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Macro work

Discussion in 'Sony Chat' started by Trismegistus, Aug 15, 2012.

  1. Trismegistus

    Trismegistus Active Member

    Having just bought my first Sony camera (NEX5N with SEL18-55 Lens), and having bought other gear tripods, camera cases etc., I find that I have depleted the hardware budget somewhat for the foreseeable future :(

    I would really like to buy the Sony 30mm F3.5 lens for macro work which is my eventual objective, but at circa £200 this is temporarily out of my reach. I wonder if anyone has had good results from using close up lens attachments, the sort that screw on like a filter and whether these would be an acceptable stop gap and help me keep my photo equipment outgoings down to a dull roar!

    Would appreciate any thoughts on this.

  2. MickLL

    MickLL In the Stop Bath

    Close up lenses are a reasonable way to go. If you can afford just a little extra go for the two element ones. They are very much better than the single element.

    I don't know what you intend to photograph with your macro lens but if it's insects I'd steer clear of a 30mm - you would need to get far too close, even with the 'crop factor'. If it's other things then it's not so important.

  3. Trismegistus

    Trismegistus Active Member

    Wow thanks for the heads up on the 30mm lens I do intend to photograph insects as well as flowers and other things. If the 30mm is not right for me what would you recommend for my chosen subjects. Also thanks for the advice on the two element close up lenses I will certainly do as you suggest.

  4. MickLL

    MickLL In the Stop Bath

    I do almost exclusively macro/insects and I've owned all of the Minolta/Sony Macro lenses.

    When I talk about focal length in the rest of this post I mean the 'full frame equivalent'. I believe that your camera has a crop factor of 1.5 and so a 30mm wil act like a 45mm on your camera.

    The 50mm is a fine lens but, as I said you need to get too close to skittish subjects and miss a lot of shots.

    The 100mm is an excellent compromise and doubles as a pretty good general and portrait lens. Here's an example with that lens.

    The 200mm (which is what I use now) is truly excellent BUT it's no longer made and if you can find one second hand it will set you back a frightening amount of money. It's also big and heavy and not great for other purposes. Here's an example with that lens.

    On balance I'd go for the 100mm from that list. It's a fine compromise and on your camera would act as if it were a 150mm - to me that's a bonus.

    OTOH there are independents available and I've heard good reports of the Tamron 90mm macro. It's cheaper than the Minolta lenses and seems to do a pretty good job.

  5. Steve52

    Steve52 Well-Known Member

    I'd echo MickLL. Something like a Sigma 105mm F2.8 shouldn't set you back that much second hand and can get you some decent results.
    An alternative option is to use extension tubes. These are relatively cheap and fit between the lens and the camera. Whether you can get them for the NEX I'm not sure (I use alpha's).
  6. neilt3

    neilt3 Well-Known Member

    you can get very cheep extension tubes off ebay for less than £5. all though you use auto focus as there just tubes you could work around this by setting your lens to max/minimum focus before taking it off the camera and focus by moving backward or forward.also using the zoom.
    the big problem with them is the loss of aperature controll.

    going up in price would then be a set of close up diopters , as noted the ones with more than just one element are far superior.

    next up is an old manual focus , proper macro lens with adapter. such as olympus O.M or minolta md or canon fd fit ones would probably be got at the best price as there are no dedicated digital bodies for them, unlike nikon,pentax etc.

    if you want to stick with your 18-55mm kit lens then you can now get fully compatable extension tubes for NEX cameras by Kenko for £100 , see here; http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Kenko-DG-...aphy_Lens_Extension_Tubes&hash=item3a7751fc14
    an advantage with these , also , you can use them to reduce the minimum focus distance of your telephoto lens , such as the 55-210mm , making it ideal at the long end for getting close to skittish bugs.still with auto focus and aperature controll.

    hope this helps.
  7. MickLL

    MickLL In the Stop Bath

    I hope that nobody will mind if I analyse the advice below from the perspective of a dedicated insect photographer. I'm doing it because I wish that someone had done the same for me when I began. I would have saved loads of time and loads of money.

