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09-20-2010, 01:14 AM   #1
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Pentax 50mm Macro vs Tamron 90mm Macro

Hi,
I'm a soon to be owner of a Pentax k-x and the DA 12-24mm. I'll be using it in my upcoming trip to Japan and want a macro lens and general purpose lens too. My macros will be mostly flowers and some insects. Will the Pentax 50mm macro be good for general purpose and macro? I know the Tamron has a better focal length for macros, but I guess I need another lens in the 35mm-50mm range prime for general purpose?

So is 50mm a good focal length for general purpose and macro? I'll be doing macros hand held too since I don't wanna carry a tripod around all the time, and it's hard to shoot insects with tripod. So will a shorter length be easier for hand held macro? What is the difference between the 2 Pentax 50mm macros? They're both f2.8.

09-20-2010, 01:52 AM   #2
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shorter is easier to handhold than longer. Iv'e got the sigma 70mm and the DA100wr and the 70mm is much easier to handhold steady. sigma 70mm is a very good lens (although heavy) and would allow you to pick up one of the cheaper normal primes, da 35/2.4 or da40/2.8 ltd.
da35/2.8ltd is also a very nice normal/macro although both it and the 50/2.8 struggle to hunt bugs due to their shorter working distances.
do you have a preference for focal length, budget, weight considerations?
09-20-2010, 03:03 AM   #3
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I noticed you got a Sigma 17-70mm, I was considering getting the 17-70mm and Pentax k-x from digi direct for $770 AUD and selling it to fund a real macro and a prime. Do you consider it's worth upgrading? The Pentax 12-24mm is gonna break a hole in my wallet so I wanna try limit my budget for the other lens.
09-20-2010, 04:05 AM   #4
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Hi, I can easily recommend buying the DFA50 macro. The IQ is great, simply stunning. I've had Tamron 90mm borrowed for few days from a friend and it is not a bad lens either, but the bokeh tends to be more damaged by aberations.

I had no problems shooting various bugs, butterflies or even dragonflies in flight with DFA50. The working distance is not an issue for me. On the contrary I have problem with working distance of Sigma 180mm macro. Too far away means I spend lots of time searching for the subject.

09-20-2010, 04:53 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by elho_cid Quote
Hi, I can easily recommend buying the DFA50 macro. The IQ is great, simply stunning. I've had Tamron 90mm borrowed for few days from a friend and it is not a bad lens either, but the bokeh tends to be more damaged by aberations.

I had no problems shooting various bugs, butterflies or even dragonflies in flight with DFA50. The working distance is not an issue for me. On the contrary I have problem with working distance of Sigma 180mm macro. Too far away means I spend lots of time searching for the subject.
Did you shoot them hand held? Did you find the DFA 50 better than the Tamron hand held? I've heard lots of good reviews about the Tamron but not many reviews on the DFA.

Last edited by catastrophe; 09-20-2010 at 05:18 AM.
09-20-2010, 05:22 AM   #6
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Yes, I do all macro handheld. I use tripod as support only when the Sigma 180 is mounted. There is no BAD macro lens out there, except of course some lenses that accidentaly got labelled "macro" by marketing without being designed as macro (70-300 let's say).

Lately I really prefer DFA50 over any other macro solution I have (the sigma, Canon EF100/2.8 and some weird combinations of tubes and reverse adoaptors). But still I'd recommend to purchase ~100mm solution if you are new to macro.
I can imagine I could have problems with the short macro as a beginner.
Here is my review of the lens, with sample pictures:
Fórum - smc PENTAX D-FA 50mm F2.8 Macro - Pentax Friends Site - Pentax K20D - Pentax K200D

You can use auto translation from czech to understand it.
09-20-2010, 06:46 AM   #7
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You already got some solid advice from experienced pentaxians. Let me add a minor comment. There are some excellent K-mount macro lenses around 100mm:
- Pentax 100mm (in fact FA100m f3.5, FA100m F2.8, D FA 100mm f2.8, D FA 100mm f2.8 WR)
-Tamron 90mm SC macro
-Sigma 105mm

Both the Tamron and Sigma are "Highly recommended" by www.photozone.de, and got excellent reviews from www.slrgear.com. I have not yet read an independent review of the Pentax 100mm lenses, but the users' reviews are good.

Simply, you cannot get wrong with one these ~100mm macro lenses, and that is excellent news for you.
09-20-2010, 01:04 PM   #8
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I'll add another suggestion to the mix:

I have the late model Sigma 50mm f/2.8 macro MANUAL FOCUS lens, they are available on the auction sites occasionally, for very good price.

