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08-20-2019, 09:30 PM   #1
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Tamron 90mm vs Pentax F/FA 100mm Macros

Hello everyone. I'm in the market for a good macro at the moment that doesn't break the bank. I will be doing film slides, product shots, small circuit boards and a few other misc things. I'll be the first to admit that I know next to nothing about macro lenses and what to look for, I just know these are somewhat in the budget used and are well regarded. If you have any other suggestions then by all means.

08-20-2019, 09:48 PM   #2
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I have several macro lenses in this range of focal lengths - probably my favorite is the Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 72B - 90mm f2.8 and a native 1:1 macro...

any of the F or FA 100mm macros are going to be sharp (I don't have the F or FA, but the D FA)...

there's also the Cosina 100mm f3.5 macro that was sold under several brand names - I have the MF Vivitar version and it's a great option, too...
08-20-2019, 10:22 PM   #3
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Old ones are fine, ZombieArmy. Manual focus is normal in macro shooting, so vintage lenses are fine. An aperture ring is actually desirable, because you can add extension tubes to get in close enough to your circuit boards, etc.
08-20-2019, 10:32 PM   #4
dms
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I have the MF version of the 100mm f/3.5 (same optical layoput as Pentax AF, cosina AF, etc.) and while the focal length is potentially nice as a macro that also can do potrait/telephoto, I dislike the images. They just seem very “flat.”

Anyway from the things you mention—a longer FL will put you too far away, and will give a perspective that will likely not be natural. I suggest a 50mm, or if you are using a cropped sensor, possibly even the 35mm macro (except it does not have aperture ring, so it is too limiting IMO).

Anyway check out how you will set up for slides, as with cropped sensor you likely will want 0.67 magnification, which you can do w/ an older macro with 0.5 max magnifiaction plus extension, or if it goes to 1.00 magnification w/ K-1, again do-able with older macro lens with 0.5 and extension. Actually, while I have not used a newer macro allowing 1:1 w/o adding extension, they may be less convenient for other than macro, as the rotation may be too small for far distances, and you are paying a lot more when adding an extension tube is inexpensive, and AF is of little use at higher magnification.

On the other hand for insects/portraits a 90~100mm FL is nice. Take care w/ the Adaptall-2 tamron 90mm (believe the version before the 72B) as it likely will give central flare spot with digital. The point being a macro lens likely should give you other uses, or one tends not to carry it.

P.S., If you have a reasonably slow 50mm lens (e.g., 50mm f/1.7 or f/1.8/2.0)**, either extension tubes (as Clackers says) or a Vivitar macro 2x TC [but again this 100 mm FL may be too large] will get you fine results, and then you can get a real macro when you know more. This should be about $50.
_____
** slower means more symmetrical optics which are best for macro


Last edited by dms; 08-20-2019 at 10:43 PM.
08-20-2019, 10:33 PM   #5
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Own & often use the DFA 100mm f2.8 on K10 or K3 - really sharp with good contrast. And at my age, I appreciate the longer lens to subject distance: better lighting, less kneeling & crouching. Also have used the DA 50mm f1.8 in very close focus situations and been pleasantly surprised with the results. The M42 Macro-Tak 50mm f4 was my 35mm camera close-up lens for decades. Very, very sharp with good contrast. Can find copies at reasonable prices but you need the Pentax adapter & willingness to use manual preset aperture. Should be in manual focus with any close-up work; just moving the camera for fine focus. Circuit boards require careful lighting to avoid shadows but maintain the component shapes. Sometimes careful work with a magic marker helps with delineation.
08-20-2019, 11:46 PM - 1 Like   #6
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I have owned a number of macro lenses over the years. The FA50mm f2.8 macro (sold on the PF Marketplace), the FA100mm f2.8 macro (the lens that really got me excited about close up/macro work, and which sadly met it's end with an abrupt impact with a concrete floor), the "Cult Classic" Macro - Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 90mm f/2.5 (52B) (also sold on the PF Marketplace), and I currently use the D-FA 100mm F2.8 Macro WR. I've actually been eyeing the Irix 150mm F2.8 Macro lens (like I need another lens like a hole in the head), as I've been interested in having more working distance, and the Pentax A and FA 200mm f4 Macro lenses are few and far between and much further beyond my price point to purchase. The reviews and the results I've seen from the Irix have been excellent, which is encouraging.


