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View Poll Results: which macro?
Pentax D-FA 50mm F2.8 321.43%
Sigma EX DG 50mm F2.8   00%
Sigma APO DG 70-300mm F4-5.6   00%
Pentax DA Limited 35mm 1178.57%
Voters: 14. You may not vote on this poll

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02-04-2011, 06:02 PM   #1
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Macro shootout:

Thinking that my next Pentaxian purchase is 100% going to be a Macro lens. I've been going way to long without one and keep having days where I wish I had one to get those details. I've got a filter kit but it's crud....

Which lens is the preference?

I have a couple of Pentax and Sigma's to choose from...

I'm using this primarily to shoot static models like toy trains and cars. But I also wanna try some environment photos like morning dew and that kind of thing.

The Sigma 70-300 is what I'm leaning towards for the dual roles it provides as right now my longest reach is 200mm. (However I did just find a store locally that has a used 400mm M series lens in stock for a pretty good price, will check it out tomorrow!)

The 35mm Limited I'm shying away from because I could use a bit more reach so I'm not getting too much drop shadow from the lens on the subject (which I arleady find when I try to do macro's with the Hoya filters using my 50mm M 1.4 lens)

The Sigma 50mm and Pentax 50mm are similar both in price and IQ from what I've seen... but which one is has better consistency with the copies?

Cam is a 5D

02-04-2011, 06:15 PM   #2
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No Pentax DFA 100 WR on your list? It would go well together with your K-5 (I'm guessing you have a Pentax K-5 and not a Canon 5D) as it is weather resistant.
02-04-2011, 06:43 PM   #3
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I've been flabbergasted at best at the quality of the Tokina 90 2.5 macro. If you don't mind manual focus, I highly recommend it. Otherwise the Pentax D FA 100mm WR is an excellent option! Both lenses will allow you to keep your distance.

Don't know much about that zoom, but Sigma is typically underrated in my book, so it's hard to go wrong.
02-04-2011, 06:46 PM   #4
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Where's the "None of the above" choice?

50mm is perhaps a bit short. Longer, say 70 or 90, will give you more working room and can double as a portrait lens.

I had the Sigma 70-300 which is OK for a budget zoom, but somewhat limited in the quasi-macro mode (between 200 and 300mm only, with a sticky switch). I found that bumping the contrast improved the IQ. An aperture blade died before I could sell it after getting the Pentax 55-300 :-(

Many people manually focus a macro to control the precise location of the focus point - that can save you some dollars in the used macro market if you are happy without AF.

I got the Tamron 90 new, and though I don't use it nearly enough yet, I have no complaints.

02-04-2011, 07:06 PM   #5
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I've used the Sigma 70-300 for years and love it. People complain about it being a cheap lens, but I took some comparison shots off my tripod with my 18-135 WR and it stacked up nicely at least for landscapes, of the three lenses I tried at 135 mm it gave me the best image. It's great for butterflies etc. because you don't have to get close to them. I recently picked up the Tamron 90 f2.8 macro and it's quickly become a favorite. It's a nice close focusing macro, but also a really nice short telephoto. The numbers look really good on photozone and the shots that come from my camera back them up.
02-04-2011, 07:34 PM   #6
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Yep, the Pentax 100mm macros (either the old SMC-FA or the new D-FA) should both be in the poll and on your list. I have the 35mm macro, and its quite nice, but you need to basically stick it on what you want 1:1!
02-04-2011, 07:44 PM   #7
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pentax 100mm macro WR would probably be the best choice.
02-04-2011, 09:10 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Eagle_Friends Quote
pentax 100mm macro WR would probably be the best choice.
I agree.

The D FA 100/2.8 Macro WR is my 'go to' and most often used field lens. Besides being 'macro', it's a great short tele paired to a K-5, or K-7, or Kx. Extremely versatile, I can't see how you could go wrong. Highly recommended!

Cheers... M

02-04-2011, 09:53 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by SpecialK Quote
I got the Tamron 90 new, and though I don't use it nearly enough yet, I have no complaints.
I've been looking at the Sig 70 and 105 Macros as well as the Tammy 90 and I wonder why they weren't represented in the Poll.

In any case Special K why the Tammy 90? What swayed you to that as opposed to the Sigmas?

I am in SoCal as well (Perris), Where are you at?
02-05-2011, 07:31 AM   #10
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I have the Sigma 70-300. I got it as a cheap telephoto to start with and I have had very good results with it. It's a little soft wide open but does a nice job from f/8-f/11. It's very good from 70-220 and seems a little soft from there to 300 but in good light and stopped down, it can still produce an excellent shot. The macro capability is excellent. The macro range is from 200-300 and the lens is much sharper doing close up work in that range than as a tele. I do a lot of shooting from a kayak and the length is perfect. Many of my summer weekends are spent on the water shooting herons and loons and the 70-300 has performed well and when the birds are hiding, my macro is on the camera. However for hiking, I find the lens a little heavy to use as a macro solution and prefer a smaller lens. I have found that for hikes, unless I am planning on doing wildlife or bird shots, I won't use the long lens at all.

The Sigma is cheap enough. If you're on a tight budget and need an affordable AF telephoto and a macro, buy it, you won't be disappointed. Down the road, I think you will also want one of the shorter macro's in your poll.
02-05-2011, 08:31 AM   #11
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I don't think I'd pick any of these.

The working distances of a 35 or even 50mm macro are going to be really close. I don't know about you, but I don't love being that close to a bumblebee or red ant nest.

The Tamron 90mm/2.8 macro is a great performer; although it shows some PF/GF (~$400)
The Pentax 100mm/2.8 macro WR is reported to be a great performer. (~$650)
The Sigma 180mm/3.8 macro is amazing; if a little hard to come by. (~$850)
The Pentax 200mm/4 macro is reported to be mind blowing if you can sell a kidney and get lucky enough to see one for sale anywhere. (~$3500)

And I'm not a big fan of the quality I've seen out of the zoom macros; and I'm not sure if any go down to 1:1 at their long end.
02-05-2011, 10:57 AM   #12
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From the FA50 macro:

02-05-2011, 11:06 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Clinton Quote
And I'm not a big fan of the quality I've seen out of the zoom macros; and I'm not sure if any go down to 1:1 at their long end.
I've never seen a lens labeled as a "macro zoom" that got closer than 1:3.5. The only real "macro zoom" I know of is the bizarre Schneider Betavaron 50-125/4-5.6 enlarger zoom. [/me refrains from ranting about the Betavaron's glories]

Of course, any "macro zoom" *will* attain greater magnification -- on extension. So, find some auto extension tubes and pull the old gut-the-TC trick. I got a couple PK-A-type TC's for US$30 for the pair, 51mm thick together. Mount a US$20 A-type 70-200-ish zoom, extend fully, and get ~1:1.5 magnification. Voila! Ya got aperture automation, PTTL flash, everything but AF and a flatfield. And maybe IQ.

For shooting most bugs and flowers, that should do. For shooting flatter subjects, edge-to-edge flatfield sharpness is necessary. Cheap way: Enlarger lenses on extension. Pros: Cheap and sharp. Cons: No automation, and flash is tricky. Alternative: One of those fine damn costly new macro lenses. Bother.
02-05-2011, 11:15 AM   #14
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This is kind of a silly poll when the three most popular macro lenses, the Sigma 105, Pentax 100 and Tamron 90 are not there.
02-05-2011, 12:42 PM   #15
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What kind of Toy Trains are you taking pictures of that you think you need Macro for?

To The Trains - a set on Flickr


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