    Useless, completely useless for insect photography. Partly because it wouldn't increase your working distance and partly because all that faffing about would put your hit rate near zero. Although the theory is OK by the time you got all that in position your subject would be in the next county. Insect photography ain't easy and you will need all your concentration on the subject not on messing about with equipment.

    Don't be fooled by the new name. Some people call them filters, some dipoters but they are lenses. Dipoter is actually a measure of the strength of the close up lens. They come in 1, 2 ,3 dipoter strength - and so on. You can add two of them together, say a one and a two diopter and that makes a three diopter (strength) lens.

    This could be OK. I use manual focus exclusively and I also use aperture priority. I can cope with manual focus but I'm not sure that I'd be happy with both manual focus and also manual exposure. If you can pick up such a lens cheaply then it might be worth giving it a go.

    I hesitate to suggest that you would be unhappy with the quality of such a set up - especially with a kit lens. I've used a similar set up with an extremely high quality APO G (Minolta) lens and been unhappy with the outcome when compared to a dedicated macro lens. BUT BUT BUT don't forget that such photography is what I do all the time and I'm quite critical. You may be happy with the quality but it's an expensive option if you are not happy.

    Just my take of course. Others (as you have seen) have different opinions but I really am speaking from direct and extensive experience.

  8. daft_biker

    daft_biker Action Man!

    Did you forget the 3-1x? Not that it matters but they did one of those too;)

    I agree with the points you raise though - zooms and extension tubes are not a great mix, a macro lens of at least 90mm is probably a more useful than a 30mm and the only other real option is a supplementary lens for close ups.

    Alternatively, just stick any old magnifying glass in front of the lens and see what happens:)
  9. MickLL

    MickLL In the Stop Bath

    Yes Andy I did forget it. My memory has also turned me into an inadvertent liar because I never owned one. ;) I believe that they were very good - but obviously very specialised and very expensive.

  10. swanseadave

    swanseadave Well-Known Member

    And I suspect,virtually impossible to find on the second hand market.
  11. Dorset_Mike

    Dorset_Mike Grumpy Old Fart

  12. Trismegistus

    Trismegistus Active Member

    Firstly I'm overwhelmed by your kindness and the great responses from everyone on this topic :)

    Your knowledge and experience have given me a great insight in Macro and has certainly saved me from making expensive mistakes. I realise now that my preferred choice of the Sony SEL30mm Macro lens is not optimum for what I want to achieve and instead will look at alternatives in the 90-100mm range in future. Meanwhile, while I save the cash for the prime macro lens, I am going to try the supplementary lens approach and see where that takes me. A number of you have recommended the two element lens and that is what I shall do.

    Dare I ask one more question though please? For insect and flower macro what is the most useful dioptre strength for a supplementary lens?

    Thanks again to all who replied and an extra special thanks to those who took the trouble to send links to either examples of their macro work, or to illustrate further information on the subject.
  13. MickLL

    MickLL In the Stop Bath

    No problem.

    Unfortunately there isn't a simple answer to your question. As usual 'it all depends' on subject size, subject distance, how close you want to get and so on.

    Look here for a useful starting point.

  14. daft_biker

    daft_biker Action Man!

    Good link, seems to explain things pretty well.

    In the table for magnification at closest focus the lens being used starts at 0.15x however kit lenses (like an 18-55mm) usually focus down to 0.3x so David can perhaps expect to get a little more magnification than that table would indicate.
  15. Trismegistus

    Trismegistus Active Member

    Thanks for your reply while I save up for a prime macro lens I have decided to invest £36 in a two-element achromatic close-up lens by Hoya +10 dioptre and see how I get along with it. I gather that the camera needs to be well stepped down to use this lens so lighting might become a bit of an issue on occasion.

    The link you supplied is really useful and thanks also to Andrew for his input here.

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