Cheap macro lens for Lumix G3?

Started Oct 11, 2012 | Questions
andrethaiss
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Cheap macro lens for Lumix G3?
Oct 11, 2012

Hello everyone, I am new to the forums and I really like the users on here and I guess I should get some good advice from the professionals.

So I have started to get interested into photography after my mother recieved a Canon Powershot SX40HS, which is a bridge camera. Since then I have been in love with photography, specially flowers and close ups. I was thinking of starting off with a cheap m43 camera such as the GF3/G3 to start photography as I would like a larger sensor than the regular point and shoots.

I need advice in lens for close up pictures of flowers and smaller objects (nothing professional, just as a hobby). I was wondering if the kit lens on the Lumix G3 (14-42mm) would be sufficient for any close ups. If not, would anyone recommend me a set of cheap macro/close up lens under 200$? They don't have to be fancy or anything, just something simple. I know its not much in terms of lens cost but I have to start somewhere, I was also looking at the Raynox DCR macro lens/adapters but was not sure if they would work good with the kit lens.

Any help would be appreciated as I am a complete novice in the world of lens and adapters/tubes, but I am willing to learn.

Thank you!

Andre

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ryan2007
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Re: Cheap macro lens for Lumix G3?
In reply to andrethaiss, Oct 11, 2012

andrethaiss wrote:

Hello everyone, I am new to the forums and I really like the users on here and I guess I should get some good advice from the professionals.

So I have started to get interested into photography after my mother recieved a Canon Powershot SX40HS, which is a bridge camera. Since then I have been in love with photography, specially flowers and close ups. I was thinking of starting off with a cheap m43 camera such as the GF3/G3 to start photography as I would like a larger sensor than the regular point and shoots.

I need advice in lens for close up pictures of flowers and smaller objects (nothing professional, just as a hobby). I was wondering if the kit lens on the Lumix G3 (14-42mm) would be sufficient for any close ups. If not, would anyone recommend me a set of cheap macro/close up lens under 200$? They don't have to be fancy or anything, just something simple. I know its not much in terms of lens cost but I have to start somewhere, I was also looking at the Raynox DCR macro lens/adapters but was not sure if they would work good with the kit lens.

Any help would be appreciated as I am a complete novice in the world of lens and adapters/tubes, but I am willing to learn.

Thank you!

Andre

Their are a few options.  The most important is to buy yourself a tripod and if the camera accepts a cable release buy that too.  Macro work or close up work is critical since you have to be still to avoid camera shake. You can always use a table or the ground and prop up the camera as a makeshift way to keep vibration reduced and you can use the camera's self timer in lieu of a cable release if need be.

The best option is using a lens specifically designed for macro like the Panasonic 45 2.8 and yes it is expensive. Many times in photography you get what you pay for. You can always look at something used.

The next thing you can do is buy a telephoto lens like the Panasonic 45-200 just to get the magnification part.  Their is such a thing as close up filters and Tiffen is the typical manufacture.  However, they are meant for 2D not 3D objects. It does allow a lens to focus closer but the trade off is some distortion on the edges. Its a sub $100 quick fix.

Most important when you look at lens spec's is the close focus distance.  Another feature is the lens aperture ability to help blur the background so your separating the foreground. You can search Macro flower photography for examples easily.

Last, if you are truly serious about macro photography and I am a micro four thirds user, I would tell you to buy a DSLR instead.  I am familiar with Nikon so that is what I will talk, check out Canon too.

So, Nikon has a couple macro specific lenses off the top its like a 60 mm and 105 mm, but you can also buy a ring light.  Its a special flash that attaches to the lens so the light is coming in front not above to light the object.  The reason I bring this up is so you can be informed even if you can not afford to buy it or rent gear even.

Last a macro specific lens will have the specs to do 1:1 which is life-size reproduction.  If you use my telephoto technique it will work but you can't focus as close, you have to be very steady and all you are doing is magnifying like using binoculars, not life size. If the lens can reproduce exactly what you see with such detail, One to One (1:1) that is true macro.

Remember all lenses have close focusing ability just to different degrees AND that 45-200 vs 45 2.8 at the same 45 mm focal length you will see that macro 2.8 lens does better.  It has nothing to do with f-stop, just the ability and how the lens is made.

