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08-22-2007, 03:14 AM   #1
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Image Quality - Various Macro Lenses

Hullo everybody! Especially all you folks going insiduously blind - peering through dim viewfinders and dimmer lenses set at f16 in stopped down mode), trying to focus on something dark in a hedge at twilight.... and then spending a few hours more critically examinnig a 8x10 copy of the finished product with a 10x loupe...!

There's a lot of hullaballo about the image quality of various macro lenses by various manufacturers. So I went through some reviews on following macro lenses:

1. Cosina AF 100mm f/3.5 macro (Pentax K) - Cosina AF 100mm f/3.5 macro (Pentax K) - Photozone Review / Lab Test Report

2. SMC-D FA 100mm f/2.8 - Pentax SMC-D FA 100mm f/2.8 macro - Photozone Review / Lab Test Report

3. Voigtlander SL 125mm f/2.5 APO-Lanthar - Voigtlander SL 125mm f/2.5 APO-Lanthar - Photozone Test Report/Review

4. Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8 Di SP macro (Nikon mount) - Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8 Di SP macro - Photozone Test Report / Review

Best resolution: Below find the best performance of each lens at in MTF terms.

1. Cosina AF 100mm f/3.5 macro (Pentax K) - Best resolution 2091 at f8 (2053 at f5.6. The Pentax version with SMC coatings etc. may prove slightly better.)

2. Pentax SMC-D FA 100mm f/2.8 - Best resolution is 2194 at f5.6. (2092 at f8; wde open at f2.8 it is worse (1855) than the Cosina's f3.5 which indicates 1891.)

3. Voigtlander SL 125mm f/2.5 APO-Lanthar - Best resolution is 2050 at f5.6

4. Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8 Di SP macro (Nikon mount) - 2183 at f4 (2157 at f5.6 ans 2084 at f8.) Pentax version test not available.

The point I wish to discuss is this: A few score MTF lines plus or minus really should not make any difference to the final product as perceived by most human eyes. So sharpness should not be the moot point of most discussions as it is currently; more relevant may be factors like: ease of use in field conditions, AF efficiency, durability, stability when hand held, flare characteristics, bokeh, colour renedition, etc. that are perceiveable or quantifiable when compared. If not, it becomes subjective.

Of coursse I just may be wrong in my thinking or approach so I wonder what all you macro users have to say about this...

08-22-2007, 03:46 AM   #2
roy
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ALL of these will please you. macro lenses are built and designed for flat field closeup sharpness. they will ALL please you until you compare at a pixel to pixel ratio. get one that feels best to you and start shooting.. at least one that has the A setting. how about the vivitar 105mm?? it's not in your list..
08-22-2007, 06:28 AM   #3
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Review in AP

There is a good review of the D-FA lens in the latest edition of Amateur Photographer (UK magazine). It is a good review because unlike many other reviews it looks at the all round qualities of the lens.

The reviewer really liked its small size, light weight, quick-shift focus and focus lock switch. He thought it made a great portable macro lens.

I notice on Photozone though the reviewer prefer the FA to the D-FA due to a focus limiting switch and better build quality (but higher weight).

I personally would put an emphasis on portability. If I wanted a heavy lens I'd get a longer macro for the working distance, if comprimising on working distance then the lens should be light.
08-22-2007, 12:22 PM   #4
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I remember a magazine review of 50mm primes and for some reason they chose the Pentax 50mm D-FA macro over the FA 1.4. Anyway, it came out best for quality, but poor on price, which is hardly surprising. Shame it wasn't a level playing field, I think the FA 1.4 would have done even better.

Anyway, I bought a D-FA 50 macro and can confirm it's a cracking lens.

08-22-2007, 05:52 PM   #5
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I have seen some stunning shots from the Tamron 90mm Macro lens ... and the D-FA 100mm Pentax lens.
08-22-2007, 10:00 PM   #6
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Hullo Roy!

Yes, I have heard a lot of good reports about Vivitar Series 1 lenses. Unfortunately thre is no review of this lens on that site. Actually there are so many macros out there in the 90 to 105 range, I picked just a few at random or necuase they are popular/well spoken of. My aim was to suggest that most are very similar IQ-wise and we need to look at other features when deciding which lens to buy.
08-23-2007, 02:47 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Khukri Quote
Best resolution: Below find the best performance of each lens at in MTF terms.

1. Cosina AF 100mm f/3.5 macro (Pentax K) - Best resolution 2091 at f8 (2053 at f5.6. The Pentax version with SMC coatings etc. may prove slightly better.)

