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01-29-2011, 09:53 AM   #1
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Pentax 50mm macro vs Sigma 50mm macro

Pentax Normal smc P-D FA 50mm f/2.8 Macro
or
Sigma Normal 50mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro

Any comments that could push me one way or the other would be great.
The Sigma is a little better priced atm, but is it as good a lens (or better)?
Both are tough to find locally for me so I'll have to order online and want to hear from others who own either or both.

01-29-2011, 01:11 PM   #2
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Well, there is a saying that there is no such thing as a bad macro lens, and I'm sure both are fine lenses. I do suspect that the Pentax is marginally better (a prior version did get a 4.6 on Photodo, making it the sharpest Pentax lens they ever tested), plus it has the SMC, but only you can say if it's worth the extra to you. I have an earlier MF version of the Sigma lens and it is a very nice performer. If you are getting this for macro work, or otherwise don't care about autofocus, you should consider the earler MF version of the Sigma 50mm f2.8 macro, as it is much cheeper (there is one BIN on ebay for $100).
01-29-2011, 01:30 PM   #3
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I'm owner of the DFA 50 macro. The lens is flawless regarding image quality and thanks to its size and weight it is a very portable lens.
Only problem would be to attach some heavier accesories to the filter thread - I was scared that the lens won't survive. It survived, but since the extending barrel is plastic it may not survive heavier load. AF160 macro flash mounts instead of the hood and is OK.
I didn't consider sigma as it does not feature QSF, which I use frequently when shooting macro.
01-29-2011, 01:44 PM   #4
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+1 for the Sigma A 50. AF really isn't necessary for a macro lens.

01-29-2011, 02:33 PM   #5
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I'll be using the lens for macro and whatever else I can find to shoot with it (mostly macro though).
I'd like to have the option to AF if I want, but if I can find a good enough deal I'll live without it, at least for now.
The quick-shift ability of the Pentax looks pretty useful...
I'm leaning towards that one, but the price is just a little more than I want to spend right now.
I'll find a way if it's worth it though, as I really want a macro lens.

I've been looking at ebay more seriously now that I've gotten my account there set up, but haven't found many good deals yet really.
And, as I said, I'd like to have the AF option if I want it.
Still haven't ruled out a used MF lens though.
01-29-2011, 04:36 PM   #6
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What's the AF speed like on those two lenses?
From what I gather, the pentax af is faster/quiter...?
How slow/loud is the sigma af?

Also, from some test images I see, the Sigma has a smoother bokeh which I like a lot.
If that's the case, then that along with the focus limiter may be more important than the quick-shift feature of the Pentax lens.
Plus the Sigma costs less...

Last edited by photochimp; 01-29-2011 at 05:02 PM.
01-30-2011, 03:26 AM   #7
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I don't know about the bokeh... My other macro lens is a Sigma and I prefer the qsf over the focus limiter. Depends how you use the lens...

I disable focus on shutter and enable it only with the AF button. This way I do MF all the time but I can activate the AF instantly in case of need. With Sigma I do not use AF at all when shooting macro - I need to switch the lens focus mode, the body focus switch, and all that. So with Sigma I either use it as telephoto lens with AF or MF macro lens. I'ts a drawback as the AF is usually more precise and gives me better percentage of sharp pictures.
01-30-2011, 08:15 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by elho_cid Quote
So with Sigma I either use it as telephoto lens with AF or MF macro lens.
That's pretty much what I'm thinking.
I'd like to have the AF for non macro shots, but for macros I'd be using MF.

I've got some more reading to do about the qsf of the Pentax lens.
It does sound like a great feature, but how is the AF on that lens for non macros without the limiter?

Please keep the replies coming as I want to make a purchase very soon (tomorrow if I can make up my mind).
I am still looking at some MF lenses, but really want the AF option (it can be VERY useful).
I'm also sort of considering something longer than 50mm, as I do like to shoot bugs, but in all honesty I think I'd enjoy the 50mm more right now (it's winter... there's no bugs here until spring... most of my shooting will likely be indoors for the next couple months... I have a ton of small things around the house I want to shoot and some are in fairly tight spaces). I can look into a longer macro in the spring/summer if I find I want/need it.

01-30-2011, 11:08 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by photochimp Quote
It does sound like a great feature, but how is the AF on that lens for non macros without the limiter?
If it misses, it takes time (0.8s) to go through the whole range. But in normal situations it misses rarely with K10D and I never had problem with AF of this lens on the K-5.
50mm is not a typical reportage lens and not a good choice for sports either. I used it for some portraits and random shots of nature or city when walking outside.
Here is my review with sample photos:
http://pentaxfriends.eu/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=2538
Use google translation from Czech to your language.
01-30-2011, 01:11 PM   #10
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Almost no one will have used both lenses, so everyione is bound to tell you that theirs is great, period.

