One more pic of the setup from the previous shoot. I should probably add that I actually don’t use the 85mm lens on my E-P1. Since the lens is MASSIVE it’s a bit too big and heavy for the E-P1′s small body, and I don’t like using the manual focus lenses without a viewfinder. The 85mm lens is a much better fit for my GH2.
I was home alone yesterday and didn’t know what to do, so I decided to mess around with some camera gear I haven’t used in a while. Said and done, I attached the Canon FD 85mm F1.2 lens to my Olympus E-P1 (using my Canon FD to micro 4/3 adapter) and took the shots with the Nikon D700 and my brand new 50mm F1.4 Nikon prime lens. I used F1.4 for all three pics, which is the 50mm’s max aperture, but I should probably have gone for F2.8 or something like that in order to get a more crips result. I guess it’s just easy to get caught up in the moment when you have new gear to play around with.
I’ve used a GorillaPod tripod for the top pic, and for the other two I’ve used a technique I’ve been fiddling around with lately to get the object to appear to be floating without any support. Not going to spoil how that’s done just yet.
When I started this blog I had just got my second micro four thirds camera and had decided to get better at photography. Since I was going to take photos using the micro 4/3 system I decided on m43 pics as the name and the adress of the blog. It felt pretty fitting at the time. Starting today I will however start posting photos from a very different format. I’ve recently gotten the opportunity to acquire a Nikon D700, which is a full format camera. I’m thinking about moving this blog to a new adress since it won’t be 100% focused on the micro 4/3 format now, but I haven’t decided yet. For now I will stay here, but every now and again you’ll see shots from the full format system mixed with the micro 4/3 stuff.
In my previous post I tried out a bunch of macro tubes on a Canon FD 85mm F1.2 lens, and for this post I did the exact same test again, but this time with a Canon FD 28mm F2.8. I also put Megatron back on his shelf and chose Dangaioh (a mecha series from the 80′s) for this test. Dangaioh is a pretty awesome action figure, produced by Kaiyodo in Japan, and I’ll do a more serious shoot with him sometime in the future. For this test I just propped him up in the mini studio and started taking pictures, so don’t look too much at lighting, focus and stuff like that.
As with the previous test I shot all frames at F2.8, but I had to crank up the ISO for the more magnified ones since they got really dark (I was to lazy to attach my flash). 5-20 mm should be usable, but anything over that is pretty crappy. I guess 40 mm could work with a really small aperture and external flash, but at 55 mm I actually had to get so close with the lens that I tipped Dangaioh over several times before I could press the trigger.
As for the results I was pretty surprised that the magnification was so much stronger with the 28mm compared to the 85mm. I don’t know any details about the physics behind it all, but a wider focal length equals higher magnification when you’re using macro tubes. Who knew!?
I bought some vintage but brand new macro tubes for the Canon FD format a while back, and since I was just at home yesterday evening trying to cure a cold (no luck with that so far) I decided to give them a go. I’ve got a 5 mm, a 10 mm and two 20 mm tubes, and you can add them all together as you please to create your own combination. All test images where shot inside my mini studio with a Canon FD 85mm F1.2 lens at F2.8 and ISO 400, and I tried out 5, 10, 15, 20, 40 and 55mm extensions.
I didn’t feel that I lost any image quality by using the macro tubes, it’s primarily a matter of compensating for the loss of light and the increasingly hard to handle thin depth of field. It was really interesting to see how the depth of field decreased with each added extension even though the aperture was the same. Since you want to stop down your aperture in order to find decent focus I’d say that an external light source or flash is almost a must, unless you shoot in broad daylight. I think I’ll redo this test tonight again with the Canon FD 28mm F2.8 lens to see what the difference is.
My test subject a.k.a. Megatron was bought in Tokyo in 2008 and have been sitting on a shelf in my game room (yes, I’ve got a game room, which have recently also become my photo room) for almost three years now, so it’s only fair that he gets to star in my first macro tube test. All hail Megatron!
Premiere! It’s time for my first review of sorts. Since I’m not an expert in any way this shouldn’t be viewed as any absolute truths, but rather as my personal opinions on the stuff I’m using here. Today it’ll be about the Minolta MD 35-70mm F3.5 Macro lens. I’ve been using the Minolta on my GH2 camera with a Minolta MD/MC to micro 4/3 adapter, as seen on the below photo.
As I mentioned earlier I bought this lens as a part of a package containing a Minolta X-300 with external flash and 3 focus rings (Tokina 55mm CU +1, 2 & 3). I paid 450 kr (68 USD / 48 EUR) for everything, and seeing that everything is in pretty much perfect condition I think it was quite a bargain.
Let’s start out with some basic history. The Minolta MD 35-70mm F3.5 Macro lens was released in 1984, and was developed by Minolta in close collaboration with Leica. The lens as such doesn’t have any visible indications or markings that Leica was involved, but as far as I’ve understood it they where involved in the production of it. I haven’t personally used a Leica lens before, so I can’t really compare the Minolta lens with one, but the overall feel of Minoltas lens is really nice. It’s built with a mix och metal and plastic parts making it feel robust but not too heavy (like for example the Canon FD 85mm F1.2 lens). It also looks good, which may not be the most important thing, but who doesn’t like to use a nice lens rather than any ugly one? The lens have got three rings, two bigger ones for focal length and focus which are both easy to locate and operate, and one small for choosing the aperture. Compared to some other lenses I’ve been shooting with lately the Minolta lens is very fast and smooth when you’re adjusting focal length and focus, which is nice.
