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Any suggestions? Affordable equipment for Olympus PEN E-PL2 for Macro Photography. :)

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by xhatox, Jul 29, 2014.

  1. xhatox

    xhatox Mu-43 Rookie

    10
    Jul 29, 2014
    Hi everyone!

    I am new to photography, and have spent the past couple of weeks searching for answers to some questions, but have been unable to answer them myself. Could you help? :) I would like to take macro photos of items the size of small pieces of chocolate, AAA batteries, buttons etc, but lenses seem so expensive.
    Right now I have two lenses: the kit lens which is a 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 II, 0.25m/0.82 ft Olympus lens and a 40-150mm 1:4-5.6, 0.90m/2.96 ft Olympus lens.

    I have been looking at density filters, but a lot of the filters that are listed as fitting the E-PL2 state "37mm"/the 14-42mm lens. (Why 37?) as well as more affordable macro lenses (Holga and Vivitar for example).
    The MCON-P01 and MCON-P02 lens converters seem rather affordable, but some reviews say that it doesn't change much for the kit lens. Is this true? Which is the best of the three: Cheap macro lens, density filter, or macro converter?
    How do you know which filter, converter, or lenses fits each camera?


    I am looking for something affordable (under $100) for take still photos of objects the size of a piece of chocolate or AAA battery. I will not be printing the photos.
    If you wanted to take macro photos with an Olympus PEN E-PL2 with only around $100, what would you buy?

    Thank you! :)
     
  2. phigmov

    phigmov Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 4, 2010
    There are good choices between $100-200 - almost any adapted macro (55mm Nikon Micro-Nikkor or 50mm Olympus Om mount Zuiko etc) will do the job if you've got a tripod or steady hand. Plus $20-30 for an adaptor.

    From 200 onwards, a used native Olympus 12-50mm kit zoom would do the trick. After that you're into dedicated full macro lenses (that do 1:1) like the 45mm Panasonic or 60mm Olympus (also adapted 43's Oly 35 or 50 are options).

    These are just evil-bay prices - I suspect you could do much better via private sale or slightly banged-up (via keh.com or similar).

    Other alternatives - lens reversal mount (turns a normal lens into a macro by letting you mount it in reverse), diopters (fancy close up lenses that screw into the filter thread like a filter) or convertors (like the Oly ones you mention).
     
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  3. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
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  4. xhatox

    xhatox Mu-43 Rookie

    10
    Jul 29, 2014
    Thank you for your help Phigmov! Those are the exact prices I was looking for. :)

    You are very detailed and I appreciate the variety of lenses you suggested. I never heard of keh.com, but it looks great. I read that the Olympus bodies have built in image stabilization and Nikon lenses have built in stabilization. Would using a Nikon lens or a different lens on my camera's body help stabilize?

    How do you know if a lens fits or which adapter to purchase?
     
  5. xhatox

    xhatox Mu-43 Rookie

    10
    Jul 29, 2014
    Thank you for the affordable suggestions, OzRay! I saw some extensions while searching, but did not know what they were. Is a mount extension as good as one of the lenses Phigmov listed, such as the 55mm Nikon Micro-Nikkor etc?
     
  6. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    An extension tube is the perfect option for macro work. The longer focal length zoom will be ideal for what you want. There is also another option which can be much cheaper and won't lose you any light gathering capacity and that's a close up lens: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/55mm-Mac...60664471318?pt=AU_Filters&hash=item2568594716. They come in different magnification ratios and simply screw onto the front of the lens. Good quality ones won't affect the image quality much at all, AF will work fine and they are relatively cheap.
     
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  7. xhatox

    xhatox Mu-43 Rookie

    10
    Jul 29, 2014
    Thanks again OzRay! This seems like a very affordable option. :)

    Can the close up lens and extension be used at the same time?
     
  8. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Yes they can, but when using extension tubes, you need longer focal length lenses because the working distance gets closer as the focal length gets smaller. I think for what you want, the close up lenses will be the perfect solution, especially because the f stop will remain the same throughout, you get auto focus with every lens and you can use the close up lens with shorter focal length lenses ie your 14-42mm zoom.
     
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  9. phigmov

    phigmov Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 4, 2010
    OzRay's suggestion around the extension tubes is a good one, I'd completely forgotten about that.

    The Oly bodies do have IS. The Nikon manual focus lenses are completely manual - no electronics (this is usually the case with the majority of adapted lenses) - largely pointless buying electronic lenses and adapting them unless you have them spare from an existing system.

    My first foray into macro was a used Oly Zuiko f3.5 Auto-Macro - actually look to be slightly cheaper than the Nikkor (which is brighter).

    Good luck - you'll enjoy experimenting.

    Useful threads on this forum - 55mm Nikon Micro Nikkor Image Thread, 50mm Olympus Auto-Macro Image Thread. There are many others for Canon, Pentax and other manufacturers macro lenses in the Lens Sample Images forums.
     
