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01-30-2016, 06:12 PM - 1 Like   #1
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Macro lens bake-off!

Macro lens bake-off!

I have just acquired a SMC Pentax-D FA 100mm F2.8 Macro WR macro lens. It should arrive by Monday night via UPS. Currently I also have a Super-Multi-Coated MACRO-TAKUMAR 100mm F4 Macro. My second current macro lens is the Cosina 100mm F3.5 MC Makro Lens, marketed as a Phoenix. My last long macro is the Vivitar Series 1 90-180mm f 4.5 Flat Field Lens.

I intend to run a series of tests on the four lenses, with the intent of selling off the Cosina and testing my new Pentax. My tests will include the following for each lens at every full f-stop:
... From a copy stand:
...... o Paper target with text and resolution chart at 1:2 magnification.
...... o Paper target with text and resolution chart at 1:1 magnification.
...... o Color chart and gray card.
... On a tripod:
...... o Flowers and plants outside.
...... o A brick wall (maybe).
...... o Decentering test (new only)

All shots will be focus bracketed, use the MUP option, and be focused and tripped with a cable release. I'll post pictures and thoughts when complete. I know that I am not testing a species of lens, but rather a specimen of each of the species.

HAVE I MISSED ANYTHING?


Previous testing:
Years ago, before joining this group and converting my K10 to IR, I ran a similar bake-off with a manual focus version of the Cosina, the Vivitar Series 1 "Bokina" (tokina) 90mm F2.5 Macro Lens (with the 2X attachment that fastened to the back of the lens), and the Vivitar Series 1 (Kiron - 22xxxxx) 105mm f2.5 (100mm f2.8) Macro Lens.

The results from that test was I found that all were very sharp. The Takumar was the sharpest and had a feeling or rendering that I liked best. The 90mm Vivitar was the second sharpest, with a cooler color. Bringing up the rear as the least sharp was the 105mm Vivitar. It was still very sharp. I could have been happy with any. I stopped testing the Vivitar zoom part way thru. It was very sharp, however I had no intention of selling it and it was too big and heavy to use because of my back at the time. I sold the Cosina, Vivitar 90, and Vivitar 105.

My current *BELIEF* based on my limited experience, with only ten (including Canon brand) ~100mm dedicated macro lenses is that they are all pretty sharp and that differentiations should be based on other criteria such as OOF, bokeh, ease of use, weight, brightness, ... . We will see what happens.

01-30-2016, 06:59 PM   #2
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I'm looking forward to this, good luck!
01-31-2016, 09:09 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by lmd91343 Quote
My current *BELIEF* based on my limited experience, with only ten (including Canon brand) ~100mm dedicated macro lenses is that they are all pretty sharp and that differentiations should be based on other criteria such as OOF, bokeh, ease of use, weight, brightness,
I have thought, based upon my own experience over the years with a number of dedicated macro lenses (from 50mm to 200mm), that you just can't buy a bad 100-ish macro lens.

My current most-used macro lens line-up is the A 50/2.8 Macro, the Tokina AT-X 90/2.5 Macro ("Bokina"), and the Vivitar 135/2.8 Close Focusing, but there are many, many other great macro lenses out there. and, as for the concept of other "differentiations":

The A 50/2.8 Macro is not the sharpest 50-ish macro available (certainly the F and FA 50/2.8's are a tad sharper), but it is sharp enough, and is ~so~ much nicer to use. [I used to worship only at the Altar of the God of Sharpness, but I since have grown to recognize that other parameters can be quite important, too.]

The Tokina "Bokina" is incredibly sharp, but so aren't many other 100-ish macros -- but it is just so delightful to use. [The VS1 "Bokina" is even slightly nicer to use, if one doesn't mind "green button" metering (and if one is willing to be more careful with flaring) -- some (but not all) Tokina 90/2.5's come in convenient Ka mount trim.]

The Vivitar 135/2.8 Close Focusing is just wonderful to use, even if it goes to "just" 1:2, and even if it requires "green button" metering -- it is just so sharp and contrasty, and focuses so nicely, it's simply a delight to use.

However, none of the above three lenses go to 1:1 (all go to 1:2, although the "Bokina" 90's have extra 1:1 adapters available), but I rarely need that much magnification, so that's not a "differentiation" that's important to me (YMMV, of course).

But, there are just s-o-o-o many good macro lenses out there -- aren't we lucky for that?
01-31-2016, 02:23 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by lmd91343 Quote
We will see what happens.
Sounds great.

Only extra thing I could think of would be to add tests with a teleconverter if you have one.

But you are already going to a lot of trouble - thanks for undertaking it and sharing.

