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Old Sep 26, 2009, 9:27 AM   #1
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Default Macro Lenses

I have a Pentax K200D camera & am thinking of buying a macro lens. I have never done macro photography but would like to try it so want something reasonably priced that is half decent quality. Someone recommended the Tamaron 90 macro lens to me. Would this be a good lens? Any comments on it or any other recommendations would be appreciated. Thank you.

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Old Sep 26, 2009, 4:01 PM   #2
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One good thing about choosing a macro lens is that there are hardly any bad ones. Since macro lenses are bought by well-informed, interested buyers any dog would be chased out of the market in no time. The Tamron has a very good reputation and several very satisfied owners on this forum. But probably any other choice would also be fine.

One thing to keep in mind is focal length. A longer FL allows you to stay a bit longer from your subject, and many users want a lens around 100mm. But there are also 50mm and even 35mm macro lenses, and people seem to be happy with them too.

A bit cheaper would be to get extension tubes, or a close-up lens to screw onto the filter thread of an "ordinary" lens. Both work reasonably well. Myself I use a good quality close-up lens mounted on a 100mm macro lens with extension tubes for extreme macro.

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Old Sep 26, 2009, 4:07 PM   #3
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Someone recommended the Tamaron 90 macro lens to me. Would this be a good lens?
The Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Macro has a great reputation for optical quality. It's a highly regarded lens for Macros. Here's a review of the Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro Autofocus lens on a Pentax body (K10D in this case):

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Old Sep 26, 2009, 7:37 PM   #4
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The Tamron seems to be an excellent lens - lots of people post awesome shots with it. If you want to save money and don't mind buying used lenses, you might do as well buying a used lens. I have a Vivitar Series One 105mm macro that I bought on ebay - it is manual focus but I found auto focus could be a liability for macro, where the dof is so small and it's easy for a camera to focus on something just behind what you want it to focus on.
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Old Sep 26, 2009, 8:39 PM   #5
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I haven't been able to convince myself to spring for a dedicated macro prime lens, but I use two different Tamron zooms with macro focusing...the 28-75 f/2.8 and the 70-300 f/4.0-5.6 when I don't want to get too close to something (anything with a stinger). If I need to get closer, I have a set of macro tubes that I will couple with the 28-75.

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Old Sep 26, 2009, 9:31 PM   #6
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I would echo Harriet's recommendation for the Kiron made 105mm. You can find these in the Pentax mount under three different names: most commonly Vivitar Series 1 105mm f/2.5, Lester A Dine 105mm f/2.8 (made for dentists), and least commonly as a Kiron 105mm f/2.8. The lens has such a following, though, you may pay as much for one of these old lenses as you would for a new auto focus macro lens. Heck, I bought a second copy just in case something ever happens to my first. Look for a KA mount with the electronic contacts, I have seen at least one K mount Kiron 105mm for sale on ebay.

Any good macro lens from Tamron, Sigma, or Pentax should also do the job just fine, as Kjell said. A good manual focus macro would be better than auto focus in my opinion.

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Old Sep 27, 2009, 5:32 AM   #7
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There is a cheaper alternative that gives excellent results, it's the Cosina 100mm f3.5 macro lens, often dubbed the "Plastic Fantastic" because of it's construction. Also found in rebadged versions by Phoenix and Vivitar + others I don't recall. The lens itself will render 1:2 macros, but 1:1 can be had by fittng the supplementary lens that come with it, there's a good review. ...


Take notice of the comments re. the noisy AF version, most photographers prefer to use manual focus anyway for macro work.
Here's a link to some results I've had with this lens. ...

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Old Sep 27, 2009, 5:58 PM   #8
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Hi Janice,

All the advice so far has been very good. I chose the Pentax D FA 100/2.8 Macro. My reasoning for this choice was:

1. As Kjell stated, there aren't any real dogs among dedicated macro lenses, so as an amateur, and not a macro specialist, the minor differences in IQ among the contenders really were not much of a factor.

