-up the equipment up, measure lighting and ratios. and everything else. I just don't have the equipment, I already have a l-358 light meter and a af540 fgz flash. If I plan on getting the lighting kit, I am going to get Yongnuo branded flash and Cactus V5 transceivers, and other necessities.

08-04-2015, 01:07 PM   #2
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What types of photography do you do? What do you want to do but can't? I would suggest finding a cheaper used manual focus macro lens and also get the studio lighting. But that's easier said than done, those cheap manual focus macros don't seem to come up often. I had that lens and it is a super good lens, but I didn't use it enough so I sold it to fund a DA*300, a better choice for me. As far as the lighting, do you have room for a studio? And do you have plans for it.Maybe if I had the room I would want lighting, but to set it up and tear it down all of the time is a lot of work and puts more wear and tear on it. I really can't advise you to one over the other, it's your choice, just try to think of all of the pros and cons. And I still think maybe you can swing both if you can find a manual macro (of course no WR then).
08-04-2015, 02:06 PM   #3
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You can always use a reversing ring or extension tubes instead of a dedicated macro lens. There will be differences in DoF, exposure, etc., but the results are still good at almost zero additional out of pocket cost. Good luck focusing a moving bug outdoors with a reversing ring, but it can be done. It terms of lighting, I used to rent what I needed and it was a mistake from a creative standpoint. Why? Had I started with a simple speedlights and reflectors, I probably would have expanded my knowledge much faster. As a serious amateur, I now have a bastardized set-up of higher-powered studio lights bought for cheap over the last few years on ebay. Hey, it works and the financial cost was minimal.

FWIW, I use the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro for macro work and for some portraits (it is sharp wide open). I had the Pentax 100mm M f/4. It was not quite as sharp, but still a wonderful performer for a very inexpensive price (you can find it for under $100). The bokeh is decent enough to use as a manual portrait lens, but you are limited to f/4. If I can find a sample of the Pentax, I'll post it later.

You have several cheap macro options that will allow you to spend money on lighting equipment and modifiers.

Update: Below is a sample of the 100mm M f/4 taken right before I sold the lens to make sure nothing was wrong with it (no other reason for the photo). The bug is very tiny, with the body of it being approx. 4mm-5mm long. For some reason it views sharper on my laptop than posted here. Again, for around $100 it is a bargain.

Last edited by quant2325; 08-04-2015 at 04:59 PM.
08-04-2015, 02:46 PM   #4
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Raynox closeup filters are cheap. Extension tubes are cheap(ish). Bellows is cheap (if you get the right kind).

Here's a thread on using an enlarging lens with extension tubes. You can also do reversing ring tricks as well.

08-04-2015, 02:59 PM   #5
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dedicated macro lenses have one thing over all other solutions: they have practically no distortion and they focus on a flat field. If your idea of macro is stamps then by all means you must use a dedicated macro lens if you want excellent results. For bugs and critters the primary thing is a long focal length so as to not scare the critters. For that both extension tubes and closeup filters work very well. For a long lens the closeup filter is going to give you better results as an extension tube on a long lens has much less "effect" than it does on a shorter lens.

here is an example of a 67mm Marumi closeup lens on a DA* 60-250mm:


08-04-2015, 06:38 PM   #6

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They don't need to be exclusive. Get the macro (or one of the less expensive options, like a used DFA 100mm non-WR, or one of the older FA100mm macros), and start building your studio kit a few pieces at a time - start with a compact lightstand, a wee softbox (<12" or so is fine for macro stuff), and a pair of the triggers of your choice. You can use this lighting stuff right away for macro work with your 540 flash and integrate it into your studio setup as you go along (as it sounds like you're planning to build it around hotshoe flashes).

Just one approach, it really depends on your priorities
08-04-2015, 07:38 PM   #7
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Thanks a bunch you guys. I'll have to think about it more, I'll make up my mind next week.
08-05-2015, 06:38 AM   #8
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LeDave, were it me I would go with the lens as my first choice. There are a number of ways to improvise or set up lighting, including many DIY solutions that will more than get the job done but nothing replaces a quality piece of glass. Since you're new to the idea of Macro photography I think you will be less frustrated using a quality lens to start than some of the other techniques ( tubes, bellows, reverser rings...) as you become more proficient you can try these other ideas and acquire better lighting as your budget allows...

08-05-2015, 07:56 PM   #9
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I'm not sure if you meant "macro lens vs. lighting equipment specifically for macro use," or, "macro lens vs. lighting equipment for general use". Assuming you meant the latter, I would spring for the lighting equipment.

I bought the Strobist kit from Midwest Photo Exchange which includes a basic umbrella, stand, gels, and carry case, and there is no end to the fun. Now I try to add strobe lighting all the time, night or day, indoors or outdoors. David Hobby is quite honest when he says that a basic shoot-through umbrella, and a basic compact 7-1/2 ft light stand, is enough for the much of the shooting one needs to do.

I recently wanted a softbox for less spill and more light control, so I bought a Lumiquest softbox and overly fancy 8-foot air-cushioned stand. I regret that particular purchase, and if I could do it again I would have just bought another Strobist kit, for the compact size and versatility.

Previously I bought a Cactus V6 trigger and RF60 flash. Liked the triggers so much that I bought two more. They have breathed new life into my two AF360FGZ's, and they can even remote control power on an otherwise useless AF400FTZ. The AF400FTZ doesn't do P-TTL or have adequate manual settings, but it does work with the AF560FGZ profile in the V6 trigger, so now I have continuously adjustable remote power, down to 1/128. (Most of my other old TTL flashes such as the AF330FTZ do not work with the Pentax profiles in the V6 -- go figure.)

I have found lighting to be a little quirky at times. One flash and flash modifier can easily work wonders in a given photo situation. Things seem to get exponentially trickier as you add additional flashes and modifiers, as they start to reflect off each other. Just one flash and modifier, and a reflector, should keep you plenty entertained for a while.

By the way, I have the DFA 100, and it is a sweeeet lens, probably the sharpest one in my collection. But lighting has added a whole new dimension to my photography, a different way of shooting rather than just another focal length. To be fair, I am not much into macro photography, so maybe I still don't appreciate the DFA 100 for its full potential.

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