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Thread: Introduction and newbie G1 macro questions

  1. #1
    heavyharmonies
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    Introduction and newbie G1 macro questions

    Good morning. My first post here, so please be gentle.

    Background:

    I am a complete and utter newbie when it comes to photography despite having taken pictures for years; I'm strictly point-and-shoot. No background at all in traditional photography (never owned a camera growing up).

    I've tried to learn the terminology and the theory behind it all, but despite my being a tech geek when it comes to computers and electronics, for some reason photography eludes me. Metering, white balance, aperatures, exposure, etc., and the interaction between the various aspects as well as the sheer complexity of digital cameras, and my eyes roll back into my head.

    When I'm doing shots and I see something I want to change, I know where I want to go (brighter, darker, greater depth of field, changing the white balance, etc.), I just don't know which settings to change in order to get there without messing up the parts that are currently ok. I'll change a setting, and the next shot will be better in one aspect but worse in another; it's the interplay of all the settings that makes me feel like I'm trying to hit a moving target.

    What I really need is a hands-on digital photography class to build concepts from the ground up, but haven't found any locally. I think having someone show me things would help them stick.

    The only reason I've been able to come up with even remotely presentable results (and even they pale in comparison to what is offered here) is that I spent years as a digital prepress technician and know my way around Adobe Photoshop. I can frequently compensate for things after the fact (lightening shadows, adjusting brightness and contrast, changing the hue and saturation, etc.).

    Anyhoo, I primarily do macrophotography of coins, and am now branching into wristwatches, which present additional challenges, especially in lighting.

    You can see examples of coin macro shots taken from my old camera (Olympus C7070 Wide Zoom) here: http://www.cheapmorgandollars.com/gallery.shtml (please don't look at the domain name and think I'm spamming, there's nothing for sale there). The majority of the shots are mine, with a few exceptions that I had done.

    Wanting to tread in the area of more capable equipment and have the options of using different lenses, but still wanting basically a "point and shoot" camera, I opted for the Lumix G1. Thus far I am very pleased with what the kit lens can do on "Intelligent Auto." About the only thing I've done is to adjust to f11-f14 to give more depth of field.

    I went and purchased the DMW-MA1 adapter (which was IMPOSSIBLE to find in the United States; no one has it in stock. I had to buy one on eBay from Japan), along with an Olympus Zuiko 35mm f/3.5 macro lens.

    Some examples of shots taken with this combination:

    http://watchgeeks.net/showthread.php?t=27918

    http://watchgeeks.net/showthread.php?t=27548

    The biggest problem I'm running into is that this macro lens still requires me to be very close to the subject, which interferes with lighting.

    Unfortunately, I don't know enough about the nomenclature of it all to know which (if any) of the below lenses would be most appropriate, or if I should be looking into a different adapter and lens combination. Ideally, I'd like to keep the cost below $500 (I don't mind used).

    The copystand I use for coin shots is massive (old-school from the 1970s and is about 3.5 feet tall), but for the wristwatch shots, I would like to be able to be about 2-3 feet away, whereas right now 1 ft is pushing it.

    From B&H Photo:

    $379: Sigma Zoom Super Wide Angle 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC Macro Autofocus Lens for Olympus Digital Cameras (Four Thirds System)

    $429: Sigma Wide Angle 24mm f/1.8 EX Aspherical DG DF Macro Autofocus Lens for Olympus Digital Cameras (Four Thirds System)

    $459: Sigma Telephoto 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro Autofocus Lens for Olympus Digital Cameras (Four Thirds System)

    And then we take a big jump:

    $689: Sigma Telephoto 150mm f/2.8 EX APO Macro EX DG HSM Autofocus Lens for Olympus Digital Cameras (Four Thirds System)

    $749: Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 II EX DG APO Macro HSM AF Lens for Four Thirds System


    Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Bill Wilby
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    Re: Introduction and newbie G1 macro questions

    I am also a fairly new member here and don't worry, there are only gentle people here with lots of useful information. I am a dealer who usually has the MA-1 in stock. I have used it with the Olympus 50 mm 2.8 macro to post this photo to my blog. I can't tell you the working distance as I was borrowing the lens from a customer but some one else here could. I think it was about 10 inches. I don't sell Olympus but I think you may want to consider this lens for what you are doing and I think it would be a better choice than the 35 mm.You will find it at the near the middle of the page. I am having a little difficulty linking just the one photo. http://contact-photo.blogspot.com/se...0%3A00-08%3A00
    Last edited by Bill Wilby; 29th April 2009 at 08:51.