2. Also as Kjell stated, the longer FL allows for more working distance -- important for me since my subjects would probably be creatures, and they might intimidated by a lens so close, and the fact that the best results usually come with flash use since small apertures are required for greatest Depth of Field (DOF).

3. Since I'd probably be using an external flash at least some of the time, then weight became a consideration. Other than the Cosina/Phoenix that jachol mentioned, the D FA 100 macro is probably the lightest of the high-end dedicated 100 macros.

4. There was a $100 Pentax rebate at the time, and after buying my DS and a few lenses from my local dealer, I was able to talk him into a bit of a discount on top of that. OEM lenses usually hold their value better than 3rd party lenses, so I viewed this as a better long range value.

That being said, there are a few more budget alternatives, if nothing else, just to get a taste of what can be done at under $150.

1. Close-Up lenses -- these are essentially magnifying filters that screw onto the end of one of your existing lenses. These are usually sold in sets of 3, and can be obtained cheaply. This is the least desirable alternative, by quite a margin as the optics are not up to the IQ standards of even mediocre DSLR lenses. These can be found used for $10-20 or less. These are NOT recommended for optical quality reasons.

2. Achromatic Close up lenses. These look like the above, but the glass is actually a multi-element design which is far superior optically (they are designed to have a flatter field -- much better sharpness across the entire frame), and the price will usually reflect this. Most were made by major camera or lens mfgs. I'm not familiar with the current market, but I think the only ones currently available new are the Canon 250D and 500D the Raynox 150 and 250, and a number of Hoya Achromatics. The Raynox lenses use an adapter that can be used with lenses within a pretty wide range of filter sizes, and the other two are made to fit specific sizes. These will sell for from @ $40 ea up to over $150 ea. IMO the extra expense is worth it.

I personally own a Nikon 4T and a Raynox 250. I take them along when I anticipate the possibility of some macro opportunities, but want to travel very light. These can also be used on a dedicated macro to increase magnification beyond 1:1.

On the web, probably the best reputable supplier of these is Adorama. You can do searches for "close up lens". "close up 2 element" or "achromatic close up", or "Raynox close up" and get at least partial results.

The major negative about any of the add-on lenses is that you have to remove it if you want to focus to infinity. Dedicated macro lenses are very handy because you can focus from infinity to a few inches at 1:1 macro, and anywhere in between, so you can use it as a regular telephoto lens, but realize that the long range of focusing will make this lens slower to focus for this type of use. There are some dedicated AF macros that have focus limiters which will let you choose between macro distances and regular tele distances to make the lens more practical as a tele lens.

3. Vivitar 2x Macro Focusing TC. This is a discontinued item, and I believe the same item was sold under a number of brands (I think that Panagor and Kenko might have offered these). It's a 2x teleconverter which also has an extension tube helicoid which decreases the minimum focusing distance as it extends. It will allow up to 1:1 macro ratios with a 50 mm lens, so a 50/1.4 will function much like a 100mm f2.8 dedicated macro. It allows manual focusing only, and there are 2 variations. One is "A" series compatible with the electrical contacts that allow the aperture to be changed by the camera, and the other is "M" compatible, or fully manual for exposure. The "A" model is much more desirable since it's easier to focus at max aperture and have the lens stop down automatically for the exposure.

Prices (used only) vary widely, but @ $75-100 USD in VG condition or better would not be out of line, IMO. This might be a good alternative if you already have a "fast 50". This item, like a dedicated macro will allow you to focus from infinity to 1:1 macro, and anywhere in between.

A good review is located on JensR's site: http://www.jr-worldwi.de/photo/macro3_shootout.html . He also has some other good articles about shooting macro with a Pentax.

Good luck in your search. It can be intimidating with all the alternatives, but I've always looked at it as a learning experience and tried to have fun in the process.

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