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08-07-2010, 08:23 PM   #1
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old 100 macro or new WR ?

I have been using the same Pentax FA 100mm macro for an eternity matched with many pentax film cameras. Currently it is married to my K-10D. But, I have been wondering if I shouldn't upgrade to the DFA 100mm Macro WR ? Not necessarily for the WR, but for better optics and thus better clarity, sharpness, etc. Could someone on the forum who has used both, comment. $$ are not a concern in this matter. I know many really like the new lens, but I don't know if they shot with the previous lens. By the way,
as a botanist I have used the old FA in some nasty conditions and narry a problem.

08-07-2010, 09:27 PM   #2
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as far as I know the only difference between the two lenses is the number of aperture blades (8 Vs 9 - a trivial difference numerically, but it makes a big change in how OOF highlights are rendered ) and some updated lens coatings apart from that; they are optically identical.

I have used the DA 100mm f/2.8 WR - I typically use a sigma 180mm f/3.5. And I was very impressed with the DA 100mm f/2.8 - I was very tempted to buy it, due to the fact that it is half the size of the sigma lens.
08-07-2010, 10:01 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
as far as I know the only difference between the two lenses is the number of aperture blades (8 Vs 9 - a trivial difference numerically, but it makes a big change in how OOF highlights are rendered ) and some updated lens coatings apart from that; they are optically identical.
You've got your info a bit off, there. Bother versions of the D FA 100 mm Macro have 8 aperture blades. However, the blades on the WR version are shaped in such aa way that they make a nearly perfect circle at wide to moderate apertures. So if you're shooting at, say, f/5.6, you have the benefit of a circular aperture, instead of a rounded octagon like the lens might normally have. This will affect out of focus rendering, but given that macro shots are usually taken at much smaller apertures, it may not be a big deal. Should affect portraits, however.

The other big difference between the old and new 100s is the construction. The WR lens has a metal body and feels quite solid. It is on par with the DA Limiteds in build quality, and shares the same general external design. If you're a sucker for well-built hardware, the WR is hard to pass up.
08-07-2010, 10:12 PM   #4
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Isn't he comparing the FA vs. the DFA WR Aerodave?

08-07-2010, 10:27 PM   #5
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Good point...I had missed that. But all my points remain valid: still 8 blades in both...still awesome metal construction in the WR.
08-08-2010, 12:00 AM   #6
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honestly speaking, the difference isn't really that much with concerns to IQ. I like the FA100's color better and subtleness. the WR 100 has circular bokeh stopped down up til f5.6 and different bokeh (not better but different). if I were to compare both, you might want the WR only because it WR, smaller, lighter and internal focusing. if those difference matters to you, then get the WR 100.
08-08-2010, 12:11 AM   #7
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anyway, I keep mine because I want novelty, focus limiter and I because I can use it for bashing some idiot. although I admit that the IF and lighter weight of the WR 100, sometimes give me some thinking though.
08-08-2010, 12:15 AM   #8
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If the Photozone results are accurate, the FA is actually better than the DFA which shares the same optical design with the WR.

08-08-2010, 01:20 AM   #9
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I stand corrected on the number of aperture blades. the DFA has eight just like the previous versions albeit they are "rounded" using pentax terminology. I was under the impression that all the newer pentax lenses were going to feature 9 bladed apertures, like the FA limiteds. Because it is easer to keep a circular shape with 9 blades than it is with 8 at smaller apertures. At least Pentax have maintained compatibility with the AF160FC ringflash with the WR lens. Pentax pulled an ingenious trick with the macro adapter, which keeps the weight of the ringlash off the lens tube. The only problem I have with shorter macro lenses is the abscence of tripod collars on them, that is why I got the sigma 180mm f/3.5.

"the FA is actually better than the DFA which shares the same optical design with the WR."

isn't that a logical paradox? X lens is better than lens y, even though they are optically identical.

Last edited by Digitalis; 08-08-2010 at 01:31 AM.
08-08-2010, 05:36 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
"the FA is actually better than the DFA which shares the same optical design with the WR."

isn't that a logical paradox? X lens is better than lens y, even though they are optically identical.
I believe what he means is that the FA is better than the DFA, and since the DFA and DFA-WR share the same optical design, you can also infer that the FA is better than the WR.
08-08-2010, 08:29 PM   #11
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Thanks much to all for the insight on my Q. It is hard to believe a lens could be better built than this
c. 1992? FA 100 tank. It is bullet proof. But, after 1000s of hours in tropical jungles, I might have a forest of algae growing inside. You can look at my macro gallery postings for some insight into the kind of shots I get. I'm a Manfrotto user so do long exposures and stopped down for DOF. I had heard that
the older lens is a tad better than the new. Well I think I'll buy it, try it, compare it and if no difference
I'll add it to my collection. My last lens purchase was the DA*16-50 which is awesome. Cheers.
01-19-2011, 10:07 AM   #12
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Well now, I took delivery today DFA 100mm WR and compared with the older DFA I had, the new one is slightly shorter, quieter, faster and looks much better. Much more like a Limited lens. Only took a few test photos so far in poor weather, but I am hooked, that is one nice lens.