You should go to the local camera shop and look even if its a DSLR system so you can see first hand regardless of where you buy from.

Call B&H photo if you need to talk to someone for advice as well.

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jalywol
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Re: Cheap macro lens for Lumix G3?
In reply to ryan2007, Oct 11, 2012

ryan2007 wrote:

andrethaiss wrote:

Hello everyone, I am new to the forums and I really like the users on here and I guess I should get some good advice from the professionals.

So I have started to get interested into photography after my mother recieved a Canon Powershot SX40HS, which is a bridge camera. Since then I have been in love with photography, specially flowers and close ups. I was thinking of starting off with a cheap m43 camera such as the GF3/G3 to start photography as I would like a larger sensor than the regular point and shoots

I would suggest the G3 since a viewfinder is EXTREMELY helpful when you are doing macro work.  Remember, you are usually out in a bright environment, and even the best LCDs will wash out in those conditions.  Also, the viewfinder allows you to brace the camera against your face if you are taking hand held shots, and improves stability.

I need advice in lens for close up pictures of flowers and smaller objects (nothing professional, just as a hobby). I was wondering if the kit lens on the Lumix G3 (14-42mm) would be sufficient for any close ups. If not, would anyone recommend me a set of cheap macro/close up lens under 200$? They don't have to be fancy or anything, just something simple. I know its not much in terms of lens cost but I have to start somewhere, I was also looking at the Raynox DCR macro lens/adapters but was not sure if they would work good with the kit lens.

The kit lens does not focus close enough to allow decent macro images without an adapter.  Also the kit lens is really not sharp at its edges, and is just not a great choice for macro work, even with an adapter.

Any help would be appreciated as I am a complete novice in the world of lens and adapters/tubes, but I am willing to learn.

Thank you!

Andre

Their are a few options.  The most important is to buy yourself a tripod and if the camera accepts a cable release buy that too.  Macro work or close up work is critical since you have to be still to avoid camera shake. You can always use a table or the ground and prop up the camera as a makeshift way to keep vibration reduced and you can use the camera's self timer in lieu of a cable release if need be.

Tripods are extremely useful, but you CAN take macro shots without them.  If you make sure to keep the shutter speed up and learn how to brace your camera as you hold it, you can do pretty well on the fly....If you look in my gallery, I have LOTS of flower and assorted other macro shots, and I think only three of them (the sunflower seeds) were taken with a tripod.  The rest were hand held.

The best option is using a lens specifically designed for macro like the Panasonic 45 2.8 and yes it is expensive. Many times in photography you get what you pay for. You can always look at something used.

Yes that is one option.  HOWEVER, you do NOT have to buy an expensive macro lens if you are willing to use manual focus.  If you are, you can buy a decent legacy lens (an older macro made for an SLR type camera).  These can typically be had for between 50-100, and an adapter for the M43 mount is around $20.  I use a very vintage Nikon 55mm (micro-Nikkor) f3.5 non-AI lens, which cost me all of about $50; so for a grand total of $70 I have a really excellent macro that works wonderfully.

By the way, most people find that even with an autofocus macro lens, most of the time you will use manual focus when taking very close up shots, since it affords you a degree of precision that it's hard to replicate in auto mode.....

The next thing you can do is buy a telephoto lens like the Panasonic 45-200 just to get the magnification part.  Their is such a thing as close up filters and Tiffen is the typical manufacture.  However, they are meant for 2D not 3D objects. It does allow a lens to focus closer but the trade off is some distortion on the edges. Its a sub $100 quick fix.

Longer lenses will work, and I do use them also sometimes, but they don't substitute for being able to get up close and personal when you really want to.

Most important when you look at lens spec's is the close focus distance.  Another feature is the lens aperture ability to help blur the background so your separating the foreground. You can search Macro flower photography for examples easily.

Last, if you are truly serious about macro photography and I am a micro four thirds user, I would tell you to buy a DSLR instead.  I am familiar with Nikon so that is what I will talk, check out Canon too.

Hogwash.  If anything M43 is a better choice for macro work, since the inherent depth of field is deeper than larger sensored cameras, and makes getting tiny objects in deep focus a LOT easier than a larger sensored camera would.  Honestly, I don't even remotely understand the rationale behind this statement.....

