Affordable Macro Options

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by RyanM, Aug 8, 2017.

  1. RyanM

    RyanM Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 16, 2017
    I'm looking for suggestions for inexpensive dedicated macro prime lenses. Adapted seems like a solid option for this sort of thing (especially since you're using MF for most macro work anyways!).

    Ideally, I'd like something that would double as a usable fast telephoto prime, so something in the 90-110mm ~f/2.8-4 category (faster is always nice). 1:1 magnification would be good. If possible, I'd like to spend <$150 for a decent copy. Weight/size aren't super important to me, since this wouldn't be an every day carry sort of item.

    I've heard good things about the Vivitar Series 1 105mm f/2.5, and it fits my criteria to a T, but it seems a little pricey for a copy in good shape.
    The Vivitar 90mm f/2.8 is a bit cheaper, but I don't know much about it.
    What are some alternatives that offer a good balance of price, speed, macro performance, and infinity performance in this focal length range? Any opinions on the two lenses I've noted?

    Thanks for any help!
  2. PannyPaul

    PannyPaul New to Mu-43

    Aug 8, 2017
  3. Conrad

    Conrad Mu-43 Veteran

    Take a look at the Panagor 90/2.8. I have a Minolta MD version. My PL45 is clearly better, but it is a very decent performer. I still use it for certain video applications where I need the working distance. In the adapted lens section I have posted a mini review years ago.

    I cannot comment on the Vivitars other than that the Panagor and Vivitar 90/2.8 seem to be very akin.
  4. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Hi, the Vivitar 100/2.8 and the later Series 1 105mm f/2.5 were both made by Kino Precision and are very similar to the Kiron 105/2.8 and the Lester Dine as well.
    All are 1:1 macro.

    I have the Kiron, and it is excellent but fairly big & heavy. I paid about $170USD shipped, and I already had a cheap SR/MD -> Mu-43 adapter and a Zhongyi focal reducer.
    Showcase - Kiron 105mm f/2.8 Macro (Kino)

    Other options, but note most will only be 1:2 macro without an additional adapter or extension tube:

    Tokina "Bokina" 90mm - extremely well regarded, but about $300 last I looked.

    Vivitar 90 (Tokina and Komine versions); usually can be found cheaper than Tokina branded ones.

    Soligor 90mm, Komine design modified to go to 1:1.

    Tamron 90 (see other thread linked above)

    Minolta 105mm macro. Probably around $100.

    Pentax 100/4 macro in m42 or PK mount. Note there is a normal version and another 100/4 'bellows' lens that only works with a bellows or focusing helicoid.
    I had a Pentax 50mm macro and it wasn't as good as my ZD 35mm but it wasn't far off either, at least in the center.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2017
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  5. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    I like my Sigma 105/2.8 for 4:3.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  6. Chinsun

    Chinsun New to Mu-43

    Jun 16, 2017
    Does anyone own the classic Rokkor Macro 50 mm f 3.5? I like to read your comments?
  7. rezatravilla

    rezatravilla Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 7, 2013
    Reza Travilla
  8. WRay

    WRay Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    May 23, 2012
    Riverside, California
    I have and use the Olympus Zuiko 50mm f3.5 macro.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    The Olympus 4/3 50mm f2 macro is a great lens. Add the cheap extension tubes for 1:1 magnification

    One of the least expensive macro solutions is to buy a wide, MF, manual aperture lens and a reversing ring. A 28mm film era lens for instance, and cheap reversing ring can be had for under $50 and works very well.
  10. fin azvandi

    fin azvandi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 12, 2011
    South Bend, IN
    I used to use the Kiron/Vivitar/Lester Dine 105mm and it was lovely. But heavy! It wasn't so much the weight of the lens itself, but since I use PEN bodies it was awkward to adjust focus and support everything while holding a flash in my left hand. I ended up switching to the MFT native Olympus 60/2.8. Unfortunately, neither is in the price range you're looking for...

    Before either of those I had a Konica Macro Hexanon AR 55/3.5, which went to 1:1 with its dedicated adapter. Not sure what they are going for these days but it was very nice.

    I've seen some excellent images here in these forums from people using the Raynox 250 on telephoto primes and zooms. It's not a dedicated lens but might be worth serious consideration, not too costly if you can use a lens you already own.
  11. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    Except that lens is focus by wire, so you would need a "cheap" adapter that both converts from 4/3rds to micro-4/3rds and also brings though all the electrical contacts to control the lens focus (and aperture). Does such an extension tube exist?

