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06-24-2007, 04:57 PM   #1
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Macro Battle: Tamron 90mm Vs. Pentax 100mm

Let us put focal length & price to the side....which lens produces better images!

Thanks to All!

06-24-2007, 11:45 PM   #2
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There is more than 1 Pentax 100mm macro, you should specify which one you want to compare.

Have a look at the photozone reviews from the 2 most recent Pentax 100mm incarnations, the FA 100 and DFA 100, and the Tamron. Unfortunately they are not tested for the same mount, altho the Nikon has the same sensor as the Pentax camera tested.

Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8 Di SP macro (Nikon mount) - Photozone Test Report / Review
Pentax SMC-FA 100mm f/2.8 macro - Photozone Review / Lab Test Report
Pentax SMC-D FA 100mm f/2.8 macro - Photozone Review / Lab Test Report

If you look at the res charts then I guess its FA 100 - 90 DI - DFA 100.

But really these lenses are so close it comes down to other considerations. I Have the FA 100 macro myself and it has a focus limiter which unfortunately the DFA 100 does not have, however its a heavy brick of a lens and not easy to hand hold for macro shots because of the shallow DOF. I have been playing with the thought of getting a 50mm macro because the lower weight would make it easier to handle for hand held flower shots.

Anyways, I think you cant go wrong with any of the lenses, rather than resolution, consider size, weight, price and features to decide which one you want to go for.
06-29-2007, 07:41 AM   #3
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I have the tamron and while I can't speak from a comparison point of view (never used the FA 100 or the DFA 100), I can't find any fault with it. It is a VERY sharp, fast AF and reasonably priced lens.
06-30-2007, 06:10 AM   #4
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Tamron in general is sharper than DFA 100 macro but less contrasty at the same aperture wide open.

Otherwise little difference settting these two lenses apart. (maybe Pentax AF much better)

06-30-2007, 06:50 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by and Quote
... however its a heavy brick of a lens and not easy to hand hold for macro shots because of the shallow DOF. I have been playing with the thought of getting a 50mm macro because the lower weight would make it easier to handle for hand held flower shots.

I don't mean to be picking on you, And...I'm just quoting you because you're talking about something that I find very odd. Why should we worry about a difference of a few lines of resolution if we're going to handhold a lens for macro shots? If sharpness is of primary consideration, the performance of ANY lens can be improved by using a tripod, remote release, and mirror lock-up.
06-30-2007, 07:30 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by TaoMaas Quote
I don't mean to be picking on you, And...I'm just quoting you because you're talking about something that I find very odd. Why should we worry about a difference of a few lines of resolution if we're going to handhold a lens for macro shots? If sharpness is of primary consideration, the performance of ANY lens can be improved by using a tripod, remote release, and mirror lock-up.
hehe, well the question was which one is better, the answer is they are so similar, resolution wise, that other factors should come into play, thus my conclusion in the original post:

"Anyways, I think you cant go wrong with any of the lenses, rather than resolution, consider size, weight, price and features to decide which one you want to go for."

But since the question was which one is best, I quoted the test saying which one measured best. But then I have the FA 100 and I dont have a tripod, yet, so I have to hand hold it when I use it for macro and I find it too heavy for that, as you correctly point out you need a tripod to get good results out of it.

Actually, what exactly did you find strange, you say? that I mentioned the small difference in resolution?
06-30-2007, 07:59 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by and Quote
Actually, what exactly did you find strange, you say? that I mentioned the small difference in resolution?
I intended to be asking questions in a rhetorical way...not directly picking on you. I'm sorry if you took it that way. I see a lot of people online (and in real life) talking about hand-holding their macro shots and I always wonder, "Why?" The nature of macro photography dictates the need for a tripod if a photographer wants to be able to take full advantage of lighting and depth of field.
06-30-2007, 08:08 AM   #8
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Oh thats what you were disagreeing with. Well maybe you would be suprised to know that:
1. not everyone that has a macro lens has a tripod (to which you would say everyone needs to have one before they get a macro lens)
2. not everyone carries that heavy tripod around with them everytime they bring their camera
3. It is possible to get nice macro shots without a tripod (shock!) especially with a lighter lens such as a 50mm

as for myself I have a macro lens but I bought it because I was visiting another country and found one used in a store so I didnt want to pass up on a good deal and got it. I use it mostly as a 100mm teleporto and not as a macro because I know that without a tripod I cant really do serious macro. But a few times I have tried just for fun and it can work ok on things such as flowers where you dont go down to 1:1.

