My custom Canon S120 macro rig

Started Jul 23, 2017 | Discussions thread
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DrHook59 Regular Member • Posts: 432
My custom Canon S120 macro rig

I've been playing about the past few days with a lens I've made for my little Canon S120, and I thought I would share the adventure for those who use compact cameras of a similar nature - that is, cameras with no filter threads to attach anything to, and with a lens that defeats the attachment process that comes with a Raynox, for example. I also wanted a more secure attachment than the MagFilter system.

The S120 is a great camera in its own right for taking close-up photos, but I've always wanted to mate its advantages with a closer-reaching lens. I thought that having the ability to attach achromats of different strengths to a pocketable camera that is capable of 12 fps, has a relatively quick auto-focus, shoots raw files, flies in full manual control and has reasonable IQ would prove to be something worth having.

And so it has proved. The new lens is constructed with a selection of both step-up and step-down adaptors, a Marumi 200 achromat, and half a plastic cup I stole from the tennis club - which I have covered with black tape as paint will not stick to it. I 'Suguru-ed' the initial adapter to the control ring around the lens, and went from there. The lens screws on and off easily enough, and without the Marumi it actually works wonderfully as a sun-hood with no vignetting; in addition the 58mm thread means I can add a UV or a polarizer as needed. Of course, I can also stack my Raynox 150 on top of the Marumi to provide even greater magnification. The photo of the tiny 6mm hoverfly below (a female Sphaerophoria scripta, I think) was taken with the Raynox/Marumi combo, for example.

I must advise that this is my camera, and the adventure is perhaps not one you may want to put yours through. The attachment point is flimsy and not a proper mount, and it would be very easy to be careless and do something stupid. But for me the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, and not only do I get a greater magnification at a much longer working distance (about 12" compared to the 1" or so that the S120 typically provides and tends to scare away some subjects), but I have also found the combination of the S120's lens and the Marumi create a far better DOF. In fact, it is only too easy to go and shoot an insect on an outside table and come back with 500 images to sift through before one has even blinked. The amount of enjoyment at getting a succession of images in focus at high speed is enormous!  I also cannot scientifically explain it, but the rig is very stable to hold and terribly easy to focus (both in AF and manually) with.

If anyone is interested in the finer details of the lens and its build, PM me - I can see this creation would work far better for compacts with no control ring, for example, where the attachment point could be better mounted onto the camera. I hasten to add that using Sugru as an attachment medium is non destructive and perfect for this scenario. Cost-wise the project has put me back about €70, which I think is a real bargain. It's certainly cheaper than lusting after a new camera system and the requisite macro lens. I'm not after printing things out at billboard size and I'm happy enough with photos that still look reasonable at full-screen on a computer - so if this is applies to you, I hope you've found this post interesting. Above all else, the little S120 is mine, all paid for, and it's all I have for shooting fast moving insects !

I should add of course that this is not meant to be a substitute for a real ILC system - it's solely meant as a workaround for people who have a compact camera and might want to get better use out of it.

All photos taken in natural light, no tripod, and they've been edited very basically to taste for colour and sharpness in Preview. A couple have also been cropped for artistic purposes.

 DrHook59's gear list:DrHook59's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 Sigma 60mm F2.8 DN Art Panasonic Lumix G Vario HD 12-32mm F3.5-5.6 Mega OIS Panasonic Lumix G Macro 30mm F2.8 Panasonic Lumix G 42.5mm F1.7
Canon PowerShot S120
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