02-01-2016, 07:53 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by LeDave Quote
I'm looking forward to this, good luck!
Thank you!

---------- Post added 02-01-16 at 07:35 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by fwcetus Quote
I have thought, based upon my own experience over the years with a number of dedicated macro lenses (from 50mm to 200mm), that you just can't buy a bad 100-ish macro lens.

My current most-used macro lens line-up is the A 50/2.8 Macro, the Tokina AT-X 90/2.5 Macro ("Bokina"), and the Vivitar 135/2.8 Close Focusing, but there are many, many other great macro lenses out there. and, as for the concept of other "differentiations":

The A 50/2.8 Macro is not the sharpest 50-ish macro available (certainly the F and FA 50/2.8's are a tad sharper), but it is sharp enough, and is ~so~ much nicer to use. [I used to worship only at the Altar of the God of Sharpness, but I since have grown to recognize that other parameters can be quite important, too.]

The Tokina "Bokina" is incredibly sharp, but so aren't many other 100-ish macros -- but it is just so delightful to use. [The VS1 "Bokina" is even slightly nicer to use, if one doesn't mind "green button" metering (and if one is willing to be more careful with flaring) -- some (but not all) Tokina 90/2.5's come in convenient Ka mount trim.]

The Vivitar 135/2.8 Close Focusing is just wonderful to use, even if it goes to "just" 1:2, and even if it requires "green button" metering -- it is just so sharp and contrasty, and focuses so nicely, it's simply a delight to use.

However, none of the above three lenses go to 1:1 (all go to 1:2, although the "Bokina" 90's have extra 1:1 adapters available), but I rarely need that much magnification, so that's not a "differentiation" that's important to me (YMMV, of course).

But, there are just s-o-o-o many good macro lenses out there -- aren't we lucky for that?
I am lucky. I have a ~36mm AF/data coupled extension tube that should get the Tak to about .9X. I have the 1:1 adapter for the Cosina. I'll try that and the extension tube.

I have no idea about the magnification of the Vivitar zoom other than the engraved values. Who knows the accuracy of those. I'll need to experiment with the ext tube and use a ruler!

Your point about the Vivitar 135 is a good one. What most people use for high magnification photos does not require either flat field focusing or 1:1 magnification.
02-01-2016, 09:04 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Des Quote
Sounds great.

Only extra thing I could think of would be to add tests with a teleconverter if you have one.

But you are already going to a lot of trouble - thanks for undertaking it and sharing.
Thank you for the encouragement.

As for the TC, to what end?

What are you contemplating? Use it with the macros at maximum magnification? Use it at long focus? Compare the macros to a 50mm with a teleconverter for macro use?

I have the Vivitar 7 element, 5 group macro focusing 2X teleconverter and a Rokunar 1.7X PZ/AF unit. I don't use them. I have only played with them on my telephoto and long zoom lenses. I don't know if these are good TCs or not. The Rokunar looks like the fabled Tamron.

I will have the set-up together for my testing including about 100 images in my plan. It would not be too hard to add a new parameter, but I want to be careful with what I add.
02-01-2016, 03:33 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by lmd91343 Quote
As for the TC, to what end? What are you contemplating? Use it with the macros at maximum magnification?
Yes that's what I had in mind. I haven't tried this myself but some people have got good results: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/10-pentax-slr-lens-discussion/188167-tele...2-8-macro.html

If you can be bothered to test the macros with the 1.7x TC I think macro shooters would find it useful. It introduces a comparison of the same lens with and without TC.

QuoteOriginally posted by lmd91343 Quote
a Rokunar 1.7X PZ/AF unit ... looks like the fabled Tamron.
Identical to the Promaster Spectrum 1.7x (also basically a Tamron design), according to the TC guru: Rokunar MC 1.7x AF teleconverter???: Pentax SLR Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review
Real magnification seems to be about 1.5x: Teleconverter magnification comparison. (5 imgs): Pentax SLR Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review
Reviews are positive: Promaster Spectrum7 AF 1.7x Lens Reviews - Miscellaneous Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database
02-01-2016, 07:30 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Des Quote
Yes that's what I had in mind. I haven't tried this myself but some people have got good results: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/10-pentax-slr-lens-discussion/188167-tele...2-8-macro.html

If you can be bothered to test the macros with the 1.7x TC I think macro shooters would find it useful. It introduces a comparison of the same lens with and without TC.


