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Pentax-D FA 100mm f/2.8 Macro WR Lens Review

Pentax-D FA 100mm f/2.8 Macro WR Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews the weather sealed Pentax-D 100mm f/2.8 Macro WR lens.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Pentax -D FA Macro 100mm f/2.8 WR
Price : £515
Rating :
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Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Pentax DA FA Macro 100mm F2 8 WR (4)

This macro optic provides an angle of view equivalent to a 150mm on a 35mm format camera, when mounted on a Pentax Digital SLR. It sports a fast f/2.8 maximum aperture, life size magnification at its closest focusing distance, weather resistant construction and costs around £515.

Pentax-D FA Macro 100mm f/2.8 WR Handling and Features

Pentax DA FA Macro 100mm F2 8 WR (1)

The build quality of this lens is excellent thanks to the aluminium weather sealed lens barrel and metal lens mount. In fact due to the high quality construction and design, you'd be forgiven for mistaking this lens for one of Pentax's premium 'Limited' lenses. The weight of this lens is fairly typical for its type, at around 340g and it balances well with the Pentax K-5 IIs body used for testing.

Focusing isn't performed internally, so the lens barrel extends by a couple of inches during focusing, although the filter thread does not rotate. This makes it perfect for use with polarising and graduated filters. A hood is supplied with the lens that attaches to the front of the lens via a bayonet fitting although this doesn't move as the lens is focused. This is important as it would shade your subject when focusing at close distances if it did.

Pentax DA FA Macro 100mm F2 8 WR (8)

The manual focusing ring rotates during auto-focus although it is well enough out of the way to avoid catching your fingers with it accidentally. Manual focusing action is smooth and well damped , which makes applying manual focus adjustments a pleasure. The Pentax 'Quick Shift' focusing system has been implemented on this lens, which means manual adjustments can be applied once the lens has focused automatically. Auto focus is screw-driven, so it generates more noise than newer silent focusing lenses do. The minimum focus distance of 30.3cm is typical for a lens of this type and provides enough working distance to prevent shading your subject with the lens. Focusing is reasonably quick for a macro lens at normal distances, although a focus limiter may have help speed up focusing on those occasions that the camera struggles to lock onto a subject easily.

Pentax DA FA Macro 100mm F2 8 WR (5)

Pentax-D FA Macro 100mm f/2.8 WR Performance

Sharpness is already excellent in the centre of the frame and good towards the edges of the image at f/2.8 and stopping down as far as f/5.6 improves performance further. Here sharpness is outstanding in the centre of the frame and excellent towards the edges.

MTF @ 100mm
MTF @ 100mm

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Pentax K-5 IIs using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are extremely well controlled, barely exceeding 0.25 pixel widths. This low level of fringing will be difficult to spot, even in harsh crops, or large prints.

CA @ 100mm
CA @ 100mm

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Pentax K-5 IIs using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination is also well controlled for a lens of this maximum aperture. At f/2.8 the corners of the frame are only 0.71 stops darker than the image centre and visually uniform illumination is achieved with the lens stopped down to f/5.6 or beyond.

Distortion is virtually negligible. Imatest was only able to detect 0.07% pincushion distortion, which is an extremely low level and should not require correction, even by the most discerning photographers.

During testing, this lens proved itself very resistant to flare and contrast levels are retained well, even when shooting into the light. The hood also does an excellent job of shading the lens from extraneous light that may cause issues.

Pentax Pentax-D FA Macro 100mm f/2.8 WR Sample Photos


Value For Money

Being priced at around £515, this lens is more expensive than offerings from third party manufacturers, but this is acceptable given how well the lens performs and how good the build quality is.

Sigma offer a 105mm f/2.8 macro lens, which costs around £380 in Pentax fit and Tamron also offer a 90mm f/2.8 lens, for around £325. The budget conscious amongst us may consider these as good alternatives, especially if weather resistance, or extra-sturdy build aren't high priorities.

Pentax-D FA Macro 100mm f/2.8 WR Verdict

As far as lenses go, this one is a top notch performer. It's sharp from maximum aperture, displays very little fringing, falloff or distortion and it is built to a very high standard. Considering all this, the price is very reasonable too, and this lens should find many a fan amongst Pentax camera owners as a result. 