Some photos from the vintage Nikon macro lens below....

-J

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s_grins
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Re: Cheap macro lens for Lumix G3?
In reply to andrethaiss, Oct 11, 2012

Kit 14-42 lens will be sufficient for close-ups like flowers, but not enough for  smaller subjects like bees, flies, so on

For smaller creatures the cheapest way is a legacy prime macro lens like Vivitar 55/2.8 (I've bought mine for $40 that is cheap IMHO)

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Makinations
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Re: Cheap macro lens for Lumix G3?
In reply to andrethaiss, Oct 11, 2012

For cheap I just use a canon 250D closeup lens and enough adapters to screw it to the front of whatever lens I have with me.

Never thought it would be any good until John Shaw suggested it in a class.

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Ron Evers
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Re: Cheap macro lens for Lumix G3?
In reply to jalywol, Oct 11, 2012

jalywol wrote:

ryan2007 wrote:

andrethaiss wrote:

Hello everyone, I am new to the forums and I really like the users on here and I guess I should get some good advice from the professionals.

So I have started to get interested into photography after my mother recieved a Canon Powershot SX40HS, which is a bridge camera. Since then I have been in love with photography, specially flowers and close ups. I was thinking of starting off with a cheap m43 camera such as the GF3/G3 to start photography as I would like a larger sensor than the regular point and shoots

HOWEVER, you do NOT have to buy an expensive macro lens if you are willing to use manual focus.  If you are, you can buy a decent legacy lens (an older macro made for an SLR type camera).  These can typically be had for between 50-100, and an adapter for the M43 mount is around $20.  I use a very vintage Nikon 55mm (micro-Nikkor) f3.5 non-AI lens, which cost me all of about $50; so for a grand total of $70 I have a really excellent macro that works wonderfully.

By the way, most people find that even with an autofocus macro lens, most of the time you will use manual focus when taking very close up shots, since it affords you a degree of precision that it's hard to replicate in auto mode.....


Some photos from the vintage Nikon macro lens below....

-J

Very good advise.  I use Minolta, Canon FD & Super Takumar SLR Macro lenses on my M4/3 cameras with great results.  As mentioned, you will likely want to use manual focus with a native lens anyway to obtain critical focus where you want it.

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geejay101
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Re: Cheap macro lens for Lumix G3?
In reply to Ron Evers, Oct 11, 2012

A cheap and flexible alternative would be a Raynox snap-on macro lens. The advantage is that you can use it with several standard lenses or zooms.

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Ron Evers
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Re: Cheap macro lens for Lumix G3?
In reply to geejay101, Oct 11, 2012

geejay101 wrote:

A cheap and flexible alternative would be a Raynox snap-on macro lens. The advantage is that you can use it with several standard lenses or zooms.

Agreed, I also use a Raynox DCR-150 but it is most effective on short FL lenses.

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gardenersassistant
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Re: Cheap macro lens for Lumix G3?
In reply to andrethaiss, Oct 11, 2012

You can use Raynox lenses with the 14-42 kit lens, but you get vignetting from about 30mm, and it rapidly becomes very severe as the focal length decreases. See the images in the second half of this set for illustrations of this.

You can get nice quality from Raynox lenses on longer zooms. I previously used the Raynox 150, 250 and the Canon 500D on the 45-200 kit lens on my G3, and now use them and also the Raynox MSN-202 on the Panasonic 45-175 lens. None of my achromats vignette on either of those lenses. Before that I used them on a Canon SX10is and before that on a Canon S3is, on which the 150 and 250 vignetted at shorter focal lengths.

As you will find out, if you haven't already, it is a matter of sometimes strong opinions and lively debate as to what kit you do or don't need to produce pleasing macros. I have produced results that I quite liked with a tripod and without, with flash and with natural light and with mixtures of light, with and without a focus rail, with a micro four thirds camera and with a bridge camera. And there are other factors such as post processing and associated software that play into the equation.

And there are strong and varying opinions about some other matters such as what apertures are good for macro work - I use very small apertures, many other people would not even consider using such small apertures. I use high ISOs, many other people don't, ever. I use autofocus almost always, many people don't use autofocus for macros, ever. I sometimes use extremely slow shutter speeds, some people only ever use fast shutter speeds. Some people only every use RAW, some like me never use RAW, and others use a mixture of RAW and JPEG.