2. Pentax SMC-D FA 100mm f/2.8 - Best resolution is 2194 at f5.6. (2092 at f8; wde open at f2.8 it is worse (1855) than the Cosina's f3.5 which indicates 1891.)

3. Voigtlander SL 125mm f/2.5 APO-Lanthar - Best resolution is 2050 at f5.6

4. Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8 Di SP macro (Nikon mount) - 2183 at f4 (2157 at f5.6 ans 2084 at f8.) Pentax version test not available.

The point I wish to discuss is this: A few score MTF lines plus or minus really should not make any difference to the final product as perceived by most human eyes.
If you want to compare resolution between lenses, take care of quoting the figures for the same camera. As Klaus Schroiff states on every page of its site, "the results are NOT cross-system comparable due to the differences between the image systems (low-pass filter + sensor + A/D + in-camera post-processing + RAW converter profile)." In your comparison, you quote the figures for the Voiglander Apo-Lanthar on a Canon EOS 350-D, and for the Tamron 90mm on a Nikon D200, a camera capable of better resolution. In fact, if you compare the figures on Photozone for the Voigtlander and the Tamron mounted on the same Canon camera, you will see that the Voiglander has a slightly better resolution (2050.5 vs. 2027.5).

But that's nitpicking. I own both the Tamron and the Voiglander and I don't think that the tiny difference in resolution is visible in actual pictures. I tend to use more the Voiglander, because I find its images more pleasing to the eye (I assume it's because it has a better bokeh and a slightly better local contrast) and the lens more immune to chromatic aberration and purple fringing (although the Tamron is very good in this regard). For me, the longer focal length of the Voiglander is also a big plus.

Cheers!
08-23-2007, 03:11 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Abbazz Quote
In your comparison, you quote the figures for the Voiglander Apo-Lanthar on a Canon EOS 350-D, and for the Tamron 90mm on a Nikon D200, a camera capable of better resolution. In fact, if you compare the figures on Photozone for the Voigtlander and the Tamron mounted on the same Canon camera, you will see that the Voiglander has a slightly better resolution (2050.5 vs. 2027.5).
Thanks for posting this. I have been so impressed by voigtlander macro a lot and your explanation helped me to clarify my doubt.

Voigtlander macro is really addictive

08-23-2007, 04:22 AM   #9
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So where does one find this Voigtlander? Is it an older model that is out of production or something that can be purchased online?
08-23-2007, 05:57 AM   #10
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Quick

QuoteOriginally posted by Peter Zack Quote
So where does one find this Voigtlander? Is it an older model that is out of production or something that can be purchased online?
Voigtlander SL Lenses
"Alas, the Voigtlander SL lenses are discontinued. Many are already sold out.
125/2.5 APO-Lanthar Outstanding Apochromatic 1:1 Macro, hood included, PICS ED glass, super sharp, Pentax KA mount in stock, all other mounts sold out and discontinued. $639
FOR SALE

Last edited by jeffkrol; 08-23-2007 at 06:10 AM.
08-23-2007, 11:44 AM   #11
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The Cosina/Phoenix/Vivitar/Pentax f/3.5, despite being several hundred dollars cheaper, certainly holds its own in this test. Where it falls down, of course, is that it is only capable of 1:2 magnification without the matched adapter (Pentax version does not include the adapter). I would like to see the resolution with the adapter in place. For the money I don't think this lens can be beat. Once one gets past the build quality and the scary-noisy AF, it is a terrific find.
08-23-2007, 04:20 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by silverbullet Quote
The Cosina/Phoenix/Vivitar/Pentax f/3.5, despite being several hundred dollars cheaper, certainly holds its own in this test. Where it falls down, of course, is that it is only capable of 1:2 magnification without the matched adapter (Pentax version does not include the adapter). I would like to see the resolution with the adapter in place. For the money I don't think this lens can be beat. Once one gets past the build quality and the scary-noisy AF, it is a terrific find.
Probably but the Voitlander is made by Cosina. Consider it the "high end" model vs the 3.5. What that's worth is up to you. The older Kino/Viv ser1/Dine macro's are also good values if you find the right used source and right up there w/ some of the best.
Newer Dine's are Sigma's and I believe priced the same.
08-23-2007, 08:15 PM   #13
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if you can handle manual focus, you can put the vivitar series 1,
105 /2.5 all the way to the top of the list. for the price their being
sold n.o.s . nobody can come close to touching them. add a tamron 1.4x tc
and your in macro heaven.

tc
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