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04-15-2008, 12:51 PM   #1
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Macro lens question

I have a question about 2 macro lenses the Tamron AF SP 90/2,8 Di Macro and the Sigma EX 70/2,8 DG Macro.
The Tamron has a bit of extra reach that can be handy sometimes, but how good are they at portrait photo?
Is anyone sharper/better then the other? Both seems to be highly regarded.

04-15-2008, 01:17 PM   #2
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I can only comment on the Tamron, because that's the lens I own and use. It is a wonderful lens, if you accept, that the barrell is plastics. I deliberately choose it over the Pentax 100mm macro at that time, because the Tamron was so much more lightweight and smaller, easier to carry along all the time. It is extremely sharp, not only for macros. It may be too sharp for portraits - people don't want to show the last tiny wrinkle in their face clearly in a photograph. But that is a "problem" of almost any macro lens. Alternatively a Pentax 77mm or the old M 2.0/85mm may be better as dedicated portrait lenses, but of course not for macros. The old M 85mm is quite cheap secondhand. An expensive, but extremely good alternative, would of course be one of the old 1.4/85 mm lenses (either A or FA), but they are of not much use as macro lenses, too.

So, I would recommend to go with the Tamron and be prepared to use a slight softener for portraits in front of the lens...

04-15-2008, 01:52 PM   #3
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I don't know what kind of range you are looking for but I have seen some very good pictures coming from the new Pentax DA 35/2.8 Ltd. Marco working distance is shorter, but it would double as an excellent walk-around prime. For about the same money as the Tamron 90mm (the 35 ltd is only about $25 more than the tamron in the US, not sure about Sweden...).
04-15-2008, 10:13 PM   #4
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i think it's tough to characterize a "good" portrait lens. Opinion varies on what is "good". Take the legendary 77mm ltd for example: it's not necessarily the sharpest lens wide open: It's just sharp at center and soften considerably toward the edges, these characteristic converges a few stop down. I think this apparent flaw is what make the portrait shot "pop" - gives it and outstanding center while de-emphasizing the edges, on top of that, the 9 blade aperture produce creamy bokeh, and the combination resulted in what some considered "magical" 3D feeling, a rare find on the sea of lens design.

I have looked at this 77 ltd lens vs the 70 sigma and decided to go for the sigma, for 2 personal reasons: a) much better price, and b) macro bonus. Now that i have the Sigma, it is great, but beware it really is "too sharp" for portrait. faces and edges seems a bit flatten depending on the setting, resulting in what i would say a more "mechanical" look- it's quite sharp edge to edge wide open and stay that way well into f11. I did have to do some PP to remove skin flaws - it's that sharp! However, i think it's better to be "too sharp", which can be fine tuned, than being too soft, which cannot be fixed.

regarding the Tammy & the Sigma, I think they are both a toss-up, if you are to choose between the two. Can't go wrong with either one, but they really are macro lens with optical correction for sharpness edge to edge, again that may not be deem so desirable for a portrait lens. As for portrait, some day (when the stars are aligned) i will pick up a 77mm for that dream shot quality.

Have fun i don't think you'll go wrong with either one, just beware of what it was designed for.

Last edited by truonganh; 04-16-2008 at 12:51 PM.
04-16-2008, 05:10 AM   #5
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One point is that with Tamron 90 you have to have more room/distance to take a portrait(good or bad), so with Sigma 70 you get closer.
As a macro-lens, 70 is a medium one, 35 are short and 90-100 is long, but with a Tamron 90 you can buy a DA35 later as a complement if you want(with a 70mm you can of couse buy a 180-200 too). Tamron 90 has 55mm filter ring, not a Pentax standard so you need a stepring for/or a Pol-filter for just this lens, itīs the same with Sigma, 62mm.

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