D-FA 100mm Macro WR first impressions

Started Jan 18, 2010 | Discussions thread
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cre8unique
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D-FA 100mm Macro WR first impressions
Jan 18, 2010

Friday last week (Jan 15th) I received my new K-7 together with the 'smc Pentax D-FA 100mm Macro F2.8 WR' lens. And on Sunday (18th) I took this combo out for a first outing.

To be honest I didn't buy this lens primarily for its macro focussing. I've been thinking for a while that what I would really like is a short telephoto lens, roughly equivalent to a classic 135mm film lens, in Pentax's DA Limited range. When pentax announced the D-FA 100mm Macro WR it seemed like Pentax has answered my prayer (albeit in a slightly round about way!)

The lens is light-weight enough (340 grams) to be carried without problems even when macro focussing isn't required, and so its the ideal complement to my existing DA Limited lenses. I do have plans to make use of the 1:1 macro focussing of this lens, but for the most part it will just be a relatively light-weight 150mm (35mm equiv.) short telephoto lens.

So I now have two basic travel outfits: When I want to travel as light as possible I can take my 15, 21 and 70mm DA Ltds. And when I don't mind carrying a little extra I will replace the 70mm DA Ltd with the 50mm FA and the 100mm D-FA WR.

So what are my first impressions...?

Well, the first thing to say is that this is a truly beautiful piece of engineering from Pentax. Somehow Pentax have managed to combine extreme light weight (at 340 grams this lens is barely more than half the weight of competing products from Canon and Nikon) with all metal construction and confidence inspiring solidity. This is an impressive feat indeed!

Overall focusing was smooth and pleasant in both AF and MF modes. But I did find that if you set the lens to infinity and then try to focus on something a few centimetres away, the K-7 will often fail to find correct focus completely. You have to help things along my focusing roughly manually first. The fact that the lens features full-time manual focus over-ride even in AF mode makes this quick and easy however, and of course macro photography is rarely about capturing fast action!

More relevant to my anticipated use of this lens, I also found that the lens occasionally tries to move all the way from a distant to a near focus setting before moving back to the correct distant setting even when using the lens for normal photography. I suppose this is where a focus limiter to reduce the amount of potential focus travel would be really welcome. But this problem was only an occasional and minor annoyance.

Of course the previous D-FA 100mm macro lens shares this problem and you have to go back to the earlier FA 100mm macro to find a Pentax macro lens with a focus limiter.

Here are a couple of photographs from my first outing with the K-7 and D-FA WR combination:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/aspectsoflight/4281900378/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/aspectsoflight/4281868742/

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Chris Osborne
Edinburgh
http://www.cjo.info

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