Best macro lens for KD's ? Help please.

Discussion in 'Pentax' started by jacques c pelletier, Jan 14, 2009.

  1. So, the simple question:
    What would you recommend as a GREAT macro lens for the K10D/K20D?
    Looking for: sharpness, great bokeh, no distortion, and a fast lens. (Don't we all?).
    Considering that getting close to a moving dragonfly, for example, is ... very difficult with a short focal, such as 35mm, then what would be the best approach?
    OK, I'll be back to check any reply.
    Thank you in advance.
  2. Thanks R.T.!
    This is one great review! Very appreciated.
  3. Talk on the Tamron 90mm from just the past day or so...
    I have no other lens to reference for you, sorry. But from the same Photozone site, here is the review/test of the current Pentax 100mm macro.
    From the Photozone summary of the Tamron (but thoroughly check both reviews to sort through any subjective statements)-
    "The Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8 Di SP is an excellent lens without significant flaws and it is at least as good if not even slightly better than its more expensive native Pentax counterpart."
  4. The Pentax Macro-Takumar 100/4 or the Pentax-M 100/4 are both Heliar formulations, which are well-known to have excellent bokeh. Not sure if the current AF 100mm macro is the same (probably not, as it's f/2.8)
  5. I have had good luck with sigma 105mm F2.8 DG macro. Its sharp and with the focus limiting switch you can seed up the AF. It also makes a wonderful mid prime tele lens. Some test photos below
    another is the sigma 70-200mm f2.8II apo EX marco more useful. It can be used as portrait, and indoor sports lens also , works great with 1.4 conv and 2 conv
  6. If you can find one, 200mm f4 FA*. May be 2nd price 200mm f4 A*. BTW: Be prepare to empty your wallet if your luck bring you to one :)
  7. stemked

    stemked Moderator

    I would second the 200mm f4 A* and if it can ever be found for less than the price of a 6 pound diamond the Pentax 100mm f2.8 A*.
  8. For older alternatives, both the Tamron SP and Tokina AT-X 90 mmf/2.5 are very good. Both only to 1:2 without an adapter, and the Tamron requiring an adaptall mount.
  9. Jacques,
    I've seen fine shots taken by all the above mentioned lenses. As with standard 50mm lenses, I think optical engineering has mastered macro lenses in the 90mm-120mm focal length range for several years now. It's a real treat having so many positive choices.
    I owned the Tamron SP 90mm for a few years and enjoyed it immensely. Great color and bokeh, and it feels good to work with. Since I handle a macro lens more per shot that with other lens types, the physical interface matters to me.
    The Tamron has since been replaced by what is considered by several (including me) to be the best macro for Pentax: the Voitlander APO Lanthar 125mm f2.5. A few months ago I posted a few examples here from my first hours of fun and shooting with a K20D. The lens is serious heavy metal, with a long throw, but the optics are, well, special. Unfortunately, the lens is out of production, which means that the second-hand market has pushed the prices for these into the four-figure cost territory.
    But if you want the best, there you have it.
  10. I have a Vivitar Series 1 100mm f/2.5 macro and I like it. I would appreciate any comparisions between Vivitar and Tamron.
  11. Vivitar Series 1 105mm f2.5 Macro - I prefer the extra 15mm over the Tamron 90mm and I also prefer the color cast over the Pentax 100mm Macro. Other lenses I would consider are the Sigma 150mm and 180mm for more working distance. I have no experience with the Voigtlanders but have heard good things about them.
  12. I have a Vivitar Series 1 90/2.5. Supposed to be one of the sharpest around (one of the top 10 as rated by photodo). It's is the equivalent to the Tokina Nick mentioned, but easier to find in my experience and also better build quality. Funny though, I happened to find the adapter for the Tokina but not for the Viv S1...
    GREAT lens.
  13. Jacques didn't mention whether he wanted AF or not. Just about any modern macro is going to be outstanding and the reasons for choosing one over the other are more about focal length and handling preferences than anything else.
    Paolo, your Vivitar is a fantastic lens. I recently had to sell mine due to financial problems and I'm still sad. Keep it while you can.
  14. Hello Jacques, personally I agree about the Vivitar Series I 90 f2.5 is most likely the finest macro ever built. I have had mine almost since they came out( about 30 years)......Jim
  15. Just curious you have the Vivitar matched 1:1 adapter?
  16. Steve T., thanks!
    Again, the Tamron seems to better a lot of other brands, including Pentax.