As for the image quality difference between my Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 90mm f/2.5 (52B) and my FA100mm f2.8 macro and my current D-FA 100mm F2.8 Macro WR, it's pretty much splitting hairs. They all offer exceptional IQ, as is expected from any quality macro lens. You'll get your best bang for the buck out of the Tamron. I always loved the way the FA rendered the image, it has an aperture ring, which I miss having on the newer lens, and it also makes an excellent portrait lens. The D-FA is a joy to use, offers the extra protection of being a WR lens, but it is almost too sharp for portraiture for my tastes, so I don't use it for that purpose (so a good excuse to pull out the FA77).






08-21-2019, 05:08 AM - 2 Likes   #7
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one note about macro lenses : there a lot, a ton of lenses with the word "macro" in the title of the lens (I'm looking at you, Sigma) that are really just close-focusing...

for me, a lens isn't a macro lens unless it's a minimum of 1:2 magnification...
08-21-2019, 05:51 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by pepperberry farm Quote
one note about macro lenses : there a lot, a ton of lenses with the word "macro" in the title of the lens (I'm looking at you, Sigma) that are really just close-focusing...

for me, a lens isn't a macro lens unless it's a minimum of 1:2 magnification...
this is a good article to review:

" . . . If you're a beginner interested in close-up (macro) photography, we recommend that you consider adding a dedicated 1:1 macro lens to your lens collection. Watch the video below to learn about the benefits of a true macro lens: - " The Advantages of a Dedicated Macro Lens - Achieving lift-size magnification "

Read more at: https://www.pentaxforums.com/articles/tutorial-videos/18-55mm-kit-vs-a-dedicated-macro-lens.
.
_____

I like my D FA 100mm F2.8 Macro ( not the WR version ]

" this lens features a clamp and 1:1 macro magnification. Optically it is the same as the predecessor, the smc Pentax-FA 100mm F2.8 Macro, and optically also the same as the Weather Resistant
successor. "

Quick Shift

Diam x Length
67.5 x 80.5 mm (2.7 x 3.2 in.)

Weight
345 g (12.2 oz.)
w/ Hood: +38g

Read more at: SMC Pentax-D FA 100mm F2.8 Macro Reviews - D FA Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

________________________

FA 100mm F2.8 Macro

" The SMC Pentax-FA 100mm F2.8 Macro is a high-quality macro lens designed to be well above the SMC Pentax-FA 100mm F3.5 macro in image quality. It features a clamp and a focus limiter. The optics are seated that far from the front that no separate lens hood is required.

Optically this lens is identical to its F-series predecessor and the D FA-series successors."

Diam x Length
74 x 104 mm (2.9 x 4.1 in.)
Weight
600 g (21.1 oz.)

Read more at: SMC Pentax-FA 100mm F2.8 Macro Reviews - FA Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

_________________________

F 100mm F2.8 Macro

" This was the first in a series of 100mm autofocus macro lenses from Pentax. The subsequent versions (FA, D FA) have the same optical formula. The optics are seated that far from the front that no separate lens hood is required. "

Diam x Length
74 x 104 mm (2.9 x 4.1 in.)
Weight
590 g (20.9 oz.)

Read more at: SMC Pentax-F 100mm F2.8 Macro Reviews - F Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

____________________


Tamron SP AF 90mm F2.8 Di Macro

"This is an autofocus macro lens which provides life size magnification (1:1). It covers the 24x36mm full-frame image format. It has an aperture ring with an "A" setting which not only makes the lens compatible with older K-mount film bodies, but also allows for aperture control in connection with extension tubes and bellows. This lens doubles as a short telephoto lens."

Diam x Length
71x96.5 mm (2.8x3.8 in.)

Weight
405 g (14.3 oz.)

