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12-16-2011, 07:35 PM   #1
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DFA 100, DFA 100 WR, or FA 100?

I posted earlier about getting either a good wide zoom (such as the Sigma 17-50) or one of the various longer macros (90, 100, 105, oh my!)... Thanks to the input I've decided to settle with a dedicated macro. I have some money to spend, but don't want to spend it wisely, so now I can't decide if the D-FA100 WR is worth the cost over the non WR version, and if (if I can find one) getting a FA 100 2.8 (which seems cheaper) would be an even better investment than those other two versions?

I've heard nothing really bad about the FA 100, outside of its weight (is 600g enough to hurt hand shooting?), I've also heard nothing bad about the D-FA100 WR. The vanilla D-FA seems to get some "meh..." reviews though. I'm also worried about the lack of aperture rings on the D versions, in case I want to start messing with extension rings and bellows. The cost of the WR version is a bit scary (even on sale for $599), since my skills as a photographer are somewhat lacking (I'm new to this, and just learning).

Does anyone have experience with the various 100mm Pentax macros?

Further, would finding a 105mm F2.8 EX DG Macro be better than the various Pentax options? I don't really know about the Sigma 90, either, I'm not sure how much of a difference 10mm would make.

I don't have much money over the cost of the lens, so I'm a bit worried about unnecessary costs.

Sorry if this is redundant, the various titles make searching a bit of a pain.

12-16-2011, 07:56 PM   #2
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The three lenses are optically the exact same.

I've used all three, and have kept two of them (FA and D FA non-WR).

The D FA non-WR: Does have an aperture ring. Has a focus lock (annoying in practical use). Built quality is OK but not great. Due to the lack of a focus limiter it hunts when used as a 'walk-around' short tele.

FA also has an aperture ring of course. It has a focus lock as well as a focus limiter (the latter is useful if you want to use the lens as a short tele). Built like a tank.

The D FA WR is extremely nicely finished, like a limited lens, almost too nice to use! No aperture ring, no focus lock, no focus limiter. It is weather resistant. Despite the lack of the focus limiter it seems to hunt less than the other D FA when used as a short tele.

Both D FAs come with a lens hood. The FA does not, and doesn't need one due to its design.

Best value would be the FA. You get all the options (aperture ring, focus lock, focus limiter) at a lower price.
12-16-2011, 08:03 PM   #3
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Thanks... I just noticed that the non WR F-FA costs as much as the WR version, and right now the WR version is $300(!) cheaper... Odd...

The weight of the FA isn't going to hurt though? Am I going to end up kicking myself over the lack of quick-shift?

Another thing the D-FA WR has going for it is the "sexy factor", it is a gorgeous lens... I suppose not $300 worth, but still.
12-16-2011, 08:24 PM   #4
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The WR also has something unique about it's aperture blades. Either they're rounded, there are more of them or something, I can't remember. I've had both DFA's. The WR is nicer to use and is the one I would recommend.

12-16-2011, 08:56 PM   #5
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Opticly they are the same but id pick the DFA WR for its rounded aperture blades and weather sealing.
12-17-2011, 07:06 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ole Quote
The three lenses are optically the exact same.

I've used all three, and have kept two of them (FA and D FA non-WR).

The Photozone reviews of the FA 100 and D FA 100 macros
show significant differences in the MTF measurements.

The issue came up on another thread yesterday:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/168693-dif-lim...acro-test.html

So did the downsizing from FA to DFA have an effect on the optical performance,
or is there more variance in the Photozone tests than we would normally expect?
12-17-2011, 09:42 AM   #7
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I'm not 100% sure of all the statistics (especially MTF), but if I'm reading that right the FA is sharper open, where the DFA is a bit sharper at smaller apertures, falling off below f16? Its hard to tell since the scales are different. Also the test doesn't account for macro distances (would that matter?).

I suppose the big question is; am I going to regret getting the older FA, and find myself kicking myself in a year or two...

