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09-29-2009, 06:59 AM   #1
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Dilemma: Pentax 70 pancake or Sigma 70 macro?

I'm trying to decide which of these to get.

Pentax DA 70mm f/2.4 limited

Sigma 70mm f/2.8 EX DG Marcro


I don't want to inhibit any potential response so I will only say two things now about what I already know about the lenses.

First, I do of course know that the Pentax 70 is a pancake, and I will say that that is a big plus in my book right now. I got the 40mm pancake earlier this summer and I'm loving it. Somebody said here not too long ago that the pancake lenses seem to intimidate subjects less than honking big Sigma lenses. (My Sigma 28 seems about six times bigger than the Pentax 40.)

Second, I do know that the Sigma 70 is a macro lens, and this isn't a big plus for me, as I don't do macro work much. Well, I might use it to shoot wedding rings, but I seldom shoot flowers or bugs up close.

You are probably asking yourself, if I like the fact that the Pentax is a pancake and don't care much about the Sigma's macro capability, then what am I hesitating about. Well, the problem here is, I gather that the image quality of the Sigma is truly outstanding. And I am now at the point where I would like to get the best image quality I can get, without having to start buying manual-focus Zeiss lenses!

Any response welcome. I'm aware that most people probably don't have personal experience with both lenses, so please, if you have experience with either, just let me know what you know. Thanks in advance.

Will

09-29-2009, 07:16 AM   #2
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I doubt the pentax will leave you wanting for the sigma in the image quality department.
09-29-2009, 08:52 AM   #3
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Well, they're both razor sharp lenses, based on the reviews I've seen. I have the DA 70 and it's easily one of my favorites--sharp from 2.4, great bokeh, lightweight.
09-29-2009, 08:59 AM   #4
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I haven't shot with the Sigma but I can vouch that the 70mm is sharper than I'll even need it to be. You will not be disappointed with it. It is my absolutely favorite portrait lens of all times.

09-29-2009, 09:20 AM   #5
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The Sigma 70 macro is one of the most highly praised sigma's... The IQ and sharpness are well represented on the forum. You dont have to shoot bugs to take advantage of a close focus macro lens.


The Da 70 is also one of the little gems of our Pentax line up... You will get a ton of folks recommending it...

It is really all about the size to me.... There is a big difference.

My guess is size will be the deciding factor in the end.

Is money a factor?
09-29-2009, 09:27 AM   #6
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I haven't used the Sigma, but 70Ltd has the fastest (locks very reliably) AF of all the lenses i've tried (DA18-55,DA50-200,F50/1.7,Sig30/1.4,Sig70-300APO).
Sigma is DG (Fully covers film frame) - does it have an aperture ring?
70mm is a focal length which always makes me want to get just a bit closer.. so macro option would be very welcome.

Last edited by ytterbium; 09-29-2009 at 09:35 AM.
09-29-2009, 09:41 AM   #7
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Well, I wouldn't quite call the DA 70mm a "pancake"; small, yes, but it's not THAT small (relatively speaking, I guess).

Not the closest min. focus distance, but results are quite often good enough you can crop to compensate as needed.

Does the Sigma offer quick-shift? I'm finding I use it more and more now that my brain has finally become used to the fact that I can do so after AF gets a lock.
09-29-2009, 10:07 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Igilligan Quote
The Sigma 70 macro is one of the most highly praised sigma's... The IQ and sharpness are well represented on the forum. You dont have to shoot bugs to take advantage of a close focus macro lens.

The Da 70 is also one of the little gems of our Pentax line up... You will get a ton of folks recommending it...

It is really all about the size to me.... There is a big difference.

My guess is size will be the deciding factor in the end.

Is money a factor?

Money is always a factor. The Sigma 70 can be had from photo4less.com (a decent dealer that I've dealt with in the past) for $450, which is not quite $100 less than the Pentax 70.

But you're right, the size of the Pentax pancake is also a factor. If the Sigma had significantly better image quality AND a lower price, then I might think it clearly the better choice for me. But I seem to be weighing price against size and I'm finding it hard to decide.

If I were rich I wouldn't hesitate for a second to buy 'em both.

Will

09-29-2009, 10:09 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by legacyb4 Quote
Well, I wouldn't quite call the DA 70mm a "pancake"; small, yes, but it's not THAT small (relatively speaking, I guess).

Not the closest min. focus distance, but results are quite often good enough you can crop to compensate as needed.

Does the Sigma offer quick-shift? I'm finding I use it more and more now that my brain has finally become used to the fact that I can do so after AF gets a lock.
Yeah, I know the 70 isn't as small as the 40. But I thought it was referred to as a "pancake." Guess I was wrong. Wish I could see one up close!

I don't think any of the Sigma lenses offer quick shift, do they? You're right, that's nic to have....

Will
09-29-2009, 10:44 AM   #10
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I've only briefly tried out the Sigma 70 Macro, though everybody I know who has used one thinks it's absolutely outstanding.

I put the Sigma 70 beside the DA*16-50 and it's almost as big and heavy as the zoom. But you gotta think they did that for a reason, you know, optical performance and stuff So you would probably get an edge in sharpness with the Sigma.

