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Debating between the 30mm or 60mm Macro while they are on sale.

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by steve16823, Nov 30, 2017.

  1. steve16823

    steve16823 Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 26, 2011
    Brookfield, IL
    I will admit up front that I know that decision here completely comes down to personal preference and money, but i'm going to blabber on about my difficulty to decide between these two lenses anyhow. Surely I can't be the only one wanting to get one (or both!) of these while they are discounted (in the US, anyhow).

    With the 30mm f/3.5 macro currently selling for $99, I only see one way that I could pass it up. And that's if I buy the 60mm for $299 instead!

    Since I have 17mm, 25mm, 45mm, and 75mm primes either lens would mostly be a special-purpose lens for me.

    Macrophotography has always fascinated me, but i've never been that good at it. I'd like to get better at it, and I realize that equipment is only part of the equation, with technique and lighting being at least equally (and probably much more) important. (but this is true of all photography, really). However, fun new equipment always gives me a bit more patience to work on better technique.

    I currently have an adapted Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/2.8 as well as a set of manual m4/3 extension tubes. The lens is well regarded for image quality but i've used it mostly for digitizing 35mm slides. I did chase some snowflakes with it the other day but I was unhappy with the results, although I can't wait to try again next time is snows. I know that everyone says that autofocus is irrelevant for macro, but I sure do miss it -- again I probably need to work on my technique. I do wonder if the Zuiko 60mm would be much of an improvement IQ wise, or if the Nikkor is good enough. If I get the 60mm, I'm thinking I could probably net $100 on the Micro-Nikkor. I can't think of any reason to keep both.

    Writing this down I'm starting to think there's a better way to ask my question. Knowing that I have the Micro-Nikkor 55mm, and I'm possibly spending between $100-$300 dollars to improve my macrophotography, should I buy a new lens or invest in other gear like a focusing stage or a ring light (or something else I haven't thought of)?
  2. Jeffcs

    Jeffcs Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 20, 2017
    Toms River NJ
    Jeffrey Swank
    Go get the lens you'll use most
    Personally I like my 60 and using it for more than just macro
    • Agree Agree x 4
  3. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    What are you going to be shooting with macro?

    If it is going to be objects in a studio, where you can add light and have complete control of the situation, the 30mm would to fine and leave room for lighting.

    If you plan on going outside and shooting flowers, bugs, nature - the 60mm gives you something faster and working distance and splash proof. It also works as a decent short telephoto.

    My vote would be the 60. It is pretty versatile.
    • Agree Agree x 3
  4. Orbmiser

    Orbmiser Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 15, 2017
    Well best of all worlds "If monies isn't really an issue" Then I would buy the 60mm over the 30mm.
    As the longer the focal length will give longer minimum focus distance. Which allows one to stand back more.
    Or have more breathing room from subject if that is an important criteria for you?

    And there is always craigslist or Ebay to get monies back if lens don't work out.

    Otherwise the 30mm may fit the bill in savings and fulfill your needs. As to focusing stage or ring light only you can answer that.
    As really comes down to individual style. I know many that will buy a flash but then not be bothered to take with or use because of the extra hassle.
    As they have to make the effort to not only use but learn more about using it. Some have good intentions but just can't seem to get themselves
    to invest the time and effort for using and learning the extra steps in using flash. I know I fall into that category.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. tkbslc

    tkbslc Super Moderator

    Going back to the old days you typically had 50 and 100mm macros. The 50mm ones were really designed for copy stand work, or things like coins and stamps. The 100mm ones were designed for more general purpose macro and subjects in nature. I think the same would be true of the 30 and 60mm macros. 30 for more studio type macro and 60mm for more outdoor/nature macro. Longer macro lenses also give much nicer bg blur behind your macro subject, which can be important for flowers, etc.

    FWIW, when I had a 60mm macro, I used it mostly with manual focus for true macro subjects. It will AF just fine, but at 1:1, even breathing or touching the shutter can move the focal plane off your target (not to mention even a slight breeze) after AF has locked on. I usually would park it at 1:1 with the focus position switch, move to manual focus, and the use focus peaking and a slight lean forward or back to home in on the target. I'd then usually fire off a burst hoping 1-2 were in perfect focus.

    So that's a long way of saying, I might just keep your manual macro setup and keep practicing. Macro is definitely one of the hardest kinds of photography where technique and practice is vastly more important than gear.
    • Agree Agree x 4
    • Winner Winner x 1
  6. Balinov

    Balinov Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 8, 2015
    Strange idea, I know, but how about using the O30mm with AF extension tube(s)? Like 10mm and 16mm, or both? Is this really a weird idea to think about?

    Just go mine off amazon bfs and have the tubes quite some time ago...:confused-53:

    Cheers, Balinov
  7. NCV

    NCV Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 9, 2016
    Get the 60mm without a shadow of doubt. With the 30mm you have to get very close to the object. It is not a practical lens in my opinion.
    • Agree Agree x 6
  8. Aperture Don

    Aperture Don Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 7, 2017
    I just ordered the Oly 30. It's backordered at B&H, but I don't need it any time soon (or later for that mater). For $100, it's a give-away. I also have the Nikkor AIS 55mm 2.8 which I've owned for probably 40 years, and just bought a used Nikkor AFS 60mm for $300 - also a bargain.