My FA50 is great :P

I'm sure you'll be happy with both. Pentax lenses resell slightly better, but apart from that it's really your call.
01-30-2011, 01:48 PM   #11
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I'd like to be able to afford a couple different focal length macros, but right now I have to pick one (if I'm going to buy new and want AF, that is... if I go MF I may be able to get both...). I'm sure there'll be times, no matter which length I choose, that I'll wish I had something else for some situation. I do like to shoot insects and other small critters, but as I mentioned, there are none around right now and won't be for at least a couple months. However, there are lots of other things around to shoot which I enjoy shooting just as much that won't require the extra reach... it may even be a problem. It really is a tough choice. Just today I was shooting birds and some chickadees came close enough to get some nice shots @ 100mm with the kit lens...

As to which of these to 50mm would be the best choice... well, the Sigma is a better price, and looks to be a pretty good lens. It should do most of what I'll want to do with it. The focus limiter seems like a good idea, but I have no experience with it to know how well it actually works. The Pentax also looks great... has the qsf which, like the focus limiter on the Sigma, I have no idea how useful it is. If that's the biggest advantage of going with the Pentax lens is it worth the extra money? I just don't know... The IQ from both look more than acceptable to me (like to hear more comments from others on this in particular) so it really comes down to features/cost/build quality/durabulity I guess.
02-03-2011, 12:56 PM   #12
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How would the Tamron AF 90mm f2.8 Di SP Macro compare to these two?
I've seen it going for less than either of the 50mm lenses.
Anyone here with experience with the Tamron 90mm macro?
02-03-2011, 01:42 PM   #13
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I have the non-Di version of the Tamron 90mm AF as well (I am somthing of a macro lens addict). It is a great lens: very sharp even wide open very good bokeh (circular diaphram blades), very punchy images (saturated and contrasty--actually, a little too much for my taste; I prefer the look of my Pentax SMC lenses). Apart from some LoCA (wide open and diminishing as the lens is progressively stopped down), there is not much to fault in the lens (it is rather larger and somewhat heaver than the 50mm options, it that is an issue for you). I think you really can't go wrong with any of these lenses per se; the real question is what focal lengh you want (for non-macro shots) and what working distance you want for macro shots.
02-03-2011, 05:38 PM   #14
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Maybe this thread should be renamed to something like "Help me pick a macro lens" or something...

I know I'll probably want to have more than one macro lens. If I could afford it I'd buy a few right now, but I do have to pick one (and I'm kinda low on cash). I do get quite a few shots around 70mm - 100mm... 50mm is just a bit more workable indoors for me. Outside I use pretty much the full range of the kit (from 18mm to 300mm) depending on what I'm shooting.

How close do I want to get shooting macro? Well that'll depend on the situation I suppose. I think I could work pretty close... I've done it before and had pretty good results. I can see the extra reach being very useful at times though...

Right now the Tamron is going for a pretty good price and I'm really considering that one. It's either that or probably the Sigma 50mm due to it being cheaper than the Pentax 50mm.
02-03-2011, 08:17 PM   #15
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I own the Sigma 50/2.8 EX DG Macro and wrote the second review on this site. The review is pretty extensive and includes several photos and my critical impressions. (That is my lens in the review photo.)
Sigma MACRO 50mm F2.8 EX DG (AF Lens) Lens Reviews - Pentax Third-Party Lens Review Database
To summarize, after a 3.5 years of ownership, I am still very pleased with the lens. I consider it to be one of the best values around for dedicated macro lenses. My only caution is that the 50mm focal length results in very short working distance at 1:1. This is the case for all short macro lenses regardless of brand.

To address the comment above regarding AF, I have to admit to usually using the lens in manual focus mode. However, I have found the AF to be VERY helpful for low-angle, hand-held shooting where manual focus would be IMPOSSIBLE.

Here are two examples where I would have required a right-angle finder to have manually focused the shot.






AF is reasonably fast, though it is a long trip lock-to-lock!

Again...My conclusion is that I don't believe that you can find a better Macro lens new in its price range (I paid $236 USD in 2007).


Steve


BTW...It is particularly nice on the FF 35mm film for which it was designed...


Last edited by stevebrot; 02-03-2011 at 08:25 PM.
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