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Macro Advice from the experts please!

Lilly
Posted 10/12/2008 - 16:27 Link
Now I know this will probably sound a bit naive but here goes anyway!
When looking at macro lenses you hear them say this can also be used as a superb portrait lens.
Well, I have a superb portrait lens the SMC FA 135mm 2.8, can this be compared in a similar way to a macro lens?
In other words what is it that say a 100m macro has that my 135mm does not (other then 35mm?)
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Don
Posted 10/12/2008 - 16:37 Link
I'd say close focusing.

now what type of macro work do you intend to to... butterflies etc (100mm), flowers, bugs, blooms? (50mm) gems, stones, jewlery? (35mm)

I'd say the 50mm would be a good choice for a portrait photographer that already has a fine protrait lens.
unless you'r shooting butterflies, hummingbirds or other skittish creatures that will bolt at the sight of you closing in with your camera.
Fired many shots. Didn't kill anything.
Lilly
Posted 10/12/2008 - 16:57 Link
Don wrote:
I'd say close focusing.

now what type of macro work do you intend to to... butterflies etc (100mm), flowers, bugs, blooms? (50mm) gems, stones, jewlery? (35mm)

I'd say the 50mm would be a good choice for a portrait photographer that already has a fine protrait lens.
unless you'r shooting butterflies, hummingbirds or other skittish creatures that will bolt at the sight of you closing in with your camera.

Macro shooting for me would be definitely bugs, birds & blooms, so if I shelled out for a 100mm macro, it would give me the ability to get the whites of their eyes sharper, more so than with my 135mm?
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Pentax: K20D; FA50mm 1.4; FA135mm 2.8; FA 17-28mm; FA 80-320mm; AF360FGZ
Sigma: 30mm F1.4EXDC; 10-20mmEXDC ..... LENSBABY 'Composer' ,
Don
Posted 10/12/2008 - 17:11 Link
I just don't know how good the 135 is.
my 100mm is amazing. no doubts or complaints at all by me.
I use it primarily as a portrait lens.
I believe it's got 8 aperture blades, nice boke, controlls flare really well, It's just hard to fault.
So you wouldn't regret the 100, if my experience is any help...

the macro 50mm did hunt a fair bit in low light....
Fired many shots. Didn't kill anything.
Edited by Don: 10/12/2008 - 17:13
MattMatic
Posted 10/12/2008 - 17:33 Link
The 100mm macro is sublime for macro work - flowers, bugs etc.
It's also a cracker for lowlight work (like my kids in school plays) where you can't use flash. Even when using bounced flash and shooting at f/4 the macro really shines. (Knocks dead some "pro" shots! LOL!)

For portrait work - yes, it's great, up to a point. But as Benjamin put it "brutally sharp". You'll get every imperfection, wrinkle, spot and hair. Very cruel

Flash work isn't that difficult... especially with remote AF360 or AF540 and brolly... which reminds me: I must try and find time to finish off (the words at least) my Pentax flash guide ebook (Please don't berate me everyone - it's been a tough time lately!)
Matt
http://www.mattmatic.co.uk
(For gallery, tips and links)
Bob and his Pentax
Posted 10/12/2008 - 17:38 Link
Please shoot me down in flames if I'm wrong...

but isn't it true that the field of view with a macro lens is 'flatter' than a normal lens of equal focal length.

ie if taking a picture of a page of a book - with lens axis perpendicular to the plane of the page - the corners and the middle would be within the depth of field at a lower f number (larger aperture, smaller depth of field) on a macro lens than a normal lens.

Good luck
Bob
Good luck

Bob

Pentax user since 1978, Digital since 1997.
Kit includes: K-7, K20D, K10D, *istDS, full set DA* lens, etc
beginner
Posted 10/12/2008 - 18:11 Link
I am by no means an expert in the field of macro,I do try and I do feel I'm getting better....I use a Tamron 90mm for my macro shots, butterflies,Dragons and everything down to microscopic ickies!..lol...as a portrait lens it is superb with the shallow dof!.........Ken
K20D...ist DS ,DA18/55,DA16/45.DA* 50/135,"A"1.7 50MM..."A" 70/210..M 50mm f2...Tamron 90mm macro,28/300 Tamron,200/500 Tamron 6.9....A Pentax DA*300... Sigma10/20,FA31mm 1.8 Ltd*********,FA 77mm Ltd!
Don
Posted 10/12/2008 - 18:33 Link
MattMatic wrote:
The 100mm macro is sublime for macro work - flowers, bugs etc.
It's also a cracker for lowlight work (like my kids in school plays) where you can't use flash. Even when using bounced flash and shooting at f/4 the macro really shines. (Knocks dead some "pro" shots! LOL!)

For portrait work - yes, it's great, up to a point. But as Benjamin put it "brutally sharp". You'll get every imperfection, wrinkle, spot and hair. Very cruel

Flash work isn't that difficult... especially with remote AF360 or AF540 and brolly... which reminds me: I must try and find time to finish off (the words at least) my Pentax flash guide ebook (Please don't berate me everyone - it's been a tough time lately!)
Matt

By "tough time" I hope you mean "tough finding time". I hope you and yours are all well and getting on ok?
Fired many shots. Didn't kill anything.
Mac
Posted 10/12/2008 - 18:44 Link
Don wrote:

By "tough time" I hope you mean "tough finding time". I hope you and yours are all well and getting on ok?[/quote]