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  10. BeyondTheLines

    BeyondTheLines Mu-43 Veteran

    262
    Sep 23, 2012
    Spain/USA
    Patrick
    +1 on a close- up lens like the Raynox DCR 150 (or 250 for even more magnification). That will keep you below $100 and they work well with your Oly 40-150 (do a search on this forum for examples). One other even cheaper option would be a reversible ring so you can put one of your lenses on backwards but I'm not sure how well they work with zoom lenses
     
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  11. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Canada
    David
    I can help. First the macro shots.

    You actually have 1/2 of the piece which is your 40-150. All you need is a Achromatic closeup lens; something in the order of a +3 to +5. 40-150 is better suited for macro as it is slightly sharper than the 14-42 Mk II lens you have. I found +3 is the best and if I need more magnification, my E-P5 with the Digital Teleconverter engaged will get me closer!

    I don't suggest any extension tubes because there will be severe light loss if you are using the 40-150 which will make manual focusing difficult. A closeup lens will not cause severe light loss. A good closeup lens retains the optical sharpness of the lens itself. I've done some research and I found that the Marumi brand is the best in terms of providing excellent contrast and maintaining optical sharpness throughout the frame. This is essential because the 40-150 is not a contrasty lens compared to my other similar zoom lens, the Panasonic 35-100 2.8 Pro. Also, the Marumi brand is true glass diameter. You need a 58mm filter thread size and the Marumi's glass diameter is true 58mm. Others I found is NOT true 58mm; sometimes a little smaller. Some Raynox brand Achromatic close up which touting the 58mm thread is actually a true 40mm size glass. This forces you to zoom more telephoto to prevent vignetting. It also looses contrast due to the smaller diameter glass. With the Marumi, I can shoot from 40mm all the way to 150mm with full coverage. In fact, I can shoot 35mm all the way to 100mm with my Panasonic as well.
    The Marumi 330 DG is currently sold for $70 and it is worth every penny of it! With this and your 40-150, you don't really need to look any further. That's it. Incidentally, Marumi is a brand well used by some landscape photographers for macro photography as well with Nikkors and Canons. I paid $35 for it because it was a open box used slightly scratched up lens. Optically though it was superb!

    My Marumi 58mm fits these 2 lenses; but I use

    I use 40-150mm for dead objects like watches, coins etc... The harsh BOKEH makes it ideal for this type of work -- hard edges better acuity.
    I use the 35-100 OIS Pro (same 58mm thread) for living subjects. The soft smooth BOKEH makes it ideal for this type of work -- soft edges better I think for living texture.

    In regards to your 14-42mm lens. You can get a 37mm to 58mm step up ring. And then you can use the same closeup lens at 42mm to get close. My 14-42 Mark I (40.5 filter thread) has a sweet soft bokeh while being sharp and if I don't have the 35-100 with me, I would use the 14-42 @ 42mm with the closeup. The macro converter lens is nice, but it limits you with the 14-42 only. With a 58mm closeup lens and step up ring, you can use both lenses for different purposes.

    If you want to get Neutral Density filter to stop down light so you can get slower shutter speed, I suggest getting the 58mm thread. Then you can use on both lenses because you will already own the step up ring for the 14-42 anyhow. Make sure though you get the thinnest step up ring and the thinnest neutral density filter so you don't vignette at 14mm focal length. Ideally a variable neutral density filter like those made by Heliopan, Cokin, B&W and the likes are ideal for this, but they are super expensive -- $250 to start.
    A single purpose ND filter will be cheaper; thinnest being a little bit more expensive. You can combine circular polarizer with ND filter to get more stops but again they need to be thin if you want to use the 14-42 @ 14mm for landscape.

    After that, you will be all set.

    Hope this helps.
     
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  12. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    I also recommend a Marumi filter with the 40-150. Nice affordable combination for close-up work.

    --Ken
     
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  13. silver92b

    silver92b Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 7, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    The Canon FD 50mm f3.5 macro is a fabulous lens and can be obtained cheaply. The adapter is also an inexpensive part. I have had great results with that lens. If you want closer shots, find an older Olympus OM-1 (50mm or 28mm) and the OM-1 extensions. With that set up, patience, tripods, lights and skill, you can make a grain of sand look like a big rock...
    Like others have said, the Oly 40-150 can take awesome close up shots too and it's a cheap lens (very underrated AFAIC).

    Good luck!
     
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  14. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    918
    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    The ebay extension tubes are a inexpensive way to do what you want. Here's the 10mm extender tube on the 14-42 zoom mounted on my EPM1.The 16mm tube is in front. These are by Viltrox and ost me less than $40. I think the Fotga version is a little better..Prior to this, I had been using old manual focus lenses with mechanical extension tubes, which is also inexpensive, but the auto focus and quto exposure of the M43 lenses sure is handy.

    macro.JPG

    Some samples.
    macro-5.JPG macro-3.JPG

    You might want a little table top tripod.
    Later, you may want to consider a dedicated macro lens.
     
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  15. flamingfish

    flamingfish Mu-43 Top Veteran

    771
    Nov 16, 2012
    Emily
    ^ What silver92b said. KEH has a bunch of Canon FD 50mm 3.5 macro lenses. Link. you might want to approach the "ugly" grade lenses with caution, but I've gotten a couple of BGN grade from KEH and have been favorably impressed. There's one BGN lens listed that comes with the adapter tube that turns the lens from 1:2 to 1:1. You'll still needs an adapter to make it fit an m43, but they're pretty cheap.

