1. Welcome to Mu-43.com—a friendly Micro 4/3 camera & photography discussion forum!

    If you are thinking of buying a camera or need help with your photos, you will find our forum members full of advice! Click here to join for free!

Best lens for "noninvasive macro"?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Xx123456xX, Nov 11, 2017.

  1. Xx123456xX

    Xx123456xX Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 11, 2017
    Houston, TX, USA
    For awhile I was considering getting either the Oly 40-150mm F2.8 or the Pana 100-400mm F4-6.3 for "macro-esque" shots. However, after using my Sigma 30mm F1.4, I've come to love the "simplicity" of a prime.

    The main prime lens that interests me is the Oly 300mm F4, but I'm also considering the new Pana 200mm F2.8 and the old Oly FT 150mm F2.

    If I want to get macro-like results without getting to close to the subject, which of the two Olies would be better? Given the specs we've seen, would the Pana be a good option?
  2. wimg

    wimg Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 10, 2016
    For non-invasive macro shots, or as little as invasive as possible, pros tend to use as long a lens as possible, generally up to 400 mm FF equivalent, as longer lenses get a little hard to handhold when chasing lizards, butterflies, dragonflies etc. in the wild.

    An often used lens for this purpose in APS-C and FF is the Canon 100-400 L IS II (or I), combined with the use of a achromatic close-up lens like the Canon 500D. The latter is a doublet, 500 mm FL, or 2 diopters if you so prefer. With this close-up lens mounted, on the older 100-400, you used to get up to 0.25x magnification at 100 mm at MFD (0.2x at infinity), and 1x (!) at 400 mm MFD (0.8x at infinity), while still maintaining a large shooting distance - 60 cm plus from what I can remember. With the new 100-400 L, you can get even closer, and hence get larger magnifications.

    Translating this to MFT, I would suggest using possibly an Oly 50-200 SWD with adapter (on E-M1 obviously), or something similar, and possibly a Panny 100-300 or the PL 100-400, or indeed even the Oly 40-150 Pro. Again in combination with an achromatic doublet of not too many diopters (2 is just fine). There are a few other good ones out there these days, besides the Canon. Nikon also made a couple, and there are a few good multi-coated 3rd party doublets out there too, like the Marumi ones (the 330 is a 3 diopter achromat).

    If you really would prefer to use a prime for this type of shot, both the Panny 200 F/2.8 and the Oly 300 F/4 will do nicely, in combination with a 2 diopter multi-coated achromat. Having said that, personally I would prefer a zoom lens for this purpose, as zooming in and out does give one a very easy and controllable way to change magnification. This is very convenient when doing some of these shots in the field, encountering all kinds of animals, or plants and flowers, of different sizes.

    Personally, I like to use my Canon 100-400 and Canon 500D, either like this on FF, or with Metabones speedbooster on MFT, for this type of photography.

    Anyway, some info on close-up lenses:
    Close-up lenses – Close-up and macro photography for entomologists
    http://www.eos-magazine.com/EOS Collection/shop/Resources/A383 Close focus (CU).pdf

    A few blogs/sites discussing this option:
    Peter Frailey Photography :: Blog: Macro Set up #1: Olympus E-M1 + Pany 35-100mm + Canon 500D closeup lens
    Vernon Chalmers Photography: Testing the Canon 500D 77mm Close-Up Lens Filter

    I'd like to refer you to the site of a multi-award winning pro who shoots small animals and insects in the field like this, but unfortunately I cannot remember his name and neither can I find his site. If and when I do I'll post it here.

    Kind regards, Wim
    • Informative Informative x 4
    • Like Like x 1
    • Winner Winner x 1
  3. Carbonman

    Carbonman Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jul 10, 2014
    Vancouver BC
    I've used both the 40-150 Pro and 300 f4 to shoot near - macro and really like the results. Take a look at some of the insect and spider shots in my Flickr 'Insects and Arachnids' folder. Virtually no cropping and up to nearly 1/2 life size in a couple of cases.
    • Like Like x 2
  4. barry13

    barry13 Mu-43.com Editor Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Hi, this was about mfd with the 40-150Pro and cropped... DoF was pretty shallow and I didn't want to stop down very far as it was getting dark and the spider was moving a lot.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    For AF, if you have an E-M1, Sigma made a 150mm macro in 4/3 mount.
    For MF, there are some excellent 180-190mm macro lenses available.
    • Like Like x 3
  5. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    I found a Sigma 105 f2.8 EX DG macro in FT mount that works quite well. I found that the EC-14 1.4x teleconverter works quite well on it, and will give you greater than 1:1 magnification and a resulting focal length of 148 mm. However, as you probably know, the longer the lens is, the more difficult it will be to handhold to shoot macros. You may need a tripod or some other support. Sigma had a 150 f2.8 EX DG HSM lens in FT mount that was supposed to be excellent. It comes up occasionally. Either will give you AF and AE with an MMF adaptor on an EM1 series camera.

