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04-17-2011, 05:11 AM   #1
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Macro Reverse Ring, 70's K primes & DSLR

Can I do decent macro photography with my Pentax-M 50mm/f1.4 , Pentax K35/3.5, or Pentax k55/1.8, along with a $10 reverse ring with a K-X? Or do I need to buy a macro lens? I had a macro zoom lens back in the late 80's when I was doing 35mm film slr .. but I didn't do all that much.

04-17-2011, 07:24 AM   #2
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Yes. Reversing works. Macro lenses are great but not necessary. An interesting link for starting cheap.
04-17-2011, 09:10 AM   #3
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Icy jac is exactly right. What we look for in macro (and enlarger) lenses is edge-to-edge flatfield sharpness, as well as close-focus and high-magnification ability. A reversed camera lens has that sharpness. But reversal doesn't magnify; you get magnification from extension. If the camera lens has a deeply-recessed objective (front element), it acts as extension when reversed. For more magnification, add cheap macro tubes -- or just knock the glass/plastic out of a few lousy filters, and use the empty rings for wee small increments of extension.

The shortcomings of lens-reversal: 1) no aperture automation, so be sure the lens has an aperture ring, and you'll find that using flash is tricky; and 2) working distance is the lens register aka flange-focal distance, which for Pentax lenses is 45.46mm (under two inches). Reversed Pentax primes are best for studio work. Reversed medium-format primes may be better for field work.

An interesting, cheap alternative: Reverse a non-digital zoom! (DA-series lenses have no aperture rings and thus aren't really suitable for reversal.) Even bad zooms are improved by reversal. I just started using a SMC-A 35-80/4-5.6, arguably one of the worst lenses Pentax ever sold -- it cost me all of US$13. At 35mm it goes to 2x magnification. At 70mm it focuses to infinity. And it is SHARP reversed, though with a bit of fringing in extreme-contrast scenes. A better zoom gives even better results -- my Tokina RMC 35-135/3.5-4.5 shows no fringing.

Reversed lenses needn't even have Pentax mounts! Great lenses with orphaned mounts (Minolta, Konica, Miranda, etc) are available cheap. In fact, almost any lens you can't otherwise use can be reversed and put to macro-work. Ah yes, Yet Another Macro Lens (YAML)!

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