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06-11-2008, 02:41 PM   #1
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Getting a macro lens and could use advice.

I know it's ultimately my choice, but I'm having trouble deciding from the offering of the big 3 in the 100mm macro range.

1. Pentax D-FA 100mm f/2.8 Macro
2. Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX "DG" AF Telephoto Macro
3. Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di 1:1 AF Macro

I've been looking at results from all three and it seems as though all are very similar in IQ. About the only real differences in the three seem to be the Pentax is a touch more expensive and lacks the focus limiter. *Idiot time* What is the focus limiter and is it more desirable to have it or not?

Of course I'd prefer the Sigma 180mm f/3.5 DG EX APO, but it isn't in the budget.

Give me reasons why one over the others, please.

Thanks

06-11-2008, 02:54 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by dws1117 Quote
I know it's ultimately my choice, but I'm having trouble deciding from the offering of the big 3 in the 100mm macro range.

1. Pentax D-FA 100mm f/2.8 Macro
2. Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX "DG" AF Telephoto Macro
3. Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di 1:1 AF Macro

I've been looking at results from all three and it seems as though all are very similar in IQ. About the only real differences in the three seem to be the Pentax is a touch more expensive and lacks the focus limiter. *Idiot time* What is the focus limiter and is it more desirable to have it or not?

Of course I'd prefer the Sigma 180mm f/3.5 DG EX APO, but it isn't in the budget.

Give me reasons why one over the others, please.

Thanks
I am thinking of Tamron. It currently has a $90 rebate. And it is known as a Macro Portrait lens that does well in Macro and double up for Portrait with fast speed. Also, the Tamron are known to work in both digital and film in the Di (not the Di II) lens and I feel very comfortable to plan this in the near future knowing that the macro investment will fit the occasional use with candid portrait needs. And the added plus is on compatible film gear and I would like to use 90mm to hold my LBA thoughts for the 77mm and 70mm limited a little bit longer.

The Sigma 180 would be nicer but the price is also out of range for me.

Last edited by hinman; 06-11-2008 at 03:29 PM.
06-11-2008, 03:10 PM   #3
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I vote for Sigma 105. Just because I have it. It's roubust lens, that produces brilliant pictures. And as well as Tamron 90, it's usable on both FF and APS-C.
Tamron has very good reputation on this forum, and because it's shorter (90 vs 105) it's more usable for portraiture. Shame it was out of stock when I was buying. Anyway with Sigma you are getting bigger minimum foucusing distance so it's better for moving objects, or for those that get easily disturbed.
As for the focus lilmiter. It's very useful thing. On Sigma 105 it works like this:
on FULL position the lens is going through entire focusing range.
on LIMIT positon it limits the focusing range on either macro (up to some 40 or 45 cm) or normal use (45 cm and above) depending on your selection. The benefit of this is that lens doesn't need to waste time for hunting in focus range you know you won't be using, and therefore speeding up entire fucusing process....
BR
06-11-2008, 07:04 PM   #4
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If I may make a suggestion, have you considered buying used?

Tomorrow it will be one week since I bought one of these: Pentax Lens Review Database - 100mm F4 Macro

I bought it at B&H. They had it listed in used category #9 - "shows signs of use, but very clean."

Very clean? This lens could have been listed as like new or demo! Not a scratch anywhere!

I tested it, and it works perfectly both optically and mechanically.

$229.00 before tax.

I too couldn't decide which macro lens to buy, then I thought of getting a used lens since two of my favorite Canon lenses were used, and they both delivered. A Canon 50mm f1.2 and a Canon 100mm f4.0 macro.

I should have some worthy test shots to post at the weekend.

Right now, there's a Pentax 100mm A macro at Adorama: Pentax-"a" 100 4.0 Macro Lns W/cs *49
and, the Pentax 50mm M macro is still at B&H: Used Pentax | Macro 50mm f/4 SMCP-M Manual Focus Lens for I held this lens in my hands, and it felt and looked as good as the 100mm, though the focusing ring is narrower than the one pictured.

Yes, you are taking a chance of not getting exactly what a dealer says when you buy used online, buy in my case their description was very conservative, and I got a great lens at a very good price. If, in the end it doesn't live up to your expectations you can always return it.

Good luck in your search.

Mike

06-11-2008, 07:09 PM   #5
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Having owned the Sigma, I'll cast my vote the same as AXL. I only sold it due to some personal issues and will get that lens again. Great performer and as solid as a brick. Great as both a tele and a macro lens. Seems trivial but an extra inch or so in macro mode can be big when chasing bugs or trying to avoid your own shadow.
06-11-2008, 08:21 PM   #6
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Mike Bokeh - Thanks. That certainly give me more to consider. I have been looking at that lens at Adorama for a little while. The only thing that may keep me away fro that one is that I'd like something a little faster. The fact that it's a manual lens isn't a deterent. But that would leave some extra funds for other stuff like a better tripod. Dang this makes it harder.

Perter and Axl - Thanks for the opinions on the Sigma. I've pretty much ruled out the Pentax at this point due to the higher price and the performance doesn't seem to be really that much better. How is the Sigman as a portrait lens? I know that the Tamron is always being touted as the "portrait Macro", but is the Sigma as versital? It isn't a deal breaker since I already have a 50mm f1.4 that is good for portraits.

Thanks so much for all the help.
06-11-2008, 08:35 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Bokeh Quote
If I may make a suggestion, have you considered buying used?

Tomorrow it will be one week since I bought one of these: Pentax Lens Review Database - 100mm F4 Macro

I bought it at B&H. They had it listed in used category #9 - "shows signs of use, but very clean."

Very clean? This lens could have been listed as like new or demo! Not a scratch anywhere!

I tested it, and it works perfectly both optically and mechanically.

