Comparison: 9 lenses @ 2.5X (lots of images)

Started Jan 15, 2010 | Discussions
morfa Forum Member • Posts: 51
Comparison: 9 lenses @ 2.5X (lots of images)

Hi everyone!

I decided to run a simple comparison between these lenses at a magnification I often like to use in the field: 2.5:1.

Here is the line up:

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4015/4273955428_d689258d2c_b.jpg

It's not a scientific test and I have only included one aperture setting per lens. I've tried to choose the setting so as to get the most out of every lens or lens combination. In some cases I chose it from experience (I know where many of them have their sweet spots) and in other cases I had to try a couple of different settings to decide.

The test subject is the head of a dead hover fly (no, I did not kill it).

Each test shot is focus stacked from 25 exposures in Zerene Stacker. Whitebalance was fixed at 4800K. The plastic cup diffuser I used here adds some warmth and that is why I didn't go with 5300K-5600K which is the standard flash light temperature. I have cropped the images from the sides to reduce the dead space around the subject but otherwise the images are as shot.

I know this is not an ideal subject for a standardized lens test. However, I'm not so much interested in corner performance, flatness of field etc since I mainly work in the field on living subjects.

3100px version: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4042/4272192041_5b2d7d7916_o.jpg

6600px version (12Mb): http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2689/4272344054_5095571241_o.jpg

Individual test-images (Click links for high-res versions!)

Kiron 105mm f2.8 & Raynox +6 diopter (effective focal length: 65mm):
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2682/4272345504_7f67084a65_o.jpg

Nikon Micro-nikkor 105mm f4 & Raynox +6 diopter (effective focal length: 65mm):
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4001/4272345202_8066d89863_o.jpg

Ernst Leitz Milar 65mm f4.5:
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2716/4272347320_e10b250437_o.jpg

Carl Zeiss Luminar 63mm f4.5:
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4072/4271600289_ee0348e9e7_o.jpg

Nikon Nikkor 50mm f1.8 (used reversed):
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2774/4271603229_beaf005095_o.jpg

Nikon EL-Nikkor 50mm f2.8 N (used reversed):
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2712/4271601277_bee071728e_o.jpg

Wollensak Micro-Raptar 50mm f4.5:
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2625/4271601837_ffa05bc8a1_o.jpg

Carl Zeiss Jena Mikrotar 45mm f4.5:
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2726/4271601573_89b08f44bd_o.jpg

Ernst Leitz Milar 40mm f4.5:
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4055/4272347024_09be33fddf_o.jpg

Setup

If I wanted to test the optical performance of these lenses under ideal conditions there would have been better ways to do it. This is not what I set out to do here though! Instead, I wanted this test to reflect field conditions to at least some degree. Doing the test in the field was pretty much out of the question - it's freezing cold here and everything would have been covered in snow and ice.

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4064/4271947417_842f132ecd_b.jpg

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2786/4272689832_6b05ff7278_b.jpg

Camera body:
Fujifilm S5pro

Focusing, and micro positioning:
Nikon PB-6 Bellows unit
Newport Linear stage + Starrett micrometer actuator
Manfrotto 410 geared head

Light
Nikon SB-400 flash unit
Aluminum reflector
Short coiled TTL-cord
Manfrotto 819-1 Hydrostatic arm
Custom Brackets CB Mini-RC side bracket

To aid focusing (not relevant to the exposures): 1W LED mounted on small Cullman ballhead attached at the end of the bellows rail

Additional support
Novoflex panorama base
Stabil Macro, wooden tripod
Living room couch

This shows how the lighting was arranged: SB-400 from top right, aluminum reflector from bottom left, plastic cup diffuser around the subject.

The hover fly head was attached to a needle at the center of the plastic cup.

This kind of lighting/diffusion is usually not possible with living subjects in the field and my initial thoughts were to use one of the DIY macro beautydish diffusers I usally work with. However, I soon realized that when changing lenses and having to accomodate for the different working distances it would have been difficult to get the lighting consistent enough. I could have mounted the flash completely off camera but decided to use this kind of diffuser instead and it seemed to work reasonably well in terms of consistency.

One reason I choose to use focus stacking rather than to compare individual frames is that it's virtually impossible to focus on exactly the same plane with several different lenses. Comparing images with misaligned focus (even if the differences are very small) doesn't give you much if you intend to do some serious pixel peeping. Also, with single exposures of three dimensional test subjects like this the area in focus in each shot will be just a few percent of the frame and this gives too little information to go on.

