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.
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:
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.
You can find more of my macros taken with the Marumi DHG200 +5 on Flickr.
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 1 V1, 18.5mm f/1.8 and Marumi DHG200
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:
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
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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