Choosing a macro lens

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Hoddydod, Oct 18, 2016.

  1. Hoddydod

    Hoddydod New to Mu-43

    Oct 18, 2016
    I've recently got very keen on trying macro with my Olympus OM-D and am using my kit lens with extension tubes but am now considering a macro lens. Has anyone compared the Oly 60mm with the Sigma 105mm? What are the advantages/disadvantages of each on an OM-D?
  2. Hoddydod

    Hoddydod New to Mu-43

    Oct 18, 2016
    Duh! I'm sorry I didn't mean Sigma I was really referring to the Samyang 100mm macro lens.

    Also I should say that my main interest is in insect photography. Has anyone used the Samyang? Is it very heavy compared to the Oly?
  3. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    Well, according to what specs I could gather, the lenses are vastly different in weight and size.
    Samyang 100 f2.8 - 720 g weight, 123 mm long, and uses a 67mm filter size.
    Olympus 60 f2.8 - 185 g, 82 long, and 46 mm filter.

    If you do like Robin Wong and hold the camera and lens in one hand while holding a flash in the other, your right arm is gonna get tired a lot quicker, although the extra weight of the Samyang may make you more stable in the short run.

    The Olympus is also weather-sealed if used with a weather-sealed body.

    I have the Olympus and it is a very light lens. With an EM1 and it in one hand, it's heavy enough. Plus, the Samyang is completely manual on focus and exposure. The Olympus can be operated in AF and auto exposure. Robin uses the 60 macro in manual mode anyway, since he uses a flash. He focuses manually too, and then rocks back and forth to get the subject in focus. I rock back and forth even when I'm trying to stay still, so manual focus would be a chancy thing for me. :)
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2016
  4. CyVan

    CyVan Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 9, 2016
    I would say Olympus all the way. I use mine manual focus and sometimes autofocus with the focus limiter depending on the subject. At least the Olympus gives you the option and its surprisingly small and light so its always with me. Nowadays its my most used lens.
  5. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    I don't believe I've seen any info on the Samyang 100mm, but several of the hard-core bug photographers here use longer macro lenses for the greater working distance.
    There's lots of legacy options.
  6. piggsy

    piggsy Mu-43 All-Pro

    I haven't used the Samyang/Rokinon, but it looks like it performs fine (lens tip review makes it look excellent). The only issues I would take with it from reading is it's MF only, quite heavy and the focus breathing is quite severe (just under 77mm at closest focus). Several of the popular manual focus vintage macros around that kind of infinity length stay longer and are lighter and may be a lot cheaper for you.

    TBH though if it's your first time into macro I would suggest either getting something very cheap (like an MF macro from ebay or eg. the Raynox 150+250 for ~$50-100 + Olympus 40-150 for ~$99-200) and seeing how you like it, or just going straight to the Olympus 60mm, which is often quite cheap on sale, around $356au here at the last lot of big sales. I would also leave room in your budget for a flash, whatever else you decide to get.

    ed - corrected focus breathing figure. So about 10mm shorter at MFD than a lot of other legacy macros from 90-105mm.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2016
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  7. Austrokiwi

    Austrokiwi Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 19, 2016
    The best Macro lens depends on your intended use of the lens, and how demanding you are on IQ.

    If you are looking at 1-1 macro:

    As you are looking at Macro for insects then the Olympus 60 mm, despite its great features, is quite likely going to frustrate you. Although the FOV is equivalent to a 120mm FF lens the working distance still remains the same as a standard FF 60mm. That working distance will see you getting too close to the subject with the result it will jump, crawl or fly away. A 100mm macro lens will see a slight improvement but even then its going to still see you spooking a large number of subjects. I have found that focal lengths starting at 120mm through to 200mm are best but if you look at legacy lenses then often you will find the lenses of 200mm were designed for Black and white photography and suffer from axial CA which can not be effectively corrected.

    The good news is with a MFT system you don't need to be working at 1-1 so if you are looking at low magnification ranges 0.1X through to 0.5 X then go for the Oly 60mm. It is the best Native lens available for the purpose( but not the best Macro lens in that focal length). Just realize you won't be able to get high mag shots very easily.
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  8. piggsy

    piggsy Mu-43 All-Pro

    Disturbing bugs is going to happen with anything you use though. I ran around for a while fore-shortening even the olympus 60 (which is about 47mm at closest focus and drops about as low as ~35mm here).
















    Again all I'd say about the Samyang length wise is that it seems to focus breathe pretty seriously and if you really want a longer macro lens then there might be better ways of getting that reach (the vivitar 100/2.8/komine serials version I think is an example of a decent cheapy one that does "proper" 1:1 macro while maintaining more of the length). But the length is double edged, the longer you go the harder it can be to position yourself vs subject/background at a certain magnification, it gets harder to light the subject with flash, your exposure duration has to go down to control blur, etc. I don't even bother with my Tamron 180 3.5 unless it's very far into broad daylight or without a couple of flashes on it.

    But yeah, the bug disturbance thing is just going to be between you and your dedication to learning where/when to approach the bugs you want to shoot. You're really only dealing with 1-2 feet difference between the shortest and longest macros around at their closest focus, most bugs know whether they don't like how you move before you get that close.

