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03-17-2011, 05:35 PM   #1
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Narrowing down my macro research

This is kind of a continuation of my other thread:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/136549-100mm-f...ro-fa-dfa.html

In that thread I have learned the essential differences between the FA 100mm macro, the DFA, and the DFA WR.

OK - good!

I've also looked at the Sigma 105 and the Tamron 90.

At the end of that thread, price had kind of won over at that point with the Tamron rebate.

As I am getting older, I tend to really overdo it when it comes to researching anything, especially something expensive like this. I will actually drive myself into some semi-sleepless nights before I pull the trigger.

So, with that said, I am making my comparison with new lenses for the sake of, well......easy comparison.

DFA WR 100mm $610
Sigma 105mm $480
Tamron 90mm $410

All 3 get great reviews, but if money wasn't an object, I would choose the Pentax lens for sure.

So....as I continue to grind the forum search and Google, the 35 Limited sparks my interest. The examples I have seen just blow my mind as far as IQ.

Macro photograph is new to me, as is the whole DSLR world (been shooting film as an amateur for 30+ years).

My question now comes down to, regarding the 35LTD vs the DFA100:

Would I regret the 35mm being you need to be so close to your subject?
Is the IQ I am seeing of the 35LTD really that much better than the DFA?

My main goal for a macro lens is flowers & fauna - mostly around my own property.

03-17-2011, 05:44 PM   #2
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Assuming they have the same IQ, the 100mm lens will isolate your subject like any telephoto (shallow DOF) and need higher shutter speed, the 35mm shows the relationship of the subject with its' surrounding and allow slower shutter speed. It really depends on what you want to say with the image. I always use 100mm for macro 1:1 and shorter focal length for close focus (1:4 - 1:7).
03-17-2011, 05:47 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by stormtech Quote
Would I regret the 35mm being you need to be so close to your subject?
Yes, it's very annoying IMO. You'd be a lot better off with the DFA, I'd say, as the longer reach is a lot more handy. I've sometimes used the FA 50 for macros, but always preferred the 100. Now that I have the 200 macro, it's mostly what I use, though

I've found that the 35mm is good for close-ups, so if you do a lot of those as well as landscapes, it's a good choice. For general flower photography, as I mentioned above, the 100mm is better.

I'll flat-out say that the 200mm macro is the sharpest Pentax lens out there (followed by the 300/2.8), and hate to feed your LBA here, BUT here's another lens you might want to add to your list:

Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO Macro Lens 106109 B&H Photo

It's not available yet, but I'm sure it'll be a beast in terms of IQ.

Adam
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03-17-2011, 06:37 PM   #4
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You can get into macro several ways including manual focus lenses, even enlarging lenses. Modern lens allow you to auto stop down the aperture and often you will end up focusing by hand due to insane dof.

An advantage of the older manual focus macros is cost savings. You can get a few focal lengths for the price of a new AF macro lens.

Focal length can be important as it plays a part in working distance. In general, the longer the focal length the more distance between the front of the lens and the subject. It may seem trivial but it can mean the difference between standing and crouching.

I use enlarging lenses on tubes or bellows - very sharp, very inexpensive and it allows for several lenses and a good nights sleep.

Here is an article in case manual focus or enlarging lenses are of interest.

https://sites.google.com/site/inexpensivemacrophotography/



03-17-2011, 07:12 PM   #5
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I have the Tamron and like it. I've never used any other macro.

As you probably have discovered, the difference in the images from these lenses is virtually nil.

You should buy the Pentax, because it's what you want.
03-17-2011, 07:13 PM   #6
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The DA 35 L is pretty damn awesome for flowers. You retain a semblance of a background even when wide open, and it's no slouch in the technical aspects (sharpness, contrast, etc).


(click for larger sizes)


(click for larger sizes)

Although you almost never use 1:1, there are still some tiny flowers out there! So, PERFECT lens for flora. (IMHO)

For fauna, on the other hand... or anything you want to have more than an inch away from your front element at 1:1 (most things), it turns out that this lens is simply not an option.

For what it's worth, for everything but flowers and plants you're probably going to want the longest macro you can find. I'd second waiting (and saving up!) for the Sigma 150mm macro Adam mentioned.

Last edited by RXrenesis8; 03-17-2011 at 07:26 PM.
03-17-2011, 07:36 PM   #7
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Thanks everyone for your input -

I've learned what the difference in perspective would be when shooting flowers between the 35mm and 100mm.

And I misspoke when I said "fauna"......what I meant to say was "ferns" - don't know where that fauna came from......not really interested in insects at this point.

The images you posted RX do help - while I want to be able to capture some background as you have, I also want to get closer. One of my favorites from years ago are that I took of a Hosta flower - this flower is ~2" actual size:



Maybe this photo will give you an idea of the typical size of flower I want to capture and the results I am looking for. This was shot with an old camera years ago and I don't have the complete EXIF data for it, so I don't know the focal length it was shot at. There was also a magnifying filter used.

Anyway, this image shows mostly what I am after for my new lens purchase.

