19 March 2008

Yet another Macro: DFA 100mm f/2.8

While I have a two very fine macro lenses in the Voigtlander Apo-Lanthar 125mm and the Sigma 90mm f/2.8, both are manual focus lenses. Perhaps I'm getting a bit lazy to focus manually, so when a local seller offered a DFA 100mm f/2.8 Macro for sale, I decided to find out first hand whether I'd like another AF macro lens to my existing FA 50mm f/2.8 Macro.

Frankly I was underwhelmed when I first saw the DFA 100mm upclose. Quite a light lens but the build quality has a little too much plastic for my liking. Take away the huge hood and the lens seem quite similar to my ex-Cosina 100mm f/3.5 el-cheapo plastic fantastic down to the 49mm filter thread. It does focus down to 1:1 but the lens barrel does extend outwards but not beyond the bayonet mounted click-on lens hood.

Looks aside, the lens performs well, but not as well as I had imagined. It needs to be stopped down to be at it's best, and in this regard I'd rank it below the Voigtlander, the FA50 macro or the Sigma 90mm macro optically. I won't say it's bad but being a macro lens, I had expected it to be a little better.

Using it however has been quite rewarding. The AF is quick at normal shooting distances and while using AF can be a hit or miss affair when the magnification increases, the Quick Shift feature has been a a boon. Overall I am satisfied with this lens, though I feel Pentax's earlier FA100 f/2.8 Macro still has the edge optically. It's redeeming features of light weight and compact dimensions make it useful for travel but I can't help feeling it could have been a little better where it matters most.