    Here's a few samples.
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. ralf-11

    ralf-11 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 16, 2017
    1. Long lens
    2. good AF
    3. good IS

    I don't know of one... I adapted a Nikon 100 Micro to my GX85, but...
  7. Underwater

    Underwater Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 1, 2014
    Eugene, Oregon
    I've played around with the 150 f2 and EX-25 extension tube a little bit, but I feel that I got better results shooting with the 60mm. It just takes some patience and luck.
  8. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jan 3, 2014
    I kind of just went thru this and think I can help.

    First, you don't mention which camera you have. You mention the 150/2 so I am going to assume you have an EM1. If you don't have an EM1 then you can just ignore most of what I say because I don't recommend using 4/3 lenses with anything but an EM1. None of the 4/3 lenses (except the few that are CDAF optimized) focus worth crap on anything but an EM1.

    My favorite wildlife subjects are baby gators, bullfrogs and snakes (particularly the Cottonmouth aka Water Moccasin) and I am also pretty new to shooting Olympus (switched from Canon about 3 years ago). The first telephoto lens I got was the 50-200 SWD and EC-14, which I used for about 7 months before getting the 150mm f2.0 and EC-20. The main problem with both of those 4/3 lenses is they don't have the real close minimum focus distance or reproduction ratio of the new Pro lenses. But.................if you use TC's the minimum focus distance doesn't change, which then increases your reproduction ratio because you have basically increased your magnification.

    I want to first mention if you click thru to Flickr you will find more examples in the applicable lens album. I have my albums organized by lens used, with a different album if a TC was used.

    For reference, a baby gators head is about 2-3 inches long (tip of nose to back of head).

    Also..............my photos always have minimal crop. If I have to take the long side below 3800px (keeping with standard aspect ratios) it's a throwaway for me. Most of the shots have no crop or only about 200px on long side to tighten up composition. I shoot with composition in mind and move the focus point around so I can get the composition right in camera and not have to crop or only crop a few hundred pixels to tighten things up. I mention this so you can have an idea of the reproduction ratio of the lenses. Showing photos that have been heavily cropped don't give you a good idea of what is possible and I don't heavily crop and if I do I state it and it's usually just to show something interesting.

    This first shot was taken with the bare 50-200 SWD on my EM5. I want to point out that I had to manually focus the photo because every time the camera would focus (very slowly I would like to add) it would front focus enough that the eye was not in focus. This behavior (that I have also heard from others) combined with the very slow focusing is why I don't recommend 4/3 lenses on anything but an EM1.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Death Watches by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    Here is one with the 50-200 + EC-14

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Nothing To See Here, Move along.... by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    Here is one with the EC-20

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    ZD 50-200 SWD w/ EC20 by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    This next one is with the EC-20 but I will also post a photo a bit later from the 150/2 w/ EC-20 of the same frog shot from the same spot for comparison. Which the 150/2 shot is the only one that has more than my typical cropping because I cropped it to match the additional 100mm of reach from the 50-200 photograph.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    ZD 50-200 SWD w/ EC20 by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    After picking up the 150/2 I have hardly used the 50-200 SWD except for some comparison shots or to test it with the EC-20 (didn't get the EC-20 until I got the 150/2). It's also my sports and event lens because for that type of photography I prefer a zoom. But for wildlife life I really do prefer using a prime lens.

    Here are a few bare 150/2 shots.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Unsure by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Hello by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    2 by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    I seldom use the 150/2 with the EC-14 and the only time I have used it for macro was a test I did. I shot this frog with the 150/2, 150/2 w/ EC-14, 150/2 w/ EC-20 and various apertures with each combo. I will link the album where all the comparison shots are at the end.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    ZD 150 w/ EC14 @ ƒ2.8 Normal Crop by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    First photo with the EC-20 will be the comparison shot to the 50-200 w/ EC-20 above.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    ZD 150 w/ EC20 @ ƒ4.0 200 crop by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    LOL, I really have a lot of macro shots with this combo

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    The Prince by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    ZD 150 w/ EC20 @ ƒ4.5 by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    Here is a good comparison of the difference between 150/2 and 150/2 with EC-20. Same snake shot from same spot, just added the TC.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    6 by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    5 by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    I picked up the 300/4 about a month ago and finally found some baby gators to photograph last week. Hurricane Harvey managed to wipe out most of the gator nest this year, happen right before egg hatching time. I have only been able to locate 2 nest that have survived to hatch baby gators, hoping to find more over the next month. I had to go out of town all week so have only been able to process this one photograph so far.

