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Thread: Infatuation with A-lens?!

  1. #1
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    Default Infatuation with A-lens?!

    During the Pentax meet, which I sold my D FA100mm f2.8 Macro, but acquired the A50mm f2.8 Macro from Creampuff (originally sold by Feng Wei in the BnS)... I have grown to love the smooth focusing of the manual lens. Good thing it's A instead of M so that I don't have to worry about the metering and the use of Aperture mode, but it's really FUN to use and when you've the time in the world to take focus..

    It's actually even more enjoyable than the DA 35mm f2.8 macro, though I would not even think of selling.

    Now the addiction, I actually search around for the A 100mm f2.8 macro, and found that it costs 900 USD in an ebay offer! Absolutely crazy... despite it being an excellent condition copy...

    My question - is the A100mm f2.8 Macro 1:1 worth that kind of money? Would it be even better than Pentax own FA 100mm f2.8 Macro which receives quite a good review in photozone and the pentax masses.

    Here's some photos of my lens attached to the K20D.

    From Afar..


    Close Up...


    Thoughts?
    Last edited by hjbyeo; 21st May 2008 at 10:31 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Infatuation with A-lens?!

    Sweeet gear

    You can think about Toking 100 AT-X Pro Macro or the Tamron 90 Macro or Even Sigma 105 f2.8 Macro!

    All amazingly sharp and much cheaper

  3. #3

    Default Re: Infatuation with A-lens?!

    A100 f2.8 macro, I remembered many months ago there was one sold for less than 400 dollars here. Sold by blur..... For 900 dolars, might as well top up and go for voigtlander macro 105. May have many contenders now as it is no longer in stock.

    A50 macro, i have one too, bought from fee fee last year.

    Bernard, your LBA is quite bad

    otc

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    Default Re: Infatuation with A-lens?!

    Quote Originally Posted by hjbyeo View Post
    My question - is the A100mm f2.8 Macro 1:1 worth that kind of money? Would it be even better than Pentax own FA 100mm f2.8 Macro which receives quite a good review in photozone and the pentax masses.
    No it aren't worth the money (for US$900). Yes, it's better build with better handling, optically might be sharper than DFA 100mm. For most of us, we can only show off a sharp less, than for professional use. If US$900 is worth the show off then get it^^

    IMHO if u want butts or other bid flying insect, 100mm is too short. 1:1 is not big enough for extreme macro that can wow ppl with^^; If you really wanna try taking extreme macro, get a used Panasonic FZ-30 or new FZ-50 with Raynox DCR-250. It'll be cheaper than US$900.

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    Senior Member creampuff's Avatar
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    Default Re: Infatuation with A-lens?!

    There were a few versions of macro lenses in the 100mm range from Pentax, from the A series to DFA:

    A 100mm f/2.8 Macro (1:1), f/2.8~f/22, 7 elements in 7 groups, 8 aperture blades
    A 100mm f/4 Dental Macro (1:2), f/4~f/32, 5 elements in 3 groups, 6 aperture blades

    F 100mm f/2.8 Macro (1:1), f/2.8~f/32, 9 elements in 8 groups, 8 aperture blades
    FA 100mm f/2.8 Macro (1:1), f/2.8~f/32, 9 elements in 8 groups, 8 aperture blades
    FA 100mm f/3.5 Macro (1:2), f/3.5~f/22, 5 elements in 4 groups, 6 aperture blades
    DFA 100mm f/2.8 Macro (1:1), f/2.8~f/32, 9 elements in 8 groups, 8 aperture blades

    As much as I like the A series lenses a lot in terms of build quality, I would still strongly recommend that you go for the FA 100mm f/2.8 Macro. I think it has the advantage of AF, which provides the edge in faster focusing at non-macro distances when used as a telephoto (eg. portraits/landscapes). Pentax changed the optical design when it went AF.

    The AF versions all go down to 1:1 (lifesize), even the plastic fantastic FA 100 f/3.5 made by Cosina (but it requires the screw-in diopter lens). Only the f/2.8 version of A series goes down to lifesize.