$229.00 before tax.
Mike
Mike, I have that lens, it is wonderful. I think yours is the same without the M and I bought it in marketplace as Pentax K 100mm f/4.0 Macro 1:2. I go to this lens for bee shot and flowers. And I am looking for an extension tube to make it 1:1 magnification on bugs. If you have ideas, please comment. I am looking for Vivitar AT-22 but I can't find it easily.

Yes, it is slower at f/4.0 but I find the speed plenty for daylight close up pictures. And the manual focusing on the K lens or that in M lens are superb for the close up and macro work.

I did these hand-held in a good distance away from the bee





great bokeh on flowers




But I still lurk for the true 1:1 lens such as the Tamron 90 or the Sigma 105

Thanks,
Hin
06-11-2008, 08:49 PM   #8
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Wow those are beautiful. It certainly does speak very well for the lens. My only concern is that ( and this may be a total novice talking out of his, well you know) it is 1:2. I was really loking for a 1:1. I just sold a Sears 135mm macro that was 1:2. It was a good lens and produced very good images, but it would't let me get as close as I'd like. They sound like the same type of lens.

Also maybe I didn't know how to use it properly and to it's capabilities. Man, I have a lot to learn.

These were taken with the old Sears lens



06-12-2008, 02:54 AM   #9
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The Sigma is a fine lens for portrait shooting but I didn't use it that way too much with the 77mm in the bag. The 50 is a very good length for this use and got used more. But the 105 gets you a little further back and that can often make your subject a bit more comfortable.

No issues with DOF or image quality.
06-12-2008, 04:46 AM   #10
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Thanks, Peter. Obviously portraits would not be the main purpose or the reason I am wanting a macro lens.
06-12-2008, 05:15 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by dws1117 Quote
1. Pentax D-FA 100mm f/2.8 Macro
2. Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX "DG" AF Telephoto Macro
3. Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di 1:1 AF Macro
Give me reasons why one over the others, please.
I had the same dilemma and finally I went for the Sigma. I proved to be a high IQ extraordinary lens, well built and without any autofocus problems.

Noisy and not very fast autofocus though. Without a tripod mount on it, you have to have a sturdy head tripod or monopod.
06-12-2008, 12:23 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by dws1117 Quote
Wow those are beautiful. It certainly does speak very well for the lens. My only concern is that ( and this may be a total novice talking out of his, well you know) it is 1:2. I was really loking for a 1:1. I just sold a Sears 135mm macro that was 1:2. It was a good lens and produced very good images, but it would't let me get as close as I'd like. They sound like the same type of lens.

Also maybe I didn't know how to use it properly and to it's capabilities. Man, I have a lot to learn.

These were taken with the old Sears lens
You have great pictures with the 1:2 magnification. While everyone including myself want the 1:1 magnification. You have to think about what your focus is on. I am novice and I get told from sellers of my gear that for flowers, the close up of 1:2 is plenty. And even for full size bug, the 1:2 is good as shown in your butterfly shot. So never underestimate the cheaper gear. For flower 1:2 from Tamron 70-300 Di LD


PF not fixed on edges, but it is okay on purple iris






Tamron 70-300 Di LD Macro Test Shots - Hin's Tech Corner


I am novice in close up and I am on the same path to try 1:1 but I won't give up my 1:2 gear yet such as the candid shots that I did with Tamron 70-300 Di LD 1:2 Macro.
06-12-2008, 12:30 PM   #13
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another used consideration should be the FA 100mm macro. Much sturdier than the newer DFA version and i've read comments where its performance is better as well.
06-12-2008, 12:30 PM   #14
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I know this is difficult when in the throes of Lens Buying Obsession, but torturing yourself over miniscule differences and yes but's is highly painful and can lead to remorse instead of joy at the moment of consummating the LBA.

I should know, been there plenty of times.

My recommendation: they are all excellent lenses. Buy the one that is cheapest, whether new or used. Know that whichever one you get, there will be others who have the same and love it... and others who picked a different one and love theirs also.

And go out and shoot plenty of macros.

If after that you discover a consistent pattern of not liking some aspect of the lens, you have some data valid to you to go on. If it's important, you can sell the one you have and buy a different one.

And go out and shoot plenty more macros.

06-12-2008, 01:08 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
I know this is difficult when in the throes of Lens Buying Obsession, but torturing yourself over miniscule differences and yes but's is highly painful and can lead to remorse instead of joy at the moment of consummating the LBA.

I should know, been there plenty of times.

My recommendation: they are all excellent lenses. Buy the one that is cheapest, whether new or used. Know that whichever one you get, there will be others who have the same and love it... and others who picked a different one and love theirs also.

And go out and shoot plenty of macros.

If after that you discover a consistent pattern of not liking some aspect of the lens, you have some data valid to you to go on. If it's important, you can sell the one you have and buy a different one.

And go out and shoot plenty more macros.

Thanks everyone for the terrific advice, support and photo examples during this trying and sometimes stressful LBA times. Nesster, you're absolutely correct and some very good words to live by and not only during LBA attacks.

Tomorrow the old K100D that served me well will be passed on to a new owner to discover the joys and expense of Pentax and DSLR photography and I will have the money in hand for my new macro lens. Up until about an hour ago, with the help of the helpful members of the forum I had decided on the Sigma. Early this afternoon I went into Houston Camera Exchange to inquire as to whether they stocked that lens or if I would be buying online. Tucked away in the tele converter case and mostly hidden buy advertising sat one lonely Tamron 1.4x tele converter. It had to come home with me. So now I've decided to go with my original plan before I started doing research and getting goofy and purchase the Tamron 90mm macro. I may be wrong but I've read that tele converters work best with branded lenses.

Thank everyone.
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