PEN E-PL1: High-magnification rig

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by naturecloseups, Nov 7, 2010.

  1. naturecloseups

    naturecloseups Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 10, 2010
    A few people have reached out to me asking for high magnification examples on the E-PL1.

    High-magnification photographs are not something that I enjoy making. I found my niche in making earthy, casually posed yet intimate portraits of the "bug next-doors" taken in their natural environments, or the occassional flower (typically when my wife urges me to). Besides, I work using available light with just a hint of fill-flash, but the nature of high-mag photography is such that outdoor photography using available light poses certain challenges. However, it can be enjoyable once in a while.

    Here's my preferred rig for the "true macro" realms (beyond 1:1). I'll keep the textual explanations short since a picture is worth youknowwhat.

    Here's the optical rig mounted on the E-PL1. You'll see I am using a focusing rail (the one made by Minolta, the best I have ever used -- the Novoflex Castel comes close). Using a focusing rail for reversed lens photography is not optional. It is a necessity if you want consistent results. The whole setup is mounted on an RRS BH-25 ballhead mounted atop a Manfrotto 190MF4 magnesium+carbon fiber composite tripod legs.


    And here is the composition of the optical rig. Before you get confused -- the only purpose of the E2 extension ring is to act as a lens shade for the exposed rear of the reversed lens. However, it also has a handy release-button that lets you open up the aperture when you press it. A handy trick is to attach a Nikon cable release AR-2 to it and lock it while pressed, find precise focus while the diaphragm is opened all the way up then release the cable lock to stop down before picture taking.

    Do not confuse the lens with the Cosina made 35-70/3.5-4.5 zoom bundled with the FM10, that is an entirely different (lesser) animal


    Coming next: some quick and dirty example shots (to show range of magnifications obtainable) and a couple relatively carefully taken sample shots.
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  2. naturecloseups

    naturecloseups Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 10, 2010
    A quick and dirty test to show the range of magnifications obtainable with the reversed 35-70/3.3-4.5 AIS Zoom Nikkor. The corresponding composite picture is below.

    Lowest mag: When the zoom is racked all the way out to 70mm, you can cover a lot of image area. The top picture illustrates this. This is nowhere near macro, barely a moderate closeup.

    Highest mag: Note the single flower pointed at by the arrow in top picture. When the zoom is set at the widest end (35mm), you can get that close, to cover only a part of that single flower -- as in the bottom pic. Both are full frame pictures with no cropping. This demonstrates the versatile range of magnifications possible with this setup.

    Remember this is for a m4/3rds sensor with a 2x crop factor, for APS-C/FF your frame-filling potential will become correspondingly weaker, but still considerable.

    Example shots to illustrate range of magnifications (sorry no fancy bugs this time)

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  3. naturecloseups

    naturecloseups Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 10, 2010
    The previous quick test shots notwithstanding -- here are a couple of sample shots. And oh yes -- DoF *is* thin!

    First one is a Chinese "faux-LED", "faux" because it has the size and form-factor/looks of an LED, but you can clearly see the burning filament up close-- thre's no p-n junction typical of LEDs. This was taken at the wide end but not max-wide, maybe around the 40mm FL setting.

    Chinese "faux-LED" -- this whole thing is about 9mm long (including the plastic base). Full-frame capture, no cropping


    This is not what you might think it is -- Yours Truly is not so rich and this is no precious gem. This is just an aril from a pomegranate. Full-frame capture, no cropping -- taken with zoom at widest setting.


    And if you always thought pomegranate arils look so smooth and shiny, think twice! This is what the surface looks like in a 100% pixel crop from above shot (no sharpening)

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  4. naturecloseups

    naturecloseups Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 10, 2010
    High-magnification macros aren't really pleasurable to shoot under field conditions. However, on the stillest of mornings -- you might get lucky if you are patient enough. The rig is more versatile than it looks -- the same rig let me shoot hairstreak butterflies from a distance when the zoom is set at 70mm.

    Three of the many shots I were able to make are posted below. I have mentioned the subject size for each, but you can get a sense of the magnification by observing the size of the dewdrops.I'm hoping this post also puts a plug for the often underestimated option for macro on the cheap -- reversed lenses.

    Dewy hoverfly, around 10mm, full-frame uncropped


    Leafhopper in dew, around 5mm -- uncropped, full-frame


    Dewy black beetle -- around 8mm including antaenne, uncropped full frame

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  5. jalex

    jalex Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 24, 2010
    Real Name:
    Very impressive set of shots
  6. bilzmale

    bilzmale Mu-43 All-Pro

    Thanks for the detailed info - inspiring work.