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04-27-2010, 06:29 PM   #1
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Interested in Macro Photography but...

I found some threads on the matter but they were a little outdated.

I'm currently the owner of a Pentax K-X with an 18 - 55mm Pentax lens and a 28 - 90mm Sigma lens. However I find that neither of the two are cut out for Macro photography.

Any suggestions on how I should go about this? Should I purchase a new macro dedicated lens or perhaps purchase a macro zoom lens?

I have a budget of about $150

Cheers!

04-27-2010, 06:49 PM   #2
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There is a 100mm f/3.5 macro lens known as the "plastic fantastic" you can find under a couple of names, Phoenix for sure, but there are others. Its a 1:2 native with a dedicated diopter that screws on to make it 1:1 ratio. Last one I saw sold went for $120. I have both that and a $480 Sigma 105/2.8 and at 1:1 it is often HARD to tell them apart. Now using the lens for non-macro purposes the more expensive one earns its keep.

So if you are looking for primarily close up macro on that budget, check out the "plastic fantastic". If you can't find one at your price point then pm me and maybe I can help.

good luck.
04-27-2010, 08:13 PM - 1 Like   #3
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There are quite a few ways to spend $150 on macro. I might be doomed to try them all. What separates the different methods are magnification, image quality, distance from subject, camera and lens automation, and ease of use. If you can get specific about your subjects, you can eliminate a few options. The DA 18-55mm kit lens does 1:3 magnification, so you need 1:2 or better.

Lee is right about the Phoenix, also sold as Vivitar, Cosina and even Pentax, in manual focus and autofocus versions. If you really want autofocus, it's the only dedicated macro lens that will fit your budget. Another macro lens that might fit within your budget is the Tamron Adaptall-2 90mm f2.5 Macro. The Adaptall-2 system means you also have to track down an adapter for K-mount, and if you need more magnification than 1:2, a teleconverter or extension tube. With some deal-hunting you can do this and have a completely manual lens. It has much higher build quality than the Phoenix, maybe not that much better image quality. A third possibility is the Pentax-M 100mm f4 Macro, also 1:2 magnification and manual operation, but no adapters required.

The Raynox 150 and 250 diopters are good options too. They attach to an existing lens, so you can have the featues of that lens available. They'll leave you with some money leftover, and some combinations can get to or exceed 1:1 magnification.

Another possibility just over your budget is the Tamron 70-300mm f4-5.6 zoom, that can do 1:2 magnification. Here is a comparison between that lens and the Tamron Adaptall-2 90mm macro that I just did:

Centers

Corners

Note that the zoom was at 300mm and 37 inches away, while the 90mm lens was 15 inches away. The images are about the same size because the two lenses have the same magnification ratio. The focal length affects the distance from the subject. The zoom is not as good a lens but useful for telephoto too.

That's only scratching the surface of available options.
04-27-2010, 08:38 PM   #4
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...and I agree with Dave who is way ahead of me on the options and reminded me that the Raynox 150 or 250 are great options. I started macro with the Raynox 150 on a da55-300. As Dave also pointed out, your requirements will dictate the best option for you. Whether a Raynox on your 90mm will have enough magnification for you depends on what you plan to shoot but at your price point you could get an inexpensive 200mm or 300mm lens with a Raynox to boot.

04-28-2010, 12:45 AM   #5
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First off a massive thank you to the two of you for the detailed responses!

Ideally what I'd like to use the lens for macro shots of water droplets, flowers, insects and perhaps even fruits/dishes.

I'll start having a look at your recommendations once I'm back home, once again thank you both very much for the replies!
04-28-2010, 11:50 AM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Praestigium Quote
I found some threads on the matter but they were a little outdated.
Aside from the introduction of a lens or two that are *way* out of your price range, nothing has really changed in the world of macro since the birth of this forum, so any threads you found are actually just fine. Extension tubes still produce great results, it can still be difficult to finds that work with lenses that lack aperture rings, cheap manual focus macro primes still work great, the Raynox adapters still work great, other cheap close lenses generally *don't* work well, and zooms labeled "macro" still aren't really (they'll only barely get closer than your 18-55).

