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01-08-2009, 07:55 PM   #1
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100mm range Macro lenses - Cant Decide!

After being tempted with pictures from a good friend, Ive opted to make my next lens purchase a 100mm (ish) macro lens. With plans to get the 55mm SDM when it arrives (and having the 16-50) I figured the 100mm lens will also fill a hole as a longer mid range portrait lens as well. As I would like to stick with an AF lens, I have 3 choices that I can see: 1) Pentax DFA 100mm, 2) Tamron 90mm, and 3) Sigma 105mm. My problem is that not one of these lenses sticks out to me as the one to own. Recently Ive preferred sticking with the Pentax lenses, as the SDM and weathersealing are worth the extra to me, but with the DFA lacking both - as well as a focus limiter (but it does have the quick shift focus to manual), the Pentax doesnt stick out much. Ive heard great things about the Tamron, the Pentax has the great SMC coating (best of the bunch) and the Sigma is the cheapest.

Anyone care to share their first hand experience / pics to help me make my decision any easier?

01-08-2009, 08:12 PM   #2
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I can't help you with the comparison you're after, but I have taken 100's of macro shots with my D FA 100, and it is tack sharp and has a pleasant bokeh for macro. It is not suited for general photography in autofocus mode because of the lack of focus limiter. It hunts a lot, all the way down to 1:1 and back out.

Here is a shot taken with the D FA 100mm:
01-08-2009, 09:09 PM   #3
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Unfortunately, I can't compare it to the other two, but the Tamron 90mm is a sharp macro lens and makes a great portrait lens too (I've used it for this more than macro shooting). It's light, and has a focus limiter, though it still doesn't AF super fast due to the long throw.

This link should show you a few of my shots with the lens (no, I don't use it enough) and here's a few other samples...

Last edited by heliphoto; 01-08-2009 at 10:02 PM. Reason: eliminated redundancy. eliminated redundancy.
01-08-2009, 09:27 PM   #4
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I am with Heliphoto on this one ... Macro is amazing with the Tamron 90mm ... but portraiture is stunning as well. I love mine to bits ... "cold dead hands" comes to mind.

01-08-2009, 10:44 PM   #5
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Are you looking only for new lenses?
You could look at vivitar/kiron/lester dine 105mm? Voightlander 125mm?

You didn't specify price so I'll throw that one in.

01-08-2009, 11:04 PM   #6
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I am with Heliphoto & Mechan1k on this one. The fact that the Tammy is an awesome Macro is good enough to seal the deal, but it also does excellent portraits.

Both are Jpgs straight from camera--no pp--just cropping and resizing for this application. KEH has one right now in LN- for $299, Ex+ for $286--looks like the FF versions, not the DI.

Last edited by Jewelltrail; 09-25-2009 at 08:58 AM.
01-09-2009, 05:38 AM   #7
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Hi Scott, I own both the Sigma (a gift) and the Tamron I own the older Tamron, the one with out the "optimised for digital sensors" but I haven't been able to see the difference between it and the new DI one. IQ wise I'd say the Tamron is a teensy bit better than the Sigma but a mouse could starve on the difference. Ergonomically, I prefer the Tamron, it's lighter and a bit smaller. Both have limiter switches and both have a MF/AF clutch (push/pull the lens barrel) which I've found awfully handy when switching between macro and normal shooting. Macro wise the Sigma is a bit easier to focus because there is a bit more "throw" (don't know what to call it, it takes more rotation to change the focus the same amount) in the focus. But again it's not significant. Both have the front element deeply recessed, you don't really need a hood, with a hood I've found that getting close enough to insects can be difficult. The Sigma takes 58mm filters and the Tamron takes 55 (tho I've used a step-down adapter to bring it to 52 so I can use all the 52 filters I have for my pentax primes) so you save a tiny bit on filters if you get the Tamron. The Sigma is 105mm and the Tamron is 90 so you've got 15mm more on the long end for the Sigma, but in real life shooting conditions, I haven't noticed any difference. Basically I'd say there is little difference between the two lenses. But saying that I'll probably put the Sigma up for sale soon, I don't really need 4!!! macros. (I've also got a manual Ricoh 105mm and the Sigma 180mm)

NaCl(not much to choose between the two)H2O
01-09-2009, 10:19 AM   #8
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Thank you everyone for your responses thus far. As its been mentioned, there isnt much difference between the Pentax/Sigma/Tamron so the decision is a tough one. The lack of a focus limiter for the Pentax might be a deal breaker for it, as I prefer to use AF and then fine tune with MF (which is where the quick shift system for the pentax saves it). How is the Tamron for flare control? I have a Tamron 24-135 that I used as a primary lens on my ZX series bodies and found its only real flaw to be its flare control...its not always up to snuff with the SMC coatings. All 3 seem to produce great images...

01-09-2009, 11:05 AM   #9
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I actually own the Sigma 105. All in all I like the lens quite a bit. However here is the one thing about the lens I don't really like about it (and the 50mm Macro as well): Screw on hood. The screw on hood is not expedient at all. I might be spoiled by the twist/snap hoods on other lenses I have used but the screw on hood gets pretty annoying if you are in a rush.
01-09-2009, 11:27 AM   #10
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I, too, have the Sigma 105 and find it very good in IQ. Like Mr. A, the hood is a minor irritation as is the AF - Manual method. It also works well with Tamron 1.4 TC getting out to the 150 range and the Promaster 1.7, for about 180mm.......
01-09-2009, 11:32 AM   #11
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Take the DFA Pentax.
It has Quick shift (very useful for macro!) and it is the lightest and smallest.

The Tamron and Sigma are larger and heavier and the focus ring turns the "wrong" way round.

Optically they are all good enough.
The focus limiter is not really important IMO, because the AF is fast enough for that.
01-09-2009, 12:05 PM   #12
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It might be just me but I actually like the focus limiter switch. It allows me to use the lens for portrait shots and the lens will not extend all the way if it needs to hunt.
01-09-2009, 01:07 PM   #13
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Ended up having to replace my Viv Ser 1 105mm macro a few months back and I ended up deciding on the latest Sigma 105mm. Not only does it work well on my K20d and K200d, it works really well in manual mode in the "A" on my SuperProgram! Also have 2 older Tamron 90mm lenses, the 52B and 52BB. If it wasn't for the matched 2x making them 180mm (1:1), they would be in trouble. As it stands, I will be divesting the 52B at some point.
01-09-2009, 01:15 PM   #14
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flickr group

@ PentaxScott : May be, you can have a look here !

Flickr: Tamron 90mm f/2,8 Macro Lens Group
01-09-2009, 01:18 PM   #15
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sorry for hijacking the thread, but i have a quickie question regarding 100mm Macro: I have the DFA 100mm and it is 1:1 macro. I opt for 100mm because i read some inputs saying that it is better to work with insects and all.

Once I received the lens, when I try to set the focus on the 1:1 scale, the object it is TOO DAMN near to the lens! am I doing something wrong?

I had the impression 100mm macro would give me some working space... and I have none! I can't imagine how a 50mm macro lens would work then!

Is this the way it works?

Thanks in advance!

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