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12-05-2008, 12:53 PM   #1
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Deciding between DA 35 and FA 100 Macro lenses

Hi Folks,

Just looking for some opinions regarding a Pentax macro lens. I mainly photograph flowers as opposed to insects and so am leaning towards the 35 Ltd lens, but am also considering the FA 100 for the longer reach for those times when it would come in handy. Thanks in advance for any replies.

12-05-2008, 01:09 PM   #2
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personally, i think of the DA35 as an equivalent normal with Macro capability and not really as a true macro because the MFD is too tight.
since you already have the FA31, a longer macro lens would probably suit you better
12-05-2008, 01:13 PM   #3
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I have the DA35 and a Sigma105 Macro. The DA35 is a great universal lens but because you already have that range covered by 3 other nice lenses I would go for a 90 or 100 macro. Not only because it is easier to get 1:1, but it is also a nice short tele.
12-05-2008, 01:20 PM   #4
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I would go for a 100mm macro over 35 any time.

simple reason working distance. Unless you are tied to a copy stand and using the macro for copy work, bigger is better.

you get 1:1 focusing at 2 times focal length distance, with the 35mm that means 70 m or less than 3 inches from the subject, with the 100mm it measn 200mm or 8 inches away.

the distance helps in many ways, but most importantly lighting, when you are within 3 inches of a subject the risk of shadowing it with your body or the lens or the camera is pretty high

12-05-2008, 02:05 PM   #5
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I appreciate the opinions here and will strongly consider the FA 100. Any particular weaknesses to this lens?
12-05-2008, 03:13 PM   #6
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Besides working distance, another factor to consider is field of view. Macro photogaphers often neglect field of view because they simply move closer or further from the subject in order to make the subject fill the frame. But it makes a difference in terms of the background of the shot.

A shorter lens has a wider field of view, and while this can be a good thing if you want to put your subject into context (ie, see this pretty flower which is one of very many pretty flowers), it's often a problem if what you're trying to do is isolate your subject. I find that a wide lens can make it difficult to find a shooting angle that eliminates distractions from the background.
12-05-2008, 03:58 PM   #7
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Lots of good advice here already. I think it all depends on why you need a macro lens and what macro means for you. If you just want "close-ups" but not true macros (eg 1:1 magnification) and, as you say, shoot flowers, then the DA35 is a great lens. Working distance doesn't matter so much, and the fact it will take other decent near-normal shots while on your camera is a bonus. But given that you have an FA31 that bonus is not so interesting.
12-05-2008, 04:07 PM   #8
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I have the DA35, and really like the lens, but if I was shooting *primarily* macro I would go for the 100mm. The extra reach would probably be more useful, and allow greater subject isolation and smoother bokeh. The real strength of the DA35 is its versatility, but I have also seen some fantastic flower images from it too.

12-05-2008, 04:16 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by GaryM Quote
I have the DA35, and really like the lens, but if I was shooting *primarily* macro I would go for the 100mm. The extra reach would probably be more useful, and allow greater subject isolation and smoother bokeh. The real strength of the DA35 is its versatility, but I have also seen some fantastic flower images from it too.

Yes, the DA 35 is very versatile - I put it on when I'm going out and want to shoot some macro, but might want some D-normal shots also, but don't want to change lenses. My Sigma 70 is too tight for those types of shots.

But a dedicated macro - you're better off with the FA/DA 100, Tamron 90, Sigma 70, or Viv 105, all of which make excellent portrait lenses wide open, or street-shooter telephotos.

Sigma 70:

Viv 105:
12-05-2008, 04:25 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sean Nelson Quote
Besides working distance, another factor to consider is field of view. Macro photogaphers often neglect field of view because they simply move closer or further from the subject in order to make the subject fill the frame. But it makes a difference in terms of the background of the shot.

A shorter lens has a wider field of view, and while this can be a good thing if you want to put your subject into context (ie, see this pretty flower which is one of very many pretty flowers), it's often a problem if what you're trying to do is isolate your subject. I find that a wide lens can make it difficult to find a shooting angle that eliminates distractions from the background.

I've had both a 50 and 100 macro from theh film days.
I use the 50 on flowers because of the depth of field issues.

the other issue has to do with whether and how you use a flash.

If you are going to use a ring light the 100 can be a problem. If you are using other light sources, the longer lens may be easier to work with as options to get light on the subject are greater
with more standoff distance.

If you want to see what a bunch of native flowers look like
done with mostly an F series 50mm macro and a ring flash
feel free to review what I have p osted at VanNatta Northwest Oregon Native Plant identification guide

Although I haven't documented the precise equipment used,
many of these native flower photos involve thte use of my
F 50 macro, with an AF080C ring light. Generally to get the necessary depth of field the aperture is set at f/16 or smaller (I recall the lens go to f32) The ringlight is set to manual
as it doesn't support P-ttl, I then use an ND filter pack to get the right exposure.

Needless to say I'll be an early adopter when/if pentax produces a P-ttl ringlight, but even with manual exposure, life is much easier that it was with the film bodies. when I first got my ringlight,
i owned a venerable K2 (of the film era) and it was too old to support the TTL automated flash so it had to be used in manual much as I am now, except you had to wait for the film to be processed in order to adjust the exposure.
12-05-2008, 04:32 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by rvannatta Quote
I've had both a 50 and 100 macro from theh film days.
I use the 50 on flowers because of the depth of field issues.
Actually there's no difference in the depth of field when shooting macros with different focal lengths. This is because the larger depth of field of a short lens is offset by having to move closer to the subject to keep it the same size in the frame.
12-05-2008, 05:51 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by forestmage Quote
I appreciate the opinions here and will strongly consider the FA 100. Any particular weaknesses to this lens?
It is, to quote a review, "built like an aluminum brick", and thus hefty. It's also challenging to clean the front lens element, because it's deeply recessed in the brick. (One can think of this as one of the toughest lens hoods ever.) If the focus hunts, it's got a long range to hunt over if the focus limiter has not been set.

I have both the DA35 and the FA100; I would say that the DA35 has the advantage in terms of color rendering and general utility, where the FA100 has the advantage in terms of macro utility (I have found myself with teeny flowers inside the lens hood of the DA35; it worked, but...) and at least perceptual sharpness. (Much more luck taking pictures of spider webs with it than I have had with the 35.) The DA35 is a real macro lens; one can get really good droplet-on-glass pictures with it. The really short 1:1 distance is a challenge, though.

My FA100 sees a lot of use for zoo or feeder birds, as well as for macro; it's a good general purpose lens.

Both have good manual focus.
12-05-2008, 09:08 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sean Nelson Quote
Actually there's no difference in the depth of field when shooting macros with different focal lengths. This is because the larger depth of field of a short lens is offset by having to move closer to the subject to keep it the same size in the frame.
well OK. but if you are using a ring flash, you can get more light
on it, and use a smaller F stop.

I had the longer one for a long time before I got the short one. I suppose if one is being spot on he would say that they provide a different working distance, and whether the longer or shorter is better is sometimes a pesonal preference issue andn sometimes
other things can make the longer or shorter distance work better.

I've often used both lenses for non-macro purposes.
12-05-2008, 09:13 PM   #14
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Many thanks for the replies folks. They are really quite helpful.
12-05-2008, 10:22 PM   #15
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Even though I have the DA35, I would go for the longer macro, if I were in your shoes with your kit. Have you considered the Sigma 105? It has excellent IQ and is lighter in weight than the FA100 and it has a focus limiter switch, unlike the DFA100. I don't have it yet, but it will be my next lens purchase.

HTH,
Heather
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