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12-29-2009, 08:26 PM   #1
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Beginner Help: Macro Equipment

Hi, I am very much an amateur, just a teen reading some photography books and trying out my dad's old Pentax MX, so please excuse me in advance if I don't understand some terminology. I have been researching about different low-cost alternatives for macro photography, and based on the equipment I already have, I'd like to get some of your recommendations. I have an MX, a 1:2, 50mm lens, and an 80-210mm telephoto lens that lists 1:3.8 and 1:4/210. (again, sorry that I don't know what some of this means!)

Right now I am looking into reverse mounting the 50mm lens, buying a 2x MFTC, or buying macro extension tubes. I've also read about different combinations of those methods. What would you recommend?

Thank you!


12-29-2009, 08:30 PM   #2
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Get some extension tubes. They are extremely cheap and fun.

Although ultimately I suggest getting a dedicated macro lens. They work great for portraits too
12-30-2009, 09:32 AM   #3
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Welcome to the forums Tomzee93!
Try to get the reverse rings first so you will get a feel as to whether you really like doing macro as this is the most cost alternative way.
Buying immediately into the macro bellows is flopping big money into something you should get a feel for first.
Another option is getting the Raynox DCR-150 or Raynox DCR-250. These attach to the front of the lens and give you close focusing capability, but these would also set you back around $40-60.
Get the reverse rings first and try it out.
Some people have gotten good results with the reverse ring method.
12-30-2009, 10:05 AM   #4
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Reverse mounting a lens is by far the cheapest way to get into macro photography but you should do it with caution as you will be exposing your the rear of your lens to the open for extended periods of time.

I think extension tubes can be purchased for pretty cheap. It's really not much more than a tube that brings your lens further away from the camera body. If you can find I would suggest this route.

My current method is using close up adapters. These are filters that you mount onto the front of the lens and essentially act like a magnifying glass. However the picture quality is not superb. Doing research on it the more glass you place in front of the lens the more distortion you will have on the sides. However, it is still a cheaper alternative then buying a dedicated macro lens.

Obviously the best method is to purchase a dedicated macro lens something that can do 1:1 but $$$ will be the issue there.

12-30-2009, 10:16 AM   #5
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I started with reverse rings, and reverse couplers, now I've got some extension tubes. If I had a 'do-over' I'd get the extension tubes and be happy.

I shot this with my K20d, 30mm extension tube and FA 50/1.4 lens, with a bounce flash.


The flowers on this particular orchid are about 2" across their widest point.

Last edited by matiki; 12-30-2009 at 10:27 AM.
12-30-2009, 10:27 AM   #6
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Howdy and welcome, Tomzee93. Bet your Dad is proud of you!

A very quick and dirty way to get your feet wet for about $30 is to buy the set of closeup filters (+1,+2, +4, +10). You don't have to try to figure anything out, you just slap them on the front of your lens and you're up and running.

Oh and buy the closeup filter set that fits your largest lens (filter size) and then with a $5 or so step down ring you can use them on both of your lenses.

Most people look down their nose at closeup filters, but they are a fast and cheap way to try out macro. That's what I started out with and you can get some great shots with them.

The idea is to have fun without stirring up too much stress that often comes with figuring out more upscale macro devices.

Can't wait to see some of your macro shots.
12-30-2009, 10:58 AM   #7
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A reverse mounting adapter works but provides only one magnification because the lens can't move. In the case of a 50mm lens that magnification will be somewhere around 1x, which is a pretty high magnification - at the limit of what can be hand-held. Here's one for around $11 delivered:
MACRO REVERSING RING 49mm FOR PENTAX K NEW IN BOX - eBay (item 160356122639 end time Jan-12-10 18:28:10 PST)
This one is for a 49mm filter ring. Your lens might require 52mm.

A bellows allows for large motions of the lens, hence a large range of magnifications. Here's a $43 delivered Chinese one that looks good:
Macro Fold Bellows for PENTAX K-m K20D K10D K200D K100D - eBay (item 220482972009 end time Jan-17-10 08:54:58 PST)
It magnifies from about 0.75-2.9x.

Extension tubes are less expensive and offer a magnification range of from about 0-1.2X; you've got to manually add tubes to extend ther magnification but that's not hard to do. Here's a set for less than $8 delivered:
Macro Extension Tube Ring For Pentax K Mount Series - eBay (item 280390060230 end time Jan-24-10 01:03:01 PST)

The Raynox DCR 150 clip-on close-up lens on your zoom lens would probably be easiest for you to use and give a magnification range from small up to about 1.4X The edges of the image might be fuzzy but for most purposes that wouldn't matter. Here's one for $50 delivered:
Raynox DCR-150 Macro/Close-Up Conversion Lens f/ Canon - eBay (item 350295622320 end time Jan-19-10 09:51:25 PST)
I think it may be the most convenient option if you can afford it.

If you will work at magnifications of greater than 1X (subject field about an inch wide) you'll benefit from having macro focusing rails to adjust the camera position. Here's one for $46 delivered:
4 way Macro Shot Focusing Rail Slider for SLR DSLR DC - eBay (item 280442096829 end time Jan-21-10 14:48:24 PST)

Dave in Iowa

PS a cost-effective alternative is to reverse mount a mild zoom lens (spanning maybe 30-80+mm). This yields a zoom magnification capability of from small to maybe 3X. It has the advantage of adding a mild zoom lens to your kit for regular use. You might be able to pull this off for $30-40 total including a used manual focus zoom lens.

Last edited by newarts; 12-30-2009 at 11:24 AM. Reason: Added Reversed Zoom Macro option.

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