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01-16-2014, 05:43 PM   #1
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First macro lens should be 50/100/180mm?

Hi, I'm looking to add a 1:1 macro lens to my bag, but couldn't really decided on which focal length to choose.

Read some online articles and basically sum up to two points:
  • I shoot inanimate flora and moving fauna at equal frequency, but would like to do more insects. So, 50mm will be too close of a working distance, 100 or more should be better first lens;
  • Somebody said "if you are serious with macro, then you will find yourself always needing >1 macro lens at different focal lengths.

Okay so here's the main questions:
  1. As a first macro lens, will 100mm be too long? I don't prefer compress background and sometimes would like to include more habitat details, so would something >50 like the 70mm or 90mm makes a better first lens?
  2. Pentax seems to have different generation lenses with similar design (e.g. 50mm and 100mm have F/FA/DFA), I do need autofocus for moving insects, does the modern DFA really makes a difference from older F and FA counterparts? If not, I will go for F or FA because I can use it on my K1000 body.
And I'm also open for third-party options.

01-16-2014, 06:01 PM   #2
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I think 100mm is a good general purpose macro.

If you do not need AF then nothing wrong with the earlier manual ones as you said they have an advantage with an aperture ring and you can use tubes as well.

That said the dfa 100mm WR is a magnificent lens and possibly my favorite.
01-16-2014, 06:06 PM - 1 Like   #3
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sigma 70mm

I'm a fan of my Sigma 70mm. SIGMA 70mm F2.8 EX DG Macro - Macro Lenses - SigmaPhoto.com With a crop sensor having a 70mm equals out to be about 105mm. Plus being f2.8 is nice also.
01-16-2014, 06:11 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
earlier manual ones as you said they have an advantage with an aperture ring
Thanks! But I'm looking between F and DFA, because I need autofocus, so that excludes M/A series. Currently the biggest fight is between 100mm F, FA, and DFA (as well as Tamron 90mm and Sigma 105mm. All very similar.

01-16-2014, 06:20 PM   #5
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Thing is, if you want to stay at 1:1 magnification, you don't use AF anyway, you just twist the focus ring to the closest possible distance and only adjust it slightly to get the subject you want.

The DFA 100mm is a great lens, works as macro and as a general tele lens. There are two DFA variants, which should be identical except that the newer one has aluminum barrel and is WR (and marketing states it has "rounded aperture blades", not sure if there is any difference)
Then there is FA which as a focus clamp. This basically makes the focus ring harder to turn, so it cant be turned accidentally. Not sure if its a very important feature outside studio use
The F version might, if I remember right, also have a focus limiter. I don't know how well it works, but it is something I miss on my DFA, especially mounted on the K-01.

You mention the Tamron 90mm and Sigma 105mm. Those are also superb lenses, optically. The main difference is their build and lack of WR. Ive seen stunning shots with all of those lenses. Modern macro primes are all pretty good and very sharp. Doubt you would regret getting the Tamron 90, Pentax 100, or Sigma 105mm. I chose the Pentax and enjoy using it. I think this focal range, between 90 and 105mm is a good place to start macro. You might get the DA 35mm ltd some time later, its a great lens, but doing 1:1 macro with it is harder due to short working distance
01-16-2014, 06:22 PM   #6
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Current prices on F and FA are not much cheaper than DFA if you buy used.

DFA has newer coatings is WR and no aperture ring.

I believe they are the same optically but I'm not positive of that. You might look at the lens reviews. Unless you need the aperture ring I would go with DFA YMMV.
01-16-2014, 06:26 PM   #7
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Read some online articles and basically sum up to two points:
  • I shoot inanimate flora and moving fauna at equal frequency, but would like to do more insects. So, 50mm will be too close of a working distance, 100 or more should be better first lens;
Disc.** What is the primary and secondary role of the lens. e.g., if you are hiking and carrying 2 lenses the macro should likely also serve in another capacity. A longer macro (~100mm) is a moderate telephoto and balances nicely with a wide angle or wider angle zoom. On the other hand if your other lens is a long FL for birds, and the like, a 50mm or 35 mm macro is then serving as your general purpose lens. However, by adding a teleconveter (TC) it becomes a longer macro and for close up work teleconverters are generally very good--if the lens is good (and not too fast)--and macros are not generally fast lenses.
  • Somebody said "if you are serious with macro, then you will find yourself always needing >1 macro lens at different focal lengths.
Disc.** There are so many different ways to achieve an end and changing FL is a minor part--except that a fast acting lens for skittish insects needs a long working distance, so if your choice was 50mm above, then yes you likely need to add a longer FL lens--either another macro or (with the higher iso possible now) the TC and the 50mm lens--as discussed above.


