µ4/3 macro photography - advice needed

Started Jun 28, 2011 | Discussions thread
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Lars Juhl Jensen
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µ4/3 macro photography - advice needed
Jun 28, 2011

Apologies for a long (but hopefully clear) post. I am interested in experimenting with macro photography, but I am bewildered as to what makes the most sense to buy.

I presently own an E-PL2 with M. Zuiko 14-42mm II f3.5-5.6, M. Zuiko 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6, Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 and Konica Hexanon 50mm f/1.7 lenses. I am not willing to spend a fortune on a lens since I do not yet know if macro photography will be my thing. However, I also do not want to waste my time on trying to take macro shots with poor equipment.

Here are the different solutions that I have considered / am considering:

  • The Panasonic G 45mm f/2.8, which is presently the only native µ4/3 macro lens. The issue with this lens is the cost and the aperture. At f/2.8 I would want a faster lens in the 40-50mm range in any case. The high price of this lens would thus purely be for the macro function, and I am simply not willing to spend that much on it.

  • The Olympus Zuiko 50mm f/2.0, which is one of two 4/3 macro lenses. It costs about two thirds of the Panasonic G 45mm and is one stop faster, making it at first an attractive solution as it could double as a fast 50mm lens. However, the cost of a MMF2 adapter has to be factored as part of the price since I do not own one already and presently do not have plans to buy other 4/3 lenses. This suddenly brings the price close to the Panasonic 45mm. Moreover, autofocus is supposedly not as fast as it would be with a native µ4/3 lens, and the lens can only do 1:2 magnification. Suddenly this option does not look all that attractive either.

  • The Olympus Zuiko 35mm f/3.5, which is the other 4/3 macro lens. This lens costs only half of what the Zuiko 50mm and does 1:1 magnification. However, once again the price of a MMF2 adapter has to be factored in, which costs more than half of what the lens costs. This seems rather wasteful to me considering that autofocus is to my understanding not all that useful for macro photography anyway.

  • Manual focus legacy lenses. This sounds like a reasonable solution to me. The main disadvantage of using legacy lenses is that one must do manual focus, but for macro photography one would likely want to do so in any case. It would thus seem to me that one could get a good solution with a dedicated macro lens for a fraction of the price of the solutions listed above. The problem is that I have no idea which legacy lenses would make good choices.

  • Olympus MCON-P01 converter. This macro converter would seem an obvious choice as it specifically was designed to fit to both the M. Zuiko 14-42mm II and 40-150mm zooms. However, I get the impression that it is really nothing but an overpriced single-element close-up lens. Is this correct?

  • Cheap diopter close-up lens. Unless there is a quality difference between the MCON-P01 converter and the diopter close-up lenses that can be found for peanuts on eBay, I might as well by this very cheap solution instead. But my concern is if these close-up lenses will not be good enough to be worthwhile.

  • Raynox DCR-250 close-up lens. Earlier discussions on the forums have led me to believe that this multi-element close-up lens is in a different league than the cheap single-element close-up lenses mentioned above. However, my worry is weight, more specifically is mounting this thing at the end of a fully extended M. Zuiko 40-150mm zoom is a wise thing to do.

  • Reverse mounting. I have seen rings for reverse mounting a lens (on another lens?) mentioned several times in the context of macro photography. However, I am clueless about how this works in practice, which lenses one would use, and if it is a general solution or only something that can be used for extreme close-up photos (i.e. practically microscopy). I hope someone can enlighten me.

  • Extension tubes. Although there are presently no macro extension tubes around that will work with the electronics, I guess that I could use extension tubes together with my Hexanon 50mm f/1.7 - but again I have no idea how well that would work compared to the other options.

Your input would be much appreciated! I hope someone can help me sort out the bewilderingly many options.

 Lars Juhl Jensen's gear list:Lars Juhl Jensen's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 Olympus PEN E-PL2 Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm 1:4-5.6 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 II +9 more
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