  17. Thanks Orlando,
    I'LL Google that and see.
  18. Ian,
    Those are great photos you have there.
    I am quite unsure which way to go now! All these reviews and sample pics make me wonder. They all have something good about them and I guess it would be a matter of choosing which has the focus limiter (which seems to be a great feauture) and price-wise to pick the one that offers the "most bang for the buck"!
    Well, thanks again ... I need to do my homework!
  19. Tommy, I have Googled that and let me tell you that there are not too many available and yes, you were right, prices for those "on sale" are quite high.
    That is yet another to consider!
  20. Doug, Nick, ... well appreciated replies here. Thank you both.
    This is becoming quite a journey!
  21. Thank you, Michael!
    So, the Tamron would be a good pick and ... of course, if price is not an issue, try to find a used Voigt. as you described.
    But, if ever found, is this Voigtlander AF or manual? If manual, I was also considering the Zeiss Planar 100/2 ZK, but it is strictly manual focus, and the price ... well, very high!
  22. Tom, Paolo ... great info! Thank you.
    As I said earlier, this is becoming quite a journey and the decision making also becoming rather large!
  23. Miserere, thanks for the reply.
    You mentioned :
    Jacques didn't mention whether he wanted AF or not. Just about any modern macro is going to be outstanding and the reasons for choosing one over the other are more about focal length and handling preferences than anything else.
    I guess I would prefer AF over manual for the simple reason that I would imagine it a difficult task trying to manually focus on a moving insect, for instance. Then a longer focal would probably be better in my case because where I plan to do macro photo, it is at a salt marsh/conservation area and that means lots of moving bugs!
    Thanks again.
  24. Jacques, AF may not be quite as useful for that as you think. At close range/high magnification, critical focus is often instead maintained by managing subject distance rather than by re-focusing (there are 'macro rails' for tripods to help manage this). You'll also probably be surprised at just how little depth of field you have and how the main advantage of speed is a brighter viewfinder for better focusing as you'll find yourself stopping down to expand depth of field. Then you'll find that natural light is often insufficient for how far you want to stop down the lens...
  25. Jim, thanks for the info.
    It must be quite a lens then because everyone is talking about it!
    Remains to be seen where one could get one!
  26. Andrew, so really, a "great" macro lens is really more than being AF; according to what you are explaining, the technique is important as well, right? For someone like me though, never had experience with a "true" macro lens, it certainly will be a steep learning curve, but I am ready to give it a go.
    Now ... let's look for some available glass!
  27. Jacques,
    The Voigtlander is a non-AF lens.
    I agree with Andrew's insightful words.
    The presence of AF in a macro lens is something I've rarely thought about and do not miss. Composition, DOF, shadow contrast, wind shielding, and the ability to steady the camera and lens--plus some luck-- are the main factors that comprise a successful macro shot for me.
    If you don't have a good tripod/head combo it makes macro less fun. I also recommend using a wireless remote to trigger the 2-second self-timer.
    Depending on your weather, lighting conditions, and subject, the use of an off-camera flash or one on a bracket can also help. I like to try to have the flash illumination be as subtle as possible. Not easy but sporting to attempt.
  28. Michael, thanks again.
    Frankly, the more I read about the comments up above, the more I understand that indeed technique and equipment is what makes the difference. That goes for any photography type(s) IMO.
    So, I have been looking all over for some good glass for macro ... to no avail, of course! All the good stuff in different forums and on eBay are either sold or totally and insanely out of reach for the common mortal's budget.
    I don't have a problem with paying for something that is worth the price, but some sites/individuals really push it too far.
    Anyway, I am looking ...searching and perhaps one day I'll get lucky!
  29. I have the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 and I would say it is probably your best buy in the new modern macro lens catagory. It is a joy to use, light weight and produces excellent images. The Pentax DA35mm f/2.8 Limited Macro is a really nice lens but maybe not suited to what you want. Sure is nice though.
    I find it interesting that the Pentax DFA100mm does not get much more than a passing reference when it comes to K mount macro lenses. I guess it is an ok lens but I read a lot more excitement about the Tamron or even the Sigma. Just an observation.
  30. Jacques, if you're going to be photographing insects -- or anything else that scares easily -- you may find that turning the autofocus off is a necessity. The Pentax autofocus system (other than their newest SDM lenses) is a bit noisy, to put it nicely. Most of us are accustomed to the sound and are not bothered by it, but if you're trying to sneak up on an insect or a bird or some other animal, they will definitely notice the AF noise and will quickly flee from the scene! Focusing manually will be much quieter.