Most importantly, this is how I intend to use the setup in the field most of the time. Stacking 25 exposures like this is perfectly possible even with living subjects. At the end of last season I did some experiments with less precise stacking/positioning gear than I have now. See my next post for some field examples!

Cheers!

John Hallmén
http://flickr.com/johnhallmen

OP morfa Forum Member • Posts: 51
Field examples

Example shots from the field (click links for more info and access to higher resolution versions):

http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnhallmen/3969594952

http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnhallmen/3938739346

http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnhallmen/3955351660

http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnhallmen/3925917230

http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnhallmen/3951318248

http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnhallmen/3926211172

As you can guess from all the dew in these shots, a good advice if you want to try focus stacking with living subjects is to get up really early in the morning when the bugs are calm!

All of the above field stacks happen to be shot with the Leitz Milar 65mm f4.5 (a lens made in the 1920's or 30's) but I think it's safe to say that you, with the right technique, can expect very similar results from any of the lenses or combination of lenses in this test. And of course, it's nothing out of the ordinary with these particular lenses – I could easily have included another nine lenses that would have performed in the same league.

I guess what I'm saying is: If you think it will inspire you to shoot more, then by all means get that new fancy macro lens! I have a lot of glass for that particular reason. But don't be fooled into thinking that for most applications and with the right technique you can't achieve almost identical results with what you already have or can get used for $30!

John Hallmén
http://flickr.com/johnhallmen

GlennV Regular Member • Posts: 164
Re: Field examples

Really amazing and beautiful shots! Thanks!

myzel Senior Member • Posts: 2,075
Re: Field examples

Thanks for sharing these very cool pictures.

morfa wrote:

But don't be fooled into thinking that for most applications and with the right technique you can't achieve almost identical results with what you already have or can get used for $30!

Looking at your setup I guess a bit more than $30 is needed to get the gear needed for such images.
Bellows, very sturdy tripod, head, assortment of clamps …

Thanks for the pictures of your setup - the way you used a plastic cup as a light tent is cool

 myzel's gear list:myzel's gear list
Nikon 1 V1 Nikon 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 Nikon 1 Nikkor 18.5mm f/1.8 Nikon 1 Nikkor 32mm f/1.2
slimandy Forum Pro • Posts: 17,157
Re: Comparison: 9 lenses @ 2.5X (lots of images)

Some superb shots, but what I appreciate most is the shots of the set-up.

How much was the plastic cup??

 slimandy's gear list:slimandy's gear list
Sony RX100 II Nikon D200 Nikon D700 Fujifilm X-E1 Fujifilm X-T1
Bobby Handal
Bobby Handal Veteran Member • Posts: 5,667
Re: Field examples

wow. fantastic. Thanks for posting.

The other day I tried focus stacking but I guess one has to have HUGE patience, all my stacked photos looked like crap, some with halos, some with missing "slices", and slight breeze or movement made everything go to hell .

My respects to you my friend, wonderful work.

 Bobby Handal's gear list:Bobby Handal's gear list
Nikon Coolpix AW130 Olympus TG-5 Nikon 1 V1 Sony Alpha NEX-6 Nikon 1 V2 +74 more
OP morfa Forum Member • Posts: 51
Re: Field examples

myzel wrote:

Looking at your setup I guess a bit more than $30 is needed to get the gear needed for such images.
Bellows, very sturdy tripod, head, assortment of clamps …

Sure, but you'd need that with the expensive lens too – that is my point. Sure, good glass is important – but good glass can be very cheap!

John

DotM Regular Member • Posts: 231
Re: Field examples

Woah! Stunning!

Thanks for sharing your setup, impressive - so to sum it up, lens=cheap(ish), micro-gear=expensive(ish), talent=priceless

J. Bne Regular Member • Posts: 325
Re: Field examples

These look really stunning... Tnx for sharing the pictures and your setup .
--

'Il semble que la perfection soit atteinte non quand il n'y a plus rien à ajouter, mais quand il n'y a plus rien à retrancher.'(A. de Saint-Exupéry)

OP morfa Forum Member • Posts: 51
Re: Field examples

DotM wrote:

Woah! Stunning!

Thanks for sharing your setup, impressive - so to sum it up, lens=cheap(ish), micro-gear=expensive(ish), talent=priceless

Thanks but I think you can modify that last statement to read practise+patience=priceless

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