    (ed - corrected, was away from my normal bookmarks/gmail and mixed up lenses :D)
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2016
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  9. CyVan

    CyVan Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 9, 2016
    Piggsy, these are stunning. What did you use for lighting if u used other than natural lighting?
  10. Gerard

    Gerard Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 12, 2015
    Vleuten, Utrecht
    Great photos. I got a bit stuck while translating what you wrote here.... did you shoot these withe the olympus 60?
  11. piggsy

    piggsy Mu-43 All-Pro

    Yep, sorry, those are all on the 60 either by itself, or with a +4.8 or +8 diopter. Bringing the 60 to closest focus reduces its true focal length to about 47mm, and the diopters reduce the effective length again, to about 35mm @ ~1.75x on the +8 Raynox 250 if you're right at the closest focus limit (like on the last damselfly shot).

    Some are natural light (4 - even though it looks like flash was in broad daylight and just shot to protect yellow - and 7). Others are just with a variety of cheap plastic bottle and paper towel and alfoil diffusers on the FL600r. I think I showed these before... 1 2. Actually at the moment I'm running around with one flash cross polarised (sounds fancy but this is just the box the raynox diopters came in with the ends cut off and one end with a piece of linear polariser film on it) and the other flash with the fstoppers flash disc. Also that isn't even the goofiest looking camera lighting setup I can make with my stuff :D

    Most of those are old shots too, from before I discovered focus stacking wasn't some horrible difficult thing and before I found neat image for macro sharpening. I keep meaning to re-do the better ones of those, still have all the sources.
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  12. ChrisN

    ChrisN Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 13, 2015
    I love my Olympus 60mm macro. It's my most-used lens. You can check out my Flickr account for lots of examples. I use it 100% auto-focus, and with a ring flash most of the time. I'm generally too jittery to manual focus, so I've never even tried a manual macro. At these distances, just a little bit of movement will change the focus to something you don't want!

    I've found that, with patience, I can generally get a photo of most insects. Even the most skittish of insects will have a few individuals who will let you approach and will sit still for a photo.:) Although, now that I bought an E-M1, I would love to try the 4/3 Sigma macro lenses (105mm & 150mm) sometime. A longer working distance definitely would be advantage sometimes!
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  13. Hoddydod

    Hoddydod New to Mu-43

    Oct 18, 2016
    Thanks. Beautiful photographs. I take it these were taken with the Oly 60mm?

  14. Hoddydod

    Hoddydod New to Mu-43

    Oct 18, 2016
    Thanks everyone for your messages. I think I'll opt for the Oly 60mm
  15. piggsy

    piggsy Mu-43 All-Pro

    Yep, it's a pretty neat lens. Some are with the Raynox CM-2000 set of achromatic diopters to push it past 1x magnification though (if you use those - you will also need a 46>52mm step up ring). I still use the 60mm, even though I have a few other much longer macros ("bokina" 90mm 2.5 macro, vivitar 135mm 2.8 close focusing, tamron sp 180mm 3.5 macro). Mainly because for cross polarised flash you need to throw a lot of light at something and with 2-3 sets of 4xAA batteries hanging off your hand, a little ~200 gram macro lens is a lot more welcome than one close to a half kilo - or a kilo for the 180mm :D

    As I said though - whatever you get - make sure you budget for a flash, because the flash is what really makes a lot of those shots happen. I used the 60mm without a flash for several months and while you can get many good shots without a flash, you'll never really be able to hunt around in the early morning/evening/night when bugs are much easier to shoot.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2016
  16. Hoddydod

    Hoddydod New to Mu-43

    Oct 18, 2016
    Thanks, I think thats the way I will go. I do already have a couple of flash units so thats not a problem

  17. Gypsy

    Gypsy New to Mu-43

    Sep 17, 2016
    I've been looking at neat image but there doesn't seem to be a profile for Olympus EM systems. Any comments on how it's working for you and the camera profile you're using to sharpen your macro shots? Thanks
  18. piggsy

    piggsy Mu-43 All-Pro

    There's the simple way of using it where you auto profile - and it picks (or you give it) an area of uniform noise without any photo details in the shot. And then there's the other way of using it where you give it a section of a known sample image (basically just a defocused image of coloured squares) at a given shutter speed and iso and tell it to use that for the noise sample.

    You can also tune it so for instance you can give it the same processing settings your image processor is using and have it adjust the noise profile based on that - so say an image from oly viewer 3 will always have the default olympus noise reduction and sharpening, just as part of the unchangeable defaults, so you tend to see the little artifacted blobs in its images sometimes that are unique only to it. Or lightroom with the blue channel saturation turned up has whatever the standard noise is for the image but extra amplification of CB noise but nothing extra in CR or luma noise. It's basically as involved as you want to make it, if you had the patience I'm sure there would even be some minimal benefit to giving it profiles at different sensor temperatures and it would figure out a very slightly different noise profile based on the same exposure parameters at 40 degrees vs 0.
  19. Gypsy

    Gypsy New to Mu-43

    Sep 17, 2016
    Thanks, piggsy. I'm going to download the trial version and see if I manage to get good results.
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