There are even strong views about what a good macro/close-up image looks like, and even what counts as "real" macro and what doesn't.

So?  I suggest you take your time, get something inexpensive to start you off, and explore and experiment, listen to what other people say and try things for yourself to find out what works for you. At that stage you will be better placed to decide whether, and if so exactly how and with what purchases, to take forward what by then may have turned into a passion for close-ups and macros. (It does grab some people like that!)

Given your sub $200 requirement you may not be able to afford a longer zoom and one or more of the Raynox, Canon, Marumi etc achromats. So a legacy macro lens may be your best way forward. On the basis of a very inexpensive initial experiment, just to help you get into close-ups, you might want to try a close up filter set with single element lenses (as against the two, three or four elements in achromats), but if you do don't expect to get terrific image quality from them, and do expect to discard them for something better quite soon.

I think practice, study and experiment may be much more important in the early stages than exactly what equipment you are using.

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aVolanche
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Re: Cheap macro lens for Lumix G3?
In reply to andrethaiss, Oct 11, 2012

My wife has the G3 and shoots a ton of macro with a Raynox 250. She had a Canon legacy macro with 1:1 adapter and sold it for the Raynox. She started using it on the kit lens and then got the 45-200mm lens....which gets the Raynox now. You can even use the on-board flash with these 2 lenses! Plus it's very versatile as it fits most all M43 lenses....Highly recommended..

Fred

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Chas2
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Re: Cheap macro lens for Lumix G3? Suggestions...
In reply to andrethaiss, Oct 11, 2012

Look at the G3, not the GF3.  The G3 has a larger sensor, a viewfinder and an articulated LCD, all of which are going to be very useful to you in macro photography.

With regard to getting "close up" there are several choices that come to mind:

Close up lens, such as the Raynox

Panasonic's own close up DMW-GMC1, but is officially limited to use on two lenses http://panasonic.net/avc/lumix/systemcamera/gms/lens/dmw_gmc1.html

A legacy macro lens, which will be totally manual, but which may do you quite well (e.g., 55mm f3.5 Micro Nikkor, MFT to Nikon F adapter and lens under $100)

As noted, tripod and cable release are almost mandatory.  As far as electronic cable release goes, the cheaper Pixel brand remotes work quite well and are far less expensive.  You can get them many places, though I have had very good service from rainbowimaging which ships out of New York http://www.rainbowimaging.biz/shop/product.php?id_product=336

Tripods, there are several recent threads on this topic, which about as easy choosing a spouse.  Good luck on that one.

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Bob Meyer
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Re: Cheap macro lens for Lumix G3?
In reply to andrethaiss, Oct 11, 2012

I guess it depends on how you define "cheap" and how serious you are about macro. Supplementary lenses (like filters) like the Raynox, Canon and even cheaper no-name brands will let you focus close. The Raynox and Canon ones even have a pretty good reputation for quality. The cheap ones, not so much.

A real macro lens will definitely give you better quality: higher contrast, sharper results. Olympus and Panasonic offer auto-focus macro lenses, but I find AF not so critical in macro use. To get best results you're probably going to be touching up focus manually anyway, and at very close distances it's often easiest to focus may be to move the camera back and forth very slightly.

You can get legacy manual focus lenses (e.g., older Canon FD, Nikon, Pentax, etc.) that can easily be used on m43 cameras with inexpensive adapters ($10-$20 from ebay). Some of these are very, very sharp, and a lot cheaper than any current AF macro lens.

HTH,

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I've stopped thinking in terms of "equivalent" focal lengths on m43. 25mm is what it is, and what it might be similar to on some other format doesn't matter to me any more. We need to learn what to expect from our current equipment, not keep mapping it to the old. No one refers to their 50mm FF lens as "equivalent to 80mm on MF."

