Review: Macro on the cheap – Marumi DHG200 +5 achromatic lens

More than two years after release Nikon still doesn’t offer a native macro lens for its Nikon 1 system. This means that if you intend to take macros, you are left with a few “odd” choices. The most powerful, but also the most expensive and bulky solution is to buy the FT-1 adapter and a DX or FX Micro-Nikkor, like the 40mm f/2.8, 60mm f/2.8G ED, 85mm f/3.5 IF-ED or 105mm f/2.8 IF-ED. These lenses will allow you to achieve even greater image ratios (above 1:1) on N1 cameras than when used on DX or FX Nikon DSLRs. Including the FT-1 adapter these setups will cost you from $530 up to $1000. The other two solutions are intelligent extension tubes for existing Nikon 1 lenses (you can’t buy a “dumb” tube, because AF will not work, and “by wire” MF and aperture control on N1 lenses need power from the camera) or achromatic and close-up lenses. Both are considerably cheaper, but also less powerful. BUT, depending on your expectations, cheap solutions such as extension tubes and achromatic lenses could be just the right thing for you. One of my main reasons for investing in Nikon 1 was low size and weight, which was the reason I wasn’t ready to add so much weight and bulk to my photo bag with the FT-1 and a full grown Nikkor. I ended up buying the Marumi DHG200 +5 achromatic lens with a 52mm filter thread and a 40.5mm to 52mm step-up ring instead, which turned out to be perfect for my needs. At least until Nikon releases a native Micro-Nikkor for Nikon 1, in which case I will get that lens and use it WITH the Marumi. Here is what the Marumi looks like mounted on the Nikon V1 and 10-30mm.

Nikon-1-V1-Marumi-DHG200-+-5-macroNikon V1 & Nikkor 10-30 f/3.5-5.6 & Marumi +5

It’s small and light, you won’t even notice it in your photo bag or on the lens. However, you shouldn’t expect miracles when it comes to image ratio. On the 10-30mm Marumi will double the size of bugs, insects and spiders in the frame, but you will still need a more expensive solution for 1:1 image ratio. Still, the Marumi comes very close to a real macro lens. And I bet it will have an even greater effect on magnification, when used on a longer lens, such as 30-110mm. Achromatic and close-up lenses have a greater effect on magnification, the longer the lens they are used on is.

In one recent discussion I was asked whether the Marumi had a negative effect on AF speed. It doesn’t! The 10-30mm is still plenty fast, you will however need to pay attention to where the AF is focusing exactly, because the box on the V1 is quite large and may decide to for example focus on the body of the fly behind the head, instead of the head. Pay attention to what the AF is doing and you’ll be fine.

Some of you may ask yourselves why I have bought a comparatively large Marumi (52mm), instead of the smaller one. The reason is, because you can use the 52mm version on any Nikon 1 lens. All you need are step-up rings. For the 10-30mm and 30-110mm you only need the 40.5 to 52mm step-up ring. At this time we don’t know how large the filter threads of future N1 macros will be (there is a patent for a 37mm f/2.4). Regardless, they can’t be too large for a 52mm Marumi. Look at it this way: with a 52mm Marumi you pay only once for the most expensive part ($70/£50/€50) of the macro setup, the achromatic lens itself, and buy several step-up rings, which are dirt cheap (less than $/£/€ 5). I have even used the Marumi on my 18.5mm f/1.8, even though it has quite poor image ratio compared to the 10-30mm. Still, you can achieve some very interesting results, thanks to the large aperture of the prime lens:

Nikon V1 & Nikkor 18.5mm f/1.8 & Marumi +5
Summary

In my opinion buying a Marumi or any other decent achromatic lens is the most affordable and flexible macro solution for the Nikon 1 system. You can acieve better results with the FT-1 adapter and DX/FX Micro-Nikkors, but they will cost you much, much more and add considerable weight and bulk to your photo bag. Neither will they be as flexible, as a Marumi with a handful of step-up rings. You can use the latter to boost the macro capability of any, not just N1, lens you have on which the achromatic lens can fit. In my opinion it’s perfect to bridge the time until Nikon finally get of their backside and release a native Nikon 1 Micro-Nikkor.

