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  1. #1

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    Macro lens or extension tubes for Pentax?

    Which do you guys prefer? I just used my extension tubes for the first time today and I'm not the happiest. I don't know why, but when I used extension tubes with my 35mm rig, it was much easier to find the sweet spot. I used them on my 200 and 75 in different stack ups.

    Now with the 120mm Macro lens can you focus all the way out to infinity and use it as a portrait lens also? Could somebody tell me what you think about that lens or the 135mm for the 67?

    I'm about ready to send this set of tubes back to KEH and exchange it for a macro lens.

  2. #2
    Loose Gravel's Avatar
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    I have the 135mm and the tubes. The tubes are not everything I dreamed of, but neither is the 135mm. I've only used the tubes a couple of times, but they are not full auto with the P67II. With the lens alone, I can only get to 2.4feet. At that point, the width of the field is about 6.5 to 7 inches. Certainly not 1:1. I don't know about the 120mm macro. I'm considering using a diopter lens instead of the tubes. I don't know how close these get or what the options are or if Pentax diopters are better than anyone else's. Maybe someone else knows.
    Watch for Loose Gravel

  3. #3
    Ole
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    Both (35mm).

    I have a 100mm Macro lens, which is great for moderate distances. For getting even closer I use a bellows, mostly with an Industar 90-U (75mm) enlarger lens.

    I've also just bought two tubes for my Bronica ETRS, but haven't used them yet. The bellows unit for that camera is still too expensive, a LF camera with a rollfilm back is both cheaper and better for working very close!
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

  4. #4

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    With the tubes you'll also be able to get closer without getting into macro range. Assuming short tubes. Some times that alone makes them worth while.

    I can't see why a macro lens would be easier to find the sweet spot then tubes. How long a lens and at what F/stops?

  5. #5

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    Wild Ass, it really depends on the lens.

    On 35 mm -- not what you asked about -- most f/1.7 - f/2 50 mm lenses do fairly well closeup on tubes or bellows. Telephoto lenses, and by telephoto I mean lenses with rear node out front, not long focus lenses, are another matter.

    There are two significant differences between "macro" lenses and "regular" lenses made for shooting at distance.

    A lens' corrections can be optimized for only one distance/magnification. "Macro" lenses made to be mounted in focusing helicals are typically optimized for a magnification in the range 1:1 to 1:10; "regular" lenses are typically optimized for 1:20 or smaller. So a macro lens will give better image quality in the closeup range (1:1 - 1:10) than will a "regular" lens. And a macro lens may be somewhat worse than a regular lens at distance.

    The other difference applies only to lenses mounted in focusing helicals. Macro lenses helicals will let them focus close. "Regular" lenses' helicals won't.

    I mentioned that f/1.7 - f/2 normal lenses for 35 mm cameras usually do pretty well closeup. So will f/2.0 - f/3.5 normal lenses for MF cameras, highly asymmetrical lenses like f/2.8 and f/3.5 Tessars excepted.

    So what to do? It depends on budget, goals, and strength of back. I used to carry a 50/1.4 Nikkor and a 55/3.5 MicroNikkor. After a time I decided that that was dumb and used the 50/1.4 as a down payment on something else.

    So what do I do? On 35 mm -- NOT what you asked about -- my kit contains 55, 105, and 200 MicroNikkors and nothing else at/near those focal lengths. I also shoot 2x3 Graphics, with them I shoot closeup mainly with a 100/6.3 Reichert Neupolar. This is a bigod real macro lens from a microscope manufacturer, works well from 1:8 to 8:1 but the highest I can easily go on a 2x3 Graphic is ~ 2.2:1. I'm trying out a 105/5.6 Componon as a replacement for the Neupolar, for a variety of reasons the Neupolar is hard to use. I also have longer process lenses that I use at lower magnifications, especially when getting close to the subject is difficult.

    There are other ways to get the magnification. For a deeper discussion -- you'll have to abstract away from the gear mentioned to yours -- see A. A. Blaker's book Field Photography or Lester Lefkowitz' book The Manual of Closeup Photography. Both are out of print, can be found through on-line book finding services like abebooks.com, addall.com, amazon.com.

    FWIW, if I were you I'd get the macro lens. But its your money, not mine.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Dan

  6. #6

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    Macro can be a technical/high detail illustration such as the mechanism of a watch or can be an abstract art form where the viewpoint is rather abstract and form,color,and composition are predominant and what the subject IS may be LESS evident because of it being so out of the usual scale.

    I like to put my 300 f4 tele on a bellows and shoot flowers. Even better....use a grainy high speed slide film. The results are not "accurate" as much as interpretive. I may stick an old Zeiss Tessar on tubes just for a different flavor. Again...the most "true" rendition isn't the point as much as findind a bit of extra "soul" in the subject. Much of the attraction of macro is that you get a much different view of what might be something fairly common. NOT using the "right" lens or film may actually add to that. The unexpected is what can seperate solid from special or craftsmanship from art. 35 mm's edge in macro is in large part that you are more apt to have an assortment of hardware as well as the relative agility to find the point of view. Often the GREAT shot is what you got using the WRONG lens and an unlikely angle and composition.

