Sony 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens for Sony Alpha Digital SLR Camera (Black)
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- 100mm macro lens with f/2.8 maximum aperture for Sony Alpha digital SLR cameras
- Works with Super SteadyShot image stabilization system to keep image steady in low light
- Focus range limiter speeds up autofocus response; focus hold button gives you full control
- High contrast and resolution gives your shots greater visual accuracy for close analysis
- Measures 3 inches in diameter and 4 inches long; weighs 1 pound, 2 ounces
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100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Excellent for close-ups and telephoto shots Bright f2.8 aperture for good results in low light High contrast, high-resolution image quality Focus Range Limiter for faster auto-focusing Focus Hold button for full creative control Circular Aperture: Auto Clutch to stop manual focus ring rotation Circular Aperture for pleasing defocused effects Focal Length 35mm Equivalent: 100 mm
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I've considered a true macro lens for a while but I've also been very hesitant to purchase one because I wasn't sure I'd actually use it all that much. I shoot a lot of flowers with a friend but I don't really need the close-up range this lens offers. Anyway, I got a reasonable deal through Amazon for one used (my first used lens purchase) and I decided to take the plunge.
I took it out today to the famous Hollywood Cemetery here in Richmond, Virginia for a test shoot (I plan to upload a couple of photos). It's too cool for insects (just as well since I'm a macro beginner) but I did grab a few shots of holly berries. As others have pointed out, macro photography is extremely challenging given an extremely narrow depth of field. There was a slight breeze which sorely tested my patience. I struggled with manual focus - at least I thought I did - so I switched to auto focus using the focus limiter with some success. Ironically, the manual focused ones came out better though it wasn't apparent in the field reviewing them in my tiny viewfinder.
Of course, this lens is also a prime lens. Not that 100mm is a great length for general use but I can say that in that role this lens really shines. I took some pictures of Confederate tombstones with my Sony 75-300mm zoom which looked terrific until I compared them to photos taken with the Sony 100mm macro lens. Wow! The contrast on the 100mm is far superior and simply blew me away. It's tack sharp to boot even at f2.8!
I picked the 100mm to give me more distance for macro photography. I don't regret that. However, the Sony 50mm macro would be a fine choice as well as it's better for general use and, based on reviews, even a bit sharper than the 100mm.
My next purchase probably will be a quality monopod because hand holding this lens for macro shots gets very old, very fast. I thought I had a steady hand but I needed to think again about that.
In terms of image quality it's mostly a five star lens, particularly if you stop down just a little bit to F4, but I'm giving it four stars because of its hunting and noisy motor (see cons). Call me picky or just spoiled by the newer lenses, like Sony's terrific 16-50 2.8.
1) Extremely sharp, quite sharp wide open, but once you get to F4-F8 it's tack sharp across the whole frame.
2) Can get extremely close so that you have 1:1 magnification with huge details, amplified by the great sharpness, and color.
3) Reasonable value, and can be picked up used for $550 or so.
4) Most Sony alpha bodies have correction profiles and can be micro-adjusted terms of autofocus, although mine seems to be extremely accurate without any micro-AF adjustment.
1) Very noisy older motor - why can't Sony replace the older motors in their legacy Minolta designs with newer SSM motors?
2) Hunting back and forth looking for autofocus lock, particularly when you have gone from close-up macro to distance work, such that you sometimes have to use the focus limiting feature either on the lens, or on the body, if you want to keep the focus-hunting to a reasonable minimum.
3) Still hunts even with focus limiting.
Note that I don't usually use this lens with the SLT adapter, auto-focus is quite functional at longer distances but even with the focus limiter, I found it was not the fastest at auto-focus, so I just shoot manual focus and using the LA-EA1 adapter I get the most light, auto-aperture and EXIF data but no focus.
Macro photography at 1:1 is really a challenge...First off you need to shoot with a high shutter speed if you're doing this hand-held and/or with moving subjects (a slight breeze will make photographing a flower difficult.) This means shallow DoF even in bright sunlight, just not a lot of light gets through at 1:1 (true of all macro lenses). But with a lot of practice I've been able to get some mind-blowing shots of tiny things.
Only other minor quibble is the bokeh with this lens is a bit busy, not "creamy" smooth, but I've gotten some print-worthy pics out of it so it's not significantly busy (not like my 70-400mm lens, which is amazing optics too, but does have busy bokeh.)