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Lens dilemma

Chuck Lawson

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Nov 23, 2012
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I've had a lot of fun in my first week with the Nex 5R, and have been enjoying exploring some of my old Minolta lenses as well as the kit zoom, but I could use some advice as to where to go from here.

One of my various goofy hobbies is keeping dart frogs, and the primary reason for abandoning my old point-and-shoot was to take better pictures of them. The nature of the challenge is that these guys are about an inch long (+/- 25%), are in a heavily planted glass enclosure that's 20" or so front-to-back, a bit spooky, and faster than greased lightning.

I've gotten some great shots (compared to my old p&s, anyway) with the Nex, but I'd like to go to a longer lens that will let me fill more of the frame with the frog.

In other words, I want to go from this --

ramazonica113012-orig.jpg


to this --

ramazonica113012.jpg


...without having to crop nearly so much.

This was shot with the kit zoom at 55mm, f8, manual focus. I've taken some good shots with my Minolta 50mm also, but it has a fairly long minimum focal length, which limits how close I can get even if they are near the front.

At the moment, I'm kind of torn between something like the Tokina AT-X 90mm F2.5 Macro, or the 55-210mm native zoom. For this application, I'd be shooting both MF; the Tokina would be much faster (and I am limited a bit by available light) but the native zoom would give me stabilization for lower shutter speeds. Shooting angles are varied enough that I'd be too slow chasing them down with a tripod, so most of my shots will be handheld.

Both lenses are in the same rough pricing ballpark; I'm kind of leaning towards the 55-210, just for flexibility for other purposes, but if the Tokina (or something else entirely) would be much better for this task, then I'm liable to go that way.

Currently, my lens selection consists of the 18-55mm kit zoom, a Minolta MD 50mm f2.0, and a Tamron MD 28-70mm f3.5-4.5 (which has way too long a mfl to help). I've also got the Sony 16mm on order (found a cheap deal), so everything else being equal, I wouldn't mind improving the flexibility of my lens selection in general.

Any advice would be most welcome!

Thanks!

- Chuck
 

eno789

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Another lens worth consideration is the Tamron adaptall-2 90mm f/2.5 Macro. Either the 52B 49mm thread or 52BB 55mm filter thread should work great.
 

Dioptrick

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What I've noticed is the relatively dim artificial lighting. Unless you're going to use diffused flash, it might pay to have a look at fast telephotos around the f2.8 spec. The Tamron 90mm macro is a beaut just like Brain suggested, but if you want a zoom macro... have a look at Deadbear's Series 1 Vivitars and see if that's what you're after.
Link: https://www.talkemount.com/f12/vivitar-70-210-f2-8-series-1-legacy-1370/

I've actually just got one myself. It's on the big size end of things but the DSLR equivalent of such a lens (f/2.8) would be twice as big and many times more expensive, so it's all relative. Haven't tried it yet... still waiting for my adapter :-/
 

Chuck Lawson

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Thanks! Both of those look like good (and cheaper!) alternatives to the Tokina... I'm kind of leaning towards the Tamron at the moment, mostly because it looks a little lighter for handholding. Am I understanding correctly that I can go directly with an Adaptall e-mount adapter and not have to adapt it to a legacy mount, and then to the e-mount?

Lighting is indeed an issue; it's worse than it looks at first glance, because these things are actually brightly lit, but they're also densely planted with a lot of deep shade, too, so there's a lot of dynamic range. Spot metering helps, as does exposure bracketing, but I've got to improve my PP skills also; often I'll end up with shots where when the subject is fully exposed, I'll have other elements in the frame that are completely blown-out.
 

Dioptrick

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Am I understanding correctly that I can go directly with an Adaptall e-mount adapter and not have to adapt it to a legacy mount, and then to the e-mount?

Yes and lighter and less complicated too. They're not as common but they are available in eBay Hong Kong, China...

The Tamron is half the size of the Series 1, beautiful lens that.
 

Chuck Lawson

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Yes and lighter and less complicated too. They're not as common but they are available in eBay Hong Kong, China...

The Tamron is half the size of the Series 1, beautiful lens that.

Cool! Found an adapter on Amazon, and KEH has some nice looking Tamrons. Now all I need to find is some more camera budget! :D
 

markoneswift

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Oct 17, 2012
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The Tamron is indeed a lovely lens, my brother has one in A mount. I use a manual Canon FD F/4.0 70-210 with macro for some of my close up shots, here's a sample shot wide open in macro focusing mode :-

8063597662_78951333b4_c.jpg
Spider Macro - Watching, Waiting by markoneswift, on Flickr

Admittedly this was outdoors in good light, but I was still able to use base ISO and a shutter speed of 1/1000th ! The old manual macro zooms can produce great results and might be worth considering - mine only cost me £20.
 

eno789

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I bought my Tamron Adaptall-to-NEX adapter from RainbowImaging , they ship from US.
The Tamron 52BB I have is a little lighter compared to the Bokina.
 

Chuck Lawson

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The Tamron is indeed a lovely lens, my brother has one in A mount. I use a manual Canon FD F/4.0 70-210 with macro for some of my close up shots, here's a sample shot wide open in macro focusing mode :-

Very nice! I'm trying to keep my "buy ALL the lenses!" urges in check (or at least slowed down for the moment; I'm sure this will get as out of hand as most of my hobbies soon enough :) ).

At this point, I think first up will be the prime, but I can see a macro zoom in that range pretty high on my wish list too.
 

Bill

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If you can wait (and if you have deep pockets) the Zeiss 50mm f/2.8 macro will be out next year, made for the NEX (and Fuji).
 

eno789

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Zeiss macro lens is going to be expensive (definitely will be > $500). And the working distance of a 50mm macro might be too close for the OP. Having quite a few MF macro lenses, I'd say they are all excellent quality, the technique is much more important. You'll need to manual focus anyway, so the native AF does not buy you that much. If it's native e-mount, it probably won't cover full frame, that's actually a down side if you plan to go to full frame in the future.
 

Chuck Lawson

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Although I'm sure the Zeiss 50mm will be gorgeous, I'm afraid my budget pretty much varies between good ebay deals and "hey, didn't you have some old camera gear in the closet?" questions to friends :)
 

Chuck Lawson

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Very nice! I'm trying to keep my "buy ALL the lenses!" urges in check (or at least slowed down for the moment; I'm sure this will get as out of hand as most of my hobbies soon enough :) ).

At this point, I think first up will be the prime, but I can see a macro zoom in that range pretty high on my wish list too.

So much for plans; stumbled onto a great deal on a Vivitar 70-210mm f2.8 macro in Nikon mount on eBay today, so we'll see how that does with some frog portraits :)

My girlfriend also brought over a box of old Canon gear she'd got handed down from her mother, and it included a 55mm f1.2 lens that I'm really looking forward to trying.
 

Chuck Lawson

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Jackpot!! :eek:

Heh... From the "No Silver Linings Will Be Issued Without Clouds Attached" department, she also asked "So, if I got one of those Sony cameras, I could use some of these old lenses?", so I tried to change the subject as quickly as possible :rolleyes:
 

Dioptrick

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Heh... From the "No Silver Linings Will Be Issued Without Clouds Attached" department, she also asked "So, if I got one of those Sony cameras, I could use some of these old lenses?", so I tried to change the subject as quickly as possible :rolleyes:

Just tell her that these old lenses are extremely laborious (cough! > addictive) to use, lol!
 

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