Looking for macro lens

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by martha, Nov 16, 2013.

  1. martha

    martha TalkEmount Rookie

    Jan 12, 2013
    I am fairly new to photography and own an NEX7 with a couple of SEL lenses. I am looking for a macro lens, but am no sure I want to purchase the SEL30M35, as I have read a few reviews that make me think there are better ones out there, and possibly less expensive. Could anyone give me some advice on purchasing a decent macro lens for less than $250?
  2. f/otographer

    f/otographer TalkEmount Regular

    Aug 20, 2013
    The great thing about macro lenses is that you dont really need auto focus. Thats why I assume you are posting this in adapted lenses. There are literally tons of great old manual focus macro lenses available which can be easily used on your NEX 7 with a cheap adapter.

    A few macro lenses that I have had direct hands on experience with include the following...

    Yashica ML Macro 55/4
    Minolta MD Macro Rokkor X 50/3.5
    Canon FD 50/3.5 macro

    If you take a look at my flickr macro folder below you can see many examples from these lenses to see what they are capable of on the NEX 7. Also you will see many other lenses I have used that aren't necessarily macro specific lenses but can be made to shoot macro using either extension tubes or a series of Close Up lenses that attach to the front of other lenses like filters. The benefit of a traditional macro lens is that it is usually corrected for field curvature at high magnifications. But there is nothing to stop you from shooting macro with any old lens.


    Plenty of other companies made great macro lenses, like Nikon, Pentax, Olympus. Many third party makers cranked out great lenses like Tamron, Kiron and others. There are also the legendary Zeiss Makro Planars in C/Y mount that are stunning.

    One thing you will notice about macro lenses is that they generally come in two major focal lengths, around 50mm and around 100mm. Many people swear by the 100mm but I use the 50mm focal length myself. With a 50 you have to get closer to the subject to get the same magnification you would with a 100 but this is not an issue for me. It is far easier to handhold a 50mm macro then it is a 100mm and you get less camera shake with a 50. 50's are also usually cheaper then 100's.

    Macro is almost as much about technique as it is about the lens. It is a style of photography that takes a bit of practice and patience to start to see consistently good results, but that is actually true of most photography. I can say it is highly rewarding and is my favorite style of photography to shoot. You can literately shoot it anywhere. No need to go to far off destinations to get incredible shots. Just step outside your front door and there your are, a microcosm awaits you. And if the weather is bad and other photographers are sitting inside with nothing to shoot...just look around your house. There are tons of small things to capture. Changing perspectives is always a powerful tool to use in your photography and macro is all about shooting different perspectives.

    Check sites like KEH and Etsy for good deals on old macro lenses. Usually all you need is a ten dollar adapter and you are good to go. A huge world of photography awaits.
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  3. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur Subscribing Member

    Nov 13, 2012
    Ad Dieleman
    If you're comfortable with manual focus you can go for a legacy macro lens and an adapter. There are many excellent legacy macro lenses, ranging from 50mm through 200mm, although 50mm or 55mm lenses are most common. Most common premium brands are Minolta, Nikon (called Micro-Nikkor), Canon, Olympus, Pentax, Konica, Leica (expensive), Zeiss/Contax (expensive). Also off-brand lenses are generally quite good, like Panagor, Tokina, Sigma, Tamron. As the saying goes, there are no bad macro lenses, so if the lens is technically OK you should be good.

    50mm or 55mm macro lenses are most common, you should be able to get one around or below $100. Once you've decided on the lens, you need to buy a matching adapter from the legacy lens mount to the camera's lens mount. It will cost you 10$ roughly, I'll leave it to others to advise on what to get in the US.

    Many people, including me, have followed this path and are very happy. Autofocus and macro don't go together well anyway in most people's opinion, so you won't give up anything really by using these wonderful old lenses.

    Edit: f/otographer beat me to it. Fortunately we seem to agree wonderfully :).
    • Like Like x 2
  4. f/otographer

    f/otographer TalkEmount Regular

    Aug 20, 2013
    Its actually kind of scary how similar our two posts are addieleman. :)
    • Like Like x 1
  5. martha

    martha TalkEmount Rookie

    Jan 12, 2013
    Thanks for your quick reply and great advise.
  6. eno789

    eno789 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Jan 1, 2012
    NoCal, USA
    For a macro lens to suit you, you'll need to know what kind of things you're most likely shoot it with. That determines the magnification ratio and working distance.

    For example, 1:2 magnification is sufficient for whole flower; with 1:1 magnification, it's more like rose petal abstract. While for insect eyes, you'll need at least 1:1. Quite a few adapted ~50mm macro lenses only reach 1:2 by themselves, and you need to add extension ring to reach 1:1.

    Generally, longer focal length provides longer working distance (the distance between the front of lens and subject). Wider focal length shows more context, while longer focal length gives you more isolation between subject and background. To shoot shy bugs, you'll need more working distance; and to avoid casting shadow on the subject, you'll also need some working distance.

    Hope this helps you narrow down the selections in terms of focal length. Good luck!
    • Like Like x 1
  7. xXx1

    xXx1 TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 15, 2013
    • Like Like x 1
  8. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    Some great advice.

    Very true on the not needing AF while doing Macro work.

    Also the magnification is an important factor. Many lenses were sold with "Macro" features, of which I own two, that stop at 1:2. Totally usable, but only get you so far. If you want real closeups you need either an extention or 1:1.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. markoneswift

    markoneswift TalkEmount Veteran

    Oct 17, 2012
    I use a few different things for macro, all of which I'm still learning to use properly !! I have a 70 / 210 F/4 Macro zoom that actually does quite well at the 'macro' part, I have an old set of M42 bellows and a Helios 44/2 to use with them, I also have a Vivitar 2x macro focusing teleconverter that I mount a Canon FD 50 /1.8 on. All of these lenses / adapters were either bought cheaply off Ebay or given to me by friends / relatives.

    Most of these can be used hand held ( especially the 50/1.8 - Vivitar TC combo ) but the bellows really requires a tripod for balance. I don't have a macro flash yet, but I'm working on adapting an old Sunpak ringflash to the NEX via a PC sync adapter.

    EDIT - almost forgot, i've got a 52mm /58mm reversing adapter too, specifically to allow me to reverse mount my FD 28/2.8 onto my F/4 zoom for some nutty magnification. I've tried that combo hand held and it showed promise, so I now need to try it properly set up with the lenses coupled together.
    • Like Like x 1
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