06-30-2007, 12:55 PM   #9
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I'm in the market for a macro lens too. One of my prerequisites is that I can shoot without a tripod. I have one, and a mini one too - but I tend to have a lot of difficulty setting up the shot. I find by the time I adjust the tripod in the right spot, the wind has come up, the bug has flown, the light has changed or the flower has died!! I have a super steady hand and I just don't always carry a tripod with me, especially when I'm at the cottage.

So, that said - now I'm wondering if I should go with a shorter focal length lens, because of the weight factor? Will that still give me a 1:1 macro? I'm a macro newbie, so if I sound confused... I am!!
06-30-2007, 01:06 PM   #10
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any dedicated macro that is 1:1 will give you 1:1, it doesnt depend on the focal length. Pentax is planning to release a 35mm limited 1:1 macro that will also give you 1:1. The difference the focal length makes is the distance you need to be from your object in order to achieve 1:1. in other words the minimum focusing distance is closer. So with a 35mm macro lens you have to be very close in order to get 1:1 whereas with a 200mm macro lens you can keep more distance.

this is of course usefull when the subject is a bug that can get scared. with flowers it doesnt really matter, unless you are using flash, then you may get so close you are blocking your light.

remember that macro is used not only for 1:1 lenses, some zooms are marketed as "macro" but they dont give you 1:1, more like 1:2 or 1:3 etc. true 1:1 macro lenses are always fixed length, at least all I have seen.

Oh and btw, I have the old FA 100mm macro, so I complain about the weight, the new DFA 100mm macro is smaller and lighter than my "brick"
06-30-2007, 01:08 PM   #11
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Good to know --- thanks!!
07-01-2007, 08:56 PM   #12
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Maybe have a look at the Sigma 70mm EX Macro released recently. I hear it has great sharpness and it's lighter than the other Macros mentioned. It's also as far as focal length goes right in the middle between 50mm and 100mm so it could be the perfect compromise. It also has a fast AF for a Macro lens so can double as a portrait lens quite easily. Check it out!!

Tim H
07-02-2007, 05:29 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by TaoMaas Quote
I intended to be asking questions in a rhetorical way...not directly picking on you. I'm sorry if you took it that way. I see a lot of people online (and in real life) talking about hand-holding their macro shots and I always wonder, "Why?" The nature of macro photography dictates the need for a tripod if a photographer wants to be able to take full advantage of lighting and depth of field.
The reality is there are some subjects where the photographer may not be able to shoot macro with either a tripod or monopod - eg, fast moving insects.

Having tried both the Pentax DFA and the Tamron, I find the Tamron better at wider apertures, which is perhaps better for portraits as well but less important if you're serious on macro and need depth of field, as performance at the smaller apertures is the key. That 10mm difference in focal length has a slight difference as well in terms of OOF backgrounds when used at normal focusing range. Personally I would go with the Pentax FA. It's bigger and heavier than the DFA but betters it image quality wise.
07-02-2007, 05:37 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by and Quote
any dedicated macro that is 1:1 will give you 1:1, it doesnt depend on the focal length. Pentax is planning to release a 35mm limited 1:1 macro that will also give you 1:1. The difference the focal length makes is the distance you need to be from your object in order to achieve 1:1. in other words the minimum focusing distance is closer. So with a 35mm macro lens you have to be very close in order to get 1:1 whereas with a 200mm macro lens you can keep more distance.
The difference is not merely in minimum focusing distance but also in the angle of view. The soon to be introduced 35mm macro is a by product of the 1.5X crop factor and is to fulfill the original role of the 50mm macro on 35mm film format. The current 50mm macro is less useful now for still life and food shoots as it has become a short tele with a narrower angle of view. There is also the related effect of DOF as well.
07-03-2007, 08:45 AM   #15
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QuoteQuote:
short tele with a narrower angle of view
Crop or no crop the angle of view wil not change.

I personaly use the SMC F 100/2.8 build like a tank and exellent pics. I found it cheaper second hand then a Tamron 90/2.8 macronew.

For me a tripod is a must in macro, but covince yourself and try it out.
Even if you keep things stable its hard to stay within the limits of the DOF.

Guido
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