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Playing around with a stock 18-55 and a Sigma 70-300 ...
Now, with an SMC Takumar 105 and a CZJ Flektogon 35 too ...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

New lens on the block: Phoenix 100mm f/3.5 Macro

High quality lenses are usually expensive, and macro lenses make no exception to the rule: whether you look for a Pentax, Canon, Nikon, or whatever your brand is, a good macro lens costs several hundreds (no matter if you count in dollars or euros). This rule applies to third-party macro lenses, too, which are surely cheaper than the branded ones, but still cost a lot ...

In the whole offering, there are, nevertheless, some atypical macro lenses, even cheaper than their "normal" counterpart. The lens i'm talking about here is manufactured by Cosina, and it is available under various brand names, such as Phoenix, ProMaster, Vivitar (and probably Cosina, too) ...
In particular, mine is branded Phoenix, 100mm f/3.5 Macro.

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A front view ...

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... and compared to an FA-43 Limited

I bought it from a user of a nice forum where you can discuss mostly about Pentax gear for 60US$, which was about 40 euros since i bought it when the exchange rate was really favorable to EU countries (well, at least favorable for buyers, sellers may have a different advice ...). It came with both caps and the original pouch, but without the additional diopter to reach the 1:1 ratio.

My first impression was not really great, since i found that the lens had a plastic barrel when i first opened the parcel (99% of my lenses have a full metal barrel). Moreover, because of lack of free time (and sunny days), i wasn't unable to make a thorough test immediately ...
Nevertheless, i started looking for more informations about the brand, and found some good news and sample images.

A few days ago, finally the spring (and the sun) was back, so i decided to perform a quick "ground test" of the lens with my K10D in some of the public gardens of Toulouse.

My first set of pictures (directly from the SD card to the bin) was a bit disappointing: although i have been able to take pictures at 1/4" hands free with a 50mm, the Pentax SR really showed its limits with a focal length of 100mm and close focusing at less than 1/30" ...
The second set of pictures, with a bit more sun and faster shutter speeds, was a big surprise: the sharpness and the color saturation were there:

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The real quality of the lens has indeed revealed with the third set of pictures, where i had the possibility to choice the f/stop i wanted to use without caring about the shutter speed:

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Red Tulip - IMGP0272

Definitively, a good color saturation and sharpness, and a good contrast, not at the same level than my Tamron SP90/2.5, but at a much lower price. Now, i'm looking for a model to test it for portraits ...

The good news is that the lens is available brand new for about 100US$, which is a real bargain, IMHO ...

Now, since i discovered that the additional diopter is available through ProMaster for 20US$ (thanks to hin_man for noticing this) and that it works like a charm on other 49mm threaded lenses (idem), i'm seriusly thinking about a mail order ...

If you want to see more, the whole set of pictures is available on my Flickr photostream.

As a side note, all the pictures are jpegs straight from the raw files, without post-processing, only +1 on contrast and sharpness (i.e. the same settings you can get with a K10D body).

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11 Comments:

Anonymous Enzojz said...

In fact, Phonix is a camera brand from China

April 8, 2009 at 11:59 PM  
Blogger IndianaDinos said...

Hi,

Thanks for the heads-up.

April 19, 2009 at 3:13 PM  
Blogger Species: Cheekius_Geekus said...

Good review!

Is your Tamron SP 90 the 52B or 52BB version.

I was offered a Tamron SP 90mm f2.5 (52B) with the K.M. adaptall mount for $100 and couldn't turn that down. It arrived today. Optically/mechanically it is perfect. I'm using a 49mm metal Takumar hood on it (135mm 3.5, 200mm 4) and don't notice any vignetting in the viewfinder. Hope to take some test shots with it over my lunch break.

My lens did not come with the matching extension tube or teleconverter. Do you have any opinions on which is best to get to achieve 1:1 with this lens? TIA

February 25, 2010 at 7:27 PM  
Blogger IndianaDinos said...

Hi,

Thanks for spending you time here and commenting ...

My Tamron is the 52B version (i like to share 49mm filters with my Takumars ;-) ...)

Wow, 100$ for this lens with a K/M mount is a bargain ...

Be careful with the mount: there is a small lever that shall be pushed to turn and remove the mount ...

Thanks for the hint about the hood, although i have never had reflections issues with this lens ...

For what concerns the 1:1 ratio, you have several solutions possible: the first, is the matching extension tube, without lenses ... This is the best solution, IMHO, but the tube is almost impossible to find (seen only once in three years on eBay) ...
Otherwise, you can try to buy a Tamron SP 2x converter (easier to find). According to the adaptall2.com site, the Kiron 2x and the Tokina 2x converters (both with 7 optical elements) may be successfully used with this lens, but i have never seen one ...

Personally, i was using the Tamron SP 2x converter, but now i have a Kiron 105/2.8 Macro for my 1:1 shots ;-) , and i prefer this lens to the SP90+converter solution: the Kiron is faster and lighter than the SP90 with the converter (which becomes a 180 f/5), and the camera balances better ...

Thanks again for reading and especially for commenting ...

February 26, 2010 at 10:21 PM  
Anonymous LBEL said...

Really Impressive sharpness, it makes me think about it instead of using my M42 extension tubes.
When you say cheaper, how many euros cost this kind of macro lens?

March 17, 2010 at 4:57 PM  
Blogger IndianaDinos said...

Hi LBEL,

I bought mine used for about 40 euros, and i'm really happy of its IQ ... Despite its sharpness, it has also a nice bokeh (take a look at this picture ...)

Actually, i think you can still find it new under the Cosina brand, for about 100US$ ...

Thanks for commenting

March 17, 2010 at 11:05 PM  
Blogger edumad said...

I have the Cosina version of this lens with the 1:1 adapter. It is really good for the money and gives the tamron a run for the money since that one is quite more expensive (with KA adapter).
The adapter does take a bit of sharpness away.

April 5, 2010 at 3:29 PM  
Blogger IndianaDinos said...

Hi edumad,

You are totally right ...

For what concerns the adapter, it seems that it works like a charm with other lenses with a thread filter of 49mm, too ...

Thanks for spending your time here and commenting ...

April 11, 2010 at 5:58 PM  
Blogger Mike R. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

May 8, 2010 at 9:06 PM  
Blogger Mike R. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

May 8, 2010 at 9:14 PM  
Anonymous dimzPhotography said...


Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
thank you :)

September 9, 2013 at 6:03 AM  

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