Here is the review of the lens from our lens database. I highly recommend it, but I have the Tammy 90mm AF macro and love it too

Sigma 50mm f2.8 Macro Lens Reviews - Pentax Third-Party Lens Review Database

09-20-2010, 01:18 PM   #9
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for macro, I would consider something along 100mm. either a Sigma 105 or Pentax 100 would be a good choice. for budget-contraint, the Tamron 90 is great as well. between the 3 lenses, watch out for either 3 lenses selling for around $200-$300 used, whatever comes first. you can never go wrong with any of those. the only thing that you should be concerned about is if the lens is in good condition for the price.
09-20-2010, 01:18 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by elho_cid Quote
Hi, I can easily recommend buying the DFA50 macro. The IQ is great, simply stunning. I've had Tamron 90mm borrowed for few days from a friend and it is not a bad lens either, but the bokeh tends to be more damaged by aberations.

I had no problems shooting various bugs, butterflies or even dragonflies in flight with DFA50. The working distance is not an issue for me. On the contrary I have problem with working distance of Sigma 180mm macro. Too far away means I spend lots of time searching for the subject.
Que ? The bokeh from the Tamron 90 is beautiful, smooth as silk. See below. It also makes an excellent long portrait or street lense. Super sharp & a fantastic macro lens used by many of the top macro shooters you'll find here, Flikr, anywhere. BTW - 95% of my macro shots are hand held.

I would go for the Tamron 90 and pick up a decent 50 (there are plenty out there) - if you don't need AF then the SMC Takumar 50 / 1.4 is a super fast & high quality lense that won't cost you much at all.




Last edited by Frogfish; 09-20-2010 at 01:38 PM.
09-20-2010, 07:12 PM   #11
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Well, now I got 2 choices:

1. DA12-24mm and DFA 50mm macro
2. DA12-24mm, DA35mm f2.4/40mm f2.8/FA50mm f1.7, Tamron 90mm macro

Option 2 is obviously better but it'll cost me more and more lens changing and bring along in my overseas trip. What will be a better lens for general purpose use so that it doesn't overlap too much with my 12-24mm or 90mm? 35mm, 40mm or 50mm? I'm thinking of the DA40 since it's got many excellent reviews, but is f2.8 good enough for night photography?

Thanks.
09-20-2010, 07:42 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by catastrophe Quote
Well, now I got 2 choices:

1. DA12-24mm and DFA 50mm macro
2. DA12-24mm, DA35mm f2.4/40mm f2.8/FA50mm f1.7, Tamron 90mm macro

Option 2 is obviously better but it'll cost me more and more lens changing and bring along in my overseas trip. What will be a better lens for general purpose use so that it doesn't overlap too much with my 12-24mm or 90mm? 35mm, 40mm or 50mm? I'm thinking of the DA40 since it's got many excellent reviews, but is f2.8 good enough for night photography?

Thanks.
where did you find the FA50/1.7?

if you want my advice, I would solicit the DA12-24, DAL35, and 90mm.


I choose the DAL35 for you for general purpose photography as the 35mm will be more friendly and more flexible for such use. but for collectors purposes, I would get the FA50/1.7 because it is not so easy to find nowadays.

the FA50/1.7 has it's own place of use and is a proven great lens. you might find this one useful on other occasions.
09-20-2010, 07:50 PM   #13
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Well, I saw a M 50mm 1.7 on ebay, I guess that's the manual version and less popular.
09-20-2010, 11:24 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by catastrophe Quote
Well, now I got 2 choices:

1. DA12-24mm and DFA 50mm macro
2. DA12-24mm, DA35mm f2.4/40mm f2.8/FA50mm f1.7, Tamron 90mm macro

Option 2 is obviously better but it'll cost me more and more lens changing and bring along in my overseas trip. What will be a better lens for general purpose use so that it doesn't overlap too much with my 12-24mm or 90mm? 35mm, 40mm or 50mm? I'm thinking of the DA40 since it's got many excellent reviews, but is f2.8 good enough for night photography?

Thanks.
Given your choices and to reduce the price somewhat, I'd go :

Sigma 10-20 F4.0 (or the slightly older variable f stop, which I have, is still a great lens), Tamron 90, new Pentax 18-135 (if it's out before your trip) as your standard walkaround and a good 50 for the evening if you need something for low light (maybe SMC Tak 50/1.4 if you don't mind manual) otherwise the FA 50 f1.7 but that's not going to lower your overall spend ! You should be able to get very good copies of the 10-20 & T90 used too.
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