Want a true 1:1 macro for close-ups? This might fit the bill...
Macro photography has grown in popularity since the advent of digital photography. One of the reasons is that digital compacts offer macro modes as standard, introducing the discipline to millions of new users, without the need for expensive macro lenses. As those people have graduated to DSLRs, the desire to continue macro or close-up photography has led to a lift in sales of specialised macro lenses.
The Schneider 100mm is one such lens. Designed for Samsung cameras but equally usable on Pentax bodies, the lens offers true 1:1 macro shooting, and is compatible with both digital and film lenses. The 100mm focal length equates to 153mm (35mm equivalent) when used with a DSLR, allowing the photographer to maintain a slight distance from the subject, with a minimum focus distance of 30.3cm. On top of that the f/2.8 maximum aperture allows extremely shallow depth of field. This fast aperture and mid-telephoto focal length has the added benefit of making this optic an ideal portrait lens. The lens includes a distance scale showing the camera-to-subject distance in feet and metres, as well as a magnification scale. A clamp, or focus lock, enables the lens to be locked so the focus doesn’t move between shots, and prevents the front element from succumbing to the forces of gravity if shooting from above, for example during flat copy work.
An aperture ring is included for manual film cameras, which can be used thanks to the common Pentax KAF mount. For filters, meanwhile, the lens accepts 49mm sizes. The optics consist of nine elements in eight groups, while the tough polycarbonate barrel includes a deep rubber focus grip for easy manual focusing. The lens doesn’t have any special ultrasonic motor drives so the AF is pretty noisy, but it focused quickly when used in conjunction with the Samsung GX-10 used for the review.
The lens puts in a good overall performance, with a high resolution particularly at the the wider apertures. Peak performance is at f/8 with an impressive figure of 1,110 LW/PH (Line widths/pixel height). However, the drop-off at the smaller apertures is quite steep and performance is poor at f/32. Chromatic aberration is consistently average throughout, though visually there is little to worry about, particularly in the centre of the image. Images are crisp and sharp, with a pleasing defocused background, and sharpness is consistent throughout the whole aperture range.
This is a useful focal length and doubles as both a good macro and reliable portrait lens. It works equally well with Pentax and Samsung cameras, so users of both those brands will be potential buyers. The only let down really, is the loud whirring autofocus. Image quality is very good, especially at the wider end, and is sure to please anyone looking for a good-quality macro lens.