    So, if you're just debating and don't have a specific need, then the 30mm for $100 should be a no brainer.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  9. Schwert

    Schwert Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 2, 2016
    Pacific NW
    I would go for the 60mm or just stick with the Nikkor. Distance from subject is the reason. I use my old adapted 200mm micro Nikkor and appreciate the added room for outdoor subjects.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  10. Cr0b4r

    Cr0b4r Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 4, 2013
    The other question about all this is, what focus stacking software to use???
    Currently I only use Olympus Viewer, but its time to use something more powerful. I think I'm leaning towards Affinity for $49.99 (no subscription)
  11. Mountain

    Mountain Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 2, 2013
    I finally pulled the trigger on an O60 (technically it is a xmas present from the wife) it seems to be the best native option. Having said that, a cheap ttl flash (mine is neewer branded) and a cheapo ebay diffuser (I think it was @pake@pake who convinced me on the little inflatable style) can make for huge macro improvements. Could get flash, ttl cord, diffuser for right around $100
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    I have the 60 and am not currently tempted by the super $99 offer for the 30. If I were looking for a general purpose prime in this range (=normal lens FOV) and not too concerned that it's slower than the 25 f1.8, I might get it. But, I use my 25 so seldom that I plan to sell it. I like the 60 because it gets to 1:1 without extension tubes and it gives me a reasonable working distance that allows for more lighting options. The 30 is so close to the subject, especially at 1.25:1, that you probably have to use a ringlight or have lots of ambient light. I can use an off-camera flash with DIY diffusers and get good results with the 60. I even bought a Sigma 105 macro to get greater working distance when shooting insects and stuff, so as not to scare them off.

    So, as others have said, if you have a need for the 30 mm focal length, greater than 1:1 magnification, and working really close is not a problem for your macro shots, then go for it. Otherwise, I think the 60 would be better, IMHO.
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Aperture Don

    Aperture Don Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 7, 2017
    I think that you have convinced me. I, too, have the 25mm 1.8 and seldom use it, so I'm going to cancel my order for the 30mm macro. I don't need it, and probably won't use it much. I'm going to give that $99 to my wife and tell her to go buy a new pair of shoes. Really!
    • Like Like x 1
    • Funny Funny x 1
    • Wow Wow x 1
  14. Reflector

    Reflector Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 31, 2013
    I like macro lenses, so much so that I have four macro lenses spanning from 30mm to 90mm... At 100 dollars it was a no brainer for me given it is a 1.25:1.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  15. Gerard

    Gerard Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 12, 2015
    Vleuten, Utrecht
    I have both 30 and 60 mm Oly macro lenses.
    The 30 is an ok general purpose lens. It won't win the olympics in the speed department, but I am never in a hurry and don't shoot moving objects. The focusing distance is very short, the front element can literrally touch a subject and still focus. Shorter focal lenses give wider DOF, so you don't always have to choose the MF route.
    BTW MF is done by fly by wire (is that the term?), which I dont like. I never know which direction I have to turn, clockwise or counterclockwise.
    I paid € 300 for it and have no buyers remorse. Took it with me to Canada last spring with my P45-150 and EP5. A small kit, that gave me rather nice pics.

    The 60 leans more to macro. And is a very good lens, to be used as a short tele and some people claim it is a very good portrait lens. Sounds reasonable because no ditortion.
    It is weather sealed. My first trip with it and my EM5 was is in the rain. But I lack the technique to get nice pics. I brought my Metz 44. How that interacts with one another is a whole new chapter for me. Check the showcase for better pics.

    All in all my opinion is that it is not a waste of money to own both.
    Macro is a hard nut to crack and the 30 is a sort of 'macro-light' or for US residents 'diet-macro'.
    Macro for beginners: bigger DOF, more AF, though more limited subjects
    And as a bonus a standard walk around lens, though not for kids or pets moving about.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2017
  16. junkyardsparkle

    junkyardsparkle haunted scrap heap Subscribing Member

    Nov 17, 2016
    Like, The Valley
    As much as I love the Oly 60/2.8, this is a tough question, because getting decent light on a subject is a pretty big part of macro. I would say if you're fairly comfortable with with the lens you have, and don't own any kind of flash or other lighting stuff (small, battery-powered LED "video" panels can be handy, too), you might get more mileage out of spending the money on that. On the other hand, if you already own a flash, there's a lot you can do in the way of DIY diffusers to really make a big difference in the shots you get... you don't necessarily need to buy a bunch of macro-specific stuff.

    I don't find autofocus very useful at macro range, typically fine focus comes from moving the camera and lens... auto-aperture, on the other hand, can be a HUGE thing, allowing you to do that fine focusing wide open, and then snap the shot, rather than losing the focus as you try to stop down manually. I suspect that would be the game changer between your current lens and the Oly 60. As far as the 30mm goes... I briefly considered picking one up at the current low price, knowing that I would only ever use it for a very particular purpose; touching-the-lens wide-angle macro can be fun in situations that allow for it, but those situations are honestly few-and-far-between (backlit snowflakes might be one application, I guess).
  17. Gerard

    Gerard Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 12, 2015
    Vleuten, Utrecht
    170913 Canada  (7).JPG 170926 Canada orf (24).JPG

    Just common holiday snapshots. Nothing specia, just a 30 mm lens
    • Like Like x 7
  18. Gerard

    Gerard Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 12, 2015
    Vleuten, Utrecht
    170913 Canada  (26).JPG

    An example of what I mean by 'macro for beginners'. These were very tiny drops of a sort of resin. Size of the nail of the pinky of a young child. I moved very close, maybe 1cm between the drop and the lens.
    Oly 30mm
    F7.1 ISO 1250 1/50 sec
    Aperture priority

    170927 Canada orf (10).JPG
    Another one.
    Bend over, get close, closer, still closer, again closer and press the shutter.
    Easy peacy :) 
    • Like Like x 1
  19. retiredfromlife

    retiredfromlife Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2016
    Sydney, Australia
    I am biased towards the 60mm as I just got one on sale.
    If you look at the macro photos the 60mm is the most used lens for macro.
  20. skellington

    skellington Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 4, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    Which body do you use? The E-M1 (and perhaps others) will do focus stacking in-body with the 60mm.
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