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02-10-2010, 09:43 AM   #1
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Looking for 100mm Macro Lens

I love the Pentax smc P-D FA 100mm 2.8 Macro Auto Focus Lens, but it is a tad (no, much more than a tad) outside my financial reach at the moment. It is, however, definitely in my future.

Can anyone suggest a reasonably priced substitute for now? My Pentax model is a K20D, and I LOVE it.

We live in a sea of light.
Henry Plummer, The Poetics of Light

02-10-2010, 10:01 AM   #2
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What do you have to spend and how much is the DF-A for sale for? If it's henry's or Vistek ... well .....
02-10-2010, 11:03 AM   #3
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There are a lot of possibilities. Most of them mean giving up something. Some examples:

A completely manual lens, such as a Pentax-M 100mm f4 or Tamron SP 90mm f2.5 with PK Adaptall mount. Autofocus is not always helpful with macro work, so manual focus only lenses are still an option. A KA-mount lens makes flash a little easier but it's not that hard to work around. Optical quality is pretty much the same. Some options only do 1:2 magnification.

A less durable lens, such as the Cosina 100mm f3.5 macro. This lens was sold under many names: Vivitar, Phoenix, even Pentax-FA or A. There are autofocus and manual focus versions. It only does 1:2 magnification but has an accessory diopter for 1:1. I don't see as many of these around as I used to.

Some other method to get the combination of magnification, automation and working distance you need. You didn't say why you wanted the D-FA, so it's hard to suggest the best ones. Options include a fast 50mm lens and a Vivitar Macro Focusing Teleconverter or a Raynox diopter coupled with a lens you already have.
02-10-2010, 11:50 AM   #4

There is a sigma 105 in the marketplace

The sigma 105 is a great AF macro and there is one in the marketplace right now for a great price

Grab it quick!

02-10-2010, 12:38 PM   #5
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The Tamron 90/2.8 Macro has been a popular alternative as the IQ equally as good as the DFA 100/2.8 for half the price. I've heard tons of good things about the Sigma 105/2.8 also and at that price for a mint condition, it definitely won't last long.
02-10-2010, 02:10 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by CateKerr Quote
I love the Pentax smc P-D FA 100mm 2.8 Macro Auto Focus Lens, but it is a tad (no, much more than a tad) outside my financial reach at the moment. It is, however, definitely in my future.

Can anyone suggest a reasonably priced substitute for now? My Pentax model is a K20D, and I LOVE it.

We live in a sea of light.
Henry Plummer, The Poetics of Light
Read up on the use of manual lenses in the sticky at the top of this forum, and get a manual macro lens, such as my M series 100 f/4. It only goes to 1/2 life size, but I have a 50mm extension tube that solves that problem on the rare occasions when I want to image something smaller than 31x47 mm and fill the frame with it.

You should be able to get back most of what you paid for it when you sell it to finance the D-FA 100 macro WR. That, of course, if you want to sell it after using it for a while. I like mine. it's small, light, solidly built, has a great focusing ring and is as sharp as all the other macro lenses out there. The WR on the latest Pentax lens is attractive, but not enough to spend that kind of money.
02-10-2010, 05:30 PM   #7
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What else must it do?

Some folks desire a macro lens that's fast, has autofocus, toasts bagels, etc -- in other words, a general-purpose prime with close-focus. If that's what's wanted, great. But for a specifically MACRO lens, all that is irrelevant. Speed, autofocus, shake reduction -- worthless! You want sharpness and a small minimum (auto) aperture, and the right light.

I'll put a 105/4.5 enlarger lens (US$7) on tripod-mounted bellows (US$40), stop down to f/32, and stretch to get 5:1 magnification of a well-lit subject. Or I'll put my M42 Vivitar 90/2.8 macro lens (US$3) on my K20D, stop down to f/22, power-up the ringlite, and stretch out to 1:1. Or if I'm traveling light, poking into odd places, I'll mount a Raynox DCR-250 (US$50) onto my faithful FA 50/1.4 with a ringlite, stop down to f/16, and get close and nasty -- manual focus, of course. I could put the Raynox on my M42 Meyer Trioplan 100/2.8 too, if I had it with me - much lighter than the Viv.

Back in the day, I sometimes pulled a semi-macro trick. My Olympus Pen-FT (frame size similar to the K20D's APS-C sensor) would mount a bellows and a Spiratone 400mm tele, all latched onto a rifle-type shoulder stock. This was for shooting closeups of rattlesnakes from a safe distance, like 12 feet. To use such a setup with my K20D now, I'd want a bigger ringlite.

What it boils down to is, that when working VERY close up, the lens is often the least critical component. Extension and lighting and patience are primary. Of course, where and what and how you're shooting, all make a difference. In the studio or in the field? Tripodded or handheld? With great deliberation, or impromptu snapping? Whatever -- one needn't spend a pile of money.

Last edited by RioRico; 02-10-2010 at 05:59 PM. Reason: fixup
02-10-2010, 06:18 PM   #8
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+1 for the macro-TC

I have used a Vivitar 2x tele-macro and a Panagor 3x tele-macro both with M 1.4 and A 1.7 50mm's. This gives me 100 and 150mm @ around f4-5.6(?).
Both TC's were quite inexpensive and the results are very good.


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