I do have the 70 and the 40 though, and the 70 is no slouch in any department, including sharpness. The DA 70 is called a pancake, but legacyb4 is also right, because it's pushing the definition a bit. But without the hood, it's really quite tiny. It's also nearly as light as the 40. It also focuses very fast--Macro lenses, on the other hand, aren't known for fast focusing.
09-29-2009, 10:50 AM   #11
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Pentax DA 70 en FA77 1 on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

QuoteOriginally posted by WMBP Quote
Yeah, I know the 70 isn't as small as the 40. But I thought it was referred to as a "pancake." Guess I was wrong. Wish I could see one up close!

I don't think any of the Sigma lenses offer quick shift, do they? You're right, that's nic to have....

Will
09-29-2009, 11:08 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by WMBP Quote
Yeah, I know the 70 isn't as small as the 40. But I thought it was referred to as a "pancake." Guess I was wrong. Wish I could see one up close!
Here is a decent picture showing a size comparison between the DA 40, DA 70 and DA 18-55:

Pentax DA 40mm and 70mm Limited lens full review Cameralabs design

As a DA 70 owner, it really is quite diminutive and very light, even with the screw-on hood attached. But if you unscrewed and took off the hood, you would be looking at it more like a "pancake". Of course, I would think most people generally leave the hood on for obvious reasons. As a comparison, the DA 35 Macro, while pretty small and light in its own right, is fairly bigger and heavier than the DA 70 (this being all relative). Performance-wise, I absolutely love my DA 70 and would wholeheartedly recommend it.
09-29-2009, 11:11 AM   #13
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The DA70 without it's hood is as deserving of the name "pancake" as any non-40mm lens is. With the hood, it's small, but more like a "biscuit". Still, even with the hood it's a *lot* smaller and lighter than the Sigma *without* its hood. With the hood and with the focus ring fully extended, the Sigma looks like it could eat the DA70 and a side of bacon for breakfast and still be hungry.

If you're concerned with minimum focus distance and macro capabilities, consider a Raynox 150 or 250. The 150 renders the DA70 a 1:2 quasi-macro with great IQ; the 250 would presumably render it closers to 1:1. But focus distance is so short with the 250 (that's how one gets close to 1:1 at 70mm) that I'd recommend the 150 instead, as 1:2 is really all you need if you ren't seriously into macro. And if you are, simply use the same Raynox 150 with a longer lens.

The DA70 is one of the fastest focusing lenses available for Pentax and features quickshift . The Sigma does have a focus limiter, so focus shouldn't as excruciatingly slow as it might otherwise be, but I doubt it can compare to the DA70.

I haven't seen anyone do a direct comparison of the two in IQ, but really, the DA70 is one of the best lenses Pentax has ever made, and there's basically no way the Sigma could be beating it by much if it does at all.

If you're expecting to use it a lot for macro, by all means, get the Sigma, but if that's not high on the priority list, get the DA70, and a Raynox 150 too if you like.
09-29-2009, 03:27 PM   #14
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I personally will get the Sigma 70/2.8 as my next lens. It is so good that Imaging-Resource use it as their cross-brand reference lens to compare cameras with each other.

The photozone test rates it sharper than the Tamron 90mm and says it's bokeh is "very smooth and buttery". PopPhoto calls it "faultless".

I personally love macros but I'm really excited about the portraits I'll be able to do with the Sigma. If I didn't care about macros then I'd be looking at a FA 77 Ltd for portraits rather than the DA 70 Ltd. I think the 77 has more character and in contrast to the 70 it is a full frame lens (as is the Sigma).

Have a look at some portraits made with the Sigma.
Or marvel at this product shot of a watch. Not a macro; can the Pentax 70 do this?
How about some nice leaf shots?

As you are not into macros, this Sigma 70 vs Tamron 90 comparison will not be that interesting to you. BTW, the Sigma hasn't got a manual aperture ring but the only application I had for it would be when I put the lens on extension rings. Since the Sigma is a 1:1 already I don't see the need for that.

Finally, some Sigma 70/2.8 images by jsherman999 (no jsherman999 junior included, for those who are concerned ): some wide open shots, flowers and butterflies.

My parting advice would be not to underestimate one's preferences regarding the lens itself rather than its image quality. Pancakes don't do anything for me. Too little lens for me. I love the look and feel of a FA 77 Ltd and if a lens doesn't weigh a little bit, something is missing for me personally. However, if "small and light" floats your boat and the DA 70 Ltd doesn't do anything wrong in the IQ department, I'd probably get it if I were you. You don't want to end up continuously convincing yourself that you've made the right choice regarding the last iota of IQ when you are lugging around the Sigma while deep down in your heart you wished you had a flat pancake on the camera.

Last edited by Class A; 01-16-2010 at 07:04 PM.
09-29-2009, 04:00 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
I haven't seen anyone do a direct comparison of the two in IQ, but really, the DA70 is one of the best lenses Pentax has ever made, and there's basically no way the Sigma could be beating it by much if it does at all.
The Sigma has less vignetting, less CA, and is sharper. While I haven't found comparable resolution numbers for the two lenses, the DA 70 peaks at f/5.6 and the Sigma 70 at f/4(!). It is also rather likely that a macro lens beats a standard lens in sharpness and the Sigma is one of the sharpest macro lenses there are.

The bokeh of the Sigma looks very good to me, surprisingly good for such a sharp lens. Perhaps someone can point to images showing off the attributes of the DA 70.

Here are the photozone verdicts for the Sigma 70 and Pentax DA 70 (note that you cannot compare the resolution numbers directly as they are measured on different sensors).
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