    The F version has a focusing limiter, the FA version has both the focusing limiter & focus clamp while the DFA version only has the focus clamp. The plastic fantastic has nothing! But then again it is the lightest in weight. This lens design comes in both MF & AF versions and under varying brand names.

    The A f/2.8 version is pretty hard to come by but I guess any older Pentax mount macros are hard to come by nowadays. For the money being asked for, I'd say you'd be better off with the just as beautiful to behold FA f/2.8 version (my personal opinion).

    The Voightlander Apo-Lanthar 125mm f/2.5 SL (1:1), f/2.5~f/22, 11 elements in 9 groups, 9 aperture blades. This is altogether a different lens. Has 2 ED (extra-low dispersion) elements and 2 aspherical elements. FOV is narrower, best build quality, best optical performance, best bokeh, heaviest of the lot ... and... I have one. Discontinued less than a year ago, it has appreciated in value by at least 50%. Whether for investment or use, this lens is a keeper.

    As to the current 3rd party macros in the 90-105mm range, the choice is between the Sigma 105 f/2.8 EX DG and the Tamron AF 90 f/2.8 DI. Sadly Tokina does not produce the AT-X M100mm f/2.8 PRO D macro in Pentax mount but if it did, I would choose in order of preference Tokina>Sigma>Tamron.

    There are of course some quite hard to find manual focus macro lenses like the Vivitar 105mm f/2.5 Macro Series 1 (1:1), f/2.5-f/32, 6 elements in 6 groups, 8 aperture blades. Also not cheap. Many like its sharpness but I'm so-so with the colour rendition. There is also the manual focus Sigma 90mm f/2.8 Macro (1:2, 1:1 with diopter), f/2.8~f22, 9 elements in 9 groups, 6 aperture blades. Quite hard to find but I managed to get one. It is underrated but gives very good performance. All the lenses mentioned have the PK-A spec that allows full auto exposure in any mode. I avoid the non-PK-A mount lenses because being limited to shooting in M mode is fiddly, slow and unreliable in the field.

    Bottom line, there is no place for reason in lens buying. LBA is a disease. But don't succumb to eBay madness.
    Last edited by creampuff; 22nd May 2008 at 05:46 PM. Reason: typo correction

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    Default Re: Infatuation with A-lens?!

    IIRC Tokina 100mm is the DFA without the SMC coating. You still forgetting another legendary macro lens, the Tokina 90mm with rear mount 1:1 adapter, which is said to be sharper than the Kiron 105mm. Old Sigma 90mm is said to be similar to that of Cosina/Vivitar/Promaster/Phoenix 100mm with 1:1 adapter. Quality wise should be same as a Vivitar 1:1 TC macro with a FA 50mm f1.4.

    Quote Originally Posted by creampuff View Post
    FOV is narrower, best build quality, best optical performance, best bokeh, heaviest of the lot ...
    Have u tried comparing it with the A200 yet? Cos from what I'd seen from OTC bro's shot so far, it doesn't lose to the VL. I would say it's better in some shots. It's afterall a 200mm 1:1 which makes it ideal for any macro, even for extreme ones with help of a Vivitar 2x TC 1:1 macro.
    Last edited by longko; 22nd May 2008 at 09:06 AM.

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    Default Re: Infatuation with A-lens?!

    Hey Bernard....relax la... the are too many precious lens out there, not possible to have them all, sometimes things are like that, u hunt high and low for it but they dun appear, else its very expensive...sometimes LBA needs abit of patience as well...u never noe what u want might just appear... just keep a look out... i got most of my lens this way... just wait and see... once appear grap it...
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    Default Re: Infatuation with A-lens?!

    longko, you may well be right that the Tokina is a DFA in disguise as the specs are quite similar. The Tokina has 9 aperture blades, whereas the DFA has 8 blades. The Tokina is bigger, has better build quality and a little heavier.

    Yes the Tokina 90mm f/2.5 Macro is very good going by the images I've seen online but I don't think this lens comes in PK-A mount, so metering is a little more challenging. It may be legendary but it is hard to find one in good condition.