    Need to add that this was from about 20 feet, so not even close to the true reproduction ratio of this lens. I was also using the MC-14 and I am pretty sure I can fill the frame with just the eye section of the head (leaving out the snout and nose). Hoping to test that out this weekend.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    What? by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr


    What are my thoughts on the three lenses and their use for "macro"? I want to mention that I only included the 50-200 because someone brought it up in an earlier post. I also want to mention one other lens and that's the 4/3 75-300mm, if my memory is correct it will do 1:2 macro. I almost picked it up when I first got my EM1 just for that reason, but have no experience with it (only mention it for completeness).

    @Holoholo55@Holoholo55 brought up the two Sigma lenses that are available in 4/3 mount. If you want reach and true 1:1 macro those are really your only options and both lenses would be usable with the EC-14/20 so you could actually get better than 1:1. Damn, now that I think about that I may have to start looking for that 150mm f2.8 macro again.

    I would not hesitate to use any of my three lenses for "macro" work. I personally prefer a prime lens and honestly I almost exclusively used my 50-200 at full zoom, except for sports or events. When I tested out the 50-200 w/ EC-20 I was very surprised with the IQ I was getting and it's use in macro was more than acceptable (actually find using the EC-20 with this lens more than acceptable for all my wildlife photography, check my Flickr album if interested). While I will use the 300/4 for wildlife photography, I mostly got it for it's macro ability (I was perfectly happy with my 150/2 and TC's for wildlife photography). The 300/4 will provide me a higher reproduction ratio than my current lenses and also allow me to focus bracket. You can see how thin the DoF is in my shots above and I would like to get more and the only way to do that is focus stacking. Yes, I could stopped down but that will also raise ISO and it really doesn't get you that much more DoF. Here is a photo where I tried to get a baby gators head in focus from tip of nose to back of eyes. I had to stop down to f22, which took the ISO to 3200 (way past my comfort level for wildlife photography) and that combined with diffraction made for a soft photograph.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    150 @ ƒ22 by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    My preferred "macro" subjects don't move much when I am photographing them. So, doing some focus bracketing will be possible without to many problems. I will continue to use the bare 150/2 for macro when I can get close enough (which is pretty often). There is just something about the images from that lens when shot without TC's that I just love. I will never sell it and even with the 300/4 it will still have to come with me because for most of my adult gator photography the 150/2 is the perfect focal length.

    I have only used the 300/4 a few times now but I can say it is an amazing lens. The dual IBIS is pretty handy (especially for handheld "macro") and it really is stupid sharp. Combined with the TC you get some amazing reach and even better reproduction ratio. Not sure if it will work with extension tubes and TC, I don't have any tubes and have honestly never used them. I am thinking of getting the Canon 500D filter to see how much more magnification I can get.

    In your situation I would probably get the 300/4............................but the 150/2 is just so amazing...........................but the 300/4 is going to provide much better reproduction ratio and really is the better lens for "macro" type photography. If you shoot Olympus I can only recommend the 300/4 over the 100-400 because of the things you can only do with it like dual IS as well as focus bracketing. To go along with that, there are going to be camera features in the future that Olympus will limit to their lenses only...................for that simple reason I personally believe in future proofing myself and only buy Olympus lenses. Plus, Panasonic has yet to make a lens that really interest me..........I am just not in their targeted demographic.

    If you have any questions ask.......................




    This album is a few comparison shots between the 150/2 and 50-200 SWD w/ EC-20. Photos shot from same location of same frog within minutes of each other - ZD 150 & 50-200 SWD Comparisons

    This album is a bunch of 150/2 comparison shots. All photos taken from same location of same frog with 150/2 and/or TC's at various apertures in each combo as well as various crops to match the other combos - Comparing Various Combinations of TC's and ƒstops on the ZD 150mm ƒ2.0

    When I test lenses I don't shoot charts or brick walls. I like to test them in the field, because that is where it really matters.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017
    • Winner Winner x 6
    • Informative Informative x 2
    • Like Like x 1
    • Wow Wow x 1
  9. Xx123456xX