Nikon V1 & Nikkor 10-30 f/3.5-5.6 & Marumi +5Nikon V1 & Nikkor 10-30 f/3.5-5.6 & Marumi +5Nikon V1 & Nikkor 10-30 f/3.5-5.6 & Marumi +5Nikon V1 & Nikkor 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 & Marumi +5Nikon V1 & Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 & Marumi +5Nikon V1 & Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 & Marumi +5Nikon V1 & Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 & Marumi +5Nikon V1 & Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 & Marumi +5Nikon V1 & Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 & Marumi +5Nikon V1 & Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 & Marumi +5Nikon V1 & Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 & Marumi +5Nikon V1 & Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 & Marumi +5

You can find more of my macros taken with the Marumi DHG200 +5 on Flickr.

Update 14.04.2016:

Since writing this review I have complemented my Nikon 1 gear with an Olympus OM-D E-M10 and 45mm f/1.8 and Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 lenses. I’ve been using the Marumi DHG200 +5 with the Nikon 1 V1, 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 and 18.5mm f/1.8 as well as with the OM-D E-M10 and 45mm f/1.8. I’ve included some of the photos down below:

Nikon 1 V1, 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 and Marumi DHG200

Nikon V1 & Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 & Marumi +5Nikon V1 & Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 & Marumi +5Nikon V1 & Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 & Marumi +5Nikon 1 V1 & 1 Nikkor 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 & Marumi DHG200 +5Nikon 1 V1 & 1 Nikkor 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 & Marumi DHG200 +5Nikon 1 V1 & 1 Nikkor 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 & Marumi DHG200 +5Nikon 1 V1 & 1 Nikkor 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 & Marumi DHG200 +5Nikon 1 V1 & 1 Nikkor 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 & Marumi DHG200 +5Nikon 1 V1 & 1 Nikkor 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 & Marumi DHG200 +5Nikon 1 V1 & 1 Nikkor 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 & Marumi DHG200 +5Nikon 1 V1, 1 Nikkor 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6, Marumi DHG200 +5 & Raynox DCR-250

Nikon 1 V1, 18.5mm f/1.8 and Marumi DHG200

Nikon V1 & Nikkor 18.5mm f/1.8Nikon V1 & Nikkor 18.5mm f/1.8Nikon V1 & Nikkor 18.5mm f/1.8Nikon V1 & Nikkor 18.5mm f/1.8 & Marumi DHG200 +5Nikon V1 & Nikkor 18.5mm f/1.8 & Marumi DHG200 +5Nikon V1 & Nikkor 18.5mm f/1.8 & Marumi DHG200 +5Olympus OM-D E-M10, 45mm f/1.8 and Marumi DHG200
Olympus OM-D E-M10 & Olympus 45mm f/1.8 & Marumi DHG200 +5Olympus OM-D E-M10 & Olympus 45mm f/1.8 & Marumi DHG200 +5Olympus OM-D E-M10 & Olympus 45mm f/1.8 & Marumi DHG200 +5Olympus OM-D E-M10 & Olympus 45mm f/1.8 & Marumi DHG200 +5Olympus OM-D E-M10 & Olympus 45mm f/1.8 & Marumi DHG200 +5

I shot several photos of the Marumi and of the Nikon and Olympus gear with and without the Marumi attached, so that you can get an idea of the size of the Marumi:

Shot with: Olympus OM-D E-M10 & 45mm f/1.8 Do you see the small dent in the following photo? It fell down onto the pavement, but as far as I can tell image quality is still great.
Shot with: Olympus OM-D E-M10, 45mm f/1.8 & Raynox DCR250Shot with: Olympus OM-D E-M10 & 45mm f/1.8Shot with: Olympus OM-D E-M10 & 45mm f/1.8Shot with: Nikon 1 V1 & 1 Nikkor 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6Shot with: Nikon 1 V1 & 1 Nikkor 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6

Now lets see what kind of effect the Marumi has on magnification! The following four photos are available on Flickr in full resolution. Just click on them.