Identical to the Promaster Spectrum 1.7x (also basically a Tamron design), according to the TC guru: Rokunar MC 1.7x AF teleconverter???: Pentax SLR Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review
Real magnification seems to be about 1.5x: Teleconverter magnification comparison. (5 imgs): Pentax SLR Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review
Reviews are positive: Promaster Spectrum7 AF 1.7x Lens Reviews - Miscellaneous Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database
Ok I'll add a couple for each lens at the best aperture with the Rokunar. I'll also do the same with Vivitar at minimum, middle, and maximum extension. I will do this matching magnifications with the dedicated Close Up lens and extension tube. We can then compare them, apples to apples.

For fun I will run max magnification on each lens with the each TC at the best aperture.

02-02-2016, 04:43 PM   #9
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I don't know which test target you will be using but the resolution chart might not be detailed enough at 1:2 or 1:1 magnification. A while ago I had to do some critical reproduction work and I ran a quick test with the Macro lenses I have at hand--Voigtlander 2.5/125mm, Pentax A 2.8/100mm and Tokina 2.5/90mm. I used the screen from some halftone printed material as a target. The scale must have been around 1:5. To my surprise the oldest construction--the Tokina--performed best in terms of microcontrast, sharpness and lack of CA, followed by the Voigtlander. These three are all very fine lenses but still the differences were not negligible.
02-03-2016, 03:00 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by wkraus Quote
I don't know which test target you will be using but the resolution chart might not be detailed enough at 1:2 or 1:1 magnification. A while ago I had to do some critical reproduction work and I ran a quick test with the Macro lenses I have at hand--Voigtlander 2.5/125mm, Pentax A 2.8/100mm and Tokina 2.5/90mm. I used the screen from some halftone printed material as a target. The scale must have been around 1:5. To my surprise the oldest construction--the Tokina--performed best in terms of microcontrast, sharpness and lack of CA, followed by the Voigtlander. These three are all very fine lenses but still the differences were not negligible.
You bring up an important issue. What to use for a test target?

Obviously, I am not going to buy additional equipment to do this test. Therefore my results will be relative.

I've tried to set my laser printer to 1200dpi and printing PDFs of standard test charts. That produces moire patterns on some of the line pairs, with no line having a sharp edge, when magnified, due to the bumpiness of the smoothest paper.

I've tried using relatively new nickels and been able to examine some of the very small scratches on the smooth section of the coin to provide a sharp edge to examine. Not every nickel I tried worked. The engraved section is not appropriate. Also I don't recall trying it at better than .5X magnification.

I've looked at fine printing on clay coated paper. That may work. We will see.

I've thought of using a fine grained slide or negative with an image containing hard edges. If I managed to get past the irregular stain or grain pattern, what lens would I use to create that slide or negative? I think my best medium format lenses do not resolve as well as my 35mm macro lenses. If I use the lenses I am testing, what am I really testing? The resolving power of the sensor or the film?

I probably will use the calibration slide for my dedicated negative/slide scanner backlit by a small light table. At 1:1 with my new lens, an image with sharp lines remain sharp as the image is enlarged on the camera display to the point of pixelation.

My copy stand is quite rigid and has no noticeable vibration. The camera mount is perpendicular to the baseboard. The camera shutter release and any AF focusing will be one with a cable release. The calibration slide is in a special mount to keep it flat. I will place an extra 20 pounds iron weights on the baseboard for dampening. I will use it for the resolution, distortions, color cast, and macro picture image shots.

For short distance and long focus shots I will use my Manfrotto 055 CF, three section per leg,tripod with the center column down. The legs will be set on astro scope anti-vibration pads. A ten pound weight will be suspended from the spider. A cable release will be used for the shutter and AF. The head is a 468MGManfrotto, rated at 35 pounds.

For the inside shots I will check color balance for both the light table and overhead lighting. For outside shots, I will use AWB.

Last edited by lmd91343; 02-03-2016 at 03:06 PM. Reason: Changed "shots" to "charts".
02-04-2016, 10:24 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by lmd91343 Quote
You bring up an important issue. What to use for a test target?
(snip...)
Sound like a plan! I don't think you could do much better. At 1:1 you might also try to resolve the grain from a not-too-smooth B&W film.
02-04-2016, 08:59 PM   #12
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At 1:1 printed color on a box often resolves into dots.
02-20-2016, 07:00 PM   #13
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Results!

I have endeavored to run a series of tests to check the quality of my new PENTAX-DFA SMC MACRO 1:2.8 100mm WR lens and check is IQ in relation to the three other long focus macro lenses I also own. Those other lenses are a Super-Multi-Coated-MACRO-TAKUMAR 1:4/100 and the Cosina made PHOENIX 100MM 1:3.5 MACRO AF. The Phoenix lens registers on my cameras as the "smc PENTAX-FA MACRO 100mm F3.5". My report of these tests are broken into the following sections:
• Description and Usability
• Vivitar 90-180 flat field zoom failure
• Vignetting
• Purple fringing
• Distortion and Decentering
• Resolution 1X Magnification
• Resolution .5X Magnification
• Test image .5X Magnification
• Test image .25X Magnification
• Far focus and bokeh test
• Color
• Other observations
• Conclusion

I will post a new section every day or two.