Read more at: https://www.pentaxforums.com/userreviews/tamron-sp-af-90mm-f2-8-di-macro.html#ixzz5xEw5uiFw


______________________________

all the above lenses covers the 24x36mm full-frame image format, 1:1 capability and are good as a short telephoto lens


Last edited by aslyfox; 08-21-2019 at 06:12 AM.
08-21-2019, 05:52 AM - 3 Likes   #9
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Luckily with macro lenses, they are mostly great. Get whichever you can get for a reasonable price used.
08-21-2019, 05:56 AM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kozlok Quote
Luckily with macro lenses, they are mostly great. Get whichever you can get for a reasonable price used.
^^^this...

I have a trio of M42 macro lenses that are all deadly sharp...
08-21-2019, 06:44 AM   #11
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unless there is a feature not shared with another type of 100mm Macro, or the weight and size matters

if you find a good " experienced " copy, my guess is that you will like what any of the lenses mentioned so far
08-21-2019, 07:51 AM   #12
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The DFA 100 is a fantastic lens and I use it quite often for macro and non-macro shooting. You won't be disappointed if you go that route.
08-21-2019, 08:04 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
...Take care w/ the Adaptall-2 tamron 90mm (believe the version before the 72B) as it likely will give central flare spot with digital...
It's the Tamron 52, a 90mm f2.5 1:2 macro. The B and BB versions are Adaptall. The 52E adds autofocus, a focus limiter and a dedicated mount. Each version has a different filter size.

The purple spot is elusive. It isn't visible at wide apertures (f5.6 or wider). I think it is most prevalent when the edges of the frame are very bright. An example is product photography in a light tent on a white background. Most of the time, the lens is great - well-built, nine aperture blades, very sharp. If you look at the reviews and comments, some users never notice the purple spot. I bought the Tamron 272E which doesn't have the purple spot and is 1:1 magnification, but I like the 52E a little better for no definable reason.
08-21-2019, 09:40 AM   #14
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The Tamron 90mm macro lenses are consistently top-shelf, regardless of generation. The same is true of the Pentax-made 100mm macros. The differences are seen mostly with build and price and features such as WR and focus limiters and such. None are likely to be a bad choice.

As for my personal use...I have a three macro lenses: a Sigma 50/2.8 EX DG, Tamron SP 90/2.8 (72B), and Kiron-made Lester Dine 105/2.8. The Sigma is easy to use, but suffers from tight working distance due to the 50mm focal length. The Tamron is hard to focus at other than close distance, but is light weight and optically excellent. The Dine has robust build, is easy to focus, and is optically stunning, but on the heavy side at 620 gm (200 grams more than the Tamron).

I seldom use the AF on the Sigma when doing closeup work.


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 08-21-2019 at 09:50 AM.
08-21-2019, 09:45 AM   #15
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I'll be repeating much of what others have said, but here goes. From the outset macro lenses were expected to be exceptionally sharp, and because of competition, almost all of them are going all the way back into the 1950's. Look, for example, at the ratings and comments for the Pentax 50mm f4 macro, my first macro lens in its original pre-set version. So for IQ you can hardly go wrong whatever you select. That being said, the lenses that I would recommend: Tokina 90mm f2.5; almost any version of the Tamron 90mm macro; Pentax 50mm f2.8 in the "A" version (really nice focusing mount); just about any version of the Pentax 100mm f2.8 macro; 70mm f2.8 Sigma (if you can find one used). If you don't need to get too close, consider a good 50mm normal lens (I'd recommend the A or FA versions of the 50mm f1.7) combined with an achromatic close-up lens to get down to about 1:4, and a Raynox 2.5X unit if you need to get to 1:1. If you're not doing flowers & insects in the field, if most of your macro work will be inside with static subjects, a 50mm macro will serve as well as a 90~105mm lens. As others have pointed out, almost everyone who does any amount of macro uses manual focus, so AF is not necessary and sometimes will not work properly. If you're working at 1:3 and greater magnification with a 50mm lens, you'll almost certainly be moving either the entire camera + lens or the subject to obtain focus especially if the lens is 50mm rather than 90~100mm
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