Nikon V1 and 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 without Marumi

Shot with: Nikon 1 V1 & 1 Nikkor 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 Now with Marumi
Shot with: Nikon 1 V1, 1 Nikkor 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 & Marumi DHG200 +5 Olympus OM-D E-M10 and 45mm f/1.8 without Marumi
Shot with: Olympus OM-D E-M10 & 45mm f/1.8 Now with Marumi
Shot with: Olympus OM-D E-M10, 45mm f/1.8 & Marumi DHG200 +5

While the benefit with the V1 and 10-30 – which has an unusually high magnification ratio for a “lowly” kit zoom – isn’t huge, the OM-D EM10 and 45/1.8 combo gets a tremendous boost in regard to its macro usability. There is also quite a large difference regarding sharpness, especially towards the image borders.

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31 thoughts on “Review: Macro on the cheap – Marumi DHG200 +5 achromatic lens

  1. Awesome. I have posted a link to this page on Flickr, I hope you don’t object.

    Thanks once more.
    Jan

    • Marumi is an achromatic lens, meaning that it consist of two glass elements in order to correct CAs. Nikons close-up lens is a standard, cheap design consisting of only one glass element. Therefore Marumi is superior.

      • Thank you Iván!
        He has a month for me the Nikon1 V1.
        I learn the things only yet.
        Then the Marumi the real one!
        And Raynox?
        With thanks: Ferenc (Hungary)

        • You are welcome!
          Marumi is better than any close-up lens, which is not achromatic and probably better than many achromatic lenses. It is very good.
          Raynox are, if I’m not mistaken, also achromatic lenses. They have a very good reputation. People like using them and judging by the results they seem to be really good. Whether they are better or worse than Marumi achromatic lenses, I cannot say.

          Regards
          Ivan

    • Ivan, I think you would enjoy this article: Vello Econo Auto Focus Extension Tube Set for Nikon 1 Mount Review – http://photographylife.com/reviews/vello-econo-extension-tube-set-for-nikon-1#comment-153393

      Thank you for the link Joni. The problem with extension tubes is that they effectively reduce the already very small apertures of the Nikon 1 lenses, which results in two kinds of image quality problems: 1) N1 zoom lenses with f/5.6 apertures are already working on the border to diffraction. One mustn’t forget that f/5.6 in N1 terms is equal to f/15 in full frame terms. This means that with extension tubes these lenses are operating way past f/5.6 in N1 and f/15 in FF terms respectively. The result is reduced resolution and sharpness due to diffraction effects. 2) The even smaller apertures force you to use higher ISOs in anything than perfect lighting conditions, leading to ISO1600 and 3200 usage. As you can see in the article, most photos were taken at those sensitivities. And as we all know, the 1″ sensor doesn’t deliver great results at those kind of ISOs. You may not see the noise or the reduced sharpness in those web size images, but zooming in a bit closer (say 1080p resolution, which is not much at all) will reveal these IQ problems immediately.
      With those two problems in mind, I would urge people to use real macro lenses in combination with the FT1 adapter or achromatic lenses or extension tubes with faster native N1 lenses (like 32mm f1.2) instead. Using extension tubes in combination with slow zooms for N1 is IMHO not a good idea.

  2. Pingback: I’ve updated my Marumi DHG200 +5 review! | Big Street Guns

    • Thank you Joni! That’s one of my favourites as well. Right now it’s too early in the year, which is why most insects and arachnids are much smaller than that one. I haven’t seen spiders that large yet. In a couple of months, after they’ve had time to feed and grow, it will be much easier to find much larger specimens, which can be photographed with just the Marumi. Right now I’m using the Marumi in combination with the Raynox DCR-250 in order to increase the magnification ratio.

      • If you could only use one of these close up lenses which do you like the best? Do you a post about the Raynox DCR-250? I like the fact that it snaps on. I hate all the time I spend putting on and taking off my closeup lens.

        • If you could only use one of these close up lenses which do you like the best?

          That’s a though one. The Raynox DCR-250 increases magnification ration quite a bit more, because it’s an 8-Diopter (Marumi is a 5-Diopter). But it is also a lot larger with the included clip on adapter. Without the adapter it is smaller than the Marumi but has an unusual mounting thread diameter of 43mm. And I unfortunately don’t have step-up rings needed to attach it to the 10-30mm and 45/1.8 lenses this way. I’m also not sure how precise the clip-on adapter is. Although more cumbersome I find the tried and tested thread more reassuring. Both achromatic lenses have good IQ, but I haven’t compared them to each other yet.