If those were my only two lenses, I'd spend the $150 on a manual 100mm macro lens that would also serve as a decent fastish telephoto / portrait lens - something else you lack right now (I'm assuming the Sigma is only f/5.6 at the long end). But I do a lot of photography that requires such a lens. The other thing I'd consider is a used DA50-200 and a Raynox 150, which gives you not only macro but also longer telephoto you presumably lack. Might be *slightly* over your budget, but should still come in below $200.
04-28-2010, 01:18 PM   #7
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A Macro-Takumar 50mm 1:4 (1:1 mag) can be had for less than $100 & is a superb lens. Only the "Macro-Takumar" is 1:1, if it says anything about coatings like Super-Multi-Coated or smc it is 1:2.

There is one on ebay now; the current bid (2010.04.28) is $20.50.

Note: a distinguishing feature of the Macro-Takumar 1:1 is two aperture rings on the front of the lens.

Dave

Last edited by newarts; 04-28-2010 at 01:32 PM.
04-28-2010, 01:39 PM   #8
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The Sigma A 50mm f/2.8 can usually be had for less than $100. This is the manual focus version and is a 1:1 macro.

04-28-2010, 04:12 PM   #9
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Here is a link to a listing of older Pentax macro lenses: Pentax Lens Review and Specification Database - Manual Focus Macro Lenses

Most of these should be within your budget; I'd especially recommend the M50mm/4 and the M100mm/4. Both have 1:2 magnification, great sharpness, and very controllable focusing.

Adam
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04-28-2010, 08:33 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by imtheguy Quote
Whether a Raynox on your 90mm will have enough magnification for you depends on what you plan to shoot
A Raynox 250 on a 90mm lens will be able to do 1:1 macro and a bit beyond.
04-28-2010, 08:49 PM   #11
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The Quantaray(identical to the tamron version) 70-300mm, is a decent lens for under $150. Sometimes you can get it for less than $100. It's a 1:2 macro.

However...you do end up getting what you pay for. Look also at extension tubes or macro diopters.
04-28-2010, 09:46 PM   #12
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Plastic fantastic (Cosina, etc)

Hi all,

I'm also new to all this, with a K-x with one of the dual lens kits (18-55mm and 55-300mm DA-L lenses).

I've been looking for the 'plastic fantastic' 100mm f/3.5 macro lens (under all of Cosina, Phoenix, Promaster, Voightlander & Pentax) for the last few weeks and not been able to find one anywhere with a pentax lens mount. I think B&H still sell it for M42 mount at about USD$129 (as well as other mounts like Canon, Minolta/Sony, etc), but haven't found a Pentax one anywhere. I'd go for the B&H one, but add on shipping to AUS, and it ends up being over AUD$200. I've tried numerous google searches, KEH, Adorama, eBay, etc, and not found this cheap macro lens for Pentax anywhere.

Am I missing something, or is it just very hard to find these days in a Pentax mount? Is the B&H M42 version of the plastic fantastic likely to be my best chance for getting one, and just putting up with the lack of auto everything that using that mount will entail? (Aside: I've got an infinity-focusable M42 mount coming my way at the moment, so that's not an issue, but I'd much prefer auto focus and exposure options if possible.)

The Tamron 70-300 LD DI 1:2 macro is on sale locally new for AUD$200, but from what I've read, it won't actually be much better for insect photos (our target macro subject) than what we've already got, so I'm leaning away from getting that.

Thanks for any thoughts....
04-28-2010, 10:08 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by abby Quote
Hi all,

I'm also new to all this, with a K-x with one of the dual lens kits (18-55mm and 55-300mm DA-L lenses).

I've been looking for the 'plastic fantastic' 100mm f/3.5 macro lens (under all of Cosina, Phoenix, Promaster, Voightlander & Pentax) for the last few weeks and not been able to find one anywhere with a pentax lens mount.
Mint Boxed Pentax PK-A Vivitar 100mm F3.5 Macro Lens - eBay (item 180500074710 end time May-04-10 17:55:02 PDT)

Thank you
Russell
04-28-2010, 11:05 PM   #14
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Shipping only to US. Being in Australia sucks.

I wondered why that one didn't show up in my searches....

But I'll add Vivitar to my list as another possible brand name for this lens.
04-29-2010, 03:45 AM   #15
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You can most always find a Tamron 90mm 2.5 adaptall mount for around $150 or under. That is if you don't mind using it without the P/KA adapter and use the k/m mount. . Very sharp. They also only go 1:2 but have extentions tubes and converters that pair with them to make them 1:1. . With the 2x flat field converter you have a 180mm macro lens.
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