  3. #3
    Super Duper
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    Re: Introduction and newbie G1 macro questions

    For macrophotography, autofocus isn't really necessary...I'd recommend getting a Nikon 4/3 adapter (about $25-$30) that will fit on your DMW-MA1 and a used manual focus Nikon 105mm Micro lens. KEH has an f/2.8 model available listed at $275. Alternatively, there are equivalents from the other manufacturers.

    Basically, you need a longer focal length lens, it will give you much more working distance.

  4. #4
    heavyharmonies
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    Re: Introduction and newbie G1 macro questions

    Thanks for the replies. It looks like I can get the 4/3 to Nikon adapter for about $20 from a trusted seller. Searching through the Nikon macro lenses on eBay, they're all over the map, both with respect to specs and price, especially since I don't know what I'm doing.

    What exactly is the difference between an 80-200mm macro lens and a 70-300mm macro lens? How much is too much?

    There's definitely a large swing in cost, and these are considerably less expensive than the dedicated 4/3 lenses I refer to above.


    Sigma AF 28-300/3.5-6.3 DG ASP Macro Lens For Nikon NEW


    Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG APO Macro for Nikon AF-D

    Nikon AF Nikkor 35-105mm 1: 3.5 - 4.5 Macro Zoom Lens

    Tamron AF 75-300mm F4.0-5.6 LD Macro SLR Lens f/Nikon

    Are any of these more or less suitable for my needs, and if not, why? (trying to learn ).

    Thanks.

  5. #5
    Super Duper
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    Re: Introduction and newbie G1 macro questions

    Those are general purpose zooms that have close up ('macro') capability. They are not anywhere near as sharp as a dedicated macro lens (or 'micro' as Nikon calls it) will be, and have other compromises as well.

    I still think a 105 Nikkor micro would be perfect for the photos you describe.

  6. #6
    Super Duper
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    Re: Introduction and newbie G1 macro questions

    This lens is great, and cheap. It's what I used to take this photo:



    This lens is a 55mm focal length, which will give you more working distance than the 35mm you are using now. A 105mm will give you that much more room....

  7. #7
    heavyharmonies
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    Question Re: Introduction and newbie G1 macro questions

    Quote Originally Posted by monza View Post
    Those are general purpose zooms that have close up ('macro') capability. They are not anywhere near as sharp as a dedicated macro lens (or 'micro' as Nikon calls it) will be, and have other compromises as well.

    I still think a 105 Nikkor micro would be perfect for the photos you describe.
    Uhh, ok. I thought those were macro lenses. How do you tell the difference between one that is a dedicated macro lens and one that just has macro capability? What's the giveaway?

    Or should I be searching under "micro" rather than "macro"?

    Color me confused...

  8. #8
    Super Duper
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    Re: Introduction and newbie G1 macro questions

    Well, the manufacturers will say that have macro capability, if they simply can focus close. It doesn't mean they are optimally designed for macro.

    Those lenses are general purpose, meaning they do a lot of things, but not any of those things are particularly outstanding.

    Nikon uses the term 'micro' instead of 'macro.' If you are searching for Nikon brand lenses, then 'micro' is the proper search term, and you'll get nothing but dedicated lenses for that purpose. This doesn't mean the lenses can't be used for normal photography, it just means the performance is optimized for close-up.

  9. #9
    Senior Member m3photo's Avatar
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    Dat's De One!

    Quote Originally Posted by monza View Post
    This lens is a 55mm focal length, which will give you more working distance than the 35mm you are using now. A 105mm will give you that much more room....
    I swear by the performance of this lens. Of course on a G1 it becomes a 110mm equivalent which I think is quite enough for photographing coins at a comfortable distance. It's also far lighter than the 105 and cheaper to find and purchase second hand. Another micro 4/3 to Nikon F adapter can be found here for $12 less all told:
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...m=370186356628

  10. #10
    heavyharmonies
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    Re: Dat's De One!

