Macro lens question

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by DynaSport, Oct 11, 2013.

  1. DynaSport

    DynaSport Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 5, 2013
    I have never owned a macro lens, but I often find myself wishing my lenses focused closer than they do and think I would really enjoy a macro. I have also considered alternatives such as tubes and add on close focus filters.

    Right now I'm not in the position to buy a macro, but maybe it won't be too long, so I looked at the Oly and Panasonic offerings and noticed the Oly is much cheaper. For those of you who use macros, is there something about the Panasonic that makes it worth the premium? I believe it has OIS, which would be nice as I use a G5, but I am someone who has to take the cost/benefit ratio seriously.

    Maybe in the meantime I could get either tubes or a close focus filter. Any recommendations on those?

  2. ThomD

    ThomD Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 1, 2013
    SF Bay Area
    What do you want to shoot? I found that the dragonflies I shoot do not, in general, tolerate being close to them. I get more shots with my 100-300 w/tubes than I do with my 60mm macro.

    Define your target, figure out what focal length will work and then narrow the options.

    OTOH, sometimes they don't mind being close, but I had the 100-300 on the camera, so that is what I used.

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  3. slothead

    slothead Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 14, 2012
    Frederick, MD
    Thom, That dragonfly image is fairly impressive considering you used 100mm at 1/500 sec exposure. Was the camera/lens tripod-mounted (or otherwise stabilized), or were you free-handing it?
  4. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    You might consider purchasing a legacy lens and adapter. Most macro work requires manual focus to be really sharp so you don't need an autofocus lens. you can save quite a bit of money that way. :cool:
    • Like Like x 1
  5. denniscloutier

    denniscloutier Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 24, 2011
    Vancouver, BC
    I own both the Oly 60mm and the Panasonic 45mm. I can't see a difference in image quality. I prefer the Oly because it gives you are a little farther from the subject and of course it is cheaper. I don't think the image stabilization is all that important because for macro you usually need a strobe, and so you will be shooting fast enough to avoid shake.
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  6. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2013
    The Olympus is weather sealed too if it matters.
  7. ThomD

    ThomD Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 1, 2013
    SF Bay Area
    That image does underscore one down side to using ext tubes - a relatively long close focus distance. I was sitting on the ground, leaning back, camera in the right hand, with my left arm extended out to try to get the dragonfly far enough away to get her in focus. I had scooped her up without thinking to switch lenses first. In lens stablization does work.:redface:
  8. kevin boyer

    kevin boyer Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 26, 2013
    Bozeman MT / Winder GA
    Is a strobe light the same thing as a speed light? I'm looking into a macro lens as well and would like to know the difference between the two.

  9. ThomD

    ThomD Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 1, 2013
    SF Bay Area
    In this context, yes. For macro (or close up) work you are going to often fight against a very narrow depth of field, so a small aperture is your friend. That leads to needing more light, so flashes are often used. Diffuser optional.
  10. madogvelkor

    madogvelkor Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 22, 2013
    I have the Oly 60mm with the G5, and it works just fine. You'll want to get some sort of extra lighting ideally, but on the G5 the pop up flash isn't blocked by the lens, so that's an option.

    I started with a legacy lens, and realized I liked macro a lot before I decided to shell out the money for a native lens. I've used a couple 50/55mm lenses including the Olympus OM 50mm and a Minolta MD 50mm.

    But I'd say the lens to get is probably the Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 if you're going for a legacy lens. It has native 1:1 magnification without the need for an additional tube like a lot of other legacy 50mm lenses. And comparing the resulting image to the new Olympus 60mm, they are very close. The main advantage of the Oly 60mm being that it has autofocus and is about 4x smaller and lighter. :)

    Here's the lens on ebay, some of the buy now prices are a bit high but if you're patient with auctions you can get it under $100:

    You'll also want a macro light of some sort (which is good even with modern lenses). I picked up one of these:
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  11. madogvelkor

    madogvelkor Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 22, 2013
    Yeah, I'm usually stopped down to f/8 or more. With stationary objects and a tripod you can just use a long shutter time. But if you're shooting hand held or something at moves (like insects, or flowers in a breeze) you'll want a light even with a tripod so you can use high shutter speeds.
  12. flipmack

    flipmack Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 23, 2012
    irvine, CA
    I had one of these lenses for sale on our Buy/Sell board with no interest. I eventually sold it on ebay for a whopping price of $60 with adapter.