 
  The Pentax FA Macro 100mm f/2.8 WR lens is a top notch performer with sharp results from maximum aperture.

Pentax-D Macro 100mm f/2.8 WR Pros

Excellent sharpness
Weather and dust resistant construction
Good build quality
Low CA, distortion and falloff
Quick shift focusing system

Pentax-D Macro 100mm f/2.8 WR Cons

No focus limiter

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

Pentax Pentax-D FA Macro 100mm f/2.8 WR Specifications

ManufacturerPentax
General
Lens Mounts
  • Pentax K SMC-FA
Lens
Focal Length100mm
Angle of View16
Max Aperturef/2.8
Min Aperturef/32
Filter Size49mm
35mm equivalent150mm
Internal focusingNo
Focusing
Min Focus13cm
StabilisedNo
Construction
Blades8
Elements9
Groups8
Box Contents
Box Contentslens caps, hood, bag
Dimensions
Weight340g
Height80.5mm

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Comments


20 Feb 2014 7:57PM
The real weakness of this lens is that one can get the even sharper Tamron 90mm f2.8 for 150 less with a 5-year warranty.

If you are on a prime only setup, the 90mm can dub as your portrait lens too and makes an excellent pair with your normal-wide choice.

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dsims 4 United States
21 Feb 2014 11:52AM
Yes, except compared to the Tamron the image quality is better, it has nicer color rendering, the handling is better, it's smaller, and the build quality is better. On top of all that it has WR as a bonus (which actually makes sense, because you can get some nice looking macro shots in wet conditions). And one of its distinguishing characteristics is that (unlike many macro lenses) it also makes a good non-macro (portrait) lens!

The Tamron is sharp, sure. In fact it's one of the best lenses Tamron makes. But its weakness is it still has a substantial price tag, while giving you less.


Ironically, what I've always said about this Pentax lens is it has no real weakness. It isn't the absolute best performer in some categories, but it's close in every area. Of course it costs a little more, but as the review says it's worth it for what you get. The only macro lens I know of that's clearly better is the Voigtlander SL 125. But it doesn't have AF at all (or WR, for that matter), plus there's that minor issue that it costs about 3 times as much.


When this lens came out I gladly sold my Tamron and paid the difference to get the best overall macro lens available in K-mount.
Alan_Baseley e2
13 320 2 England
21 Feb 2014 11:58AM
Looks to be a great lens, but not good enough to tempt me to replace my Tamron 90mm, which cost less then half of the Pentax.
dsims 4 United States
21 Feb 2014 12:16PM

Quote: Looks to be a great lens, but not good enough to tempt me to replace my Tamron 90mm, which cost less then half of the Pentax.

I trust that you have an older version of the Tamron 90, because at todays prices on Amazon UK the Pentax is less than 40% higher, not over 100% as you suggest.

And FWIW, on Amazon US today the Pentax is only 33% higher.
Alan_Baseley e2
13 320 2 England
21 Feb 2014 1:55PM

Quote: Looks to be a great lens, but not good enough to tempt me to replace my Tamron 90mm, which cost less then half of the Pentax.

I trust that you have an older version of the Tamron 90, because at todays prices on Amazon UK the Pentax is less than 40% higher, not over 100% as you suggest.

And FWIW, on Amazon US today the Pentax is only 33% higher.

Yes, it's the older version of the Tamron, but less than 2 years old.
dsims 4 United States
24 Feb 2014 10:54AM

Quote: Looks to be a great lens, but not good enough to tempt me to replace my Tamron 90mm, which cost less then half of the Pentax.

I trust that you have an older version of the Tamron 90, because at todays prices on Amazon UK the Pentax is less than 40% higher, not over 100% as you suggest.

And FWIW, on Amazon US today the Pentax is only 33% higher.

Yes, it's the older version of the Tamron, but less than 2 years old.

I think I let you get away with that too easily. Tamron hasn't updated the 90mm macro for Pentax in nearly 10 years, so you must have the same version. Perhaps you're comparing your used Tamron price 2 years ago to today's new Pentax price? That's OK, but it's not apples to apples.
Alan_Baseley e2
13 320 2 England
24 Feb 2014 11:35PM

Quote:

I think I let you get away with that too easily. Tamron hasn't updated the 90mm macro for Pentax in nearly 10 years, so you must have the same version. Perhaps you're comparing your used Tamron price 2 years ago to today's new Pentax price? That's OK, but it's not apples to apples.

