The macro adapter itself, Raynox DCR-250
My humble, simple insect macro photography setup, Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II, 75mm F1.8 lens with the Raynox DCR-250 macro adapter, FL-50R external flash used wirelessly with Gamilight mini softbox diffuser.
For the macro photography technique execution, please read my previous article here. I executed the exact same technique, with one minor difference: instead of utilizing a dedicated macro lens, I was using a 75mm prime lens with a macro adapter. For those of you who decided to skip that article, as a summary, I held the camera and lens in one hand, shooting single-handedly while the other hand I held the external flash with diffuser. Everything (all camera settings, including flash) was controlled manually. General camera settings: Shutter speed 1/100sec, Aperture F11-F14, ISO200, Flash at 1/16 to 1/32 power, manual focus.
Now the aim of this simple experimentation is not to discredit the need for a macro lens, or to say that ordinary lens with a macro converter can be a good alternative for macro photography. If you are serious and want to get deep into macro photography, a dedicated macro lens is crucial and should be your priority when it comes to shooting tiny objects. Nonetheless, not everyone shoots macro photography all the time, and it does not make sense to invest in a macro lens if you do not shoot enough with the lens. Therefore, alternatives such as macro converters provide much larger magnification of an image, of course with some compromise of image quality. I am not expecting super sharp results from this M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8, but what I am hoping for, is that the Raynox DCR-250 can deliver decent enough results.
For some of you who have encountered or used the Raynox macro adapters before, you will agree with me that these macro adapters are probably among the best that can be found in the market. They were not made to replace macro lenses, of course, but the output from these simple adapters is good enough for simple macro shots. Even pixel-peeping the macro shots at 100% crop, the images still appear sharp and has good contrast. The magnification that I was able to achieve with this combination of Raynox DCR-250 on Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 was somewhere close to 1:1 ratio (my educated estimation), which was about half of what the M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 Macro lens can achieve at 2:1 magnification ratio. Having such large magnification was sufficient to shoot small insects.
Crop from previous shot
Crop from previous image
Using 75mm focal length, which effectively was equivalent to 150mm in 35mm format, was not easy feat for macro photography. While the focal length provided comfortable working distance between the lens and the subject, the biggest challenge was the resulting razor thin shallow depth of field, due to the telephoto nature of the focal length used. I found myself constantly needing to stop the aperture to F11 or beyond to achieve sufficient depth of field, so I can have more zone in focus. Stopping aperture excessively in Micro Four Thirds camera introduced another problem: lens diffraction which compromised image sharpness as the F-number is increased. I limited the F-number used to F14 at the smallest, which still produced good enough sharpness and just enough balance for depth of field.
You do not need to compare with an actual macro lens to conclude that a macro lens would produce sharper, better defined fine details with better contrast than the shots shown here, taken with a prime lens and an adapted Raynox DCR-250. Having significant amount of experience dealing with the Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro lens I know what that lens is capable of, and I do wish to own one, if only I can justify having it. Not shooting insect macro much these days, since I am more involved in street photography and shooting people most of the time, a more budget friendly alternative is probably a better option, and to this end, that Raynox DCR-250 is a god-sent. I am actually happy with what I am seeing coming from the Raynox, and I can live with some of the shortcomings, but seriously, less pixel-peeping and more shooting!
This is a good shot to demonstrate why I need to use wireless flash for my insect macro. Often, the tiny creatures I shoot are rarely sitting on top of a leaf at ideal situation where flash can be fired mounted on a camera. In this case, the spider was hiding in between leaves, almost impossible for traditional flash setup to reach. Having the flash off camera allowed me to move it to re-direct the light to wherever I wanted it to go to.
I know there are other techniques such as reversed lens and extension tubes, but you have got to admit that these methods are more complicated and require more work than just a simple adapter in front of the lens. I acknowledge that the reversed lens and extension tubes can provide much higher magnifications, but I am the kind of photographer that likes to simplify things, and I always chose a more practical, easy to execute approach. This Raynox DCR-250 is a good answer to that.
I seriously hope I can find more time to shoot better insect macro subjects. I only spent about an hour for this experimentation, and I do admit that these shots are nothing out of the ordinary. I need to find more exotic locations and hunt for more interesting macro subjects to shoot.
Insect macro photographers, anyone here? Share your thoughts!
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