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ogremage
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Re: Cheap macro lens for Lumix G3?
In reply to andrethaiss, Oct 11, 2012

I think there are 8 main options (although some can be combined):

a. Close-up filters - I tried one and didn't like the results

b. Extension rings without AF contacts for use with MF lenses - tried, and didn't enjoy the results, the working distance was very close

c. Extension rings with AF contacts - haven't tried, but Kenko makes one ($179)

d. Reversing rings - haven't tried, but you lose AF and overall it seems a strange solution to me.

e. Legacy MF macro lenses - I think this is one of the best options. I have a Vivitar 90mm f/2.8 myself.

f. AF pseudo-macro lenses - so far only the Olympus 12-50mm which can be had quite cheap and is a decent walkabout lens overall.

g. AF macro lenses - the Olympus 60mm f/2.8, Panasonic 45mm f/2.8 and the 4/3 Olympus ones (50mm f/2 in particular).

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Willgo
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Re: Cheap macro lens for Lumix G3?
In reply to andrethaiss, Oct 11, 2012

If macro is what you are mostly going to be doing then you might want to think of the effect of large sensors (like M43 and APSC) on depth of field. Depending on the look you want, you might find that you cannot get enough of the object you are focusing on in focus. A smaller sensor camera that had a good macro mode would alleviate this somewhat.

Of course you might want the advantage of shallower depth of field. But it is worth thinking about.

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Vlad S
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Macro lenses vs. close up filters and adpaters
In reply to andrethaiss, Oct 11, 2012

You might keep in mind that close up filters, extension rings and reversing rings will limit the focusing distance to a very small range. A macro lens will focus anywhere from the macro distance to infinity. Depending on your interest that may give you a lot more compositional freedom.

Another point that I did not see mentioned is the working distance. The longer FL is, the more distance you can have. This may be important for photographing skittish insects, and for avoiding casting a shadow on your scene.

Overall, I would say that if you need to be at a larger distance, or shoot butterflies and dragonflies, a longer macro lens will be more convenient than a close-up filter. If you can stick you camera right into the scene then a close-up filter or extension rings will be fine.

Definitely there is no need to worry about blurring the background: you will be struggling to get enough DOF to keep your subject sharp, and you will find yourself shooting with small apertures all the time.

Here's one for the Halloween season:

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Fredrik Glckner
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Re: Cheap macro lens for Lumix G3?
In reply to andrethaiss, Oct 11, 2012

I have made some tests of various ways to achieve macro capability here:

http://m43photo.blogspot.com/2012/09/using-10-macro-lens.html

See the table at the end of the article for the list.

The easiest is of course to buy a dedicated macro lens, like the PL45.

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andrethaiss
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Re: Cheap macro lens for Lumix G3?
In reply to andrethaiss, Oct 11, 2012

Wow, thanks for all the amazing help! Im going to rethink my choices and see what I can do with various setups, thanks to all of you that replied I learned alot from all of you.

Andre

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PSCL1
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Re: Cheap macro lens for Lumix G3?
In reply to andrethaiss, Oct 11, 2012

To the OP:  Buy an Olympus 35mm f3.5 true macro for FOUR-thirds and an MMF-2 or MMF-3 adapter (4/3 to m4/3). It retains AF and balances nicely on my G3.al

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andrethaiss
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Re: Cheap macro lens for Lumix G3?
In reply to PSCL1, Oct 11, 2012

So I have looked at my options again and I have gotten really interested on using a normal DSLR lens on the G3. I think this is what I want to do as macro lens on ebay (used) are about half my budget, so it would be good for me. Now, I have one question, what type of adapter would I need to use these lens on the G3, would they have to be specific (certain adapters for certain brands of lens) or would it be just one adapter that fits all DSLR lens (im a complete novice).

Thank you,

Andre

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Bob Meyer
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Re: Cheap macro lens for Lumix G3?
In reply to andrethaiss, Oct 12, 2012

The adapter has to be specific to the mount of the lens you want to use. So if you buy a Nikon macro lens, you need a Nikon to m43 adapter. If you buy a Canon FD macro lens, you need a Canon FD to m43 adapter, etc.

You can spend a lot of money on an adapter, or a little. Some of the real cheap ones may be of poor quality. One inexpensive brand that I've had decent luck with is Rainbow, available from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Delectronics&field-keywords=rainbow+lens+adapter

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I've stopped thinking in terms of "equivalent" focal lengths on m43. 25mm is what it is, and what it might be similar to on some other format doesn't matter to me any more. We need to learn what to expect from our current equipment, not keep mapping it to the old. No one refers to their 50mm FF lens as "equivalent to 80mm on MF."

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