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07-21-2010, 01:23 PM   #1
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best of ~100mm Macro

Hi folks! this is my first post here, hope you could help me get things more clear.

I am a bit confused in choosing the best mid-tele macro lens, curious is there any significant difference between these macro lenses in terms of the image quality?

SMC Pentax-FA 100mm F2.8 Macro
smc PENTAX-D FA 100mm F2.8 Macro
SMC Pentax-FA 100mm F3.5 Macro
SMC Pentax-F 100mm F2.8 Macro
Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG Macro
Tamron SP AF 90mm 2.8 DI MACRO

What about FA 100mm f3.5, is it only half stop slower and with lower magnification ratio than 2.8 version or it's worse in some other positions (IQ)?

What about Pentax DA 70mm f/2.4 Limited, is it much better in terms of the image quality than these macro lenses?

Thanks in advance.

07-21-2010, 01:41 PM   #2
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Welcome to the Pentax Forums!

It has often been said that macro lenses are pretty uniformly excellent, though some are more excellent than others. All the lenses on your lens are capable performers. In the same league are the Vivitar Series 1 105/2.5 Macro and its Vivitar (other), Kiron and Lester Dine cousins. Someone will likely post that you should consider the Voigtlander 125/2.5 APO or Zeiss ZK Makro-Planar T* 100/2. Both are standout performers and either should empty your bank account quickly enough. (The Voigt was moderately priced, but has been out of production for a couple of years and has achieved cult status in the since then.)

The DA 70/2.4 Limited has a strong following on this forum. You can compare the MTF values for the DA 70 to some of your choices at Photozone.

If you are considering lenses as short as 70mm, you should probably look into the Sigma 70/2.8 EX DG Macro. It is the star of the Sigma macro line-up performance-wise.


Last edited by stevebrot; 07-21-2010 at 02:32 PM.
07-21-2010, 01:53 PM   #3
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I only have the DFA 100mm 2.8 macro (non WR) and I am very happy with its IQ (both bokeh and resolution). I remember the FA 100mm f2.8 macro is a metal lens so if hot/cold weather and weight is your issue then choose the DFA one. Another thing is that since it is a macro lens it has a long focus distance, which also mean it has long distance to travel to get to your focus point when you are using AF - another word AF speed is slow. It shouldn't bother you as in macro work you will use MF anyways. For normal use, just pre-focus it with your hand to shorten the distance then AF to where you want.

I heard that the new DFA 100mm f2.8 WR has even better bokeh as it has more round blades and it is weather resist lens. It doesn't have the aperture ring but it may not matter to you. But I still have film camera and still using them so the choice my friend, is yours

at f2.8

at f20
07-21-2010, 01:57 PM   #4
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I personally would rank them
Tamron 90mm f2.8
Pentax D FA100 f.28
Pentax F 100mm f2.8
Sigma 105mm f2.8

I've never shot the the Pentax FA f3.5 so I can't rate it. However I'd say that the above lenses are VERY close to one another and a mouse could starve on the difference between them.

NaCl(an unlabeled test would probably prove the the output is indistinguishable)H2O

07-21-2010, 02:31 PM   #5
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thx for your answers, it seems that the Vivitar series 1 105/2.5 Macro has joined the list, good price but no AF :/ Voigt and Zeiss are bit to expensive, Sigma 70/2.8 EX DG Macro also is not quite in the budget.
07-21-2010, 07:50 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by strig Quote
thx for your answers, it seems that the Vivitar series 1 105/2.5 Macro has joined the list, good price but no AF :/ Voigt and Zeiss are bit to expensive, Sigma 70/2.8 EX DG Macro also is not quite in the budget.
I think most people manually focus for an actual macro shot, so AF may be low on the list of needs. The AF Tamron seems to be an excellent value at about $410 new, after the rebate.
07-21-2010, 10:26 PM   #7
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For easy close-ups, put a Raynox DCR-250 on any AF lens it fits.
That'll give you a taste of macro, to see how much you like it.
For macro shooting, AF is irrelevant, expensive, and distracting.
AF macro lenses do many things quite well, macro being just one.
Whether you want to pay for that is up to you and your budget.

If you want general purpose macro-portrait-tele, spend $$$$.
If you want to concentrate on macrophotography, spend less.
For instance, my M42 (manual) Vivitar 90/2.8 macro cost US$3.
I really splurged on my Macro-Takumar 50/4, cost all of US$55.
Both work nicely as general purpose (manual) lenses too. Yay!

I won't go into other methods of cheap macro; scan the forums.
Personally, I desire only one supermacro lens: DFA 100/2.8 WR.
That's the lens for shooting small stuff whilst crawling thru mud.
It's probably good for close work in shower, tub, pond, etc too.
And of course when you're on a sand-flea expedition, it's great.

07-21-2010, 11:01 PM   #8
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I am also choosing macro lens I intend to buy some day - I am currently stuck between Pentax DFA 100mm WR and Tamron 90mm.