The more I think, the more the weight scares me... I generally avoid (and later kick myself) taking my DA 55-300 in the field, and that thing weighs around half of the D FA 100. I suppose that is silly... People have been using the FA for years, so obviously I'm a bit of a ninny.
12-17-2011, 10:17 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Omestes Quote
I'm not 100% sure of all the statistics (especially MTF), but if I'm reading that right the FA is sharper open, where the DFA is a bit sharper at smaller apertures, falling off below f16? Its hard to tell since the scales are different. Also the test doesn't account for macro distances (would that matter?).
If the charts are to be believed,
the key difference would seem to be
that the FA is still halfway usable at f/22,
which would be handy for extra depth of field.

QuoteOriginally posted by Omestes Quote
The more I think, the more the weight scares me... I generally avoid (and later kick myself) taking my DA 55-300 in the field, and that thing weighs around half of the D FA 100. I suppose that is silly... People have been using the FA for years, so obviously I'm a bit of a ninny.
The more you use big lenses,
the lighter and smaller they get!

12-17-2011, 10:53 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by lytrytyr Quote
If the charts are to be believed
The problem is that different charts give different answers. Lenstip tested the WR version of the DFA 100 and it scores much higher (in relation to other Pentax lenses) than the FA 100 scores over at photozone. In fact, over at Lenstip, the DFA 100 WR scores nearly as high as the FA 43, which is one of the sharpest lens Pentax has ever made. The photozone scores have the FA 100 and DFA 100 non-WR scoring significantly below the FA 43. Does this mean the DFA 100 WR is the sharpest of the three? Almost certainly not. It simply means that these test score aren't reliable and shouldn't be used to form a judgment on which lens to buy. The sensible approach would be to buy which ever lens has the feature set that best fits one's style of shooting and budget.
12-17-2011, 10:58 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ole Quote
The three lenses are optically the exact same.
I've owned all three lenses and they are definitely not optically the same.
12-17-2011, 11:13 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by northcoastgreg Quote
The problem is that different charts give different answers. Lenstip tested the WR version of the DFA 100 and it scores much higher (in relation to other Pentax lenses) than the FA 100 scores over at photozone. In fact, over at Lenstip, the DFA 100 WR scores nearly as high as the FA 43, which is one of the sharpest lens Pentax has ever made. The photozone scores have the FA 100 and DFA 100 non-WR scoring significantly below the FA 43. Does this mean the DFA 100 WR is the sharpest of the three? Almost certainly not. It simply means that these test score aren't reliable and shouldn't be used to form a judgment on which lens to buy.
I'm not sure what you mean by "scores much higher" here.
Certainly I would not regard overall scores like the Photozone stars
as any more than a subjective assessment.

One point to bear in mind
is that Photozone tested the FA 100, D FA 100 and FA 43 on the 10MP K10,
while Optyczne/Lenstip used the 16MP K-5 for the latter two.

However, if the testing methodology is consistent,
it should be meaningful to compare Photozone's MTF measurements
for different lenses on the same camera,
allowing for experimental error (100 lw/ph?).

On that basis, with the 10MP sensor,
the diffraction limit on the FA 100
does seem to kick in later than on the D FA 100,
in accord with creampuff's observation
that there are optical differences between those two lenses.
12-17-2011, 11:17 AM   #12
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Northcoastgreg: That's the one thing I've noticed with macro hunting, it seems the actual picture quality with the various "in class" Macros is very, very similar so you end up talking about added features (WR, rounded blades, quick-shift, versus clamps and limiters, versus weight, versus, etc...)... It makes choosing a bit of a pain, especially since this probably is my big camera equipment purchase for the next year. In a lot of other posts here people have said you really can go wrong, but I still worry.

Creampuff: Having used all three, would you say I'm taking >$200 hit in image quality and features by picking the older FA? I'm shooting on a "mere" K-x, so WR doesn't matter much, and I mostly care about IQ anyway (in the end, I suppose, that is all that matters).
12-17-2011, 01:03 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by lytrytyr Quote
I'm not sure what you mean by "scores much higher" here.
I'm talking about the MTF scores. On photozone, the FA 43 scores significantly higher, and indeed achieves the highest possible score, on the resolution tests. Neither the DFA non-WR and the FA 100 don't come close to achieving these kind of numbers over at photozone. At lenstip, the 43 also achieves (or comes close to achieving) the highest possible score; and the DFA WR scores nearly as high. So in other words, if the photozone results can be trusted, the FA 100 and the non-WR DFA 100 are significantly less sharp than FA 43. If the lenstip results can be trusted, the DFA 100 WR is nearly as sharp as the FA 43. Now if, as is assumed, the three lenses are "optically identical" (or, more reasonably, close enough that we would not expect significant differences in resolution), then this strongly suggests that photozone and/or lenstip screwed up their tests. In which case, the photozone tests are probably not a reliable indicator of the diffraction limits of the lenses and shouldn't be trusted when making a decision on which lens to buy.

