Best Macro Lense ?


Link Posted 02/04/2009 - 22:14
What's the best lense, length, aperture and make? on the market at this time, anybody got experience of a particular beastie! thanks Ron


Link Posted 02/04/2009 - 22:20
It depends what you want to photograph, really. Any of the current ~100mm Sigma, Tamron and Pentax macros are roughly equally excellent.

If you're doing macro work, then the aperture is often academic as you'll be stopping it down, but you'd want to start around f2.8~f4 to get a nice bright image in the VF.

If you want the ultimate insect lens available new, then I'd recommend the Sigma 180mm hands-down - I have it and it's great for insects and a quick change to a medium telephoto lens too.

Second hand, there's the various incarnations of the Pentax 200mm Macro (arguably the best there's been), the Voigtlander 125mm Macro, and also the various copies of the Vivitar Series 1 105mm macro.

I'd love Pentax to come out with a weather-sealed ~150mm macro - would be ideal for me

Macro & Wildlife Photography
Last Edited by chirpy on 02/04/2009 - 22:23


Link Posted 02/04/2009 - 22:23
It depends on what you want to use the lens for

Photographing poisonous insects outdoors
Recording your stamp collection indoors


I have the Sigma 105 macro, which is great outdoors but often 'a bit of a pain' indoors because I find it difficult to get far enough away from the subject.

I am thinking about adding the Pentax 35 macro Ltd to my collection

Bodies: K20D (2), K10D, Super A, ME Super, Auto 110 SLR, X70, Optio P70
Pentax Glass: DA* 300, DA* 60-250, DA* 50-135, DA* 16-50, DA 70 Ltd, FA 31 Ltd, DA 35 Ltd, DA 18-55 (2), DA 12-24, DA 10-17, M 200, A 35-70, M 40, M 28, Converter-A 2X-S, 1.4X-S, AF 1.7, Pentax-110 50, Pentax-110 24
Other Glass: Sigma 105 macro, Sigma-A APO 75-300
Flash: Metz 58 AF-1 P, Pentax AF160FC ringflash, Pentax AF280T
Last Edited by Hyram on 02/04/2009 - 22:25


Link Posted 02/04/2009 - 22:25
You should know by now that lens has only one 'e'.

There is no 'best' macro lens, all macro lenses produce images from very good to excellent and what's best for me is not necessarily the best for you.

For example, when making images for ebay I use a SMCP-FA 50mm Macro lens because it produces superb results at the 'portrait' focal length. For static subjects like flowers, I prefer the IQ from the SMCP-FA 100mm Macro.

For any moving subject, insects and the like, or anything that might bite or sting, I use a Sigma 180mm EX DG Macro lens.

My personal holy grail would be any of the Pentax 200mm Macro lenses, but I'm happy with my Sigma 180mm and have given up on that quest.

Horses for courses.
Peter E Smith

My flickr Photostream


Link Posted 02/04/2009 - 22:26
That Pentax 35mm macro is certainly meant to be a lovely lens. I'd imagine it would be great for flowers and the like.

Macro & Wildlife Photography


Link Posted 03/04/2009 - 00:00
chirpy wrote:
That Pentax 35mm macro is certainly meant to be a lovely lens. I'd imagine it would be great for flowers and the like.

I recently got a second-hander 35mm macro and it is extremely good - lovely colours and contrast and very sharp - though you need to get in close. If insects rather than plants or textures were my thing I would definitely prefer a much longer macro lens, imho. But the 35mm macro also makes an ideal walkabout lens at around 52mm old-style. So much so that I'm tempted to get a 10-20mm zoom and a portrait lenses of 70mm or 90mm and I'm done, without any standard zooms of the 18-50mm or 17-70mm kind. Having read quite a lot of threads on this forum now, "which standard zoom" seems to cause folks the most agonizing and all models have their drawbacks. Little of that with the 35mm, 50mm, 70mm, 90mm (Tamron) or 100 mm lenses which all seem to go down a storm. I guess you lose convenience but gain in quality.


Link Posted 03/04/2009 - 00:07
I've got the sigma 50mm Ex lens a superb lens with only one drawback' you have to be prepared to get right on top of your subject


Link Posted 03/04/2009 - 01:09
bonnipics wrote:
What's the best lense, length, aperture and make? on the market at this time, anybody got experience of a particular beastie! thanks Ron

Dear Ron,

How do you define Macro? That is, do you want to photograph microbes, parts of a bug, whole bugs, small coins, flowers, bunches of flowers? Close up, or at a distance of, say, several feet?

For each application there is a lens that suits that particular application, but is less useful for another, as each has benefits as well as major disadvantages (three main disadvantages likely to crop up are:lack of depth of field, lack of "working distance", and -of course- cost).

Could you be a little more specific in what your subjects are likely to include?

(Of course, there is still the question of which brand/system.)

In addition, some of the less "demanding" applications may more cheaply be attempted using non-macro lenses and ancillary equipment, such as teleconverters, extension tubes, or close-up lenses attached to a suitable lens you already have in your collection.


Link Posted 03/04/2009 - 08:55
this is some advice I found whilst researching this topic. Hope it is useful.

"A macro lens achieves a ration of 1:1, meaning the image on the film or sensor is the same size as the object being photographed.

Another important distinction is that lenses designed for macro are usually at their sharpest at macro focus distances and are not quite as sharp at other focus distances.

However in recent years, the term macro has been used in marketing material to mean “being able to focus on a subject close enough so that when a regular 6×4inch print is made, the image is life-size or larger. This requires a magnification ratio of only approximately 1:4, more easily attainable by lens makers.

