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03-18-2011, 07:12 PM   #1
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Macro lens help - too many decisions!

Hi folks

I'm looking for a macro lens to do flower photography with. I had the Pentax-A 50mm f2.8 macro (nice lens) but I found I had to get a bit too close and would probably block some of the light out by doing so.

I've got the Viv S1 70-210 and whilst that is really nice, its also rather heavy, so traveling with it is a bit difficult.

I can get a used Tamron 90 Di f2.8 macro for a pretty good price. The focal length seems good and the 1:1 macro is nice. I've also looked at the Pentax-FA 100mm f3.5 macro which can be had quite cheaply and is nice and light so is probably a good travel choice? I know the build quality is not the best.

I would like a macro with AF as sometimes I lack confidence in manually focusing (even with catch-in-focus), plus if I'm out and about I probably don't want to spend too long trying to manually focus every shot.

Argh! I can't decide. Help me!!

Thanks

03-18-2011, 08:13 PM   #2
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The Tamron is a great lens. Another good option is the Pentax 100mm macro, which has the advantage of being weather-sealed: Pentax-D FA 100mm F2.8 WR Macro Review

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03-18-2011, 08:24 PM   #3
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Nandy:

If you do not want to spend the money on the AF 90mm Tammy or the 100MM f2.8 Pentax (about $400 or $500), then manual focus is the only way to bring the price down. I know the 90mm Tammy has had an incredible rep for DECADES and I was finally able to get one after wanting one for just as long! The manual focus (heck manual everything!) 90mm is a sharp tack lens!

If you are not confident about using manual focus, then get a manual focus lens and get confidence. I use manual focus lenses with my K7 and really, it beeps at you when you are in focus. It is really easier than it was with the older optical focusing systems. And the time to manually focus is minimal. You will have more problems with focus drift caused by the auto focus systems than you will ever waste on manual focus. Working in close I actually like manual focus better. I can focus at a set point and it STAYS there!
03-18-2011, 09:21 PM   #4
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You already received some excellent advices. I can simply re-state what was said.

* There are 2 incredibly great 100 mm AF macro lenses: Pentax DFA100mm WR, the Sigma 105mm and the Tamron 90mm SP. All are great with little differences between. Pick your choise ad you cannot go wrong.

* The Tamron 90mm is the cheapest of the AF lenses. The only way cheaper is to get a 2nd hand MF lens and there are great ones, including the Voigtlander 90mm.

If you get a good bargain for the Tammy 90mm, go for it. You will not be disappointed.

03-18-2011, 10:35 PM   #5
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I actually meant the Pentax 100mm f3.5, the "cream in a yoghurt cup" as described by photozone.

But it seems like the Tammy is the way to go. Do you guys travel with it? Don't find it too bulky or cumbersome?
03-18-2011, 11:02 PM   #6
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The Tamron is a rather large lens comparatively speaking (or the one I had was). It is not however a Heavy lens so portability will depend on exactly what you are looking for. I know you said you want AF but in my experience, close up and personal to the subject, AF is more problem than solution.

03-18-2011, 11:11 PM   #7
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I'm sure I read somewhere that to use the focus clutch on the Tamron, it's a two step process: the body has to be set to MF, and so does the lens.

With the DFA 100, you can have the body in AF and then just use the ring to override? Won't burn out the screw drive motor or anything like that?
03-18-2011, 11:38 PM   #8
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The Pentax DFA100 (WR) has quick shift focus adjustment ability. That is you can focus the lens manually (in AF) but in my experience, the camera still wants to override it. It isn't a feature I use much as a result. If the Tamron has an AF/MF switch (which my Pentax does not), you can set your camera to AF-S and turn off AF on the lens. You can then use Catch in Focus to get your shots. Or you can save $200-$300 and get a manual focus lens to do the same thing. I've just never found AF on a macro (at close distance) to be particularly useful.

One thing I've never tried, and will now that I think of it, is we can turn off the AF using the shutter release (half press) on the camera. In AF-S, that may allow any lens to be used in catch in focus mode. I don't know (yet) if that will work but it sure would be nice if it does.



03-18-2011, 11:38 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by nandystam Quote
... Do you guys travel with it? Don't find it too bulky or cumbersome?
The Tamron 90mm is slightly lighter than the Pentax DFA100mm WR and both are lighter than the Sigma 105mm.

In term of travel, the 90mm is not partcularly bulky. It is smaller and lighter than my DA18-250mm, and my K-7 + Tammy 90mm fit easily in a Lowepro Toploader TLZ1.

Hope that the comment will assist....
03-19-2011, 06:50 AM   #10
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For a 90mm F2.8 lens, the Tamron macro isn't terribly big. I use it handheld for macros all the time. It also has a AF/MF clutch that is easily engaged by pulling or pushing the focus ring.
Like JeffJS above, I find AF to be more hindrance than help on macro photography. For me, one of the big challenges of macro photography is what is left OOF as much as what is in focus. That means I have to decide where the focus should go. In addition, focus stacking intro here a great tool for macro photography, is a lot easier with MF.
I'd also like to plug the Raynox clip on diopters. They work quite well and certainly get close enough, in addition you don't need to change lenses, just clip it on the front of what ever lens is mounted on your camera. For many examples of what they can accomplish check out the Raynox Macro club over in the Lens Club forum.

NaCl(macros can be fun)H2O
03-19-2011, 07:50 AM   #11
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I've been looking into picking up a Macro Lens and most people suggesting that Autofocus is not a great necessity so I would echo those suggesting a cheaper MF lens, that said the Tamron 90 f2.8 is meant to be very very good.
03-19-2011, 08:06 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by chrism_scotland Quote
I've been looking into picking up a Macro Lens and most people suggesting that Autofocus is not a great necessity so I would echo those suggesting a cheaper MF lens, that said the Tamron 90 f2.8 is meant to be very very good.
Hi chrism, one of the reasons to get AF is that while I don't use AF for macro, I do use it for non-macro shots. I've found the Tamron 90mm F2.8 to be an excellent short telephoto and a good portrait lens also. In addition, even tho I don't use the AF on macros, I do like being able to adjust my aperture via the thumbwheel. It is so much more convenient.

NaCl(a macro lens can be a very versitile tool)H2O
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