    Comparing the manual focus Sigma 90mm f/2.8 macro and the Cosina/Vivitar/Promaster/Phoenix 100mm f/3.5 lenses, having owned both, they are definitely not the same lens. The Sigma is a few notches up in build quality, has a floating element construction and optically is quite a lot better than the Cosina.

    I can't vouch about the quality of the Vivitar 1:1 TC macro adapter mated with the FA 50mm f/1.4 as I don't have the macro adapter. However Pentax in their earlier lens and accessory manuals do not recommend the 50mm f/1.4 for macro use. Whether with their bellows or extension tubes, the preferred lens to use for macro is either the 50mm f/1.7 or f/2 versions. I can't say if it is a metering issue or optical performance issue, but while f/1.4 is easier to focus, from my experience with my Pentax extension tubes, image quality is not fantastic, especially at the edges.

    Haven't tried the A* 200mm f/4 Macro ED or FA* 200mm f/4 Macro ED. I'm sure both lenses perform admirably. I did use to own the excellent Nikon Micro Nikkor 200mm f/4 ED years ago and I have to say I might not go down that route again. I'm getting old and focusing an f/4 long macro that gives strong subject isolation, large magnification and very narrow DOF takes great skill. Also any long macro poses a stern test of one's handholding ability, requiring some measure of support (monopod/tripod/bean bag). Such a setup is fine for slow moving, shy or relatively static subjects that require a good working distance. Definitely a lens for the dedicated and specialist macro shooter.

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    Default Re: Infatuation with A-lens?!

    Quote Originally Posted by creampuff View Post
    longko, you may well be right that the Tokina is a DFA in disguise as the specs are quite similar. The Tokina has 9 aperture blades, whereas the DFA has 8 blades. The Tokina is bigger, has better build quality and a little heavier.

    Yes the Tokina 90mm f/2.5 Macro is very good going by the images I've seen online but I don't think this lens comes in PK-A mount, so metering is a little more challenging. It may be legendary but it is hard to find one in good condition.

    Comparing the manual focus Sigma 90mm f/2.8 macro and the Cosina/Vivitar/Promaster/Phoenix 100mm f/3.5 lenses, having owned both, they are definitely not the same lens. The Sigma is a few notches up in build quality, has a floating element construction and optically is quite a lot better than the Cosina.

    I can't vouch about the quality of the Vivitar 1:1 TC macro adapter mated with the FA 50mm f/1.4 as I don't have the macro adapter. However Pentax in their earlier lens and accessory manuals do not recommend the 50mm f/1.4 for macro use. Whether with their bellows or extension tubes, the preferred lens to use for macro is either the 50mm f/1.7 or f/2 versions. I can't say if it is a metering issue or optical performance issue, but while f/1.4 is easier to focus, from my experience with my Pentax extension tubes, image quality is not fantastic, especially at the edges.

    Haven't tried the A* 200mm f/4 Macro ED or FA* 200mm f/4 Macro ED. I'm sure both lenses perform admirably. I did use to own the excellent Nikon Micro Nikkor 200mm f/4 ED years ago and I have to say I might not go down that route again. I'm getting old and focusing an f/4 long macro that gives strong subject isolation, large magnification and very narrow DOF takes great skill. Also any long macro poses a stern test of one's handholding ability, requiring some measure of support (monopod/tripod/bean bag). Such a setup is fine for slow moving, shy or relatively static subjects that require a good working distance. Definitely a lens for the dedicated and specialist macro shooter.

    Think OTC should be about your age. U aren't old lah, I'd seen quite a few guys older than u and lesser build than u in butterflycircle using the tamron 180mm handheld. But ya they'll rely on AF for focusing. The A* 200mm f4 is 895g and VL 125mm is 690g right?

    Vivitar 1:1 with 50mm f1.4 and f1.7 will get u quite similar result.