    Quote Originally Posted by m3photo View Post
    Another micro 4/3 to Nikon F adapter can be found here for $12 less all told:
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...m=370186356628
    Since I already have the DMW-MA1, what would I need this for above and beyond a 4/3 to Nikon adapter, which runs about $20?

  11. #11
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    Re: Introduction and newbie G1 macro questions

    There is a thread on the UK fourthirds-user forum which you may find interesting. http://fourthirds-user.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3865

    It is a comparison of magnification and working distance for various macro lenses and combinations used on Olympus e system and Panasonic G1 cameras using a standard coin as a subject.

    For your applications I would suggest a 90-110mm macro lens would be ideal in terms of working distance but for quality it would be hard to beat the Olympus 50mm f2 macro.

  12. #12
    heavyharmonies
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    Re: Introduction and newbie G1 macro questions

    Query:

    What is the real world difference between this f4 105mm Nikon lens and this f2.8 105mm Nikon lens?

    How does the difference in f-stop affect things?

  13. #13
    Senior Member m3photo's Avatar
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    Re: Nikon Adapter

    Quote Originally Posted by heavyharmonies View Post
    Since I already have the DMW-MA1, what would I need this for above and beyond a 4/3 to Nikon adapter, which runs about $20?
    Half that; for $9.95 you've got one of these:
    http://cgi.ebay.com/nikon-lens-adapt...3A1%7C294%3A50

  14. #14
    Senior Member m3photo's Avatar
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    Re: Differences

    Quote Originally Posted by heavyharmonies View Post
    Query:

    What is the real world difference between this f4 105mm Nikon lens and this f2.8 105mm Nikon lens?

    How does the difference in f-stop affect things?
    Well, your man says it loud and clear when referring to the f/2.8 version: "With the Micro-Nikkor 105mm, viewfinder image is bright and clear, even in dim illumination."
    The other "thing" affected is the price, of course, as you'll have already noticed. The "real world" difference being your pocket, I'd personally settle for the cheaper of the two - after all you're not exactly going to be working in dim light when setting up shots like this.
    Having answered this particular question, I must say that for the G1 the 55 Micro-Nikkor will be just fine - and a good deal cheaper, so if after all, you feel it doesn't work for you, you won't have lost much.

  15. #15
    Super Duper
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    Re: Introduction and newbie G1 macro questions

    As said, I use the 55/3.5 Micro Nikkor, and it's only a hair faster than f/4. Needless to say, I never use it wide open, that leaves very little depth of field. Usually it's f/8 or f/11.

    So in that case, the 105/4 Micro should be fine...I'm assuming the f/2.8 is a later design and that might be sharper...that's kinda like comparing the 55/3.5 Micro to the 55/2.8 Micro...one is arguably sharper, being a later design, but I would defy anyone to be able to view an image and know which lens was responsible.

  16. #16
    heavyharmonies
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    Re: Differences

    Quote Originally Posted by m3photo View Post
    Well, your man says it loud and clear when referring to the f/2.8 version: "With the Micro-Nikkor 105mm, viewfinder image is bright and clear, even in dim illumination."
    The other "thing" affected is the price, of course, as you'll have already noticed. The "real world" difference being your pocket, I'd personally settle for the cheaper of the two - after all you're not exactly going to be working in dim light when setting up shots like this.
    Having answered this particular question, I must say that for the G1 the 55 Micro-Nikkor will be just fine - and a good deal cheaper, so if after all, you feel it doesn't work for you, you won't have lost much.
    Well there's only a $40 difference between the two in EX grade, so I might opt for the f2.8 at 2-3 feet.

    Thanks.

  17. #17
    Super Duper
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    Re: Introduction and newbie G1 macro questions

    Or get the 55mm in EX+ for less than half the 105mm f/4

    KEH has a very liberal return policy so you can always try out any lens.

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