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Macro Kit Upgrade

Discussion in 'General Equipment Chat & Advice' started by David Cheshire, Jan 28, 2020.

  1. David Cheshire

    David Cheshire New Member

    I currently use a Lumix GX7 with a Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8 ASPH Mega OIS macro lens to shoot watch movements and parts in my workshop. I use a tripod, focus rack and fixed LED lighting. I normally stop the lens to f16 for depth of field, with manual focus, manually set shutter speed, and shutter delay to avoid camera shake.

    I am finding the 16 MP sensor limiting in resolution and would like more pixels so that I can zoom and crop images more.

    I have looked at the Lumix G9 and Olympus OMD M5 III which have 20 MP, but that's only 25% more pixels and I think I would like more than that. I also don't really want to buy a camera with the latest shooting features that I will never use; the camera is purely for this one job. But then again, in body focus stacking sounds attractive, particularly the Olympus which I believe will stack full resolution images whereas the Lumix only stacks reduced 6K resolution, but I am not sure whether I need it.

    Since I don't need automatic exposure modes, AI focus modes or image stabilisation, I am thinking about an older camera such as a Sony A7R II which has 42.4 MP, with maybe a Sigma 105mm macro lens. Or perhaps a Nikon D810 which has 36 MP, and I do hanker after Nikon gear having used Nikon 35mm SLRs for many years. (I still have an F with a couple of pre-AI lenses just for old times sake.)

    But then the Canon EOS M6 Mk II has 32.54 MP and, being a 1.6 crop sensor, I could use a Sigma 105mm macro lens which would be effectively 168mm, giving me greater lens to subject distance.

    Any suggestions would be gratefully received!
  2. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Dunno. A 16 MP image will print to A3 and if you are doing true macro on a watch that is a big enlargement so are you sure it is lack of pixels that is the issue? I suppose if you want microscopic detail - like wear marks on teeth of gear wheels - it is more microscopy than macro. There are lenses that go more than 1:1 - the Canon MP-E will go 5x and the Canon 5Ds is 50 MP but finding both used won’t be easy. A bellows system might help for greater magnification. I’ve no idea if one is available for Lumix.
  3. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    More MPs does not necessarily mean better results. Imho 16MP is probably the optimum maximum for the M4/3 sensor. Unfortunately when stopping down as far as you are diffraction is reducing the resolution to an obvious degree so immediately you are not getting the best out of it, a higher resolution may well not be any help at all.
  4. RogerMac

    RogerMac Well-Known Member

    I have a micro four thirds extension tube (from Amazon) that I assume would fit your camera, it was very cheap but you would be reduced to manual focussing. If your camera has good focussing aids one of those might be just the job to start with before you start looking at hundreds of pounds
  5. David Cheshire

    David Cheshire New Member

    Thanks for your thoughts. I should have mentioned that the Leica lens goes to 1:1, which I do use, and I already have a couple of sets of extension rings, and a bellows set. But I should have explained a bit more. I don't want to take lots of very close up photos of separate parts of each movement, because I don't always know exactly what I will want to look at later, I want to be able to blow up images later to see more detail than I can at the moment.

    (I have also tried stopping down progressively from f:2.8 to f:22 identify where diffraction has an effect but it's not noticeable, although I accept that it must be there.)
  6. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Then you need 4x the pixels if you want to make a difference at 100% viewing on a screen.
  7. RogerMac

