Seeking macro lens suggestions for a friend's APSC Sony Alpha

melanieylang

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Hi all,

a friend recently bought an aged Sony Alpha APSC with kit zoom lenses as a budget upgrade from a Samsung smartphone for Australian native wildflower photography. I am completely unfamiliar with the system, so can't advise her on lens selection, but have pointed her in the direction of a couple of Sony-specific forums. Meanwhile, I thought some of you might have recommendations for a macro lens option to handle our mostly very small orchids. This is her first experience with an ILC, and was advised by the orchid community to go for mirrorless - unfortunately she didn't choose mu43!

I have loaned her my Raynox DCR-250 macroscopic lens to try on her zooms, but I am sure she'll struggle with the very narrow DOF.

Thanks in advance,
Melanie
 
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Mirrorless like Sony Alpha a6000, meaning E mount, not an (older) A mount DSLR, right?

There's a Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro that's quite compact and relatively cheap, though that could be a short focal length for flowers. The Zeiss Touit 50mm f/2.8 is relatively expensive. Maybe the best option is the manual focus-only Venus Laowa 65mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro APO (likely the 2x magnification won't be needed). There's also a Samyang/Rokinon 100mm, also manual focus.

Additionally, full-frame lenses for E mount like Sony FE f/2.8 Macro. That one might be the easiest to use, with autofocus and focus range limiting via a switch.

I don't have an actual recommendation as I'm not personally familiar with them.

Might need some flashes for lighting.
 

Brownie

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Melanie,

As @roboroto states, Sony has different lens mounts. The Old 'A' mount is being abandoned this year, and is the same mount as Minolta Maxxum. I have several Maxxums and Sony A mount cameras. These lenses will fit both APSC and FF Sony cameras. Below is a link to Dyxum, a forum that deals almost specifically with A-mount cameras. They have a wonderful and complete guide to all A-mount lenses that is searchable and includes ratings and reviews, there's a link at the top of the page. If it's an A-mount, your friend can get a 50mm Minolta Maxxum Macro (say that five times real fast!) lens for about $100 that is very highly rated.

https://www.dyxum.com/

The newer 'E' mount is for Sony mirrorless cameras, and Sony is throwing all of their eggs in this basket. If she has an E-mount camera she can go to our sister forum, TalkEmount. This forum is also run by Amin and is laid out identically to this one so no learning curve. You will also recognize a few names from here. These folks can offer advice on lens options, since I am very much a neophyte in the world of Sony E.

https://www.talkemount.com/forums/

Hope this helps!
 

melanieylang

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Thanks @roboroto and @Brownie for your suggestions. I had already suggested my friend get involved on both those forums for her new E-mount (I'm pretty sure it's a Nex model without an EVF). Looking at used prices in Australia for some of the suggested lenses, it might be a while before she's ready to step up to true macro photography.

Like the orchid-hunting crowd, her interest is primarily in identification. One bloke who joined us yesterday was shooting with an adapted Olympus Zuiko 50mm f/2 adapted to his EM1, and also had a mu43 Oly 30mm macro - he preferred short lenses as he was using on-body flash. His mate was using a full frame Canon with 35mm macro and diffused on-body flash. It was interesting to see how they operated, as I shoot O60mm and natural light - flash or hand-held LED only seldom.
 

archaeopteryx

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I am sure she'll struggle with the very narrow DOF.
I'm a bit confused here. Since depth of field is controlled by magnification and effective aperture there's not going to be much difference between the Raynox and a macro lens. For example, the DCR-250 is a 125 mm f/3.4, so will be stopped down from the rear to at least f/5 or so by lower cost (tele)zooms at 1x. Since most macros tend to be f/2.8 (and have pupil magnification ratios near 1) the DCR-250 likely near interchangeable, in a DoF sense, with the f/5.6 effective aperture of a macro set to f/2.8 at 1x. Closing down either the (tele)zoom or macro from there increases DoF linearly with f/stop. The two stop offset does mean the macro will probably go to f/45 effective versus f/22 from a zoom but those slow enough apertures the additional complexity of a flash is often desirable.

As a bit of an aside I focus stack almost everything I image for identification as the additional detail is valuable. Too late now but Sony's unfortunately about the least capable system to have chosen in that regard, which may eventually prove limiting. (If the orchids are small enough going over 1x is desirable there's advantages in choosing μ43 over APS-C or 135 in addition to Panasonic having industry leading autofocus bracketing support.)
 
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Wow, I hadn't realised that! Luckily, I really like my 60mm 🤗
The Oly 30mm macro seems to go on sale a few times a year where I live and really cheap then.
I now own both but use the 60mm more. The 30mm hunts less though which is nice and easier to use hand held in camera stacking @Bushboy uses the 30mm all the time, his mushroom photos are really good, so should be good for samll orchids as well.
 
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