A few zooms lenses provide a macro option, but they generally do
not allow a 1:1 magnification

The focal length is very important. Macro lenses range from
50mm to 200mm; even though both a 50 Macro and a 180 Macro reach the same magnification (1:1), the longer lens gives a much more out-of-focus background and more working distance. When you look at the specifications of a macro lens, you have to pay attention both to the focusing distance and the working distance. The focusing distance is the shortest distance where you can focus: but this is not the actual distance between you and the subject, it is just the distance between the focus plane (the sensor) and the subject.

In macro photography, it is very important to know the working distance - that is the distance between the front element of the lens and the subject. For example, with a 50mm Macro you have a minimum focussing distance of 19 centimeters, but actually the distance between the front element and the subject is just 7 centimeters, and if you mount the lens hood, this distance is further reduced to 4-5 centimeters. As you can imagine, it is not easy to get close to a butterfly or another animal: this is one of the reasons to prefer a long lens to a short lens for macro photo.

The following table list the focussing distance and the working distance for the most common macro focal lengths.

Focal Length Focusing distance at 1:1 Working distance at 1:1 (without hood)
50mm 19.0 centimeters 7.0 centimeters
60mm 22.0 centimeters 9.1 centimeters
70mm 25.7 centimeters 10.7 centimeters
90mm 29.0 centimeters 12.0 centimeters
100mm 31.0 centimeters 14.0 centimeters
150mm 38.0 centimeters 18.8 centimeters
180mm 46.0 centimeters 23.8 centimeters
200mm 50.0 centimeters 25.2 centimeters

A third advantage of long lenses is the tripod collar: when the lens is mounted on the tripod, the collar offers a fourth axis of movement, it is an huge help, in particular for vertical photos.

The majority of macro lenses have an aperture between f/2.8 and f/4. The widest aperture does not have much importance in a macro lens, since at these magnifications you will often stop down at least to f/8 to get a good depth of field."



Link Posted 03/04/2009 - 12:46
Ron, I use the Sigma 2.8 70mm EX DG macro lens, I find it very good. Have a look at my profile.
The older I get the faster I was.
K-3 II, K10D, DA16-85, DA*50-135, DA12-24, DA18-55, DA 50, Sigma EX DG 70mm Macro, Sigma 70-300mm, Sigma DG 120-400mm APO HSM.
Metz 58 AF-1.

My Flickr link
Last Edited by mr.mellow on 03/04/2009 - 12:49


Link Posted 03/04/2009 - 13:03
Very useful gentlemen...Thanks.

MZ 50
Pentax lenses....DA* 55mm f1.4 SDM ....F 35-80 f4-5.6....DA 18-250 f3.5-6.3....F 100-300 f4.5-5.6, D FA Macro 100 WR f2.8.

Centon mirror lens 500mm.

Pentax Flash ....AF 360FGZ

JVC 3ccd GZ MC 500EK camcorder


Link Posted 03/04/2009 - 22:50
jon.dc: thanks, this is very useful Nicely gathered important informations in a pill
Kind regards,
Michal R. Hoffmann
K20D, DA 16-45mm, A 50mm F/1:1.4, DA 55-300mm; flash Pentax AF240Z


Link Posted 06/04/2009 - 07:41
bonnipics wrote:
What's the best lense, length, aperture and make? on the market at this time, anybody got experience of a particular beastie! thanks Ron

Check out this link:

There is also this;

Results of the SMC Pentax Macro Lens Poll
Arnold Stark
Mon, 14 Oct 2002 08:11:10 -0700

Here are the results of the "SMC Pentax K-Mount Macro Lens Poll":

1st Place (31 points): SMC Pentax-A Macro 1:2.8 100mm

2nd Place (29 points): SMC Pentax-A* Macro 1:4 200mm ED

3rd Place (27 points): SMC Pentax-FA* Macro 1:4 200mm ED&IF

4th Place (22 points): SMC Pentax-FA Macro 1:2.8 100mm

5th Place (8 points): SMC Pentax-FA Macro 1:2.8 50mm

6th Place (7 points): SMC Pentax Macro 1:4/100
6th Place (7 points): SMC Pentax Bellows 1:4 100mm

8th place (6 points): SMC Pentax-A Macro 1:2.8 50mm

9th place (4 points): SMC Pentax-F Macro 1:2.8 50mm
9th place (4 points): SMC Pentax-F Macro 1:2.8 100mm

11th place (2 points): SMC Pentax-Macro 1:4/50

12th place (1 point): SMC Pentax-FA Macro 1:3.5 100mm
12th place (1 point): SMC Pentax-M Macro 1:4 100mm
12th place (1 point): SMC Pentax-A Macro 1:4 100mm

26 votes were collected, however, not all picked 3 choices.

Thanks again for all who contributed!

Next will be a poll on the (realistic) prime lenses that we wish that
Pentax would have built - including the known prototypes. More later
Last Edited by Banjo on 06/04/2009 - 07:47


Link Posted 06/04/2009 - 08:25
I use the Sigma 105mm and find it find for general outdoor shots both macro and general mid distance. Sometimes wish I had 1:2 or some other means to magnify my subject but have not got my head around TC or tubes as yet.
Jackie H
K7, K20D, istDS, Optio SV, ME
Most used glass
50mm f1.4, 60-250mm, 28-80mm,
Sigma 105mm 2.8 Macro & Bertha 50-500


Link Posted 08/04/2009 - 20:54
Gents, thanks for your precise replies, I do appreciate them,and I will return to this subject later, however I do feel I haven't posed my question properly! and will be more accurate later regards Ron

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