    It was a very good lens, but for me, I already have a 1:1 macro rig (Olympus E-1 with ZD 35/3.5 macro), so it was a lesson in redundancy and futility for me...futility because I just don't have the patience for MF.

    You can *definitely* get it for less than $100.

    Example shots from the Vivitar 55/2.8 macro:


  13. madogvelkor

    madogvelkor Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 22, 2013
    I remember seeing that -- and I would have bought it except I have one sitting on my desk right now. :)

    A bit redundant now that I have the Oly 60, but like your pictures show the quality is very nice. I'm thinking of giving it to my sister to use with her NEX...

  14. biomed

    biomed Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 22, 2013
    Seattle area
    100% agree with using a macro lens from a 35mm camera system. I used to shoot Nikon film cameras (still do on occasion) and have a couple of Nikkor macro (Nikon uses the term micro instead of macro) lenses. I am currently using a Nikkor Micro 55/2.8 with an adapter. These older lenses really perform well on a u4/3 body.

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  15. mjw

    mjw Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 23, 2013
    Seattle, WA
    Have you considered the Oly 12-50mm as a budget option? It has a pseudo-macro mode that might let you experiment. At $200 used, it might be compelling.
  16. WasOM3user

    WasOM3user Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 20, 2012
    Lancashire, UK
    Recently bought some extension tubes for a friends (student with no funds) daughter to play with as she has found that she likes this - only had about 10 minutes to play with them before they went off to their new home. This has got to be the cheapest way to try out macro.

    I bought the MeiKe Metal Auto Focus Extension tubes part number MK-P-AF3A. Autofocus worked fine with my Oly 45mm. The feel and fit were fine and using the 10 or 16mm version you could get away with hand holding but together autofocus still worked but because of the DOF due to low light in the room it struggled a bit and it was easier to move the camera. I will try and add some pictures later but they are not really shot under ideal conditions i.e. high ISO hand held in a rush but will give an indication of the impact @45mm (i.e. long end of std zoom, short end of tele-zoom that she uses).

    45mm at close focus
    <a href="" title="PADS-10148"> p550752293-4.jpg "800" height="600" alt="PADS photography: Paul &emdash; PADS-10148" /></a>

    <a href="" title="PADS-10149"> p762422723-4.jpg "800" height="600" alt="PADS photography: Paul &emdash; PADS-10149" /></a>

    <a href="" title="PADS-10150"> p621684970-4.jpg "800" height="600" alt="PADS photography: Paul &emdash; PADS-10150" /></a>

    <a href="" title="PADS-10152"> p621052381-4.jpg "800" height="600" alt="PADS photography: Paul &emdash; PADS-10152" /></a>

    Most macro you end up manual focus anyway so legacy lenses are a viable option and can be only a bit more expensive than tubes. Some can give an advantage with working distance over the typical 35-60mm macro focal length range.

    I have a Tamron 90mm SP F2.4 from my film days which works well but there are other 3rd party 90mm (Tokina, Vivitar S1) and others up to 105mm (Kiron) many of which are some of the best lenses made by these manufacturers.
  17. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 25, 2012
    I'm interested in the psuedo-macro function of the 12-50mm. What sort of working distance do you need to be, from the subject to get things to focus? Do you need to be really close?
  18. mjw

    mjw Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 23, 2013
    Seattle, WA
    A very informal test just now had autofocus on an e-m5 working from about 8" to 4' while in macro mode.
  19. bredman

    bredman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 30, 2013
    Sherwood Forest
    I use the 60mm Macro on an Oly body. Always handheld and not yet with a flash, but i do have the MAL LED thingy that has been used only rarely, in fact i prefer not to use it. Handheld with no additional light means i need the IBIS (which makes a huge difference) and the high frame rate.
  20. khollister

    khollister Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Sep 16, 2010
    Orlando, FL
    At true macro magnifications, the challenge handheld is swaying out of focus (back and forth very low frequency movements that IBIS is no help with). The only way I found to get consistent results handheld at high magnifications is with flash or very high shutter speeds (1/1000 or faster) and mash the shutter button all the way down to have the camera focus and fire as soon as focus is achieved. And you need to have the lens pre-focused so the AF only has to tweak the focus a couple mm. Otherwise, the lens will rack in and out for several seconds trying to find focus.

    I have had had little success shooting 1:1 macro with MF on any camera platform handheld due to sway of my body. The DOF at f/8 - f/11 (diffraction limit for m43) is tiny, so no matter how good you are, you will have problems without bracing against something.
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