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10-30-2013, 09:50 AM   #1
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Sigma 50mmEX 2.8 vs. Tamron 90mm

I have always wanted a Tamron 90mm macro. I"m thinking of upgrading from my Sigma 50mm EX 2.8 macro to that lens because I have seen amazing shots from the 90 all over the place. I think I might also benefit from the extra reach of th 90 over the 50.
I would be using the lens mostly for macro shots, flowers, insects, etc. From what I have seen the Tammy has excellent sharpness ( I think more than the Sigma). I'm well covered in the 35mm and the zoom range (expecting to order my DA 50-300 shortly, for the zoom).
I would greatly appreciate any input from the forum. Also, would there be a difference between the several models of th Tammy90. I am mostly concerened with image quality and sharpness. Freddy

10-30-2013, 10:25 AM   #2
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I don't know the Sigma 50, but we love our Tamron 90. Just hope someone with both turns up for the definitive answer.
10-30-2013, 10:51 AM   #3
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Sharpness will be about equal, although the Tamron 90 will have a bit more chromatic shift/aberrations at F2.8 than the Sigma 50.

I used to have the Tamron 90 and I now have the Sigma 50 F2.8 and the Sigma 105 F2.8. My Sigma 50 F2.8 is decentered so the left edge is bad, but the center is fantastic and sharp. As sharp as my old Tamron 90, with less chromatic aberrations. The downside is that the focal length is a bit short (have to get closer), and the bokeh isn't as pretty.

If I were to redo my choices all over, I'd go with the Tamron 90 F2.8 over the Sigma 50 F2.8 and even the Sigma 105 F2.8. It's only that I got my two Sigma's for very cheap that I don't mind keeping them.
10-30-2013, 11:31 AM   #4
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I loved my Tamron 90. The image quality of the Sigma would have to be pretty amazing to give up the extra reach. The focus limiter makes it a great lens for portraits too. I preferred it to my DA100WR in that regard. Selling your Sigma 50/2.8 should go a long way towards paying for the Tamron. I bought, the latest model, used. What a bargain that lens is, at used prices.

10-30-2013, 12:19 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by fevbusch Quote
I have always wanted a Tamron 90mm macro. I"m thinking of upgrading from my Sigma 50mm EX 2.8 macro to that lens because I have seen amazing shots from the 90 all over the place. I think I might also benefit from the extra reach of th 90 over the 50.
I would be using the lens mostly for macro shots, flowers, insects, etc. From what I have seen the Tammy has excellent sharpness ( I think more than the Sigma). I'm well covered in the 35mm and the zoom range (expecting to order my DA 50-300 shortly, for the zoom).
I would greatly appreciate any input from the forum. Also, would there be a difference between the several models of th Tammy90. I am mostly concerened with image quality and sharpness.
As luck would have it, I own both of these lenses. For me, both focal lengths have their particular uses. I bought the Tamron 90mm first. I wanted a good macro lens with auto focus. I already had an old Pentax 50mm manual lens that I was using with extension tubes. I had a very hard time deciding between the Sigma 100mm and 70mm macros that were available at the time (I know the 70mm, at least, is no longer available), and the Tamron 90mm. Ultimately, Tamron rebate season decided for me, although the longer focal length of the 90mm and 100mm lenses both seemed to be the better choice over the 70mm. I found the Tamron 90mm to be absolutely fantastic and didn't have any major flaws that left me wondering how the Sigma (or even Pentax's) 100mm macro might have performed, plus the price was right.

I did the opposite of you and figured I needed a shorter macro, this time with auto focus, which brought me to the Sigma 50mm 2.8 EX. The Pentax 35mm 2.8 LTD macro seemed too wide and too expensive, although truth be told I would buy one if I could. Anyway, just like the Tamron before, I found the Sigma 50mm at a price that was not likely to get any cheaper, plus the reviews were quite positive. My desire to get something shorter than the Tamron was because the 90mm isolated the subject (bees, flowers, etc.) almost too much; even at small apertures the depth of field for certain subjects was too narrow, depending on the effect I was trying to achieve.

The conventional wisdom for most macros is that they double as good portrait lenses, and here there is no exception. Cropped DSLRs with a 50mm make a good impromptu portrait combination, and the 90mm will serve to better isolate your subject. No, the Tamron 90mm isn't going to perform like the Sigma 85mm 1.4 - the Sigma's larger aperture give you razor-thing depth of field. But I find the Tamron 90mm wide open performance to be just fine, and with a lens like this one pulling double-duty as a macro and portrait lens, you can't really balk at the price!

On paper or in pixel-peeping reviews you might see some kind of quantitative difference in sharpness between the two lenses, but from my experience they both perform exceedingly well, even wide open. I probably use the Tamron more often than the Sigma, and that's precisely due to the very reason you're looking to buy one - isolating the subject, plus high magnification (although both lenses are 1:1, true macros), and separating the subject from the background (due to relative distance, anyway). So my advice is, as long as you know what the Tamron can do for you because of it's longer focal length and that fits your needs, then go for it. Waiting for a rebate is a good way to save money, and of course a used one is a good choice as long as you know it's in good working order. When I upgraded from the K-5 to the K-5ii I did notice that the Tamron was front-focusing so I sent it in for adjustment. Making sure everything is accurate is a big deal if you want to see the lens perform at its best. Strangely enough, the Sigma seems to be fine in terms of calibration.

Oh, and be aware there is an older version of the Tamron 90mm, the Tamron SP MF 90mm 2.8 Macro 1:1 (72B) which has the same optical formula as the current version, only it is manual focus. If auto focus isn't critical, you may want to consider looking for the older vintage. I could have sworn there was a 90mm 2.5 model as well, but I don't know what it's specifications are or how similar it is to the modern version. Both the Tamron 90mm and the Sigma 50mm discussed here are actually based on old designs which seem to have transcended their analog days and have worked well in the digital era.
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