Finally got to take some images today:- just two of them




Last edited by SPB; 01-29-2011 at 11:10 AM.
01-19-2011, 01:07 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
as far as I know the only difference between the two lenses is the number of aperture blades (8 Vs 9 - a trivial difference numerically, but it makes a big change in how OOF highlights are rendered ) and some updated lens coatings apart from that; they are optically identical.

I have used the DA 100mm f/2.8 WR - I typically use a sigma 180mm f/3.5. And I was very impressed with the DA 100mm f/2.8 - I was very tempted to buy it, due to the fact that it is half the size of the sigma lens.
What made you stick with the sigma if you don't mind me asking? I was looking into a long macro, and I was thinking something with the working distance of 150-200 would be ideal. (I've got the 35 f2.8 and I have to practically touch the subject with the lens to get 1:1 )

Last edited by RXrenesis8; 01-24-2011 at 07:30 PM.
01-19-2011, 05:34 PM   #14
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The sigma 180mm f/3.5 and the Pentax FA*200mm f/4 lenses that I use give a very generous working distance, well over 200mm at 1:1. However since both lenses are Internally focusing they tend to become slightly shorter in focal length than their indicated focal lengths but using them on a APS-C camera like the K10 or K7 reduces the effect. But compared to a front extending macro lens E.G D-FA100mm f/2.8 WR Macro they don't lose quite as much light due to fact that the lens doesn't change physical length and that helps achieve higher shutter speeds, therefore making handheld use much easier. Both lenses feature tripod collars and are better suited to tripod mounted work, I wish pentax had done a similar thing because with macro lenses that extend forwards as the focus distance gets closer the lens tube extends, and the lens tube holding all the optics unbalances the camera and an unbalanced camera can cause less than optimal results.

Unfortunately the sigma 180mm f/3.5 has been discontinued,and is rumoured to be replaced by a HSM version that I suppose will be released later this year. The Pentax FA*200mm f/4 ED IF Macro is one of the most coveted and sought after lenses in the pentax lens line up and therefore commands stratospheric prices on the market ( also the older A* version of this lens is quite expensive and rare as well). So your chances of finding either of these lenses remains slim, but if you do get a chance to get one take it - you wont regret it, the sigma is an extremely good macro lens - though it cannot be used for proper telephoto work, it is designed for macro work and the image quality at focus distances greater than 8 feet degrades to the point where my sigma 100-300mm f/4 EX DG can beat it at ANY aperture at infinity. The FA*200mm f/4 on the other hand is superb at any focus distance, and it is considered one of the highest resolution lenses in history*.


*Photodo gave it a score of 5 - I know of only a handful of lenses that obtained such a high score.

Last edited by Digitalis; 01-19-2011 at 05:54 PM.
01-19-2011, 07:56 PM   #15
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Well I owned and used the FA 100mm, DFA 100mm and DFA 100mm WR macro lenses and if I had to choose one, it would definitely be the DFA 100mm WR.

The DFA 100mm WR improves upon the too much plastic construction of the DFA 100mm, which was in turn a slimmed down and much lighter revamp of the FA 100mm. The DFA lenses show noticeably higher contrast than the FA. The FA delivers an intense, color rendition (like pushing the clarity slider too much too the right). That's good for animal macros and flowers but if you're shooting product shots in studio and color fidelity/accuracy is paramount, I personally prefer the more neutral DFA color rendition.

Use the FA 100mm over an extended time in the field and you'll find it gets to be hefty and can be tiring compared to the DFAs. The switch over from AF to manual focusing for fine focusing is quicker and so much better with the DFA's Quick Shift than the fiddly AF/MF switch in the FA. That's a huge difference in practice. Plus the feel of the focusing ring when manual focusing is the best in the DFA 100mm WR hands down.

To be honest, I don't miss the focus limiter and focus clamp in the FA version, and focus clamp in the first DFA version because I use it very little, so I don't feel the loss of any of it in the new DFA WR version. I've used the WR in the rain and I think this feature more than compensates for the absence of the focus limiter or clamp. Circular blades = nice bokeh makes the WR a great outdoor portrait lens. While the FA has a nice solid construction, it is easy to scratch the exterior surface. The DFA WR is just a lot better in this regard.
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