          Do you a post about the Raynox DCR-250?

          I will do a review after I’ve used it long enough and have shot a sufficient number of photos.

          I like the fact that it snaps on. I hate all the time I spend putting on and taking off my closeup lens.

          Yes, but it can’t snap on directly to any of my lenses. 10-30 annd 48/1.8 have too small filter threads, so that you have to use step-up rings. This negates some of the convenience.

          • Why can’t they make a flip ring that you can tread a close-up lens (or any other kind) to and then just flip it out of the way for some shots?

          • That’s a nice idea. But it would have to be massive in order to be able to hold one of these achromatic close up lenses. Marumi and Raynox weigh 58 and 72 grams respectively.

  3. Thanks for your review. Your images are looking great.
    But I have a problem: the step up ring and Marumi Filter don’t work on my V1. The autofocus can’t get sharp images (30-110mm). Anything I could have done wrong ? Do I have anything to consider?
    Thanks Alfred

    • Hi Alfred,

      you have to keep in mind, that with a close-up lens the distance range that can be focused on gets reduced quite a bit. When the Marumi is attached to my 10-30mm, the lens can only focus when the distance to the subject is between 6.5cm (measured from the front of the Marumi, not the sensor plane symbol on the camera!) and 24cm. If the subject is closer or farther away, the camera/lens can’t lock focus. The distances with your 30-110mm are different, bbut it’s the same principle. Therefore you should only attach the Marumi when shooting macro. As long as it is attached you can’t focus on a person standing 1-2m away or on a landscape 100s of meters away. You have to unscrew the Marumi for those kind of subjects. Hope that helps. 🙂

      Regards,
      Ivan

  4. Pingback: Shooting macro with a portrait lens: Olympus 45mm f/1.8, Marumi DHG200 and Raynox DCR-250 working in unison | Big Street Guns

  5. Pingback: Some recent macros shot with the Nikon 1 V1, 10-30 and Marumi DHG200 / Raynox DCR-250 close-up lenses | Big Street Guns

  6. Ivan, I ordered mine today! I see so many nice pictures here that I had to try the Marumi out for myself. Thanks for doing all the research. Ciao. Jan.

      • No, the only one I have is the one made by Nikon (and more or less specifically for the 30-110mm lens, I suspect). I don’t use it much at all, but now I want to try some close-ups with my GX8 and that IBIS too. I bet it works great.

        • You have the N1-CL1 close-up lens? If I’m not mistaken that’s an ordinary close-up lens, meaning only one glass element and rather poor optical performance towards the edges. Being an achromatic lens, the Marumi should be a lot better than the N1-CL1.

          In any case, let me know what you think of the Marumi once you’ve tried it out and compared it with the Nikon close-up lens.

          • Ivan, this took a loooong time, but I did the comparisons today. Shot a bunch of pictures to compare the two as well as combining them both for even closer focus-distance and increased magnification. As I will not be needing that much magnification at all, I will be selling one of my close-up lenses. Which one? The Nikon! Here is why, and how they compare in use. This comparison ONLY goes for use on the 30-110mm zoom… results can and will differ on other lenses.

            Maximum magnification is nearly identical. Auto focus wins on the Nikon (but I mostly use manual focus for macro anyway).

            Sharpness is surprisingly similar. The Nikon is clearly better towards the edges while the Marumi is slightly sharper in the center. To me, center sharpness is more important.

            Contrast is better with the Marumi, and the colors are more saturated too. Reds, in particular, look thin when using the N1CL1 compared to the Marumi.

            The N1-CL1 is only good on some Nikon1 lenses (40.5mm) while the Marumi is more versatile. Can easily be used on my Lumix for instance. Pluss-point for Nikon for the small size, though – that is the flip side of the equation.

            Jan.

          • Thanks for your impressions with the two close-up lenses. Have you noticed stronger chromatic aberration on the Nikon towards the edges of the frame? Being a simple one-element design (compared to the Marumi which has two elements) it should struggle more with chromatic aberration outside of the central area of the frame. Honestly I’m surprised that it is sharper towards the edges. I would have expected the Marumi to best it in pretty much every way. Except size and weight, of course.

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