    I won't say the Vivitar 1:1 is bad. It had been reported in numbers of magazines that the IQ of Tamron 90mm Di is better than D FA 100mm. So this maybe useful those those thinking for cheaper alternatives. These are taken with OTC bro's M Vivitar 1:1. Subject is bodyshop logo. 100% cropped from K10D jpeg with no sharpening done. Only auto contrast is applied for all shots.







    Edit: The FA 50mm f1.4 also fair ok with a Vivitar +10 macro adapter (which is similar to those used to achieve 1:1 macro on 1:2 macro lens)
    Last edited by longko; 22nd May 2008 at 11:48 AM.

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    Default Re: Infatuation with A-lens?!

    Quote Originally Posted by flowerpot View Post
    Hey Bernard....relax la... the are too many precious lens out there, not possible to have them all, sometimes things are like that, u hunt high and low for it but they dun appear, else its very expensive...sometimes LBA needs abit of patience as well...u never noe what u want might just appear... just keep a look out... i got most of my lens this way... just wait and see... once appear grap it...
    Flowerpot, I am taking a deep breath... now I feel really relaxed...

    ---

    Ok, guys, anyone for HORT park this weekend for some macros??

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    Default Re: Infatuation with A-lens?!

    Quote Originally Posted by creampuff View Post
    There were a few versions of macro lenses in the 100mm range from Pentax, from the A series to DFA:

    A 100mm f/2.8 Macro (1:1), f/2.8~f/22, 7 elements in 7 groups, 8 aperture blades
    A 100mm f/4 Dental Macro (1:2), f/4~f/32, 5 elements in 3 groups, 6 aperture blades

    F 100mm f/2.8 Macro (1:1), f/2.8~f/32, 9 elements in 8 groups, 8 aperture blades
    FA 100mm f/2.8 Macro (1:1), f/2.8~f/32, 9 elements in 8 groups, 8 aperture blades
    FA 100mm f/3.5 Macro (1:2), f/3.5~f/22, 5 elements in 4 groups, 8 aperture blades
    DFA 100mm f/2.8 Macro (1:1), f/2.8~f/32, 9 elements in 8 groups, 8 aperture blades

    As much as I like the A series lenses a lot in terms of build quality, I would still strongly recommend that you go for the FA 100mm f/2.8 Macro. I think it has the advantage of AF, which provides the edge in faster focusing at non-macro distances when used as a telephoto (eg. portraits/landscapes). Pentax changed the optical design when it went AF.

    The AF versions all go down to 1:1 (lifesize), even the plastic fantastic FA 100 f/3.5 made by Cosina (but it requires the screw-in diopter lens). Only the f/2.8 version of A series goes down to lifesize.

    The F version has a focusing limiter, the FA version has both the focusing limiter & focus clamp while the DFA version only has the focus clamp. The plastic fantastic has nothing! But then again it is the lightest in weight. This lens design comes in both MF & AF versions and under varying brand names.

    The A f/2.8 version is pretty hard to come by but I guess any older Pentax mount macros are hard to come by nowadays. For the money being asked for, I'd say you'd be better off with the just as beautiful to behold FA f/2.8 version (my personal opinion).

    The Voightlander Apo-Lanthar 125mm f/2.5 SL (1:1), f/2.5~f/22, 11 elements in 9 groups, 9 aperture blades. This is altogether a different lens. Has 2 ED (extra-low dispersion) elements and 2 aspherical elements. FOV is narrower, best build quality, best optical performance, best bokeh, heaviest of the lot ... and... I have one. Discontinued less than a year ago, it has appreciated in value by at least 50%. Whether for investment or use, this lens is a keeper.

    As to the current 3rd party macros in the 90-105mm range, the choice is between the Sigma 105 f/2.8 EX DG and the Tamron AF 90 f/2.8 DI. Sadly Tokina does not produce the AT-X M100mm f/2.8 PRO D macro in Pentax mount but if it did, I would choose in order of preference Tokina>Sigma>Tamron.