One of the coolest things with this lens is it’s macro setting. By pressing a small button on the focal length ring and turning it past the 70mm mark you trigger the lens’ macro mode, shortening the closest focusing distance substantially and narrowing the depth of field. In macro mode you can then switch between macro 1:7 and macro 1:4, making the lens very versatile. It would of course have been nice if the lens would also have had a 1:1 setting, but I guess that would be asking too much of a zoom lens from the 80′s. Another really positive thing is that it offers a constant aperture value over all focal lengths, and with a max aperture of F3.5 it makes the lens a good choice for most situations.
So, with all those rings and macro settings and constant aperture values, can this over 25 year old lens produce any good photos? The short answer is yes, it can. I’ve added a bunch of test photos in a slideshow at the bottom of this post where I’ve used different settings so that you can see for yourself. All photos are shot within a 10 minute radius from our apartment.
Since I only use the compact micro 4/3 format a negative aspect with this lens is it’s size. It’s at least twice as long and also wider than for example the Olympus Zuiko Digital 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 ED (the Olympus E-P1‘s standard lens), and you also need an adapter in order to fit the Minolta lens on your m43 camera. The Minolta lens does of course also lack autofocus, but this is something that I’m currently not that worried about, especially since the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 have a really nice enhanced view for exact focusing.
To summarize, the Minolta MD 35-70mm F3.5 Macro lens is a versatile and smooth zoom lens that’s suitable for most situations. The macro setting is a fun and useful addition, and the constant aperture makes you feel like you’re in control over the shots. I would recommend anyone that’s using a micro 4/3 camera to invest in a Minolta MD/MC adapter and this lens, especially since you will be able to get this for like 10-20% of the price of a new micro 4/3 lens.
Focal length: 35-70mm
Min. aperture: F3.5
Max. aperture: F22
Macro: 1:7 / 1:4
Filter size: 55 mm
I spent some hours yesterday practicing macro photography by shooting butterflies (results coming up here soon), and I realised that I really need to invest in an external flash, at least if I want to continue exploring this area. The GH2′s own flash was ok for some shots, but when I got real up close it was too in-your-face, and the flash was also easily blocked by the rather wide Minolta lens I was using (I’ll write some kind of review for that lens and my most recent macro setup sometime in the near future).
I’m thinking about getting the Metz 36 AF-5 for Olympus and Panasonics micro 4/3 format (which is what I use). Anyone out there with good or bad experiences with Metz flashes? So far the micro 4/3 format is somewhat limited when it comes to flashes, but as far as I’ve seen this flash have gotten pretty good reviews, and seems priceworthy. More specific info about the Metz flash here.
Flash – a-ah – saviour of the universe
Flash – a-ah – he’ll save everyone of us
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
Flash – a-ah – he’s a miracle
Flash – a-ah – king of the impossible
Flash on Spotify (let me know if you need a Spotify invite).
Here it is, the ultimate guide for photographing a dead fly.
1. Find a dead fly. If you want to make it hard for yourself, find a really small one like I did. Windows and stairs are good places to start looking. If you can’t find a dead fly, find a live one, and kill it gently.
2. Take your camera of choice and add lots of shit to it. In my case I used a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 with the micro 4/3 to Olympus OM adapter, three macro tubes (12, 20 & 36mm), a Vivitar 2X macro converter and the Olympus OM Zuiko 50mm F1.8 lens. As you can see it looks ridiculous.
3. Try to prop up the dead fly so that it looks more or less alive. When that’s done, put some lights on the corpse and try to keep that oversized lens still long enough to get a decent capture. I used a newspaper and a small box as support. Results here.
Here’s the macro gear I used yesterday. From back to front we have the Olympus E-P1, an adapter for micro 4/3 to Olympus OM, the Vivitar 2X macro converter and finally an Olympus OM Zuiko 50mm F1.8 lens.
It’s not very pretty, but since the total cost for this setup (camera excluded) was 420 kr (64 USD / 44 EUR) I’d say it’s a pretty good investment, at least when you compare it to the Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm F2.8 ASPH OIS which costs around 8000 kr (1200 USD / 850 EUR). It would be fun to do a comparison between the official macro lens for m43 cameras and a more homemade setup like mine and see how much more bang you really get for your buck. I don’t think that the official lens is 20 times better than my budget solution, but then again, I haven’t tried it myself.
It’s time to get up close and personal. Today I’m picking up some new gear that will allow me to try out some real macro photography, something I’ve always been interested in but never have had the right equipment for. I know that Panasonic recently released the Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm F2.8 ASPH OIS lens for micro 4/3 cameras (reviewed here), but it’s super expensive and I think it’s more fun to experiment with older and manual stuff.
For my (or to be correct, my father-in-laws) vintage Olympus OM lens I’ve bought a Vivitar 2X macro converter. In theory this converter will turn the 50mm F1.8 lens into a 100mm F3.5 1:1 macro lens. It’ll be really interesting to see what this setup will achieve, and also how it will look on the m43 cameras. I paid 200 kr (30 USD / 21 EUR) for the converter.
If the above setup won’t allow me to get close enough (or if the macro converter is a piece of junk) I’ll try the Panagor Auto macro tubes (12, 20 & 36mm) that I also bought for 200 kr (never used). I suppose that I’ll lose some quality by using these, but we’ll just have to see what I come up with.
I’ve also bought a complete Minolta X-300 camera with external flash and a Minolta MD 35-70mm F3.5 Macro lens, plus 3 corresponding focus rings (Tokina 55mm CU +1, +2 & +4). I actually just wanted the lens, but since I was able to buy it all for 450 kr (68 USD / 48 EUR) I reasoned that it might be fun to try out the 35mm camera sometime as well.
Any thoughts or ideas about the stuff I bought, or maybe some general tips and tricks for amateur macro photography? I’ll be back asap with some results (or catastrophic failures).