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12-14-2007, 06:43 AM   #1
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Macro Equipment

Hi all,

I'm hoping some of the more experienced macro folks here can help me out on a few questions.

I recently went nuts on "that auction site" and bought a few things. One was a Pentax SMC 100mm f/4 macro lens. I also bought a Pentax Auto Bellows II. I've already got a tripod although I'll be getting a better one soon. I've also got the Pentax 540 flash and a couple of K to M42 adapters. I'm thinking I've got what I need to get started between the lens and the bellows. I also bought some extension tubes.

One of the questions I have is about ring lights. Would it be worth it to get one as opposed to using the 540 wireless? B&H have a Phoenix setup for around $90. I would imagine using both would help as well but is it worth it?

Another question is what lens to use with the bellows. I was thinking my FA50 would be good. I thinking the macro lens I bought could also be used with the bellows but I'm not sure about the size and weight of the lens on the bellows. I know KEH has a few 100mm bellows macro lenses available right now but I don't know that I need one.

The last question is what have I missed? I'm working in Canada and won't be able play with any of the stuff I bought until I go home for Christmas. I'd like to have everything I need waiting for me when I get home.

Thanks in advance,

Slick

12-14-2007, 09:34 AM   #2
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For macro shooting, I would be worrying about getting good glass first and accessories later. That 100mm f/4 isn't the sharpest tool in the shed.

But since you ask, I don't recall anyone on the site ever mentioning in detail ring light setups or which one is better than another. I don't use them. A lot of research I have done on the subject says they are not as affective as they should be, but then again, I don't shoot macro at night so I am biased by that. But if I was to get a flash kit for macro, I wouldn't get a ring light because I would want something that would offer me more control over the light like the Nikon R1C1 or the Rollei TTL kit.

I have never used a bellows, only tubes and a macro extender so no help there.

But the best thing to date, aside from my lens, that I have purchased is the Velbon macro rails. It never leaves my tripod. Oh joy, my new tripod arrives today!!
12-14-2007, 10:21 AM   #3
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Thanks for the info Buddha.

I know it's not the best lens but it's a start. I'm not sure how much I want to get into macro so I figured I'd start out on the less expensive side. If I do get into it I'll have something better pretty quick. I was thinking, if nothing else, I can use the FA50 on the bellows and the 100 when I'm out and about.

I also checked the macro ring I was looking at a little more. It appears to be junk so that's out for now.

I checked out the Velbon macro rails, they look interesting. I can see why you use them. I think the bellows will take care of the forward but not the lateral.

Thanks again,

Slick
12-14-2007, 12:14 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Buddha Jones Quote
But the best thing to date, aside from my lens, that I have purchased is the Velbon macro rails. It never leaves my tripod. Oh joy, my new tripod arrives today!!
Now after having an inital go at Macro I found the repositioning the difficult part with the tripod .... and after seeing these mentioned ... I am also looking at getting the Macro slider kit as well.

What helps too is I already have a Velbon Sherpa (250R) tripod ... so compatibility will be nice and easy

so many things to spend money on ... so little money.

12-14-2007, 12:23 PM   #5
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I was under the impression that the Pentax 100mm macro f4 was a decent lens. Can you elaborate Buddha?

Last edited by billhardie; 12-14-2007 at 03:09 PM.
12-14-2007, 12:46 PM   #6
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Nice set of gear to start off with. I use a Starbltiz ring flash with a Tamron 90mm DI macro lens for walk around macro, usually flower etc shots and it produces good results. (No autofocus with a ring flash hanging off your lens!)

You will find that with a fixed setup, bellows etc, you may need two flashes to give some contrast control with main and fill flash. A slaved off lens Ring Flash can be used as the fill.

I have the Autobellows A and jury rigged a cable release actuated push button connection to the remote control socket to fire the camera with the autobellow cable release. I use hotshoe cable connected off camera flash and slaved flash setup.

Enjoy the macro world

David
12-14-2007, 01:23 PM   #7
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Mechan1k,
I know what you mean about things to spend money on. I guess I finally have LBA. I think I bought 10 or so new (old) lenses in the last couple of weeks.

Bill,
I had heard the SMC 100mm f/4 was a decent lens but not as good as some of the newer lenses so I figure it should work as a starting point.