    There are of course some quite hard to find manual focus macro lenses like the Vivitar 105mm f/2.5 Macro Series 1 (1:1), f/2.5-f/32, 6 elements in 6 groups. Also not cheap. Many like its sharpness but I'm so-so with the colour rendition. There is also the manual focus Sigma 90mm f/2.8 Macro (1:2, 1:1 with diopter), f/2.8~f22, 9 elements in 9 groups, 6 aperture blades. Quite hard to find but I managed to get one. It is underrated but gives very good performance. All the lenses mentioned have the PK-A spec that allows full auto exposure in any mode. I avoid the non-PK-A mount lenses because being limited to shooting in M mode is fiddly, slow and unreliable in the field.

    Bottom line, there is no place for reason in lens buying. LBA is a disease. But don't succumb to eBay madness.
    Man.. you are a Pentax Lens dictionary!

    I tried getting the VT but to no avail... that's why I got the D FA100mm f2.8 instead (which I sold coz I don't quite like the feel of it ... almost similar to the Cosina one).

    I am looking out for the FA 100mm f2.8 macro. If I get my hands to it, will share with you guys during the next Pentax meet up ..
    Last edited by hjbyeo; 22nd May 2008 at 01:10 PM.

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    Default Re: Infatuation with A-lens?!

    Quote Originally Posted by longko View Post
    Think OTC should be about your age. U aren't old lah, I'd seen quite a few guys older than u and lesser build than u in butterflycircle using the tamron 180mm handheld. But ya they'll rely on AF for focusing. The A* 200mm f4 is 895g and VL 125mm is 690g right?

    Vivitar 1:1 with 50mm f1.4 and f1.7 will get u quite similar result.

    I won't say the Vivitar 1:1 is bad. It had been reported in numbers of magazines that the IQ of Tamron 90mm Di is better than D FA 100mm. So this maybe useful those those thinking for cheaper alternatives. These are taken with OTC bro's M Vivitar 1:1. Subject is bodyshop logo. 100% cropped from K10D jpeg with no sharpening done. Only auto contrast is applied for all shots.

    Edit: The FA 50mm f1.4 also fair ok with a Vivitar +10 macro adapter (which is similar to those used to achieve 1:1 macro on 1:2 macro lens)
    Not tried this route before.. and it's not easy to find Macro TCs for Pentax.

  13. #13
    Senior Member creampuff's Avatar
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    Default Re: Infatuation with A-lens?!

    Quote Originally Posted by hjbyeo View Post
    Man.. you are a Pentax Lens dictionary!
    Aiyah, did it up on a spreadsheet quite awhile back before I pulled the trigger and "invested" in the Voigtlander. If I knew then how much they are worth now, I would have ordered a few more from chiif, our local Voigtlander rep.

    I was using the el-cheapo manual focus Cosina 100mm f/3.5 back then and even now I have fond memories of it. It may have been built like a kid's plastic toy quality wise but it's optical performance was quite good and it's a versatile lens.

    Anyway good luck in you search.

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    Default Re: Infatuation with A-lens?!

    [QUOTE=hjbyeo;4031829]Man.. you are a Pentax Lens dictionary!

    For his knowledge on all the listed pentax lenses, creampuff deserves our vote.

    I could only add for A200 Macro f4, the out of focus area is beautiful, often silky or creamy even at f8, f11 aperture. The subject in focus is sharp, can be very sharp. I have the vivitar 105 f2.5 macro, vivitar 90 f3.5, and many other macro lenses but the OOF area differs greatly. Although at f8, f11, the sharpness is within a few millimetre for A200. A200 macro is fun to use with the greater working distance it offers, great for bugs, insects and sensitive crawling insects. My other macro lenses are kept in cold storage now The only set back is the weight with K10 D and flash mounted, have to standby another T-shirt after an hr of shooting. If I am joining you the next outing, I will bring along to share. Will try to make it.


    The background is actually leaves but was shot in daylight. Hence two or three feet away, this is the bokeh you will receive from A200 macro.

    Little Postprocessing done.

    otc(Marcus young)

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    Default Re: Infatuation with A-lens?!