  31. Douglas, thank you for your comment and suggestion. Actually I have sent an email to a seller right here in Canada (Henry's Photo) and they have one Tamron 90/2.8 Di (used ... 8+/10 in rating) going for $499.00 Cdn.
    So, I am hoping they will respond so we can make a deal.
  32. R.T., true enough! Pentax AF is noisy - I regularly find this out while photographing birds around here. Since I don't own a 300 F4 SDM, the Sigma 100-300 F4 is my birding lens for the moment, coupled with a 1.4X TC. That lens is quite noisy.
    As for the macro lens, indeed I can understand why manual focus would definitely be better. I don't know but it must be quite an experience getting used to that method on moving, small subjects.
  33. Less words, more sample shots! :) Jacques, I am sure you will like the Tamron if it works out, the SP version I had was incredible. But as still another cheap alternative, let me throw out using a cheap fast lens on extension or a bellows - here's a SMC Tak 135mm on a Kopil bellows, which all cost me less than $20.
  34. Hello again Jacques, the truth is that when used on a digital camera, most any lens will work out about the same because of the very low resolution of the pixels........Jim
  35. I use the Tammy 90di on a K20. I chose this above the Sigma and Pentax because I consider it to render tones and colours a little nicer than the Sigma, and it has an aperture ring in K mount, and mentions in forums suggest that the latest Pentax 100 macro is not up to the standard of it's predecessors. I have a long way to go to exhaust the potential of this lens, but should I ever be in such a position, my next step would be the Voigtlander. Work by owners of this lens show it to possess a very special quality.
    My Tammy. I like it. Focus is not exactly where I want it, but I am learning, it is a small flower.
  36. Thanks Nick.
    That would be a good start and see if I really like doing macro before investing in a very expensive lens .. again.
  37. Jim, is that a fact then that a Tamron would "almost" be on par with, let's say, a Voigtlander?
    I guess what you are saying is that you would really see the difference if it were used on a full-frame?
  38. And Jacques, if you decide that macro isn't for you, I might be willing to take that Tamron off your hands... I've been wanting one for a long time! :)
  39. Well Jacques, it has to do with the actual psysical size of a pixel compared to the grain size of a super fine grain of a film like Panatomic-X or Kodachrome 25........I'm not really wanting to get an argument started. I just think that comparing sharpness in digital is not the same thing as with film.......sort of like doing a resolution test using T-max 3200 instead of 100........Jim
  40. My third mentioning in as many days for the new (Feb 09) issue of Popular Photography... Do you have a 50mm standard lens with aperture ring? How about adding a reversing ring to reverse mount that 50mm lens on the camera, which will provide you 1:1 macro, or greater, according to the article found on pages 52-58. I don't know what it would do to any automatic or metering functions, you may in manual mode for everything doing this, but I may be wrong. You'll also want a focusing rail mount for your tripod, even for standard macro lens work. Manfrotto makes a few, including an economy model that only moves for/aft, priced around $50-75. I have one, works quite well.
    Here are two different filter ring thread sizes that are made for Pentax K mounts-
    Here are the results of searching this site via the term "pentax reversing ring". For $15, might be a neat way to get up close and personal with tiny things.
    A little Google searching via the term "camera lens reversing ring": (see reversing ring link) (reversing ring and Canon close-up filter)
    Well, you get the idea. But be careful to protect the exposed rear end of the lens when reversed, but I think this could be a great, and cheap experiment for you.
  41. How about this taken with Vivitar? Sorry for the downsized version. Original version shows facets in the eye clearly.
  42. Reversing a 50mm lens is not so hot... you can't stop it down so there is teeny tiny depth of field.
    Putting a 50mm lens reversed in front of another 50mm lens (using two filters glued together, and the glass knocked out) suffers from the same problem, although the reproduction ratio is amazing.
    You can even get 4:1 reproduction ratio by putting a 50mm reversed in front of a 200mm.. but the working distance is tiny. I think a macro rail is a necessity, you can forget about AF.
  43. They are all sharp. For me, the difference is in the way that light is rendered, that is the main reason I chose the Tammy. My Pentax 100/4 was wonderful, but it died, and I am not prepared to buy a secondhand one because of the element separation problem with this lens. I would love the Voigtlander, but not the price. Maybe later...
