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Old Feb 10, 2008, 9:39 AM   #11
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While a tripod would be the best solution for macro photography, it isn't practical for me most of the time. So I disagree with a blanket statement that stabilization isn't useful for macro photography. It's helped me get shots of things I wouldn't have otherwise managed, especially because I'm usually using as small of an aperture as I can get away with, trying to increase that tiny DOF.

If you go with Pentax, I might suggest you get the kit lens - its a nice lens and doesn't add much cost to the camera. If you want an inexpensive macro set-up, you might think about getting an old M 50mm 1.7 lens and an inexpensive set of extension tubes or a reversing ring (I don't know about now, but you could easily get such a set-up on ebay for under $100 in the past).You could always use the lens for indoor/low light, though it would be manual focus. I did this for a while until I decided that I wanted the convenience of a true macro lens - I kept finding myself taking off and putting on the extension tube. I'm not surethe kit lens and extension tubes would work very well- you lose light when you add extension tubes and the kit lens isn't very bright. Plus you'd have to buy tubes with electronic contacts to allow the lens to communicate with the camera, which are more expensive.
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Old Feb 10, 2008, 12:11 PM   #12
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Quote:
While a tripod would be the best solution for macro photography, it isn't practical for me most of the time. So I disagree with a blanket statement that stabilization isn't useful for macro photography. It's helped me get shots of things I wouldn't have otherwise managed, especially because I'm usually using as small of an aperture as I can get away with, trying to increase that tiny DOF.
I didn't say wasn't useful...I said stabilization wasn't as useful, and one cannot expect consistent results from stabilization and handholding alone. I know we're not specifically talking just Nikon, but this is taken from Nikon's manual for the 105 macro vr lens: "As the reproduction ratio increases from 1/30x, the effects of vibration reduction gradually decrease." That is, the closer you focus to the subject, the less impact stabilization has. Now, if you are focusing from several feet away, then it makes sense to use stabilization. True macro work however, requires you to be at the closer limits of focus.
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Old Feb 10, 2008, 7:41 PM   #13
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That's an interesting comment from Nikon - perhaps that's a difference between in-lens and in-camera stabilization? I haven't noticed any particular difference to what shutter speeds I can handhold based on the distance to my subject with the Pentax system. All I know is that I do get more macro"keepers" with IS than I do without it (assuming handholding), especially with slower shutter speeds.
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Old Feb 11, 2008, 12:14 PM   #14
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Thanks again to everyone who posted. After much reading, comparing, and internal debating, I pulled the trigger last night and ordered an Olympus E-510 with the 2-lens kit (it's the one camera out of the bunch that I couldn't talk myself out of). Picked up an extra battery, pair of UV lenses, and 4GB SanDisk Extreme III CF card. All told, came to $720 shipped and change. Of course, that cost will grow as I add higher quality lenses down the line, but that's a topic for another day.

Should arrive late this week or early next. After I put in some hands-on time, I'll post back with thoughts, impressions, and some sample pics.
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Old Feb 11, 2008, 3:27 PM   #15
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Congratulations! I'm sure you'll be happy with it.

And please come back to show us what you've been up to.
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Old Feb 12, 2008, 2:00 AM   #16
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Depending on how large/close you want to shoot, avoiding a dedicated macro lens may be difficult. I would recommend you look at the ZD 35mm (pretty cheap) or 50mm f2 (a bit more) as a potential addition. Another way to go would be to get the 25mm extension tube--but only good when shooting from tripod, and it produces very thin DOF.

Alternately, you can pick up a 14-54mm f2.8-3.5 zoom quite reasonably now since the 12-60 came out together with the E-3; the 14-54 isn't a true macro lens but allows near-macro focusing; it might work, again depending on how big you want to enlarge your subject.

Here's a couple taken with the 50mm f2 (on the E-300, however):





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