    Wah.. super nice ... This lens, I can only dream (for now). The price is

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    Default Re: Infatuation with A-lens?!

    [QUOTE=otc;4032364]
    Quote Originally Posted by hjbyeo View Post
    Man.. you are a Pentax Lens dictionary!

    For his knowledge on all the listed pentax lenses, creampuff deserves our vote.

    I could only add for A200 Macro f4, the out of focus area is beautiful, often silky or creamy even at f8, f11 aperture. The subject in focus is sharp, can be very sharp. I have the vivitar 105 f2.5 macro, vivitar 90 f3.5, and many other macro lenses but the OOF area differs greatly. Although at f8, f11, the sharpness is within a few millimetre for A200. A200 macro is fun to use with the greater working distance it offers, great for bugs, insects and sensitive crawling insects. My other macro lenses are kept in cold storage now The only set back is the weight with K10 D and flash mounted, have to standby another T-shirt after an hr of shooting. If I am joining you the next outing, I will bring along to share. Will try to make it.

    The background is actually leaves but was shot in daylight. Hence two or three feet away, this is the bokeh you will receive from A200 macro.

    Little Postprocessing done.

    otc(Marcus young)
    i can oni dream of this lens, the DOF is already very thin for my vt, finding it hard already, i can imagine the DOF of the A200...

    ya flash mounted on camera make it very heavy... also not so flexible...i already thinking of using hot shoe adaptor or wireless trigger for the flash...

    next outing could be a macro shooting session time to utilize my underutilized vt
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    Default Re: Infatuation with A-lens?!

    Hey guys, that's some interesting macro talks

    I've owned or used A/F/FA/DFA 100/2.8 macro lens, A/FA/DFA 50/2.8, M100/4, A*200/4, DA35/2.8, and some third party ones like Tamron 90/2.8Di, VL125/2.5, Sigma 50/2.8 (both MF and AF), and some forgoten ones. My favorite macro lens is the A100/2.8 macro. It's such a joy to use, and it produces great color/bokeh and sharpness too. I know many prefer the VL125/2.5, but I do prefer the results from the A100/2.8 macro.

    Nowadays I use macro lenses not just purely for macro but for some general use too, that's why I prefer AF. Just got an F100/2.8 back, haven't got chance to bring it out yet. Hopefully it'd be as good as it's praised.


    As being said many times, there is no bad macro lens. Just choose whichever you prefer to use, and I'm sure you'd be satisified w/ its optical performance Worth or not, nobody but only you can be the judge

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    Senior Member creampuff's Avatar
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    Default Re: Infatuation with A-lens?!

    Quote Originally Posted by otc View Post

    otc(Marcus young)
    Such lovely OOF background...
    I...have...got...to...to...resist...

    Actually the guru of Pentax gear is...... fengwei
    He's got personal hands-on on a lot of Pentax related gear.

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    Default Re: Infatuation with A-lens?!

    A fan of A lenses. Well built, solid and well made. The manual focusing is always pleasurable.

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    Default Re: Infatuation with A-lens?!

    Quote Originally Posted by fengwei View Post
    Hey guys, that's some interesting macro talks

    I've owned or used A/F/FA/DFA 100/2.8 macro lens, A/FA/DFA 50/2.8, M100/4, A*200/4, DA35/2.8, and some third party ones like Tamron 90/2.8Di, VL125/2.5, Sigma 50/2.8 (both MF and AF), and some forgoten ones. My favorite macro lens is the A100/2.8 macro. It's such a joy to use, and it produces great color/bokeh and sharpness too. I know many prefer the VL125/2.5, but I do prefer the results from the A100/2.8 macro.

    Nowadays I use macro lenses not just purely for macro but for some general use too, that's why I prefer AF. Just got an F100/2.8 back, haven't got chance to bring it out yet. Hopefully it'd be as good as it's praised.


    As being said many times, there is no bad macro lens. Just choose whichever you prefer to use, and I'm sure you'd be satisified w/ its optical performance Worth or not, nobody but only you can be the judge
    Well said, and what and incredible range of lenses you've acquired...

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