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07-29-2009, 08:41 AM   #1

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Macro lens recommendations please.

I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this question or not but I'll ask anyway since I'm a new dSLR user. I like to take mostly close ups of flowers, landscapes, nature, birds, animals, pets, portraits. No sports.

I have the K-7, so which macro lens should I get? Also, what lens for portraits, landscapes, birds, animals, trees? Is there a all-in-one lens that would do everything I want to do? I like to get Pentax lenses but they are so expensive. Some of the third party lenses I find affordable but are they any good, like Tamron, Sigma, Phoenix? What about the new Pentax 18-55mm WR kit lens? Thanks!

07-29-2009, 10:00 AM   #2
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Hi Peter and welcome to the forums. I would say that there is not a single lens that does all that you want to do, or at least one that does it all well. I don't own the 18-55 WR kit lens, but I did own the original 18-55 kit lens and IMHO it is one of the best "bang for the buck" lenses I've ever owned. It is reasonably sharp, has decent contrast, moderately close focusing and has good color rendition, it's an excellent beginning lens. I'd still have mine, but I gave it to my brother-in-law (attached to a K10D) for his birthday.
Macro recommendations: I'd recommend the Raynox DCR 150 macro. It's not really a lens, more like a lens attachment, some good info can be found here:
The reason why I suggest this route is that true macro lenses are moderately expensive, and macro photography is not for everyone. Lots of ppl buy a macro lens, use it for about 6 months and then it ends up sitting on the shelf. With the Raynox, you'll be able to explore macro photography relatively inexpensively, and without sacrificing much in the way of image quality. After working with the raynox for a while you'll be able to determine if that particular branch of photography is for you or not.

NaCl(hope that helps)H2O
07-29-2009, 10:41 AM   #3
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Lens makers use "macro" very broadly, sometimes meaning only "this lens can focus closely". Photographers like a narrower definition of a macro lens, one that has a magnification ratio of 1:2 or better, has a flat field of focus, is extremely sharp and is well-corrected for distortion and other abberations. A magnification ratio of 1:1 means that your subject is reproduced at the same size as the camera's sensor or film. So at 1:1, a US quarter coin would fill the frame side to side.

A quick search for macro lenses at one source showed the cheapest one by the lens maker's definition was this Tamron at $135, and the cheapest "true" macro was this Sigma at $300. Click on the "specifications" tab for each lens and you'll see the Tamron has a 1:3.9 magnification ratio and focuses to 4.9 feet, while the Sigma has a 1:1 ratio and focuses to 7.4 inches. The Sigma is designed as a true macro and might be good at other things, the Tamron is designed as an inexpensive telephoto zoom and might be OK for some closeup purposes.

Narrowing this down to a particular lens is hard -there are many possible choices. Selecting a "true" macro is easier because the lenses are all pretty good and there are fewer choices. Prices are not that different either, somewhere between $300 and $500. But they are all prime lenses, just one focal length, which limits their general purpose use. They tend to focus more slowly for greater precision, be heavier and larger, and sometimes be too sharp.

For general purpose use, the close focusing zooms do a lot more, giving up a little on magnification ratio, sharpness, speed, etc. By the time you wade through the specs, you'll wish you bought a true macro. I would avoid buying a lens strictly on price, because you will get what you pay for. You didn't say whether your K-7 came with a lens already.

One specific general purpose lens that comes to mind: Sigma | 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 DC Macro Lens for Pentax | 669109
07-29-2009, 10:47 AM   #4
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I'd recommend visiting a library and getting any decent book on basic photography, to get a sense of what different types of lenses are about. You've described wanting macro capabilities, also things that require wide angle lenses, "normal" lenses, short telephoto lenses, and longer telephoto lenses. Sure, there are lenses that cover a lot of focal lengths - like the various 18-250's on the market. But there are compromises, including the fact that it's not going to be very "macro", and that you won't have much flexibility for taking pictures in low light or for getting shallow DOF effects that are especially useful for portraits. Any book on photogrpahy will probably explain these concepts. Then you can decide what compromises you are willing to make in a "one lens" solution, or whether you'd rather get separate lenses that each do a few things well.