    Xx123456xX Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 11, 2017
    Houston, TX, USA
    I use the GH5 but so far only use manual focusing, so I don't think FT lenses will be too much of an issue. The proprietary nature of the MFT Sync-IS would prevent me from pairing the 300mm's OIS with the GH5's IBIS, but I'd most likely be doing most of my shots on a tripod. Plus I doubt I'll be able to afford the lens for several months, so I'll have plenty of time to compare it to the new 200mm F2.8, which will allow Sync-IS.
    Still, even though it has a narrower aperture, does not include a TC, and lacks compatible IS, I'm still inclined to get the Oly since it's both cheaper and has a greater magnification.
  10. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jan 3, 2014
    Focus by wire is terrible on every 4/3 lens (and m4/3 lens), the only ones that focus decent manually are the 12-60 SWD and 50-200 SWD................or the Olympus lenses with the manual focus clutch (only have experience with the 300/4).

    I see that you are in Houston. I will be at Brazos Bend State Park Saturday photographing baby gators if you want to test out the 150/2 or 300/4.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    I like mine. Very sharp but not the fastest focus on the EM5ii. However for close macro AF doesn't really matter. Easier to just back/forth a bit.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    BTW, I find that manual focus on the Sigma 105 f2.8 macro is very smooth and easy. It's a long throw from 1:1 to infinity, but it's fast and that facilitates focusing because things seem to snap in and out of focus. I imagine the Sigma 150 is similar, although I've never seen one. I've gotten a feel for the Sigma 150 by using the 105 with the EC-14. It's not easy to handhold at that focal length, as I'm in senior citizen territory now, but it's doable. I should have snapped up the 150 when I saw it on eBay about the time I bought the 105. :) 

    One can find the 150 new or used on eBay in Canon or Nikon mount fairly easily. Finding the 4/3rd mount is not so easy.

    Here's another blue damselfly shot with the Sigma 105/EC-14 combo. Handheld, SOOC JPG. This little bugger is less than 1" long.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    • Like Like x 2
    • Informative Informative x 1
  13. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    Agreed. Even on the EM1, AF is not that quick, due to the slow screw drive AF on the Sigma. What slows it down is that it tends to hunt all the way to closest focus and back before settling down. I often find that MF works better especially for close-ups, as you said.
  14. Xx123456xX

    Xx123456xX Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 11, 2017
    Houston, TX, USA
    I'm quite busy in school, so I most likely won't be able to go, but thanks for the offer.

    Also, will it be your first time to Brazos after the reopening? My brother said that pretty much the entire park was caked in mud and that all the buildings will need a total overhaul.
  15. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jan 3, 2014
    Ok, but the offer is always open if you ever have time and want to test them out.

    The park just reopened but I was in Dallas and just got back yesterday. I have seen some photos from last weekend (it's first weekend open) and it seems fine. I am sure some of the buildings need work but they should all be functional or they wouldn't have opened. I know that one baby gator nest by the observatory did survive, so that is where I will be at sunrise on Saturday.
  16. D7k1

    D7k1 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Nov 18, 2013
    I've always used the Canon 500D with my longer lenses (have a 77mm and a 58mm and various adapter rings):

    PL100-400 "naked"
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Naked Oly 75-300II
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    This bug was about 1/8" and I believe this was taken with the PL100-400 and D500 (If not it was the 75-300 II and D500) so vary close to one to one with either lens, Dof = Yikes.
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    • Like Like x 4
  17. You didn't mention whether auto focus was terribly important to you.

    Many macro shooters set their focus for a desired subject, then move back and forth to fine-tune the actual shooting focus. Personally, I find this easier than auto-focus. You can also do sequential shooting, and move through the focus range while shooting, then pick the best focus later.

    In such a case, I really like the OM-System Telescoping Extension Tube (TET) and OM 135mm ƒ4.5 Macro lens. The combo will go from infinity to about 1:2 or so, and you can change objectives easily for different reproduction ratios: there's the 20/2, 38/2.8, and 80/4 dedicated macro lenses for different reproduction ratios down to about 16:1. You can also use the TET with the 50/3.5 (sharp and a bargain!), 50/2, and the 90/2 — all of which focus to infinity when mounted directly to the adaptor, rather than on the TET.

    There was a TET/135 combo on evilBay recently for about $250, a bargain when compared with new lenses.

    The OM-System was second to none for 35mm macro. I've adapted the OM-System ring flashes to work with µ4/3rds. (Link also has photos of the TET.)

    EDIT: Here is a great run-down on the incredible Olympus OM Macro System, all of which can be adapted to µ4/3rds.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2017
    • Informative Informative x 2
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.