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06-20-2009, 10:17 AM   #1
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DA* 50-135mm vs. D-FA 100mm AF?

I've heard great things about both the DA* 50-135mm and the D-FA 100mm macro lenses, but the auto focus speed isn't known to be the greatest on either. Even though the 100mm is a macro, has anyone been able to successfully track action (e.g. sports events, concerts) with this lens?

06-20-2009, 10:26 AM   #2
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I am sure someone somewhere has used a macro for action shots, but macro lenses are never going to have as fast a focus response because of the focal range they cover. It's just a nature of the beast, even with a focus limiter switch.

Basically what happens will be your keeper rate will be less than usual with other tele lenses in the same range. I found it's more just getting practice with a lense and learning it's quirks that makes it work or not. I have used my Sigma 180mm Macro for action but only with a keeper rate in the mid 40% range...yeah, i actually counted and compared. My normal rate with other 200mm lenses is about 70%-85% depending on the day.

Everyone will be different and I have a sense it's going to vary from copy to copy as well. But is can work if you have to make it work...just be ready to miss a few more shots than normal. I have found that "spray and pray" shooting mode in continuous focus tracking mode can help a bit.
06-20-2009, 05:35 PM   #3
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Thanks for the response. Yeah, I figured that the amount of (action shot) keepers from a marco lens to a non-macro telephoto lens might be less, but when comparing the 50-135 to the D-FA 100 specifically, I'm wondering if there's really that much of a difference?
06-20-2009, 05:42 PM   #4
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I use my DFA 100 marco as MF lens :P I usually focus it myself then let it do the AF, which really speed up the focusing, as the focus length is quite long for this lens. 50-135 is not bad compare to the 100 macro, 50-135 actually is as fast as other lens.

06-20-2009, 06:09 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by MidwestMax Quote
I've heard great things about both the DA* 50-135mm and the D-FA 100mm macro lenses, but the auto focus speed isn't known to be the greatest on either. Even though the 100mm is a macro, has anyone been able to successfully track action (e.g. sports events, concerts) with this lens?
Max, an alternative at this focal length could be the FA135 f/2.8, which reportedly focuses very fast. The only problem? They're out of production. However, there is one listed now at KEH.

KEH Camera: Pentax Auto Focus - Fixed Focal Lengths
06-20-2009, 06:40 PM   #6
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vizjerei: Thanks for the feedback.

Urkeldaedalus: Good catch!
06-20-2009, 07:14 PM   #7
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First, please keep in mind that I am in no way a sports shooter, but I took only the D-FA 100mm Macro with me to a Renaissance festival last year and used it all day.

It handled the sword-jugglers pretty well:


Balancing Act Man on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

And considering what I was going for, I was pretty happy with this one:

Horseman #4 on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Still, I wouldn't recommended the D-FA 100mm Macro for action shots in general. The focusing bit can take a looooooong time compared to the 50-135. Of course, if you use it as an MF lens, then why not? You might still find the 135mm part more to your liking though.

Last edited by K McCall; 06-20-2009 at 07:14 PM. Reason: forgot image tag
06-20-2009, 07:25 PM   #8
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I don't really do sports, but for concerts, I don't find AF to be particularly helpful. Sure, sometimes it works well and quickly enough to be useful. But just as often, with the low light and AF-confusing stage clutter tat is typical, combined with the fact that musicians tend to stay in place a lot, MF works as well if not better. So I wouldn't let AF speed factor in too large, at least with respect to concert photography. Sports is another matter, of course. I would have to image a 100mm prime would be a bit pretty limiting for most sports, but it is amazingly useful for concerts.

06-21-2009, 01:42 AM   #9
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I think the 135mm 2.8 or 200mm 2.5 would be fitting for action photography. usually macros tend to focus much slower. the two mentioned are both sharp and fast at the same time.
06-21-2009, 03:14 AM   #10
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First off, the DFA 100mm has a longer focusing range compared to the DA* 50-135mm as it focuses from infinity to 1:1 magnification (0.3m). Obviously if you're trying to focus from min focusing distance to the other end of the focus range, the camera will take longer to lock focus.

However if you're not shooting macros but subjects at a distance, the DFA 100mm is no slower to focus compared to the DA*50-135mm. Having SDM is no indication that a lens will focus faster, just quieter. AF speed has a lot has to do with the focus travel and your subject distance plus camera in question and ambient brightness. If anything I find at typical non-macro shooting distances, focusing with a screw drive lens like the DFA 100mm macro is no different than an SDM lens in terms of speed. A one who have used both the lenses, don't always jump to the conclusion a macro lens will focus slower.
06-21-2009, 08:15 AM   #11
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K McCall: Great shots.

Marc: Good point—MF is something I have used at outdoor concerts when the act doesn't move around too much. But when say a vocalist is pacing around the stage, manual focus can be really tough to pull off.

As for the 100mm focal length, you're right, I think that it would be perfect for concerts--especially big, outdoor stages. And since sports are a secondary concern, I don't think I'll need a reach beyond 135 for now.

Pentaxor: Thanks for the recommendations.

creampuff: Thanks for the feedback. Since I currently use a K100D, SDM wasn't factored into the comparison (sorry I didn't mention that). I'm more concerned about the focus lock time since like you said, the 100mm focuses from infinity to 1:1 magnification. But it's good to know that it's not automatically slower because it's a macro.
06-21-2009, 09:35 AM   #12
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I recently just went out to try to take photos of my friends on the track with the FA 100mm macro (I don't think it should be too different from the D-FA), and it was pretty bad. Just when the AF gets the target in focus, it gets out of focus again and back in focus, etc. About 1/2 of my shots were in focus that way. The 50-135mm SDM should perform much better though, as the 100mm macro wasn't desinged for fast action.
06-21-2009, 09:55 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pentaxor Quote
I think the 135mm 2.8 or 200mm 2.5 would be fitting for action photography.
I have the F 135mm f/2.8 and love it for candids but I haven't tried it for sports because I worry about fringing. I use the Sigma 70-200mm for outdoor sports.
06-21-2009, 10:03 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by dadipentak Quote
I have the F 135mm f/2.8 and love it for candids but I haven't tried it for sports because I worry about fringing. I use the Sigma 70-200mm for outdoor sports.
maybe you could give it a try.
06-21-2009, 10:04 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by GLXLR Quote
I recently just went out to try to take photos of my friends on the track with the FA 100mm macro (I don't think it should be too different from the D-FA), and it was pretty bad. Just when the AF gets the target in focus, it gets out of focus again and back in focus, etc. About 1/2 of my shots were in focus that way. The 50-135mm SDM should perform much better though, as the 100mm macro wasn't desinged for fast action.
that's odd. doesn't the FA version have a focus limiter? I know that the DFA doesn't have one.
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