    It will be manual focus only, but it sounds like you're planning on shooting static subjects, so that should be fine.
     
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  16. xhatox

    xhatox Mu-43 Rookie

    10
    Jul 29, 2014
    Hi everyone,

    Thank you so much for your wonderful responses! Honestly, I am at a standstill after looking at images produced by each of your suggestions. I was surprised to find they are all similar prices. The tubes are a good price, but it seems they may be difficult to use for some photos of longer objects so I decided to forgo them.

    I will be taking photos mainly of chocolates (small pieces and long bars). If I can take photos of bugs that would be nice too, although my main interest is chocolate (not chocolate covered bugs). :) Since my apartment is very small, I would like to be able to stand close to the objects I am photographing.

    With this in mind, which option would you use to achieve this?
    55mm Nikon Micro-Nikkor
    50mm Olympus Om mount Zuiko f3.5
    Marumi 330 DHG achromatic lens +3
    Raynox DCR 150
    Canon FD 50mm f3.5 macro
    Other?

    Thank you again.
     
  17. phigmov

    phigmov Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 4, 2010
    I don't think you can go wrong with any of these options. I picked the lenses I did because I had film cameras I could use the lenses on when I didn't use them on my m43 camera. If you're sticking with m43's you may want to run with the extension tubes or the achromatic lenses. After a bit of trial and error you may well branch out and add to your collection. I'm up to 3 adapted macro lenses + 1 native macro lens; it starts to become addictive. A bit like chocolate.

    P1090743.
     
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  18. flamingfish

    flamingfish Mu-43 Top Veteran

    771
    Nov 16, 2012
    Emily
    Have you given any thought to your lighting? I'm not qualified to give advice on lighting, but I think for the type of photographs you want to take, you might not be happy with just room lighting.

    I'm mentioning this since budget is a consideration. You may want to leave room in your budget for supplemental lighting.
     
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  19. xhatox

    xhatox Mu-43 Rookie

    10
    Jul 29, 2014
    I have four table photography lamps, the camera flash, a light box, and an adjustable led light pad. Is this okay, would a ring flash/light or something else be more appropriate? Thanks!

    Also, thank you again, Phigmov. I am still looking for further views on which macro choice is most appropriate to chocolate (and possibly) insect photography. :)
     
  20. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Canada
    David
    Basically, a macro lens, extension tubes and a closeup lens will all allow you to focus closer. So all of those things you listed will do just fine for your chocolate shots. When you think about a macro lens, you think that the lens only allows you to focus closer. But that's only half of it. A macro lens is designed for flat-field reproduction (sharpness from edge to edge), but then it's meaningless in actual use. The advantage of flat-field reproduction is when you "focus-stack" a series of macro shots to extend depth of field. Having edge to edge sharpness will help image stacking and not cause more softness of the edges like a normal lens with all the extensions added, so unless you are doing image stacking often to extend depth of field, you would probably do better with a telephoto lens and a closeup lens.

    The purpose of the closeup lens is to allow a normal lens focus closer. But another advantage of a closeup lens is to allow a zoom lens to focus closer and at the same close distance in ALL focal lengths. So if we use a 40-150mm for example, a closeup lens that allows this lens to now focus at 2 feet @ 40mm will also focus at 2 feet @ the 150mm setting. Which means that, you can just plant this camera and lens in one fixed position and use the zoom to crop the subject matter as you please. With a fixed dedicated macro lens, you will need to move the tripod, refocus the lens again to change composition. If you have several difference sizes of chocolates to photograph in a day, the zoom option with a closeup lens will be more efficient. Also the telephone lens with closeup lens provides a magnified crop not possible with a fixed macro lens unless you use extensive tubes or a digital teleconverter option.

    So in real world use, a telephoto lens with a closeup lens is a more versatile rig than a dedicated macro lens. Will it beat the more dedicated 60mm Macro m/43 or the 50mm f/2 4/3 macro from Olympus? The answer is no in regards to sharpness and flat-field reproduction, but with say a better lens like my 35-100 Panasonic pro lens, the answer is almost a yes. If you take a lot of macro shots, I suggest trying the closeup lens first because it gives you a lot of flexibility in terms of cropping and then decide if you want to invest on a better macro lens. I suspect you might be fine with just a closeup lens. The 40-150 is a pretty capable performer in terms of sharpness. You will not be dissappointed. With 40mm to 150mm range, you will have a series of 40mm macro, 50mm macro, 60mm macro all the way to 100mm macro lens all for the price of just $70. or $35 on sale.

    You don't have to go with the Marumi though. You can get a Nikon or a Sony or a Sigma of the same quality from a used camera store. My store has tons of these closeup lenses because it seemed these guys have gone out of fashion. But really, people just don't realize that you don't really need a macro lens all the time to take close up photos.

    What's also important is that, lighting and a tripod are your next investment if you want to take good macro shot so if you can save money on the lens and put more on the other stuff all the better.
     
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