    RogerMac Well-Known Member

  8. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    I was never very good at maths but I think 4 x 16 is 64 and I don't think there is a 64MP sensor outside a Medium Format body/back.
  9. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    True, wasn’t meant literally. You need rather more than 24 MP to substantially change what you see at 100% on the screen with 16 MP. I went 5D to 5Ds so that is 12.8 to 50 MP and the detail improvement is extraordinary.
  10. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    I was actually surprised how much difference going from 12MP to 16MP made but I would expect going from 16MP to 20MP would be less noticeable. It looks as though David will need to change systems to get the kind of improvement he is seeking and that is an expensive business even if one has only a single body and a couple of lenses.
  11. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    I agree but it is hard to compare as the technology changes. I was initially unimpressed with 16 MP on an APS-H sensor compared to the 5D 12.8 full frame. On the other hand I was surprised how good a later 16 MP Fuji APS-C sensor is and how well it matches to a newer Fuji 24MP sensor. This is comparing print output not 100 % screen views which is the OP objective.
  12. cliveva

    cliveva Well-Known Member

    Hi, your idea of the Nikon will give you the detail when you enlarge the image to 200 or 300% the detail is.excellent I have a D800 and always amazed when I zoom in to 200% to sharpen, at the detail resolved. Canon do make a true macro lens though, that will give 5x magnification, but not cheap, even if you could find one 2nd hand.
    Yours, Clive
  13. SqueamishOssifrage

    SqueamishOssifrage Well-Known Member

    A 16mpix MFT sensor with a 45mm lens hits pixel diffraction a f:6.3 and conventional diffraction at f:12. By pixel diffraction I mean the point where the Airey disk exceeds the size of the pixel sufficiently that adjacent pixels no longer return a true value (nor the one in the middle either!), thereby causing blurring.

    I would suggest an experiment; do some focus stacking at f:5.6. You will need a very small step-size - just a couple of millimetres - but I think the results will be a considerable improvement on f:16.

    As matter of interest, what is your current step-size at f:16? My calculations, again based on pixel DoF, are about 4 millimetres at 15 centimetres focus distance..

    The reason I am dealing in pixel-based DoF here is that you feel you do not have enough pixels, whereas I feel you are blurring the pixels you do have.
    daft_biker likes this.
  14. Petrochemist

    Petrochemist Well-Known Member

    Rather than cropping your images heavily, just alter your optics to give you more magnification. Simple extension tubes with your current lens will do it, so it needn't be expensive. My Meike set (10mm & 16mm) for MFT was £16 IIRC and still maintains all lens communication. A good quality supplementary such as the Raynox DCR150 is another option, which is a little easier to fit than extension tubes. (DONT bother with the cheaper close up filters - they're no better than a cheap magnifying glass)

    It's quite possible that even with your tripod mounting etc that you are getting some shake (it can be a real pain at high magnifications). I'd prefer to use well diffused flash for lighting which can enable hand held shots if you can get the alignment right..

    If the DOF is inadequate at acceptable apertures its relatively simple to take multiple shots using your focus slider & combine them in software (Combine ZP does this easily & is free to download)

    For a more comprehensive look at macro options have a look at www.extreme-macro.co.uk which is a reference I refer to frequently - sadly my results never come close to those Johan manages.
  15. David Cheshire

    David Cheshire New Member

    Interesting and useful comment, thanks. People speak about the diffraction "limit" as if it is a hard step, with everything before it being crystal clear and everything after it fuzzy and blurred. But of course it is not a distinct effect that is hit at one exact f number, it is a gradual process. As I mentioned in a previous post I did take some tests shots stopping down progressively to try to identify where diffraction becomes significant. I have just been back to them and examined them more closely. Certainly f:22 is not good, and you are quite right that f:16 is not as sharp as I would like so I shouldn't be using that. I hadn't exactly forgotten about diffraction, but I wasn't giving it as much attention as I should have done.

    No doubt using f:5.6 and focus stacking would be an improvement on f:16, but I am not sure whether it would be much of an improvement on f:11 or f:8 - although I will certainly do some tests to find out. The problem with focus stacking is that I like to take quite a few shots with varying light and exposure and then select the best; I feel that taking multiple focus-shifted shots for each of these and then processing the images would take up too much time. I wonder if the OMD M5 in-body focus stacking might be the answer to this - I will try to borrow or hire one and try it. But I still think I would like more pixels to capture more detail, and AFAIK no APS-C or FF camera does in body focus stacking?
    Petrochemist likes this.

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