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01-01-2010, 11:49 AM   #1
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If you need to choose a macro lens

Hi all and merry christmas!

I read some reviews about the macro lenses here in this forum and each of the lenses got high score and good reviews.
Which (in your opinion, usage and experience) is the best macro lens to buy (considering the price and availability) - do you prefer the old lenses or the new DA macro lenses are as good as the old ones or even better ?

What is (are) the main difference(s) between the 50mm macro to the 100mm macro lenses? Which is more "usable" in different scenes?

Should I considered a macro lens which is a zoom lens or it will be better to get a prime macro lens?

Thanks!

01-01-2010, 12:19 PM   #2
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I'm moving this to be the beginner's forum, as it seems more appropriate there. This is a very commonly discussed topic, so I'd suggest reading over the dozens of other threads on macro lenses for tons more info. But the short answer is, the longer the focal length, the further you can (must( be from your subject in order to get a given magnification. So a 100mm lens is far more appropriate for insects that would not respond well to cameras being stuck within an inch or two of them. And as you'll see, all macro lenses are good enough that there's basically no reaosn to choose one oover another based on image quality.

There are no zooms that do anywhere near 1:1 magnification, so if that's important to you, then don't get a zoom - unless you plan to get a Raynox or other closeup lens to get it to 1:1.
01-01-2010, 12:39 PM   #3
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Choose the FL that's right for you - both 50 and 100mm are useable in every scene. Where the 50mm may be difficult to use is with small or jumpy bugs that don't like being encroached upon.

I have the FA 100/2.8 macro and have never felt wanting with it. But any of the available Pentax macros are excellent. And if you're serious about macro work, you'll forget about the 'macro' zooms - they're not true macro lenses.
01-01-2010, 01:46 PM   #4
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I have a 50mm, 100mm, and 180mm.

The 100mm is a good balance between the other two in working distance, size and weight, and hand holdability. I keep mine in my bag and carry it everwhere with me in case I need a macro lens. You just can't go wrong with a 100mm Macro, IMO.

01-01-2010, 03:38 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kelarch Quote
The 100mm is a good balance between the other two in working distance, size and weight, and hand holdability. I keep mine in my bag and carry it everwhere with me in case I need a macro lens. You just can't go wrong with a 100mm Macro, IMO.
Ditto on this. Of course there are other brands, 70mm, 90mm, 105mm......all great too!
01-01-2010, 03:55 PM   #6
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Thanks for the info all. I have a 70-300 with a macro setting but I cannot get the high magnification and crisp images that I see here and other places.
I have greatly enjoyed my few attempts in the macro world so maybe a 100 is the way to go.
01-02-2010, 06:29 AM   #7
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Thanks for the help!

I will go for the 100mm macro (and if I get the chance to get other macro lens I will add them to (if have the cash ))
01-02-2010, 06:54 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nomad Quote
Thanks for the info all. I have a 70-300 with a macro setting but I cannot get the high magnification and crisp images that I see here and other places.
I have greatly enjoyed my few attempts in the macro world so maybe a 100 is the way to go.
A zoom lens with "macro" setting is really a close focusing lens. A real, dedicated macro lens will give you bette resolution, less aberrations, 1:1 enlargment, better DOF control. It's really not a contest, even though having a close focusing lens has its uses too.

I personnally own a 50 mm macro, and I like the fact that it doubles as a portrait lens pretty well. That being said, if money was no issue, today my choice would be the new WR macro lens from Pentax.

01-02-2010, 07:04 AM   #9
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You may want to consider getting a Raynox Close-up lens to augment what you already have, or purchase a good zoom lens and a Raynox together (Pentax DA 55-300 + Raynox DCR150 is a superb combo.)

I suggest you look at some macros taken with a Raynox and decide if they are high enough quality to suit your needs - for example:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/74221-raynox-macro-club.html

The Raynox does not perform well at the edges but in the center it is darned good. The Raynox 150 has a working distance about the same as a 100mm macro lens at 1:1 magnification.