In general, I think far too much faith is placed on website resolution tests. The tests themselves are too inconsistent from site to site to be regarded as trustworthy, particularly when measuring small differences between lenses.

QuoteOriginally posted by lytrytyr Quote
One point to bear in mind
is that Photozone tested the FA 100, D FA 100 and FA 43 on the 10MP K10,
while Optyczne/Lenstip used the 16MP k-5 for the latter two.
If this explains the anomalous results from the two websites, this would mean that the DFA100 is significantly sharper on the K-5 than on the K10. I think that's highly unlikely.

I own a K200D (same sensor as the K10) and a K-5; I also own the DFA 100 WR and have used the lens on both cameras. The lens performs extremely well on both cameras: it's not significantly sharper on the K-5. In fact, at f16, there's absolutely no detectable difference; and for this reason, I use the K200D exclusively for any sort of macro photography that requires flash.

QuoteOriginally posted by Omestes Quote
In a lot of other posts here people have said you really can go wrong [buying a macro lens], but I still worry.
No need to worry, they're right. There may be small differences in the quality of the rendering, the resolution, & color rendition, but it's not important enough to get uptight about. A year ago last summer I went through the process of buying a macro and ended up choosing the DFA 100 WR over the FA 100 and the Tamron 90. As it turned out, the extra cost of the DFA 100 was not a problem to me, so I ignored the measurebators and got the lens that best fit my needs.
12-17-2011, 01:25 PM   #14
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I would love the DFA 100 WR, but I figure the cost doesn't match my skill level yet. From what I noticed lately, if I decide to get the WR at some later date the FA 100 won't lose to much value. Hell, every used lens I've bought has increased in value by a decent amount since I've bought them, so it shouldn't be too painful switching if I want to at some later point.

Thanks for all the help everyone!
12-17-2011, 03:33 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by northcoastgreg Quote
I'm talking about the MTF scores. On photozone, the FA 43 scores significantly higher, and indeed achieves the highest possible score, on the resolution tests. Neither the DFA non-WR and the FA 100 don't come close to achieving these kind of numbers over at photozone. At lenstip, the 43 also achieves (or comes close to achieving) the highest possible score; and the DFA WR scores nearly as high. So in other words, if the photozone results can be trusted, the FA 100 and the non-WR DFA 100 are significantly less sharp than FA 43. If the lenstip results can be trusted, the DFA 100 WR is nearly as sharp as the FA 43. Now if, as is assumed, the three lenses are "optically identical" (or, more reasonably, close enough that we would not expect significant differences in resolution), then this strongly suggests that photozone and/or lenstip screwed up their tests.
There is no such assumption.
Why should a 43mm standard lens
be anywhere close to 100mm macros?

QuoteOriginally posted by northcoastgreg Quote
In which case, the photozone tests are probably not a reliable indicator of the diffraction limits of the lenses and shouldn't be trusted when making a decision on which lens to buy.
False conclusions about comparing a standard lens with a telephoto macro lens
do not invalidate reasonable conclusions
about comparing two different telephoto macro lenses of the same focal length.

QuoteOriginally posted by northcoastgreg Quote
In general, I think far too much faith is placed on website resolution tests. The tests themselves are too inconsistent from site to site to be regarded as trustworthy, particularly when measuring small differences between lenses.
Well, they do have to be interpreted with care.
But careless interpretation of some data
does not make all the data useless.


QuoteOriginally posted by northcoastgreg Quote
If this explains the anomalous results from the two websites, this would mean that the DFA100 is significantly sharper on the K-5 than on the K10. I think that's highly unlikely.
The K-5 screen resolves 25% better.
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