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07-19-2009, 12:50 AM   #1
emr
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Not so great review for DFA 100mm f/2.8 macro

I was just reading the August issue of "Digital Camera", a UK based photography magazine. There is a group test of macro lenses around 100m FL (90-105mm). The overall verdict scale was from 62% to 95% (/100%). Surprisingly the winner was the cheapest lens: Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro, which got 95%. The worst was Sony 100mm f/2.8 Macro which got 62%.

And Pentax? 65% and the second worst results! Bottom line goes: "With its noisy AF motor, lack of focus limit switch and merely average image quality, the Pentax doesn't represent great value for money."

The other ones were Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM (80%), Nikon AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED (89%) and Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro (76%).

So what do you think? This DFA doesn't seem to be one of the great Pentax lenses, but is it supposed to do so badly? Photozone did give it significantly better results, I believe. This test does give some weight to the price, but for example the more expensive Nikon did much better.

(BTW, the same issue evaluates K-7 fairly positively at 87%, while the rivals Canon 50D and Nikon D300 have got 90% earlier.)

07-19-2009, 02:54 AM   #2
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I believe they made the basis due to the fact the it doesn't have a SDM and focus limiter and in-lens VR (as if this one really mattered). I believe that the 65% grade is way too low and doesn't give justice to the Pentax DFA 100. atleast I would had graded it along the 80% mark IQ-wise.

if older generation lenses were involved, I would had included the FA 100 around 85% and the Kiron 105 2.5 slightly around 97%.
07-19-2009, 03:20 AM   #3
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How did they do these 'tests'?
Did they even take a photo with the DFA 100?
Optically, the FA and DFA versions are similar, and I can definitely vouch for the FA 100's spectacular sharpness, image quality, rendition and build quality. My FA doesn't even have the focus limiter and I couldn't care less - results are what matters to me, and this lens delivers the goods in uncompromised fashion.

What does an independent reviewer have to say? Vignetting <0.6px wide open, dramatically reduced thereafter, resolution at the high end of the very high category STRAIGHT from f/2.8 all the way to f/16, BOTH at the centre and borders of the frame on a APS-C crop, and little CA to speak of. Reviewer? Photozone.de
07-19-2009, 04:47 AM   #4
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mah, bah... Sony and Pentax getting slammed for no reason I am pretty certain... I have the tamron, but only because of price... otherwise IMO PK is superior, and that is mainly because of size... IQ is "macro" like for both, so exceptionally sharp, and pretty flat... which makes the scores wayyyy exegragated ...

if they gave 95-90 scores to all lenses that would make more sense in this category, but well... some magazines for widely different products give the same or similar scores when totally inappropriate, and this is one "test" which separates them greatly for some unknown reason, unless they got a dud Sony and Pentax lens, but if they are all up to spec that I would suspect either simple user bias or paid for bias.

07-19-2009, 05:13 AM   #5
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Bought the same magazine for some reason (a so so K7 review!)... Their biggest rant was lack of contrast and colours lacking vibrancy compared to most of the others. No problems with sharpness "and absense of distortion or CAs impressive".
Begs the next question, i'm assuming the Nikon, Canon and Sony were on their respective makes, what were the Sigma and Tamron tested on?
Next? they say all lens were tested on cropped frame sensor cameras, does not mention which models, A Nikon 300 verses Canon 50D perhaps? and which Sony and which Pentax model, comparable would be A700 and K20D I believe.
Seeing as they give out about dull colours in the Sony as well, I am wondering if the author is simply not used to these particular systems and has not been able to results compable to a system or camera that he knows particulary well!
07-19-2009, 05:23 AM   #6
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Given enough light, I've not experienced any 'lack' of colour or contrast - perhaps not my most brilliant of lenses in this department, but very easily fixed in PP, which I do to most of my images anyway...
07-19-2009, 06:14 AM   #7
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I've used the tammy 90 and no way I rate it that high but not low either. It's a middle of the pack macro...and that is not a bad thing. I would rather buy an old 30D or 20D, XT or XTi, whatever and a Canon EF-S 60mm than own a Tammy 90mm. The EF-S 60mm is a sleeper and a bargain price wise. The Sigma 70mm is as good as the Tammy 90.

But they best macros I ever used were the MP-E 65mm (a true 1x-5x macro only lens), the Sigma 150mm next and the Tammy 180mm next...then the rest are pretty much all the same give or take the QC that day in the assembly line.

I am looking forward to finding some older K-mount macro lenses and see what they can do...I never use AF for macro anyway as the entire point is the magnification not the focus...well what I mean is, I set my mag first then move the camera into focus. So, for me even a focus limiter switch is somewhat not needed, but nice if you want to use your macro for other shots in a pinch.

I think these reviews select the 100mm range for one reason, Canon and Nikon push those as the 'best' focal length value so people buy them because compared to other f2.8 primes they are cheapish. Horses for courses though...I loved my Sigma 180mm but the weight got to be way to much for me handheld. And the more modern 100mm lenses never really "blew my skirt up". The Sigma 150 otoh is a god amoung 1:1 macro lenses with the Tammy 180mm.