DITTO!
Mac from Montreal

SP, SPII, SPF, PZ-10, P30, SFX, K110D, istDS, Optio 60, Z-10, H90, RZ10, I-10, f3.5 28mm, f1.8 55mm, f1.4 50mm, f3.5 135mm, f2.5 135mm, f4 50mm Macro, f4.5 80-200 F, f4 35-70, f3.5 28-80, f3.5 35-135, f3.5 18-55, f1.8 31mm Ltd., two Auto 110's, Auto 110 lenses and filters, tubes, bellows, Manfrottos and a sore back.
ikillrocknroll
Posted 10/12/2008 - 19:49 Link
If you want a longer macro lens.. I would go for the Tamron 90. That way it replaces neither your 135 nor your 50 in focal length.
http://www.behance.net/robbranigan
K20D, DA18-55II, FA50 1.4, DA10-17
To buy: Metz 58 AF-1, DA*50-135, DA12-24, DA100M
Roscoe
Posted 11/12/2008 - 08:31 Link
MattMatic wrote:
The 100mm macro is sublime for macro work - flowers, bugs etc.
It's also a cracker for lowlight work (like my kids in school plays) where you can't use flash. Even when using bounced flash and shooting at f/4 the macro really shines. (Knocks dead some "pro" shots! LOL!)

For portrait work - yes, it's great, up to a point. But as Benjamin put it "brutally sharp". You'll get every imperfection, wrinkle, spot and hair. Very cruel

Flash work isn't that difficult... especially with remote AF360 or AF540 and brolly... which reminds me: I must try and find time to finish off (the words at least) my Pentax flash guide ebook (Please don't berate me everyone - it's been a tough time lately!)
Matt

Hi Matt, read your comments about the 100mm, but could not the "harsness" be cured with a Cokin softone filter?
What effect would it have for Lilly's portrait work?
MattMatic
Posted 11/12/2008 - 08:55 Link
Roscoe,
The harshness can always be softened in Photoshop. The 100mm/2.8 is incredibly sharp - frighteningly so! (I have the old SMC-F version which weighs quite a lot too!)
However, the flip side is that the longer focal length produces an even shallower depth of field. So, for Lilly's portraits it may have helped... but I suspect that a little more light would have helped more

The 50mm/f1.4 is a real cracker for portraiture though - especially on digital. Truly beautiful

Here's a quick tip (for Lilly) when you get good shots that are otherwise slight OOF - the brain & eye are drawn to the sharpest region (which may not be the region you want). If that's the case - just blur the sharp region and the brain accepts the image as a whole

Photoshop technique:
* Duplicate the layer
* Gaussian blur (just enough to reduce the in focus region)
* Apply a "hide all" layer mask
* Paint white on the layer mask over the sharp parts to soften them.

Works a treat and takes a couple of minutes max

Thanks for all your kind words Don & Mac! Tough in the sense of being worn out, as well as not having enough time Having to watch my health and state of mind
EDIT: Also be aware that Pete Bargh (who runs ephotozine and this site) suffered a heart attack the other day Apparently making progress, but still scary! See this thread on epz


Matt
http://www.mattmatic.co.uk
(For gallery, tips and links)
Edited by MattMatic: 11/12/2008 - 09:45
Lilly
Posted 11/12/2008 - 10:40 Link
I am getting the impression from all your comments
(please correct me if I am wrong)
that my existing 135mm prime will do just as well for macro work,
cons only being a dedicated macro lens would be:
a little sharper and flatter DOF.

If that is all I am going to gain for shelling out 3-400 quid I think I will purchase the fast wide lens I have considered for some time.

Lilly
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Pentax: K20D; FA50mm 1.4; FA135mm 2.8; FA 17-28mm; FA 80-320mm; AF360FGZ
Sigma: 30mm F1.4EXDC; 10-20mmEXDC ..... LENSBABY 'Composer' ,
johnriley
Posted 11/12/2008 - 10:49 Link
Lilly, the Macro will also focus so much closer. The 135mm prime doesn't even approach the close focusing ability of a macro lens.

Close focusing is one thing, but the term "Macro" actually means that an object say 1cm long is reproduced on the film/sensor as 1cm long. This is 1:1 magnification - "life size". Your 135mm prime probably only focuses down to 1:10 magnification, or one tenth life size.

Some zooms usefully focus to 1:4 (one quarter life size) but results can be poor unless well stopped down.

It isn't DOF that is flatter with a macro, it's that it has a flat field. This means that if you took a picture of a document both the edges and the centre would be crisply in focus at the same time. This is not easy to achieve with normal lenses as you will find that the centre will be sharp and the edges blurred or vice-versa.

The only advantages of your 135mm over a macro lens are that it is cheaper, has a wider aperture and is probably more compact.

Hope that helps to clarify things!
Best regards, John
MattMatic
Posted 11/12/2008 - 10:53 Link
Lilly,
That's probably about right... though the bokeh may be better (but perhaps not 300 better ). Your alternatives for macro work:

* Extension tubes: very useful, especially to use long lenses at closer distances (put slim tube on). Cheap.

* Reversing ring. You can put the 50mm/f1.4 reversed onto another lens (like the 135) to get stupidly close macros. I mean really close . Cheaper than extension tubes.

I got hold of a second hand SMC-F 100mm/f2.8 for 200. If I had to buy again, I'm not sure I could justify the expense of a new macro lens (I'd probably go for the DA*50-135 as I work in low light more than actually doing macros. The extension tubes give great results... but are more fiddly).

...and yes, the field of view tends to be very flat for macro lenses

Matt
http://www.mattmatic.co.uk
(For gallery, tips and links)

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