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03-10-2008, 02:49 PM   #1
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Recommendations or know Issues - Macro Lenses


I'm looking for a macro lens.

From what I've seen, the following ones seem most interesting to me:

Tamron 90/2.8
Sigma 105
Pentax 100

My questions:
- Which one can you recommend?
- How about the working distance - is more focal lenght simply better or will there be problems holding it steady when the lens is to long?
- What is the working distance, say, to capture an insect the way you can see the facettes in the eyes? 1 meter? 10 cm? Just have no idea ...
- How about focus speed? I've read that e.g. the Tamron tends to hunt quite a bit.
- Are there certain lenses that frequently have issues like front or back focussing?

Thanks for you comments!

03-10-2008, 03:24 PM   #2
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In my opinion, 100ish macro is the best focal length for handholding macro with very comfortable working distance. I handheld my Voigtlander for most of my 1:1 shots of insects. And this lens is much heavier than the Tamron and possibly the other two as well.

It depends on the size of the bug, but I found 1:3 to 1:1 would give you the details of the eyes of a regular fly. 1:1 would give you just enough amount of details for a regular house ant's eyes. Working distance for my Voigtlander 125 is 38cm at 1:1, quite comfortable. Of course, shorter focal would give shorter distance, and I just give you an estimate for you. Technical data can be researched online to know the exact distance at 1:1.

Auto focus is useless for insect work, to be honest. AF hunting is due to the camera body, not the lens itself; however, the Tamron has focus limiter. Thus, you can restrict the range so hunting time would be shorter. Front and back focusing only occur in AF mode, and I don't really know for certain the specific for each lens, but sample variation does occur so a few problems does not apply to the whole product line.

However, if you are really into insect macro, you should buy the Sigma 180mm instead or any other 200mm macro you can get your hands on cause those are the ultimate for insect macro.

Last edited by aegisphan; 03-10-2008 at 03:26 PM. Reason: Longer focal length suggestion
03-17-2008, 08:22 AM   #3
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I have the Sigma 105 and I love it. It's light enough for hand held shots of bugs and flowers and it has excellent stats and reviews. It's also excellent for use as a medium tele and portrait lens.
03-17-2008, 09:11 AM   #4
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I have the Tamron 90mm and like it a lot. I'd agree with aegisphan above however that a longer macro would be better for insects. However I've found I can get close enough to most insects if I'm careful, and the Tamron is great for other work as well, being an excellent portrait lens, and a good short tele. IMHO, AF is pretty much useless for macro work. The DOF is so thin that manual selection of what to keep in focus is necessary. In fact for real close macro work, I don't use the focus ring at all, just move the camera to put what I want to feature in focus. Holding any lens steady enough for good macro work is hard, that is part of why really good macros are hard to capture.

NaCl(just my thoughts)H2O

03-17-2008, 09:17 AM   #5
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Working distance is lens specific, not focal length specific.

The working distance can differ between two otherwise apparently identical lenses. The lens designer can design the lens so that it appears to be way out in front of itself (telephoto design). Different lens models may have differing degrees of telephoto. This will change the working distance of the lens by moving the front lens element relative to the point of focus. The working distance of my M 100/4 macro at 1:2 is about 20 cm.

Terminology note: Telephoto is commonly used to describe any lens with a focal length longer than a normal lens, but this is not always correct. A telephoto design shortens the lens for a given focal length. For example, my 400/5.6 is not 400 mm long, it is less than 300 mm long. It is therefor a telephoto design. There are inexpensive lenses on the market that are long focus 400mm lenses, and they are physically much longer than the Pentax M 400/5.6.
03-17-2008, 09:25 AM   #6
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What about the Tamron AF 70-300/4-5.6 DI LD 1:2 MACRO FOR PENTAX (62MM)?
03-17-2008, 01:14 PM   #7
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Tamron 70-300 only goes to 1:2. It takes very nice photos for the price of the lens. So if you don't want to carry another dedicated macro lens and if 1:2 is good enough then I think it is not a bad lens to carry around.

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