Okay so here's the main questions:
  1. As a first macro lens, will 100mm be too long? I don't prefer compress background and sometimes would like to include more habitat details, so would something >50 like the 70mm or 90mm makes a better first lens?
Disc.** See my comment above. Depends on the subject--If you want to photograph something moderately large from above-- a 100mm lens may require a ladder. But realistically a 100mm (or 70 or 90mm) should do fine. It will always be not the best for some situation--and then you add to/adjust your methods.
  1. Pentax seems to have different generation lenses with similar design (e.g. 50mm and 100mm have F/FA/DFA), I do need autofocus for moving insects, does the modern DFA really makes a difference from older F and FA counterparts? If not, I will go for F or FA because I can use it on my K1000 body.
Disc.** If you plan to be serious about macro--THEN YOU NEED A LENS W/ AN APERTURE RING! Otherwise a lot of the techniques you may want later will not work. For macro AF is not generally useful (actually generally not usable) so make sure the lens works smoothly in manual.
01-16-2014, 06:39 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
Read some online articles and basically sum up to two points:
  • I shoot inanimate flora and moving fauna at equal frequency, but would like to do more insects. So, 50mm will be too close of a working distance, 100 or more should be better first lens;
Disc.** What is the primary and secondary role of the lens. e.g., if you are hiking and carrying 2 lenses the macro should likely also serve in another capacity. A longer macro (~100mm) is a moderate telephoto and balances nicely with a wide angle or wider angle zoom. On the other hand if your other lens is a long FL for birds, and the like, a 50mm or 35 mm macro is then serving as your general purpose lens. However, by adding a teleconveter (TC) it becomes a longer macro and for close up work teleconverters are generally very good--if the lens is good (and not too fast)--and macros are not generally fast lenses.
  • Somebody said "if you are serious with macro, then you will find yourself always needing >1 macro lens at different focal lengths.
Disc.** There are so many different ways to achieve an end and changing FL is a minor part--except that a fast acting lens for skittish insects needs a long working distance, so if your choice was 50mm above, then yes you likely need to add a longer FL lens--either another macro or (with the higher iso possible now) the TC and the 50mm lens--as discussed above.


Okay so here's the main questions:
  1. As a first macro lens, will 100mm be too long? I don't prefer compress background and sometimes would like to include more habitat details, so would something >50 like the 70mm or 90mm makes a better first lens?
Disc.** See my comment above. Depends on the subject--If you want to photograph something moderately large from above-- a 100mm lens may require a ladder. But realistically a 100mm (or 70 or 90mm) should do fine. It will always be not the best for some situation--and then you add to/adjust your methods.
  1. Pentax seems to have different generation lenses with similar design (e.g. 50mm and 100mm have F/FA/DFA), I do need autofocus for moving insects, does the modern DFA really makes a difference from older F and FA counterparts? If not, I will go for F or FA because I can use it on my K1000 body.
Disc.** If you plan to be serious about macro--THEN YOU NEED A LENS W/ AN APERTURE RING! Otherwise a lot of the techniques you may want later will not work. For macro AF is not generally useful (actually generally not usable) so make sure the lens works smoothly in manual.
The shorter the focal length, the more dramatic the effect of extension tubes. Pentax AF extension tibes can be made by gutting (removing the glass from) AF teleconverters. A 1.4x teleconverter usually yields about 18mm of extension; a 2x teleconverter usually yields about 25mm of extension. Yer gonna love it.

01-16-2014, 07:05 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
Thing is, if you want to stay at 1:1 magnification, you don't use AF anyway,
Thanks Horuk, that's a very useful reminder!

QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
F version might, if I remember right, also have a focus limiter.
Yes I read the forum review and one user mentioned this feature.

QuoteOriginally posted by pntxjack Quote
effect of extension tubes
Thanks for reminding me of this accessory, that's is important to take into account when investing on lens.
01-16-2014, 07:06 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
Current prices on F and FA are not much cheaper than DFA if you buy used.

DFA has newer coatings is WR and no aperture ring.

I believe they are the same optically but I'm not positive of that. You might look at the lens reviews. Unless you need the aperture ring I would go with DFA YMMV.
Yup the F/FA/DFA and DFA WR 100mm's from Pentax are all the same optically, the former two are much bulkier however.

If you can get a non-WR DFA I would recommend that one, since it has an aperture ring and a clamp. Otherwise go for the Tamron 90mm macro.

You might also be interested in this comparative review:
Tamron 90mm Macro vs Pentax 100mm WR: Review - Introduction - PentaxForums.com

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01-16-2014, 07:07 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by mythguy9 Quote
Thanks! But I'm looking between F and DFA, because I need autofocus, so that excludes M/A series. Currently the biggest fight is between 100mm F, FA, and DFA (as well as Tamron 90mm and Sigma 105mm. All very similar.
AF is not really used in most macro photography due to the exacting nature of focus required.
Even with my DFA 100 WR I use manual focus or just shift the entire rig to get focus.
01-16-2014, 07:22 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by crewl1 Quote
or just shift the entire rig to get focus.
The easiest way. A focus rail is a real help.


Steve
01-16-2014, 07:23 PM   #13
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Hi dms, thanks for the rich feedback, I must reply you in one post.

QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
What is the primary and secondary role of the lens.
Your advice on lens combo on tracking/hiking is very useful. I use a lot of wide-angles so I guess 100mm will be better to act as the tele companion.

QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
then yes you likely need to add a longer FL lens
Right, I will add TC into my future considerations.

QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
adjust your methods.
I like this - "adjust your methods". Not just adding gear, make use of what you already have.


QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
APERTURE RING!
Got it! I think I'm more inclined to the non WR version of DFA 100mm now.
01-16-2014, 07:24 PM   #14
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50mm macro lenses tend to more compact, but working distance can be a problem at 1:1.

My Sigma 50/2.8 EX DG Macro at 1:1




Steve
01-16-2014, 09:25 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
50mm macro lenses tend to more compact, but working distance can be a problem at 1:1.

My Sigma 50/2.8 EX DG Macro at 1:1




Steve
Does the Sigma 50mm (and Sigma 100mm) focus clutch works better than that of Tamron?
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