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02-02-2009, 06:34 AM   #1
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50 vs. 100mm macro

Question for y'all,

What are the advantages/disadvantages or a macro lens 50mm (like Pentax's) vs. most of the ones I've seen that are 90mm-105mm (Pentax, Tamron, Kiron, Lester Dine)?

I'm looking at picking up a new macro lens, and the 50mm seems to be cheaper (both used and new) then its longer counterparts. What are the advantages/drawbacks?

Thanks,
Oren

02-02-2009, 06:42 AM   #2
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I have both sizes but normally use the 100mm 99% of the time even if it is MF compared to my 50mm which is AF.
The extra 50mm imeans you do not have to get so close to the subject, not a problem with flowers and stationary objects but where bugs are concerned you need all the distance you can get to stop them flying/running away.
02-02-2009, 09:12 AM   #3
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I am not a big macro shooter, but would tend to agree with the above poster about preferring a longer focal length lens rather than a shorter one for macro usage. May as well be able to get as much distance from the subject (notably bugs) as possible. Of course many people seem to be very happy with good short macro lenses even around 50mm, but anecdotally I recall reading a lot more posts of people preferring the 90-105 range for macro usage. The current Tamron 90mm offering seems to get a lot of love for both macro and non-macro usage.
02-02-2009, 10:04 AM   #4
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I had both the 50mm and 105mm Sigma Macro lenses. I opted to trade the 50mm lens for a FA50 1.4. After using both I found that the 105mm fit my style of shooting more. If you can I would try borrowing either and seeing which fits your style more.

02-02-2009, 10:26 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by oatman911 Quote
What are the advantages/disadvantages or a macro lens 50mm (like Pentax's) vs. most of the ones I've seen that are 90mm-105mm (Pentax, Tamron, Kiron, Lester Dine)?
One thing that you SHOULDN'T worry about is depth of field. When you're taking pictures of a particular subject, you'll move closer with the 50mm lens in order to get the subject to fill the frame. This cancels out the greater depth of field that you'd normally associate with a wider lens. For macro shots, the depth of field is controlled solely by the subject size (which governs the distance) and the aperture - the focal length isn't relevant.

But longer lenses do give you more control over what appears in the background of the shot - they make it easier for you to change your position slightly to exclude stuff you don't want to see.

If you have another non-macro 50mm or 100mm lens then you might want to choose a macro in a focal length you don't have rather than duplicating it.
02-02-2009, 06:21 PM   #6
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I've found that 50mm macros (and the DA 35ltd macro) are better for 'casual' macro - meaning 1:2 or less magnification, handheld - because they're lighter and easier to hold steady. Other than that, 90mm+ is generally better for macro because it gets you just a bit farther away from that bee's stinger.

Of course the 70mm Sigma EX DG is the perfect compromise, although it is a bit heavy.
02-02-2009, 09:39 PM   #7
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I totally agree with J -- 50mm is a versatile "walking around" focal length with good and relatively cheap macro options, but if you're doing greater-than-1:2 magnification (or want to splurge on your One True Macro Lens) you really want something 100mm-ish or greater.

And a tripod.

And a subject that doesn't move.

Or maybe a flash.

BTW, some 100mm-ish lenses (e.g. Kiron/Vivitar/Lester Dine 105 and Cosina/Voigtlander 125) are a bit too heavy for comfortable prolonged handheld use. At the moment I'm very tempted by the much ligher Pentax D-FA 100/2.8 and Tamron 90/2.8.

Last edited by troyz; 02-02-2009 at 10:02 PM.
02-02-2009, 09:42 PM   #8
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I wish there was a pentax macro that's in the focal length of 60-70mm for my food photography. There are times I want to focus closer than my DA70 would allow.

I guess I'll pick up a Sigma 70 someday.

02-03-2009, 06:21 PM   #9
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Don't underestimate the difficulty in handholding the 100mm for macro shots. I could not get many pictures in focus handholding the 100mm. I exchanged the 100 for the 50mm and found that really easy to handhold. Since then I sold the 50mm and bought the 35mm limited macro. My macro shots are typically plants and flowers, so I don't miss the extra focal length.

Every time I see posts extolling the virtues of the longer focal length macros, I wonder how many of the proponents are using a tripod?
02-03-2009, 06:30 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by soccerjoe5 Quote
I wish there was a pentax macro that's in the focal length of 60-70mm for my food photography. There are times I want to focus closer than my DA70 would allow.

I guess I'll pick up a Sigma 70 someday.
A short extension tube or a good 2 element close up lens might do the trick in the interim.
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