Which body for some macro work?

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hey all! I’m hoping to get some advice and input from all of you for my little brother.

he’s wanting to get a camera for macro photography, but not your typical macro work.

for example, he has a set of old font letters, think individual letters from an old printing press, and he’s taking photos of each individual letter for archiving purposes.

each letter block is a little smaller than 1/2” in height so not terribly small but he needs to get close enough so the object fills the frame with minimal cropping for better results.

I love my em1mkii but that’s out of his price range. I’d like to help him find a m43 body that would work well for him. For now, I already own the Oly 60mm macro lens I could let him use until he had more money.

with that being said, I don’t think extra features such as in-body focus stacking are needed.

Any thoughts or suggestions to help me point him in the right direction on what camera body to consider?
 
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The e-m1.1 can be found for a very attractive price second hand, still very capable camera if you don’t depend on the higher frame rates of the newer bodies (and still has focus stacking should it come in handy). In this case the only thing that is “missing” in my opinion vs the mark ii would be high res shot, but I don’t know if this is a problem for his use case.
 
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Oh nice yeah that definitely could work. I was just looking at used prices around $350, I think he could work with that especially since he could borrow my lens in the meantime. I think he’d be ok without the high-res feature.
I helped him get some shots already with my em1.2 and 60mm and that worked for him and we didn’t use high-res mode

thanks for your input, I’ll pass that on as a suggestion
 

Stanga

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I tend to use the GX8 if no focus bracketing is required. The bright and sharp flip up EVF and the massive rear screen give me a more pleasant feeling in difficult working environments. The high flash sync speed and HSS speeds up to 1/8000sec also come in handy.
 
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I think the suggestions so far are slightly overkill, to be honest. These are static subjects the guy is going to shoot, so almost any body would do, and I'd happily recommend a G6 to start with. The lens is going to be the most important criteria anyway and there's an Oly 60mm on offer to use that could not be bettered, especially if the camera goes on a beanbag or small tripod for shooting. Almost 99% of my macro shots on this forum have been taken with a G6 - hand-held, as well. You can find a decent copy of this body for about €150 or so, sometimes with a kit lens attached. It'll last little brother for years till he decides to get something better (hint, those BK 12 batteries fit a couple of other bodies too) :) I dare say there is an Olympus equivalent camera in specs and simplicity that would serve the same purpose.

How much sharper do you need? Have fun, whatever you get him :D

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junkyardsparkle

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These are static subjects the guy is going to shoot, so almost any body would do
I tend to agree, anything with a 16MP sensor and a good enough screen for evaluating fine focus... preferably one that can be flipped up... trying to use a viewfinder for long sessions with this kind of setup can be a pain in the neck. Beyond that, effort put into lighting is going to have the biggest impact on results, especially for single-color "relief" type objects; there are probably tutorials for photographing things like coin collections out there, which might be relevant.
 

ac12

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The e-m1.1 can be found for a very attractive price second hand, still very capable camera if you don’t depend on the higher frame rates of the newer bodies (and still has focus stacking should it come in handy). In this case the only thing that is “missing” in my opinion vs the mark ii would be high res shot, but I don’t know if this is a problem for his use case.
A low shutter count EM1-mk1 is probably one of the best deals out there. I've seen them for about $300, and less.
Just make sure that the back dial works properly.

For a macro lens, either yours, or get an old manual macro lens.
I use a Nikon 55mm Micro Nikkor (cost me less than $50) on a Nikon to m4/3 adapter. Works just fine for what little macro work I do.

The rest of the setup would also be important
  • decent tripod
  • macro 4-way rail (optional)
    • I find it easier than picking up the tripod to move it an inch.
  • decent/good lighting
    • This can be as simple as a couple of small desk lamps.
  • something to hold the letters/type, so they can be easily changed, without having to rebuild the setup each time.
As for making the letters easier to see.
Get a black water color paint, like children use.
Paint it into the depressions in the type, then wipe the surface clean.
The letters on the type should be easier to see.
 

Michael Meissner

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If you aren't going to do focus stacking, then any 16MP or 20MP body will work.

If you want the camera do do focus stacking then it limits your options for Olympus cameras (focus stacking is where the camera takes several shots, and then combines them in the camera as one shot):
  • Olympus E-m1 mark I or II
  • Olympus E-m5 mark II or III
  • Olympus E-m1x
  • and I think Pen-F
If you wanted to use focus bracketing (this is where the camera takes multiple shots, and you combine it later via post processing), then it widens up the cameras. I know the E-m10 mark II has focus bracketing. I don't know if the newer cameras also support it:
Another thought is the Olympus TG-5 and TG-6 have focus stacking. Depending on your kid, it might be a lot simpler to get the TG-6.
 
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Hendrik

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with that being said, I don’t think extra features such as in-body focus stacking are needed.
The remark about in-body focus stacking leaves open the question whether focus bracketing is a desired feature. If it is, then be careful in your choice. Few of the Pens have it (E-PL9 and Pen-F only, I believe). It was not included in the E-M5 I and IIRC only arrived in the E-M5 II as a firmware update.
 

relic

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My 2 cents' worth: Aren't the letters essentially two dimensional? If so, then no reason for focus stacking I think. And a macro lens will have a flat field. If they have some depth, then depth of field can be increased as needed. I think that the 30mm Olympus micro-4/3 macro lens would also be worth considering. I agree about a good tripod.
 

Michael Meissner

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A random google search found this video:
Note, if you are wanting to use focus stacking, you might want think about restricting yourself to the Olympus 30mm or 60mm lenses.

The one thing about a 30mm macro lens vs. a 60mm macro lens, is that with the 60mm, you can be further back from the subject (important if your subject can sting). Being further back also allows for different lighting setups. With the 30mm, you generally need to be nearly on top of the subject.
 

RAH

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I purchased an EM10 MKII just for macro / close up work. I think the main thing needed is a macro lens to get edge to edge sharpness. The Oly 30mm macro is possibly good enough for this task.
Yes, gee, I think it's odd that it took so long for someone to suggest the E-M10II. I bought mine as an Oly refurb a few years ago for $300. It seems to me that you cannot beat the price, and adding just about any m43 macro lens (or regular lens and tubes) gives you a good setup for what he wants.
 
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Wow thanks so much everyone! Sorry for the delay on my end I wasn’t getting notified of all the replies and just checked back in on my thread.

so much great info here and a lot of good options. I like being able to give him options, list basic pros and cons of each so he can make a decision on what he thinks may be best for him. I’m putting a list together of all this info as well as sending him a link to the thread.
A few questions were asked about focus stacking and bracketing. For what he wants to do I don’t think either would be beneficial to him. However I always say to get the best you can afford for room to grow later on. At least that’s what I tell myself and it always works out haha.

I’m excited to share all of this info with him!
 

RAH

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Another popular option for macro is using the Raynox DCR-250 Super Macro Lens attachment. This is more convenient than using extension tubes because it just mounts in front of the lens.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/275182-REG/Raynox_DCR_250_DCR_250_2_5x_Super_Macro.html

I have done a little work with it and it is very sharp and easy to use. It is a good intro to macro photography, IMHO.

There are a lot of reviews on B&H and elsewhere (YouTube, etc).
Pretty cool, and relatively inexpensive and super easy to use. I may have to try that out for myself one of these days haha. Thank you!
 
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