  7. #7
    Russ Young's Avatar
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    I have an old Pentax 6x7 which made lots of money for my studio "back when" by doing copy work with the 135 macro. For most of that work, no additional accessories were needed. Eventually I had to buy the tube set but never needed any more than a single tube from the three tube set. The bellows were never under consideration due to their cost. Long after my career was no longer in the studio, I did acquire the bellows, dual cable release, etc. My opinion: it is a royal pain in the ass (no insult intended, feral donkey) to use and is of no practical-world advantage over the tubes unless you consistently do larger than 2:1 macro. Of course, your mileage may vary.

    Russ

  8. #8

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    I would have to guess that most macro work with film cameras is done with 35mm equipment. There were systems like the Nikon Multiphot and the Polaroid MP-4 which allowed macro work to be done with more convenience on 4X5 film but this was often copy work. If you are limited to a magnification of not greater than 1:1, any subject which is 24X36mm or smaller should probably be done with 35mm equipment. With a rigid set-up and fine grain film you can enlarge the 35mm slide or negative quite a lot. A subject which is 24X36mm and which is shot at 1:1 will provide the same usable space on the slide or negative on 35mm film as on the film of any larger format. To gain any advantage in image quality by using medium format equipment you would need to shoot the same subject at 2X or 3X. This is much more difficult to do with medium format equipment. I have plenty of 35mm macro equipment but my medium format SLR cameras are all Bronica ETR/SQ/GS-1 models and the bodies have no shutters. If I had a Pentax 6X7 I might make my own extension tubes in different lengths and attach enlarging lenses to them. This would work on a coy stand or with a strong focusing rail.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by dynachrome View Post
    I would have to guess that most macro work with film cameras is done with 35mm equipment. There were systems like the Nikon Multiphot and the Polaroid MP-4 which allowed macro work to be done with more convenience on 4X5 film but this was often copy work. If you are limited to a magnification of not greater than 1:1, any subject which is 24X36mm or smaller should probably be done with 35mm equipment. With a rigid set-up and fine grain film you can enlarge the 35mm slide or negative quite a lot. A subject which is 24X36mm and which is shot at 1:1 will provide the same usable space on the slide or negative on 35mm film as on the film of any larger format. To gain any advantage in image quality by using medium format equipment you would need to shoot the same subject at 2X or 3X. This is much more difficult to do with medium format equipment. I have plenty of 35mm macro equipment but my medium format SLR cameras are all Bronica ETR/SQ/GS-1 models and the bodies have no shutters. If I had a Pentax 6X7 I might make my own extension tubes in different lengths and attach enlarging lenses to them. This would work on a coy stand or with a strong focusing rail.
    Silly ideas. You don't know that I shoot 2x3, or why.

    Short answer, to get closeup shots of, e.g., flowers with good detail in the main subject and a reasonable amount of its surroundings in the frame. With 35 mm one can get one or the other, not both.

    It is tempting to shoot 2x3 above 1:1 and sometimes it makes sense, but the real rewards for moving up in format are in the range 1:4 to 1:1. But 645 is only half frame 2x3, looks pretty punk in comparison. And 2x3, which I like, is pretty punk in comparison with 4x5.

  10. #10

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    Dan, I don't know why you think it isn't possible to get good detail in flowers with 35mm equipment while at the same time getting their surroundings in the frame. With Velvia or EVS or even EB you can get a tremendous amount of detail. To see this in a print you need very high resolution scans but it can be done. If you are referring to swings and tilts then this is a different subject. The front standard of the Minolta Auto Bellows III has movements. If I know I will want to use these movements and I am in the 1:4 to 1:1 range then I will use an enlarging lens with enough coverage for what I need. I have successfully used the Bogen 60mm f/4 Wide Angle enlarging lens, a 150/5.6 Rodagon, a 105/5.6 EL Nikkor and others with the bellows and with movements. If I don't need movements I can use my Bronica GS-1 with a G-36 extension tube and the 100/3.5. This lens is not as well corrected in the close range as some others but if I close down to f/8 or f/11 I will still get a very high quality image. I will then be comparing a 6X7 negative with a 6X9 (2X3). It I am using the SQ-A I can use either an S-36 extension tube with the 80/2.8 PS or I can also add the 2X S teleconverter. If I had a Pentax 6X7 I would still be tempted to either buy or make extension tubes and attach enlarging lenses for close-up work. I wouldn't have the movements of a view camera or even those of my Auto Bellows III but there is no reason this wouldn't work. As far as how the format sizes compare to each other, that depends on how large your prints are going to be. If you are ever in the NYC area we can request tripod permits from the Botanical Gardens in The Bronx and go shooting for a day.

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