I bought it new (not used) less than 2 years ago and it can still be bought new for less then 40% of the price of the Pentax, i.e less than 200. In value for money terms there's no comparison.
dsims 4 United States
24 Feb 2014 11:57PM

Quote: I think I let you get away with that too easily. Tamron hasn't updated the 90mm macro for Pentax in nearly 10 years, so you must have the same version. Perhaps you're comparing your used Tamron price 2 years ago to today's new Pentax price? That's OK, but it's not apples to apples.

I bought it new (not used) less than 2 years ago and it can still be bought new for less then 40% of the price of the Pentax, i.e less than 200. In value for money terms there's no comparison.

Please provide a link to this astounding price.
Alan_Baseley e2
13 320 2 England
25 Feb 2014 9:03AM

Quote: Please provide a link to this astounding price.

I just did a search on Google and then checked the items were in stock on two of the sites it brought up
dsims 4 United States
25 Feb 2014 11:11AM

Quote: Please provide a link to this astounding price.

I just did a search on Google and then checked the items were in stock on two of the sites it brought up

So, new in Pentax mount it's 200-230 from suspect or know scam sites in HK or elsewhere. What a deal!


Reputable EU or UK sellers still charge 330-370.

Even on eBay one individual UK seller claims 2 new Tamrons for 250; but if you're going with eBay then another (more reputable) seller also has the new Pentax for about 400.

So it's still a difference of 150, just as the first poster mentioned.
Alan_Baseley e2
13 320 2 England
25 Feb 2014 6:23PM

Quote: Please provide a link to this astounding price.

I just did a search on Google and then checked the items were in stock on two of the sites it brought up

So, new in Pentax mount it's 200-230 from suspect or know scam sites in HK or elsewhere. What a deal!


Reputable EU or UK sellers still charge 330-370.

Even on eBay one individual UK seller claims 2 new Tamrons for 250; but if you're going with eBay then another (more reputable) seller also has the new Pentax for about 400.

So it's still a difference of 150, just as the first poster mentioned.

What is your problem?
How do you know that they're scam sites or even based in HK? If you'd looked on the sites you would see they were selling UK stock, albeit, possibly, grey imports. But then again who wants to pay an extra ~50% for a five year warranty on a fixed focus lens.

Anyway, personally, I'd rather deal with some of the companies in HK than some the so called 'reputable', tax avoiding companies. Their customer service is in my experience generally as good as if not better than the likes of Amazon.
My initial point remains as I first stated i.e. the new Pentax lens at 500+, good as it may be, will not tempt me to trade in an excellent Tamron lens that cost less than half that, new, less than 2 years ago
dsims 4 United States
25 Feb 2014 9:46PM

Quote: Please provide a link to this astounding price.

I just did a search on Google and then checked the items were in stock on two of the sites it brought up

So, new in Pentax mount it's 200-230 from suspect or know scam sites in HK or elsewhere. What a deal!


Reputable EU or UK sellers still charge 330-370.

Even on eBay one individual UK seller claims 2 new Tamrons for 250; but if you're going with eBay then another (more reputable) seller also has the new Pentax for about 400.

So it's still a difference of 150, just as the first poster mentioned.


What is your problem?
How do you know that they're scam sites or even based in HK? If you'd looked on the sites you would see they were selling UK stock, albeit, possibly, grey imports. But then again who wants to pay an extra ~50% for a five year warranty on a fixed focus lens.

Anyway, personally, I'd rather deal with some of the companies in HK than some the so called 'reputable', tax avoiding companies. Their customer service is in my experience generally as good as if not better than the likes of Amazon.
My initial point remains as I first stated i.e. the new Pentax lens at 500+, good as it may be, will not tempt me to trade in an excellent Tamron lens that cost less than half that, new, less than 2 years ago

You have a good imagination.

The problem is that I did look at the sites.


Anyway, if I'd realized what you got for 200 was a fixed focus lens, I never would've bothered you.
Alan_Baseley e2
13 320 2 England
26 Feb 2014 8:52AM

Quote:

Anyway, if I'd realized what you got for 200 was a fixed focus lens, I never would've bothered you.

I should have typed, fixed focal length lens, as distinct from a zoom lens.

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