David,
As far as fill, I also have an old Nissin flash with a Wein optical trigger. I plan on trying to use that as well. I'm hoping this will give me the lighting I need. Thinking about it again I doubt if I'll go for a ring flash as I travel for work. My camera bag already weighs 15 lbs and will weigh more with everything I've purchased recently. I probably don't need to add even more weight. As far as the cable release, I was thinking I would set the aperture of the lens manually and take the photo as normal, kind of like using a manual lens on the camera if that makes sense. Do you think that would work?

I'll have lots of experimenting to do once I get everything.

Slick
12-14-2007, 01:28 PM   #8
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You've got way more than enough gear to get started in macro...you've got enough to last for years! lol If you're like me, you'll probably end up using the macro lens more than the bellows or extension tubes simply because it's more convenient. But the best thing about also having the bellows and extension tubes is that it gives you options. Now, any lens in your arsenal can become a macro lens. (okay...not really. But pretty darned close.) Changing the focal length that you're using for macro will help you control the background of your pic and the working distance from your subject. If you add any extra gear, make it a focusing rail, as others have suggested. It's a major pain in the rear to have to keep moving your tripod for these tiny adjustments. Plus you're going to bump whatever it is you're trying to shoot more often than not. lol Oh...one more thing...some folks use enlarging lenses on their bellows. You can often find them for much cheaper than a dedicated bellows lens and, if I'm not mistaken, I believe they're also corrected for flat field work.

12-14-2007, 01:43 PM   #9
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Hi TaoMaas,

I figured I had most of the bases covered, lol.

Since I travel a lot I thought the macro lens and tubes made the most sense. I bought the bellows on a whim. If it's reasonably portable and light I'll throw it in my suitcase.

I'm already thinking about a focusing rail. Buddha's post made a lot of sense to me. I'll probably try without it first (I have to do things the hard way) but I can see it's something I probably need.

I'll have to look into the enlarging lens. I've never heard of that before.

Thanks for the info,

Slick
12-14-2007, 02:00 PM   #10
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I've got no room to talk, Slick. I've got the same gear you have. You might try using an extension tube or two on your zooms. It's a great way to pick up some extra close focusing ability without adding a lot of weight to your bag. Very handy for traveling.
12-14-2007, 03:44 PM   #11
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Here is an image that I got during last weekends ice storm. It was taken with the 100 macro. While not really much of a macro shot it does at least give you some sense of the quality of the lens. So far I like it.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/gallery/images/4100/1_Ice.1.JPG
12-14-2007, 06:28 PM   #12
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Thanks for the image, Bill. It looks good to me. I think it will be a good lens but, of course, there are better out there. I'm glad I bought it and think it will do fine for a start.

Slick
12-14-2007, 07:29 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by billhardie Quote
I was under the impression that the Pentax 100mm macro f4 was a decent lens. Can you elaborate Buddha?
Decent yes, but not on par with the 100mm f2.8 verson, or the VIV S1 105mm f2.5 or the Voitlander 125mm f2.5. I'd take it in a pinch, it's by no means a cheapie, I mean it is a Pentax.
12-14-2007, 07:47 PM   #14
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Sorry Buddha, I have to disagree. I've owned this lens for over 10 years and found it to be very sharp with the typical excellent SMC build and IQ. I sold it a year ago when I went to a faster macro lens that could get 1:1. But used with a bellows the macro ratio won't matter. The focus 'throw' of that lens is long enough to allow very critical/sharp focusing.

I think this is much more than a "starter" lens.

Congrats Slick on the new kit. It'll be fun and looking forward to your macro shots.
12-15-2007, 01:07 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Buddha Jones Quote
Decent yes, but not on par with the 100mm f2.8 verson, or the VIV S1 105mm f2.5 or the Voitlander 125mm f2.5. I'd take it in a pinch, it's by no means a cheapie, I mean it is a Pentax.
Hey, Buddha, if you go to other sites that test the Pentax lenses, you will find that the SMCP-M 100mm f/4 Macro is about the sharpest macro that Pentax ever built.

Welcome to Bojidar Dimitrov's Pentax K-Mount Page

Stan's Pentax Photography

The disadvantages are:
  • Manual Focus only (advantage for me)
  • No "A" on the aperture ring, Manual Exposure only
  • Only goes to 1:2 without an extension tube

IQ is not on the disadvantage list.
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