07-29-2009, 11:08 AM   #5
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just to have an idea about macro photography, go and buy a reverse ring first and use your 50mm lens on it. the reverse ring sells at around 5 dollars and dont cost much as the diopters and extension tubes. Neither do I encourage you to buy a true macro lens now. besides, LBA is costly. the reason why I suggest the reverse ring is for you to discover the need for macro. the reverse ring is good enough for macro and the cheapest. you can also have a plain extension tube for 20 bucks or the full auto focus/aperture ext. tube for 150-200 bucks. or as someone suggested, a raynox diopter lens for about the same price as the tubes. all those 3 produce very decent and very good photos (even produces great results in some instances), depending on the user's ability to maximize their capability.

anyway, since you have the K-7, why not use your 50mm with it for flower photography? you could just simply crop the image inorder to produce a very good macro image of the photo at the cost of nothing. though I advise you to read or learn correct or proper exposure inorder to achieve optimal detail of close up images.

as for the other lens recommendation and since you are looking for a lens which specializes in flowers, natures, landscapes and portraiture, I highly recommend the WR 18-55 kit lens. it produces very good to excellent quality pictures at small apertures and it costs for only 200, which is cheap for a WR lens. I recommend this lens over the others simply because it's the only one lens with the affordable WR seal that would fit in with your weather-resistant sealed K-7 body.
07-29-2009, 01:14 PM   #6
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Here's a strategy that'll cover a huge range of possible situations, assuming you already have the 18-55mm kit lens.

Get the Pentax 55mm-300mm zoom AND a Raynox DCR 150; this will cost a less than $400 total & give you complete coverage and excellent results from the highest magnifications you can hand-hold to the longest telephoto you can hand hold.

See: Pentax Lens Review Database - 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED


PS. with the 18-55 kit, that's a 17X zoom range and a continuous magnification range of from 0:1 to greater than 1:1

Last edited by newarts; 07-29-2009 at 01:45 PM.
07-29-2009, 01:43 PM   #7

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Thanks for all the great replies! The Raynox adapter sounds very interesting and very tempting! I almost went ahead and ordered one but I would much rather spend that money on a macro lens. I have been taking closeup macro shots of flowers for many years and that is what I really enjoy doing. My Pentax K-7 didn't come with any kit lens but I was given an older Pentax SMC-M 50mm which I have been using since I got my new camera. I'm thinking of getting the 18-50mm WR kit lens to play with and save up for a macro lens. This is one of the few photos I took using the K-7. I still have a lot to learn and how to use a dSLR.

08-08-2009, 09:30 AM   #8

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I finally decided and bought the 18-50mm WR kit lens (I love this new lens!)and the Raynox 150. I'm saving up for a true macro Pentax lens. Meanwhile I took some first macro shots of my Hosta flowers with the Raynox 150 and I'm having so much fun with it! What do you guys think?

08-08-2009, 09:48 AM   #9
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Looks good!
08-08-2009, 01:05 PM   #10
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Those do look good! Of course, the kit lens can focus pretty close already; that's not actually much additional magnification tahn you'd get without the Raynox. Get yourself a telephoto zoom like the 50-200 or maybe 55-300 to use with the Raynox, and then you'll be in "real" macro territory.
08-08-2009, 01:36 PM   #11
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Very nice shots.
The good thing about the Raynox is you can just about try it on any lens you have and see how the combination works.
With a dedicated macro lens, you only have that certain lens and that's it, if it performs badly or you want more magnification then you have to get another macro lens to get closer focus or greater magnification.
With the Raynox, all your lens can be a macro lens.
I have the Raynox DCR-250 myself and would still want to get the DCR-150.

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