    You could do a 4/3rds to micro-4/3rds adapter like the MMF-3 then a straight micro-4/3rds extension tube with electrical contacts. But at that point it isn't "cheap" anymore.
  12. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    Yes for the 50mm you'd need a 4/3 to m4/3 adapter if you don't have one already. But once you do, it's fully functional just like a m43 lens. Little sluggish if not used with an e-M1 though.
  13. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    The old ZD 35mm offers 1:1 macro natively (no extension tube needed), if one already has the adapter. Only problem you might need to be right on top of your subject for small things.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  14. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    I use the ZD 35 to copy old slides. Good enough for web.
  15. 3dpan

    3dpan Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 11, 2017
    Far North, New Zealand
    I also recommend the link that @PannyPaul@PannyPaul mentions. A lot of useful data there, Best adapted prime macro lens Also note the recommendation from @Bytesmiths@Bytesmiths on the OM135mm f/4.5 plus TET combo. I have just bought that and it's easy to use, maybe outside your price range though at about $250US on eBay.
    Anyway, I've been searching Google recently on macro lenses, and to further elaborate on what @barry13@barry13 has already said,
    (i) It seems that the Vivitar Series 1 105mm f/2.5 macro, (also known as Kiron 105mm f/2.8, Lester A. Dine 105mm f/2.8, Vivitar 100mm f/2.8, Rikenon 105mm f/2.8, and Rolleinar105mm f/2.8), is optimised for for closeup, macro work and is a bit soft as you go towards infinty focus.
    (ii) The Vivitar 90mm f/2.8, 1:1, made by Komine, (not a Series 1 model), and is also known as
    Elicar VHQ 90mm f/2.5 1:1
    Panagor 90mm f/2.8 1:1 PMC
    Admiral-Panagor 90mm f 2.8 1:1 (Admiral, a Swiss reseller)
    Rokunar 90mm f/2.5 1:1
    Elicar 90mm f/2.5 1:1 PMC (A few rare white bodies noted in K and Nikon mounts)
    Elicar 90mm f/2.5 1:1.25 PMC
    Soligor 90mm f2.5 1.1
    Spiratone 90mm f2.5 1:1
    and is not quite up to to the same standard as the Vivitar Series 1, 90mm f/2.5 made by Tokina.
    (iii) Tokina had an argument with Vivitar and started producing the 90/2.5 under their own name, same optical formula, but improved coatings and performance. The Vivitar Series 1 90/2.5 and the Tokina AT-X 90/2.5 are only 1:2 but have an optional optical extender to take them to 1:1. The Tokina AT-X 90mm f/2.5 macro is reputed to be on a par with even the latest digital lenses. I have no evidence one way or the other.
    (iv) I know nothing about the Tamron 90mm macro.

    Something else to consider is macro focus stacking to extend the depth of field, as an alternative to stopping the lens right down and hoping for the best. This can be done with a manual macro lens, though for the process the longer focal lengths are better to minimise the chance of ghosting in the stacked image.
    The later E-M bodies have auto focus bracketing, but only on a selected few lenses. eg it's a firmware upgrade to the E-M5 II. It is very nice to use and a lot easier than manually bracketing 20 or more images.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  16. Bytesmiths

    Bytesmiths Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Glad you tried it! Ain't it a hoot!

    I love being able to twist, slide, twist instead of crank, crank, crank, crank, crank. I can go from 1:1 to infinity in a fraction of the time it takes to crank a helicoid.

    I'm currently in the process of adapting the TET to mount directly on a µ4/3rds body, instead of using an adaptor.
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  17. 3dpan

    3dpan Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 11, 2017
    Far North, New Zealand
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  18. chipbutty

    chipbutty Mu-43 Top Veteran

    I've heard good things about the Oshiro 60mm f2.8 macro for MFT. Around £110. Apparently it's a clone of the Laowa Venus Optics 60mm f2.8.
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  19. Bytesmiths

    Bytesmiths Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Be careful; you'll find yourself collecting the whole set!

    • The OM Zuiko 90/2 Macro is an incredible lens, focusing from 1:2 to infinity on its own, and well beyond 1:1 with the TET. It appears to be razor-sharp at any distance. It has a floating element† that allows it to accomplish such a feat.
    • The OM Zuiko 80/2 Macro is optimized for 1:1, which together with a slide dup adapter for a bellows, makes a fine alternative to a scanner for getting slides and negatives into digital form.
    • The 50mm OM Zuiko Macros are both highly regarded: the ƒ3.5 is plentiful and inexpensive, and the ƒ2 is so sharp that Gary Reese used it as the "A+ standard" for all his thousands of lens tests. The ƒ2 version also has a floating element† group to allow it to be sharp from 1:1 through infinity.
    • The 38mm OM Zuiko Macro is optimized for greater-than-life-size use, and is especially well suited for copy-stand work, like stamps and coins.
    • The only one I don't use much is the 20/2 Macro, which is optimized for 16:1. That is near-microscopic range! I don't use it because it is a challenge to do any photography in that range, not because I have any reason to think it is an inferior optic. One of these days, I'll find an excuse to make it sing. But forget about chasing live insects with this thing; the working distance is just a few millimetres! One letter of this text will fill an entire frame.
    Don't even get me started on the wide array of macro accessories Olympus produced. The two OM-System ring lights, in particular, are totally unique, and I've adapted them to µ4/3rds use.

    My name is Jan, and I'm a Zuikoholic. My last shot was a few hours ago, but I'm getting sober Any Day Now™.

    †When shooting a floating element lens with an extension, be sure to focus the lens fully out to the closest shooting distance, in order to fully engage the floating element mechanism. Then use your bellows, etc. (or shoe leather) to focus, rather than the lens's focus mechanism.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
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  20. Christop82

    Christop82 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 10, 2016
    I use the ef version with a metabones Speedbooster. Great for portraits as well as macro. 74mm f2 with the reducer.
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