I was reading Photozone reviews and noticed that Tamron 90mm has better resolution at very small aperture which is definitely important if you intend to shoot macro, since you'll get a millimeters DOF with too wide aperture, and it's really hard to get subject in focus with such narrow DOF. If you get enough light however and close it down a lot, you will have much better DOF; however when closing down, Pentax DFA 100 looses resolution faster than Tamron 90mm, according to photozone tests.

So I think i'd pick Tamron 90mm even though I can have a good deal on DFA 100mm WR. Of course if what you really want is 100mm prime with nice additional macro capability then you might prefer DFA 100mm WR.

Another issue is how much is the front glass retracted into the lens. Maybe Pentax is less so than Tamron, then it makes sense to pick Pentax since I think that the farther the lens edge from the subject, the better - since it can be spooked if you move it too close.

Why do they retract lens so much into macro lenses is beyond me.. if I wanted it retracted I'd just attach the lens hood.
07-21-2010, 11:02 PM   #9
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You lens choice might depend on whether you plan to take mostly hand held shots or use a tripod. I have the DFA 100mm macro and find that it is light enough to take hand held shots. I recently got a copy of the FA 50mm macro. It is a bit heavier and while it is fine for hand held, it is even better with a tripod. That said, I also find my F 28mm 2.8 (a runt in comparison to the other two)to be pretty good for close up shots. I sometimes wish there were lens lending libraries like the tool lending libraries we have here. One could borrow a lens take it out for a day of photos and determine whether it is a good match, before investing $$ in a lens. I agree with some of the other posters here that manual focus lenses like the Pentax-A lenses are a good choice. Even though the majority of my lenses are auto focus, I find myself gravitating more toward the A lenses these days.
07-22-2010, 02:12 AM   #10
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You already got some advice. It is interesting (in my opinion) that there are so many good prime & macro lenses ~100mm: the Pentax DFA 100mm WR, Pentax FA 100mm, Sigma 105mm, Tamron SP90mm - All with f2.8 and all with excellent reviews:

* Sigma 105mm and Tamron 90mm are both Higly Recommended by,

* Pentax FA 100mm was rated 4.5 stars by,

* Pentax DFA 100mm WR has users' review ratings of 10/10 (Pentax Lens Review Database - smc PENTAX-D FA 100mm F2.8 Macro WR Lens Reviews).

From most Pentaxian feedback, you will not be disappointed by any of these lenses.

I have the Tamron SP90mm. I chose it partly for its light weight.

Last edited by hcc; 07-22-2010 at 02:13 AM. Reason: Typos
07-22-2010, 04:17 AM   #11
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From what I read on this forum and some reviews online, there isn't much difference in terms of IQ between the modern AF 90-105mm range macro lens, I kinda remember reading somewhere that the Sigma 105mm DG Macro lacks a bit on the contrast front, but not much in it.

But, some of the best macro work I've ever seen on this forum is done by the Sigma, check out yeatzee's tread in the post your photo section, and I know for a fact that he's gonna defend the Sigma to the hills.

Note that newer Pentax WR macro has no aperture ring, whereas older Pentax F/FA/DFA 100mm Macro has one, same for Tamron SP90 and Sigma 105 DG, which makes a difference for some as they want to use extension tube and/or reverse mount other lens for serious macro work, in that case aperture ring is a must.

I chose the WR macro for compactness(49mm filter thread vs 55mm for Tamron), light weight(340g vs 405g for the Tamron 90), metal body and minimalist design(no clamp,no switch of any kind, no aperture ring), and Quick Shift Focus, WR is nice but irrelevant for me.

If you don't have a preference on handling then just go for the cheapest one on your list, you won't be disappointed.

Oh, by the way, my brother's got Tamron SP90 and he's loving it.

Just my 2 cents
07-22-2010, 08:19 AM   #12
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elpolodiablo: Note that newer Pentax WR macro has no aperture ring, whereas older Pentax F/FA/DFA 100mm Macro has one, same for Tamron SP90 and Sigma 105 DG, which makes a difference for some as they want to use extension tube and/or reverse mount other lens for serious macro work, in that case aperture ring is a must.
I own a newer, Tamron SP 90 f2.8--it has an aperture ring? When did Tamron start this?

BTW, 2 big thumbs up for this Tamron lens--I can not speak for the others since I have not shot with them but hear good stuff about all of them.
07-22-2010, 11:43 AM   #13
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At the moment i have the 18-55 kit and SMC P M 50mm/1.4. now looking for something more tele, so the lens is meant to be used as portret-tele-macro, so AF ir preferred but is it worth 200$ (Vivatar against others), something to think about.

It seems that the focal length of 100mm is quite popular as there are made so many good lenses at this
07-22-2010, 11:52 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by vizjerei Quote
at f20
holly crap how did you do that?
07-22-2010, 12:08 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pablom Quote
holly crap how did you do that?
PP :ugh:

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