  44. R.T., I have you on the "waiting list" if I ever decide that macro-photo isn't for me.
    Stay tuned, we never know!
  45. Jim,
    Super fine grain in film photography is indeed great.
    I remember the Ol'Days when I was shhoting with my K1000 using slide film ... I think it was as low as 50 ISO then, not sure; but the fact is that the images were simply "crisp" and very "real".
    You didn't start an argument, to the contrary: just laying out the facts.
  46. Steve, that is a very search you have here. Thanks for the info.
    Even if I am about to strike a deal with the Tamron 90, I guess this would be a great addition(s) to my gear ... if I find that macro is for me. The fact that one can actually get the 1:1 using other-than-macro lenses would be quite useful, in my view.
    I do have a FA 50mm f1.4 in my gear, with the aperture ring. The reversing ring would probably affect the automatism, but that could be taken care of with "all-manual" tecniques, I would imagine.
    Again, thank you for all of the useful information.
  47. Sushil,
    This is one great macro shot! Congrats!
    You used a Voigtlander ? Which one?
    I had a "hint" about someone selling a Voigtlander 125/2.5 and the price was ... $1600 Cdn!!!
    Frankly, after a little consideration, I would/will consider such a lens only when I have experimented enough with macro-photo before I would invest. Granted, the result(s) seem(s) spectacular, no doubt anout that.
  48. Orlando, this seems to me much like brain surgery! I guess if one has the parts for that and willing to sacrifice a few pieces of unwanted glass, I would assume that it would be an option.
    Thnaks for sharing.
  49. Ian, yes indeed the Voigtlander is ... VERY expensive!
    We shall see how I do when I get this Tammy.
  50. JP,
    I used Vivitar Series 1 105mm 2.5 macro.
  51. Sushil ... thanks.
    I am still amazed with this photo of yours.
    Then I thought: boy! this guy sure has a steady hand!
    Did that dragonfly try to escape at all?
  52. Thank you for your appreciation. Once the Dragonfly lands on a dry twig, it does not flyaway quickly if you approach it slowly step by step. Atleast that is what my observation is. You can see some more macros of mine with that lens at this link
  53. Hi I have the Tamron SPAF 90mm (not the latest DI version) and it is great ... I use it on the K10D with no problems whatsoever. It is sharp has nice bokeh. The only down side (but this is probabbly true if all macro lenses) is that the AF on it is a bit slow due to a long focusing helicoid. But then this same feature helps you to manual focus very accurately since the throw of the focusing ring is quite long. All in all a great lens I was happy with in in the film days and still love it on my K10D
  54. Sushil,
    I suppose this also means: be patient! ... and lucky.
    Yes indeed that would be true, slow approach.
    Thanks again for the input, the other photos of yours are splendid! By the way, this one here: [​IMG]
    ... does look like our Green Heron in North America.
    Where is the world are you to have such very exotic birds?
  55. Got the Tammy 90 F2.8 Di today.
    Anyone to suggest ways to tests it, using both the K10D and the K20D? Due to the lack of bugs and such other living small things this time of year (we are having a snowstorm tonigh, continuing tomorrow), any suggestions also as to what would make a good "subject"?
    Any tips, lighting, etc ... would be appreciated.
  56. Check the windowsills for dead bugs. They're easier targets anyway.
    I listed a bunch of lens test techniques yesterday in this thread .
  57. Andrew, thanks for your reply.
    I have a fair amount of experience in testing AF (and manual focus), using all of Yvon Bourque's great charts but I was simply wondering whether a macro lens would need "extra" apparatus to confirm the quality of the images.
    What I did thus far was to take a few shots of day-to-day objects: the fine details of a small wood sculpture, the caracters printed on a calendar, the setting dial on a compact camera .. etc. It is the lighting, I guess, that would be imperative here. Would a small halogen lamp do the trick to illuminate the objects in question?
    By the way, I did go to the link you provided and it is great. I don't think you have forgotten something, as you were wondering.
  58. Hello Paolo, You ask if I had the 1:1 adapter.......sure do.......Just a note, one time I copied a very small(about 3/4"X 7/8" old but very sharp school picture ) and made an 8x10 from it that I liked pretty well and it looked good to me using that lens......sometime I will shoot some comparison shots with the Series I and a Sigma 70-300 APO that I also have and satisfy my curiousity........Jim

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