My basic premise before conducting these tests is that all the 100mm –ish macro lenses are excellent lenses. Before these tests, I have used and tested several, numbering about eight to ten.

All test images were capture with my Pentax K3 with AV exposure mode, attached either to my very rigid copy stand, Manfrotto 055 Pro Carbon Fiber tripod with a 468MG ball head and a ten pound weight suspended from the spider. A wireless remote was used to release the shutter. All focusing was done manually using focus peaking on the magnified setting. For resolution checking, the lens was set to the proper reproduction ratio and copy stand head was moved to achieve focus. All interior shots were taken with daylight color lights and light table. The images analyzed and presented are not post-processed in any manner other than resizing and jpeg conversion for web display.

Future macro tests I hope to do include testing the 50mm and 100mm macros with both extension tubes and tele-extenders. Also I wish to design and run an appropriate set of tests for the Vivitar 90-180mm flat field lens.
02-21-2016, 08:31 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by lmd91343 Quote
I will post a new section every day or two.
Excellent !!!

[I am sorry to hear of the "Vivitar 90-180 flat field zoom failure", though.]

I await the results with bated breath . . .

02-21-2016, 06:18 PM - 1 Like   #15
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Results: Description and Usability

The Cosina/Phoenix gives the appearance of cheapness, but it is not. It has a dedicated detachable 1:1 supplemental lens with its own case. The focus ring is thin, has little resistance, but no slack. It has autofocus, but no full time manual adjustment. The ring rotates about 315*.

The aperture ring has the "A" lock. It turns very easily with proper resistance and a click at every full f stop. There are two distance scales and two reproduction ratio scales, each with a unique color. All four wrap around the barrel helically and are exposed as the lens is focused. The index mark can be as far as an inch away from the scale. It is confusing to read. There is no DOF scale

My copy has no dedicated hood. There is no provision in the factory box for one. I use a Takumar 105mm hood. It attaches to the lens barrel so that it moves out as the lens is focused, always providing the same amount shade and physical protection to the front element at every focus distance.


What scale is what? What is it set to?


The Takumar is a thing of beauty to behold. The focus ring is very large, with appropriate resistance and no slack. It rotates about 315*. It is the easiest to focus manually. It is manual focus only. The distance scales are easily read from a window between the aperture and focus ring. The meter and foot scales are each different color. Is easier to use than the SMC WR, but not easy.

The aperture ring has positive clicks in the funky Takumar aperture ring pattern of full and half f stops clicking except for no half stops between f 4.0-5.6 and f 16-22.

As with the Cosina/Phoenix, the lens hood attaches to the lens barrel so that it moves out as the lens is focused more closely, always providing the same amount shade and physical protection to the recessed front element at every focus distance.

The dedicated shade can be reversed and slipped over the lens for storage or transport. The dedicated cap can be used over the reverse mounted lens hood or over the lens without the hood. The reproduction ratio scale is easily read at the end of the lens barrel, far removed from the distance scale.




The D-FA SMC WR macro lens is also a good looking lens. The focus ring has no slack and good resistance. It is small, but easy to find and turn. You can hear a slight noise as you turn it. It is an autofocus lens, with full time manual adjustment. It also rotates 315*. Both distance scales and the reproduction ratio scale are all displayed in a single window at the distal end of the lens. All three co-located scales are white. I wish they were each were a distinct color for easier reading. I would like to see the reproduction ratio scale removed to the distal end of the barrel like the Takumar. With the poor design of the reproduction ratio display, it is possible to have only one value exposed off-center in the window. This does not allow you to guess where the lens is set between two values. Is it one half or one third past the exposed value? What are the next values up and down? The problem gets worse as the magnification is greater, when the need to know is greater!

There is no aperture ring, so it cannot be used on a bellows. Therefore if you like this lens and if you have bellows, you need two macro lenses!

The area where this lens fails is with the lens shade. The hood attaches reversed for storage and protecting the lens. However when the lens is focused toward the closest focus and the inner barrel racks out, the hood does not move with it, providing decreasingly less shade and front element protection. At closest focus, the effective depth of the shade is less than one inch. It is as if the shade's primary function is to hide the ungainly looking inner barrel rather than shade and protect the front element.


What is the reproduction ratio? exactly?


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