Edit to add: To help with the focal length decision, I am going to run a couple tests tomorrow. I have a DA 16-45 and DA 55-300. I am going to take the 16-45. set it at 35 and walk around and shoot at the fixed focal length - do the same for 100mm. I realize this test will have nothing to do with macro, but I might be able to see if I like either length for other uses since any of these lenses will do much more than just macro.
03-17-2011, 08:13 PM   #8
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even if the DA35 is a macro lens, I wouldn't really consider using it for macro due to inconvenience. if I was to say this in simpler terms, it's a macro lens not fitted to do a typical macro job.

03-17-2011, 08:28 PM   #9
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I don't know what all this distance talk is always all about. You have to get pretty damn close to the front element of the 100mm to do 1:1 as well. The bottom line is both lenses are pretty great and the 35 has the added benefit of being used as a general purpose lens as well.

Pentax DA35mm Limited - a set on Flickr

Pentax DFA 100mm f2.8 WR - a set on Flickr

Edit: If budget is really a concern, seek out a Pentax A 50mm f1.4 or f1.7 and a Vivitar 2x Macro focusing converter (PK/A mount). 1:1 at 100mm f2.8 (with the 1.4) and with Macro, you'll be doing a lot of manual focusing anyway.


Last edited by JeffJS; 03-17-2011 at 08:33 PM.
03-17-2011, 08:54 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by stormtech Quote
The images you posted RX do help - while I want to be able to capture some background as you have, I also want to get closer.
Getting higher magnification won't be a problem with any of the macro lenses you're considering. They're all capable of 1:1 magnification.

The nice thing about macro lenses is that it's hard to find a bad one.

And if you're looking for cheaper alternatives, you should really look at older manual focus lenses - there are many excellent options that you can find under $200, some even under $100. Even for the new ones, consider buying used - you can save some good money that way - I've seen some Sigmas sell for ~$350 second hand.
03-17-2011, 09:10 PM   #11
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Both are excellent. The 100mm has exceptionally beautiful bokeh, but the 35mm may be more versatile. Also, know that if you plan to get the Pentax ring flash for macro photography, it won't work with the 35mm (especially at 1:1; I've tried it). And yes, with the 35mm you're uncomfortably close to the subject to get 1:1.
03-17-2011, 09:20 PM   #12
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All of the macro's being discussed will do 1:1, which is to say: you can fill the frame with a subject 23.4mm (≈1 inch) across.

I took the following picture with the lens resting on the bridge of my nose... You can't be shy when using the 35, you WILL be all up in your subjects business.

(click for larger sizes)


Also, I had taken a few more flower shots on that day with the 35. I don't want to clutter up the thread with tons of pictures but here's a Link.


QuoteOriginally posted by JeffJS Quote
...and with Macro, you'll be doing a lot of manual focusing anyway.
I'm more on the "manually focus once, then rock back and forth till it's in the focal plane" bandwagon!

Last edited by RXrenesis8; 03-17-2011 at 09:27 PM.
03-17-2011, 09:27 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by RXrenesis8 Quote
All of the macro's being discussed will do 1:1, which is to say: you can fill the frame with a subject 23.4mm (≈1 inch) across.

I took the following picture with the lens resting on the bridge of my nose... You can't be shy when using this macro, you WILL be all up in your subjects business.

(click for larger sizes)


Also, I had taken a few more flower shots on that day with the 35. I don't want to clutter up the thread with tons of pictures but here's a Link.




I'm more on the "manually focus once, then rock back and forth till it's in the focal plane" bandwagon!
The point is, unless you are using a tripod with a completely still subject, AF at 1:1 is next to useless. With Both the DFA100WR and the DA35, focus trap isn't going to work because you cannot disable AF on the lens.

03-18-2011, 05:19 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by JeffJS Quote
If budget is really a concern, seek out a Pentax A 50mm f1.4 or f1.7 and a Vivitar 2x Macro focusing converter (PK/A mount). 1:1 at 100mm f2.8 (with the 1.4) and with Macro, you'll be doing a lot of manual focusing anyway.

Now you've got my attention!

I am going to take a good look at this option.

With the 50mm + 2x converter, will my focusing distance be the same as with a 100mm option? I know it does looking at it mathematically, but want to be sure.
03-18-2011, 05:19 AM   #15
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One M42 bellows: ~US$30
One set M42 macro tubes: ~US$8
50, 75, 100mm enlarger lenses: ~US10 each
M39-M42 and flanged M42-PK adapter rings: ~US$5 each

equals

First-class macro setup for ~US$80, shipped. Maybe a little more -- I keep a M39-M42 ring on each EL. I also use longer EL's at times, for both macro and non-macro work. Lenses longer than 80mm can reach infinity focus on the bellows I've used. Scrape the paint from the M42-PK adapter's flange to enable CIF.

The pros: Cheap. Edge-to-edge flatfield sharpness. Flexibility. Cheap.
The cons: No aperture or focus automation. Using flash is tricky.
The fehs: So you look geeky using a bellows. Big deal.
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