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05-29-2009, 01:42 PM   #1
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Which Macro lens?

I'm looking for some general advice about which macro lens to get. I'm inclined towards something like the Pentax 100mm f2.8. Something longer, like the Sigma 180mm macro would give a longer working distance which would be handy. My reading of reviews and posts does not seem to suggest there is one lens that is far superior to the others, but I may have missed something.

(I did some searches of this forum and did not find a general 'macro' thread')

05-29-2009, 01:45 PM   #2
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There are differences, its more that not a lot of macro lenses are bad, which means you cant really go wrong in picking one. seems to be a lot smaller differences than between reglar lenses of comparable focal lengths

(some people would say the pentax FA*200 macro is the best macro for pentax, others who know better say the Voigtlander 125) (both of which are out of production)

Id say pick according to price and focal length, they are all good
05-29-2009, 02:00 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by jfsavage Quote
I'm looking for some general advice about which macro lens to get. I'm inclined towards something like the Pentax 100mm f2.8.
I'm guessing that you must mean an autofocus 100/2.8 Macro. (?) (You were not specific.) (A? F? FA? DFA?)

Nonetheless, I'll mention that I find the A 100/2.8 Macro to be sublime.
05-29-2009, 02:09 PM   #4
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I can attest that the FA 100/2.8 macro is a fine lens indeed.
I've never tried the Sigma 180 macro, but believe other users when they say it's a great lens too.
Price varies, particularly with focal length - so set your budget and just get one!

05-29-2009, 02:11 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by and Quote
There are differences, its more that not a lot of macro lenses are bad, which means you cant really go wrong in picking one. seems to be a lot smaller differences than between reglar lenses of comparable focal lengths)
I'd agree with this. I have never used a true macro lens (not a "macro zoom" macro imposter) that was not at least a very good performer.

QuoteOriginally posted by and Quote
(some people would say the pentax FA*200 macro is the best macro for pentax, others who know better say the Voigtlander 125) (both of which are out of production)
The very best macro lens I have ever owned (which, sadly, I no longer own) was the A* 200/4 Macro, and there are some (besides myself) that would say this is the best K-mount macro ever made. (But, as AND said, differences between macro lenses are small.)

My current macro lens arsenal includes the Pentax A 50/2.8 Macro, the Vivitar Series 1 90/2.5 Macro, the Tokina AT-X 90/2.5 Macro, the Pentax A 100/2.8 Macro, and the Vivitar Series 1 90-180/4.5 Flat Field Zoom, and these are all sweet macro lenses to use. ("You can never have too many macro lenses." - <g>) I'd recommend any of these without any reservations...
05-29-2009, 05:38 PM   #6
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Looking at the reviews, it would seem that the discontinued Pentax 100mm FA has better resolution than the newer DFA. I can see using this type of lens for isolating the subject, which would make good resolution wide open important.

Pentax SMC-FA 100mm f/2.8 macro - Review / Lab Test Report
Pentax SMC-D FA 100mm f/2.8 macro - Review / Test Report

The Sigma 180mm is a little pricier (~700 USD) than the Pentax. Not sure if the 100mm FA is available new still, or just used.
05-29-2009, 07:38 PM   #7
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While I have both the Pentax FA 50mm macro and the Pentax FA 100mmm macro, I find myself using the 100mm a bit more because of its standoff distance. Both are great lenses. The 50mm is good as a general lens if you need to pack light, while the 100mm is a little less versatile, but a joy to use as a macro.

50mm FA Macro



100mm FA Macro

05-29-2009, 09:56 PM   #8
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I bought the DA 35mm f2.8 macro to serve the dual purpose of a macro and general-purpose lens, and frankly it excels in all respects! It truly is a wonderful lens. But if I had to choose only one macro lens, it would definitely be the DFA 100mm f2.8 simply because of the distance factor. With the 35mm, I often find myself only millimeters from the subject to get the effect I want and this cuts out the light and makes it nearly impossible to capture live subjects.

