Raynoxes on 45-175 on G9

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gardenersassistant Veteran Member • Posts: 6,054
Raynoxes on 45-175 on G9
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For photographing insects and other invertebrates using flash I have for some years been switching back and forth between using (mainly) Raynox close-up lenses on small sensor bridge cameras and using the same close-up lenses on (mainly) a 45-175 on Panasonic G series cameras (G3, G5, G80). My latest iteration of this is a switch from FZ330 to G9 to look at the ergonomics, operating characteristics and image quality of the Raynox 150 and 250 on a 45-175 on a G9 compared with the same close-up lenses on an FZ330.

(For those who wonder, yes I do have a macro lens, an Olympus 60mm macro. I use it, currently on a G9, for most of my flower and other botanical close-ups, sometimes instead using a bare 45-175 when I need more reach. However, I prefer to use close-up lenses on telezoom lenses for invertebrates.)

I'm finding the ergonomics of the G9 better than the FZ330.

  • The G9 grip feels just right for my hands.
  • I use autofocus almost all the time, using a single small focus area. Using the joystick on the G9 it is easier and quicker to move this around than with the FZ330 and the focus area is easily resized with the conveniently placed top wheel.
  • The manual focus implementation, also making use of the joystick, works well, and works better than on the FZ330, which is a boon on the infrequent occasions that I do use manual focus.
  • I use Manual mode and having shutter speed, aperture and ISO on separate wheels, all easily accessible, is better than the best setup I have been able to configure on the FZ330.

The operational aspects are more evenly spread between the two setups.

  • Autofocus seems faster on the G9, which I think is improving my hit rate when photographing subjects that are moving around and/or are on foliage that is moving in a breeze, which is often the case.
  • For my typical subjects, and the way I tend to photograph them (full body shots out to more "environmental" shots), the 90ish - 600mm FF equivalent focal length I can use on the FZ330 lets me do almost everything with a Raynox 150, occasionally adding a second 150 or a 250 for smaller subjects (and in some sessions not needing to make any changes at all). With the 45-175 on the G9 (90 - 350 FF equivalent of course) I have to change around the close-up lenses much more often. I have rearranged my in-the-field storage and techniques for the close-up lenses to speed up these changes but the need to change the setup so often on the G9 is still inconvenient and slows me down compared to the FZ330.
  • The FZ330 can sync flash at any shutter speed and I typically use it at 1/1000 sec or faster. This may help avoid ghost images on bright days. On the G9 I am restricted to 1/250 sec. This is better than 1/160 sec with earlier G series cameras, and may be fast enough to avoid ghost images (I don't yet have much experience with the G9 in very bright conditions). Even so I feel more confident using the faster shutter speeds available with the FZ330 (unless I want to use natural light to bring up dark backgrounds, in which case I slow down the exposure whichever camera I'm using, carrying the same risk of ghosting with either of them).
  • I use minimum aperture with both cameras (f/22 with the G9 and f/8 with the FZ330) and these give the same depth of field.

Image quality is more difficult to characterise.

  • In a like for like comparison I don't know that it would be possible to distinguish between the cameras at the 1300 pixel high output size that I use. That may seem surprising, but (as I understand it) because I use minimum aperture the blurring effects of diffraction make the results rather similar in terms of resolved detail whatever the lens optics, sensor generation, sensor size, pixel count and/or presence/lack of an anti-aliasing filter on the sensor. That is theoretical as to what is going on, but from a practical perspective when I compare the (to my eye) better quality images from any the setups I have used over the past 12 years I can't tell just by looking at them which came from which setup, even in broad terms as to which type of setup (older/newer, larger/smaller sensor etc). This post illustrates my thinking about this with an image from each of nine setups going back 12 years.
  • However, with more recent setups and/or larger sensor setups, and especially with the G9, I think I get a higher proportion of "keepers" and I think I can get results that are usable from a wider range of scenes/subjects. Comparing the G9 and the FZ330, I can crop more with the G9 and it deals better with some difficult colours and with scenes with higher dynamic range. The raw files are very malleable. Unlike with the FZ330 I can often push them around a lot (sometimes near or at maximum draw down of highlights coupled with maximum uplift of shadows in Lightroom for example) without the images falling apart. And generally I find the G9 raw files simpler and quicker to process and more likely to let me produce results that look (to my eye) credible and/or pleasing in terms of tonality and acceptable in terms of noise.
  • As with various other setups, given suitable post processing the Raynoxes on a G9 can produce photographs of invertebrates with image quality good enough for my purposes. Some examples follow, captured last week. The images were captured hand-held as raw and batch processed with DXO PhotoLab and Silkypix, with image-specific adjustments in Lightroom and output sharpening in Topaz Sharpen AI. They all used a Raynox 150 on a 45-175 on a G9, with a Venus Optics KX800 twin flash, and some used a second Raynox 150 or a Raynox 250 stacked on the first 150.

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Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5
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