The clip-on design of the Raynox makes it easy to carry and easy to use.

I don't want to oversell the close-up lens option at all, but it is a cost effective, convenient way to start.

On the other hand, you might want to consider something superb like the PENTAX-FA 50mm f/2.8 macro - which may be the sharpest lens ever from Pentax (I don't find a 50mm macro lens to be particularly difficult to use, especially if bugs are cooled.)

Finally, consider how the macro lens you buy will function for other purposes.
01-05-2010, 02:28 PM   #10
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I use the 35mm DA macro and love it. To be honest, I don't really use it for much macro work, but it's great when I need to.

It's a good balance as a walkaround lens as well. I took pretty much all of my Tokyo pictures with it if you want to check out my flickr link below.

Good luck!
01-05-2010, 04:08 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kelarch Quote
I have a 50mm, 100mm, and 180mm.

The 100mm is a good balance between the other two in working distance, size and weight, and hand holdability. I keep mine in my bag and carry it everwhere with me in case I need a macro lens. You just can't go wrong with a 100mm Macro, IMO.
I can only emphasize this. Having the same set of macro lenses, my most often used one is the 90mm Tamron. Gives enough working distance for most things and provides fine image quality - as does almost any dedicated macro lens.

Ben
01-05-2010, 07:17 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by goldenzebra Quote
Thanks for the help!

I will go for the 100mm macro (and if I get the chance to get other macro lens I will add them to (if have the cash ))
Excellent Choice. You won't be disappointed. Then if you can afford it, pick up the DA35 macro later. You will have a great combination with those 2 in your kit.
Jeff
01-05-2010, 07:27 PM   #13
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It depends on the type of work. I have had an SMC-M 100mm macro for many years, and use it with both extension tubes and the SMC-F 1.7x AF TC.

it is nice to work with because it is small light and at 100mm focal length, you are at a comfortable working distance from the subject. (1:1 is achieved at 8 inches workign distance)

A 50mm macro is at half that, and a 35 mm macro is at 1/3 that distance (i.e. about 2.7 inches), so you are getting pretty close

BUT for non macro close up, and copy work, 50mm might be better because you can work a little closer (like on a copy stand)

a 180-200mm macro would be nice but they are very expensive.

you can easily put a 50mm screw mount macro lens, and extension tubes together for $100. a 100mm that does 1:1 or with extension tubes to get you to 1:1 will cost about $200 used.

don;t worryt about AF, MF is good for macros because you control what is in focus
01-05-2010, 07:39 PM   #14
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As far as I'm aware, all macro lenses perform well so choice of brand or focal length should not be a worry to you as far as quality goes.
The most important thing you need to consider is the focal length and that will be determined by what kinds of Macro you intend to do. The 90, 100 or 105 range is a pretty safe bet because you will have all bases covered.
01-05-2010, 10:43 PM   #15
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Personally I opted for FA 100/3.5 (notice the slow aperture). I don't shoot macro a lot, only twice a year when we have a blooming season/weather here. I've also the matching converter (a filter actually) that extends macro capabilities of this lens from 1:2 to 1:1. Suits me perfectly - light, good IQ. The only drawback is rather weak construction, but I don't really mind.

The main difference between 35 mm, 50 mm, 100 mm and 200 mm macro lenses is working distance. Well, of course size and weight too, but more importantly - the longer the lens - the farther from your subject you can shoot and still get good magnification. So that I doubt that 35 mm lens could be successfully and consistently used to shoot insects in the wild in warm climate (that is, when they are active). 200 mm macro lenses (Pentax 200/4 and Sigma 180/3.5) are big and heavy, so that for casual kind of macro photography 100 mm seems ideal.

In principle fast macro lens (100/2.8 and 100/2.0 by one of the more well known 3rd parties whose name I don't recall) could be used for portraits, but due to its high resolution figures, it is not completely straightforward as it may emphasize all the skin issues of the model. But then again having macro capabilities you can get all the interesting stuff such as extreme close up of the eyes, etc.
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