05-30-2009, 07:23 AM   #9
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As already stated they are normally all very good, it just depends on your focal length needs.

JfSavage: I own the FA* 200/4 macro. I've owned the FA 100/2.8 macro too - excellent lens!! Just too short for my type of work and requirements, so I sold it.

QuoteOriginally posted by and Quote
(some people would say the pentax FA*200 macro is the best macro for pentax, others who know better say the Voigtlander 125) (both of which are out of production)
Andreas: I find that comment/wink about the 200/4 and the Voigtlander comparison quite interesting. You state that "those in the know" claim the the Voigtlander is better.... actually neither is - they are the best in their focal lengths!!! Both are excellent (top shelf) lenses - each is a unique focal length and therefore they are difficult to compare...

Rationale for my wanting 200mm: I prefer the tighter FOV (less distracting clutter in the background, little cropping while maintaining more distance. This means less disturbance of the subject (for several reasons!). "Those in the know" may not have to contend with potentially hostile subjects.

You can add a high quality TC and you are in very good shape in terms of focal length and subject distance - almost a 300mm macro...

Regards,
Marc
05-30-2009, 12:52 PM   #10
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I am thinking that the Pentax 100mm FA (discontinued) would suit my needs well. It is sharp wide open, which allows for subject isolation, as well as close up and macro work. I can see a lot of my usage being 'close up' rather than true macro.
05-30-2009, 12:53 PM   #11
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One thing that hasn't been mentioned: longer focal lenghts mean less stuff in focus - shorter DOFs. I find my 100mm macro has difficult to manage DOF already I don't care to try a 200mm.
05-30-2009, 03:21 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by kristoffon Quote
One thing that hasn't been mentioned: longer focal lenghts mean less stuff in focus - shorter DOFs. I find my 100mm macro has difficult to manage DOF already I don't care to try a 200mm.
DOF is not directly dependent on focal length. It depends on magnification and aperture (plus acceptable circle of confusion COC). The magnification depends on the focal length and the distance. So for a given camera (COC), a 1:1 image will have the same DOF for a given aperture regardless of focal length. Longer lenses have less DOF because they have greater magnification at a given distance.
05-31-2009, 01:32 AM   #13
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I'm used to a 50:4 Macro-Takumar. I got a Tamron 90:2.5 macro for the longer working distance and better subject isolation due to the relatively larger background. These photos show how focal length affects subject isolation.


I've noticed that the 90mm lens is more difficult to hand-hold than the 50mm lens at the same magnification. This is because the focal_length/shutter_speed correlation holds for macros too (for macros multiply the actual focal length by 1+magnification.)

It is not a deal breaking problem with the longer lens but is a consideration.

Iowa Dave

Last edited by newarts; 05-31-2009 at 01:56 AM.
05-31-2009, 03:13 AM   #14
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I just ordered a used SMCP-FA 100mm f/2.8 Macro from B&H. It was condition '8+' for $340 which seems like a good deal. I don't mind my lenses looking a little used, as long as the optics are good. I'll let you know how I get on.

Many thanks for all the advice!

Jonathan
05-31-2009, 12:46 PM   #15
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I have same problem... i cant decide what lens of these i want...
Lenses are:

Sigma 70mm (i had this one before, but i felt like it was too short, otherwise this is superb)

Sigma 105mm (this feel right, but is it better than tamron?)

Sigma 180mm (This would be perfect working distance, but its too expencive)

Tamron 90mm (i need more info of this 1, i have seen reviews wich proofs that this is more better than sigma 70mm/105mm, but is it???)


Tell me wich one do you recommend? I will buy my lens same time at july with K-7.
I would love to see some links to reviews, samples, comparison and so on.. THANK´S TO ALL LOVELY PENTAX SHOOTERS ALLREADY!

Edit: just read some reviews, im thinking im gonna buy 70mm or 105mm....

Last edited by pexi85; 05-31-2009 at 01:00 PM.
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