I truly cannot wait to find my first old Pentax or whoever macro lenses because I bet they are as good or better than their $500+ counter parts made today. EXCEPT for the MP-E 65mm which is the holy grail to most macro shooters. One of my favorite macro shooters uses that lens on a 20D body and he is in the upper end of macro shooters anywhere. Think of the DOF at 5x...ZOIKES!! but man is it fun to use...just need to learn to use focus stacking software on occasion.

Thanks for the post about macro, it's one of my fav things to shoot. I sure would not say there is such a wide difference between the lenses they tested. I would really prefer if there was a way to do blind testing of lenses and bodies. Keeping names out of the mix...results might just be a tad different.

I wonder too if the testers were using AF all the time...I don't think any macro lens has a very accurate AF...that is why a large number of macro folks do it by hand.
07-19-2009, 06:46 AM   #8
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I have to say that I don't really disagree with the review. I have used the Pentax, own the Tamron and have a tiny bit of experience with the Canon and the Sigma. First of all, the reviewer talks about average image quality, and in this group, that is true, yet not a bad thing at all. All of these lenses produce good photos. My very brief hands on with the Canon makes me think that it is the best of the bunch when it comes to non macro photography and I would say they are all pretty close (and all excellent) when it comes to macro.

However, the Pentax has some major downsides.

Build qualitywise, the Pentax is poor (sorry to say it). It feels cheap and plasticky, and when it is extended, it does not feel solid at all. Further, it is noisy and the lack of a limiter switch is a fairly big issue when you experience the lens overshooting the focus point and you have to wait until it gets all the way to the far end of the focus zone, often to have it give up and stop focusing at all. My Tamron feels much more solid, handles better subjectively and it does have a limiter, which is essential when you are using AF. I would say the Sigma is better built than my Tamron and the Canon is considerably better again. I don't know anything about the Sony, other than that it does look kind of cheap to me. Haven't used the Nikkor either, though I have heard a few good things about it.

Really, I don't have bad things to say about the Pentax photo wise, but I do think it is in against some awfully good competition and in this case, Pentax didn't do the little things needed to compete in such a strong field.

07-19-2009, 07:00 AM   #9
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Hi there Darren.

I remember you posting your thoughts on those fast sigma primes. Which one of the three (20, 24,28) do you recommend. Which one performs well wide open at f1.8 or f2. I am fine with all three focal lengths, but want to be able to use it indoors with available light and have good edge to edge performance in a APS-C sensor.

Thank you

OP, sorry for the hijack.

P.S: My thoughts of the tamron 90mm macro having seen most images posted, is that it is as good as the voigtlander 125mm, IOW, as b est as it gets.
07-19-2009, 07:09 AM   #10
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I previously owned the Sigma 28/1.8 and presently own the 24/1.8. Both are very good and have very similar characteristics. I think that perhaps the 24 is a little sharper, thoguh the 28 might have had a little better bokeh. The 24 is better wide open, where I think the 28 needed to get to f/2.2. No real experience with the 20. I would recommend though that you think about your use; I think that even between 24 & 28, the field of view difference makes them two very different lenses. Throw the 20 into the mix and you are going to have three very different looks.
07-19-2009, 07:16 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by emr Quote
I was just reading the August issue of "Digital Camera", a UK based photography magazine. There is a group test of macro lenses around 100m FL (90-105mm). The overall verdict scale was from 62% to 95% (/100%). Surprisingly the winner was the cheapest lens: Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro, which got 95%. The worst was Sony 100mm f/2.8 Macro which got 62%.

And Pentax? 65% and the second worst results! Bottom line goes: "With its noisy AF motor, lack of focus limit switch and merely average image quality, the Pentax doesn't represent great value for money."

The other ones were Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM (80%), Nikon AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED (89%) and Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro (76%).

So what do you think? This DFA doesn't seem to be one of the great Pentax lenses, but is it supposed to do so badly? Photozone did give it significantly better results, I believe. This test does give some weight to the price, but for example the more expensive Nikon did much better.

(BTW, the same issue evaluates K-7 fairly positively at 87%, while the rivals Canon 50D and Nikon D300 have got 90% earlier.)
Lol... reviews all vary.
First I look at dpreview saying that the Tokina (Pentax) 12-24mm is the BEST wide angle lens for APS-C sensors, and then I see a review on photozone saying the Sigma 10-20mm is better and recently a magazine said the 12-24mm was testied among other wide angle lenses and represented the worst of them all.

Bottom line is that all reviews are different.
07-19-2009, 08:22 PM   #12
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Gee, that shows the credibility of these reviews.
Or perhaps they're looking at different end-points of lens performance?
07-19-2009, 08:49 PM   #13
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Wouldn't rate macro lenses on only af or having limiter switches. When you get in really close with macro af is near useless (as is manual focus). The DFA 100 is a great lens, as are most all macros. Used mine a lot before the Pentax 200 macro arrived. Now it gets used lightly.
thanks
barondla

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