I’ve had the Canon FD 200mm F4 Macro for about a month now and I’m still getting used to its size and weight. It’s a massive lens, but due to its long focal length it allows you to sit back and shoot macro subjects from a long distance. You don’t have to worry about scaring away insects and arachnids you are photographing, but you have to concentrate really hard to keep the lens/camera combo from shaking too much. In my experience the 3-axis IBIS in the Olympus OM-D E-M10 is definitely overwhelmed by the massive shake. What resolves this issue to some degree is activating the high speed burst mode. Shooting with 8 frames per second improves the odds of capturing at least a few sharp pictures tremendously. “Spraying and praying” is most definitely the way to go, when it’s windy, your subject is moving and you are shooting handheld. Since I’m one of those lazy macro shooters, who can’t be bothered to get up before sunrise or to lug a tripod, it’s windy and my subjects are very active most of the time when I’m go out to do macro photography.
I’m now gonna show you some of the images I’ve taken since last time.
After my last post regarding the Cosmicar 8mm f/1.4 CCTV C-mount lens I have purchased a revers mounting ring for micro four thirds. It’s a 55mm to M4/3 mount mounting ring, which is too large for the Cosmicar. I have therefore attached the lens to two step-up rings – a 40.5mm to 52mm and a 52mm to 55mm. It’s not an ideal solution, but I wasn’t able to find a reverse mounting ring with a smaller filter thread. Anyway it works and surprisingly well at that. I haven’t calculated the maximum magnification ratio, but it puts all my other macro setups to shame. See the anthers in the following photo which was shot with the reverse mounted Cosmicar 8mm f/1.4 on my Olympus OM-D E-M10?
Yesterday night I recorded a short video of a slug – I believe it’s a Limax flavus – eating grass. The video was recorded handheld with a Nikon 1 V1, a Nikon 1 Nikkor 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 and Raynox DCR-250 achromatic close up lens. I held the camera with my right hand, while illuminating the slug with my phone’s built in LED with my left. You can even hear a rooster crowing in the background. 🙂
Canon FD 200mm f/4 Macro is the kind of lens I wanted Olympus and Panasonic to release for quite some time now. In my mind smaller sensor formats, like micro four thirds and Nikon 1, are perfectly suited for macro photography – especially for skittish macro subjects, such as damselflies, dragonflies and butterflies. It’s a real shame that neither Olympus/Panasonic nor Nikon have released a long macro lens for their respective systems. In absence of such a lens, the best option is to get a legacy lens and a suitable adapter and focus manually.
I’ve been shooting a lot of macro photos since my last post on this topic. Most of the time – almost exclusively, actually – I’ve used my Nikon 1 V1 and 1 Nikkor 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, with or without achromatic close-up lenses. You don’t really need a close-up lens or a real macro lens for larger insects like damselflies or dragonflies. The following photos were captured without a close-up lens and show how close you can get to your macro subject with just the 30-110mm.
Note: Click on any of the following photos to view it large.
Nikon 1 V1 and 1 Nikkor 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 — 110mm, f/5.6, 1/200s and ISO100
A couple of days ago I bought a Cosmicar 8mm f/1.4 CCTV C-mount lens. Since there are no ultra-fast ultra-wide angle lenses for either Micro Four Thirds or Nikon 1, I wanted to try it out and see if it would work. What I wanted to use it for were nighttime landscapes with an emphasis on the sky. I always wanted to try out photographing the stars, Milky Way, etc. Of course, as is often the case with C-mount lenses, there was a chance that it wouldn’t work at all.
A rare lens
There is no mention of the Cosmicar 8mmm f/1.4 CCTV C-mount lens on either ebay US or ebay Germany – not even under completed listings. There is also very little info regarding the lens on the web. I found a thread on mu-43.com eventually, but this was after I bought the lens. There is a lot more info about Cosmicar 8mm f/1.5 and 8.5mm f/1.5 lenses, though, neither of which are able to illuminate the entire 4/3 sensor.
Since there seem to be a lot of similar lenses – at least with similar specs – I’ve included several images of my Cosmicar 8mm f/1.4 down below.
Yesterday I recorded another damselfly video with me trying to pick one up with my finger from an aquatic plant and failing a couple of times, but succeeding in the end. This video was recorded with a Nikon 1 V1 and Nikon 1 Nikkor 10-30mmm f/3.5-5.6 and is therefore far better quality wise than the last one, which was filmed with a Ricoh GR Digital III in standard resolution (640*480 pixels).
Damselflies are many a macro photographer’s favorite subject. They are colorful, slim and elegant. When you look at their face, they often appear to be smiling. Described in one word, they are beautiful. They are also very active and wary, which makes them challenging to photograph for novice photographers. But if you are familiar with their behavior, there are ways to trick them into posing for the camera very patiently or even into sitting on your finger. And you don’t even have to get up at 5am, when all insects are slow due to lower temperatures.
Less than a week ago I finished making a macro diffuser for my Meike MK320. Unlike the first version of the diffuser (see here), which was intended to work with the built-in flash of my Olympus OM-D E-M10 and was made of paper – and was therefore fiddly and not very robust – this one is mostly made of cardboard. The inside is layered with aluminium foil, in order to reflect more light and therefore increase effective output and improve flash recycle time.
I’m not entirely sure that I have succeeded in making the setup more efficient, but I’m very satisfied with the look of the photos. The light doesn’t look hard, which is the most important aspect for me.
Three weeks ago I bought a used Nikon 1 Nikkor VR 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 lens for my Nikon 1 V1. It wasn’t exactly in pristine condition, but the price was too tempting to let the opportunity pass. As the luck would have it, my EN-EL15 battery died just several days before. The 30-110mm arrived sooner than my replacement battery from ChiliPower. Since going by its cosmetic condition I wasn’t sure that it would even work, I was biting my nails, waiting to test the lens out. And as you probably know, if you’ve bought enough used gear online, there are many conman out there. Luckily the 30-110mm turned out to be an excellent workhorse in disguise of an ugly duckling. 🙂