Saturday, March 8, 2008

G9 Macro

Does this look weird? Here’s is an old Konica 135mm telephoto lens reversed and mounted to the Lensmate adapter on my G9. I’ve always thought that one lens reversed and mounted on another was one of the strangest setups in photography. How did anyone ever think to do this? Doing this takes a special coupler with one set of threads to match the Lensmate and another to match the filter threads of the reversed lens. The coupler I used was 58mm on one side to match the Lensmate and 55mm on the other side to match the Konica telephoto. Why do this? The idea is to use existing equipment to get extreme closeups. But the G9 already has macro! Why mess with a good thing? Well, let’s try a few shots. (The cable release was extremely useful, thanks, Richard!).

First of all, strictly speaking, none of these shots are true macros. Macro is supposed to mean a full sized image on the negative. The G9’s sensor is so small that true macro capability might not be very useful; besides, the definition of macro photography has been considerably stretched and is now understood to mean close-ups. Without any accessories, here’s a penny at the closest focus distance for the G9 – about 5/16 of an inch from the front element of the lens when at the shortest focal length (wide angle). The photo is uncropped; it is impressive (click for a larger view) but the subject was very difficult to light because the lens is so close. The light source is pointing almost horizontally through the small space between penny and lens.

Going to the opposite extreme – again without accessories – here’s a shot at maximum focal length (max zoom) and the minimum focus distance (about 20 inches). In this configuration, the subject was much easier to light but the field of view is much more than was desired. Again, the photo is uncropped.

Here’s an uncropped shot taken with the 135mm reversed telephoto. The setup was almost exactly as shown in the introductory image. The telephoto was set at its widest aperture (f4) and infinity focus. The G9 was at max zoom and minimum focus distance. The penny was moved until it was in focus. The G9 aperture was f8 (in spite of diffraction) to maximize depth of field; however, depth of field is always a problem in macro photography.

Another strange aspect of the reversed auxiliary lens is that a reversed wide angle lens provides greater magnification than a reversed telephoto. Here’s a shot with a reversed 40mm Konica Hexanon. Again, the image is uncropped; the 40mm was set at f1.8 and infinity focus. The G9 was at maximum zoom and near minimum focus. The physical distance between reversed 40mm lens and penny was less than for the reversed 135mm lens. This was the maximum magnification that I was able to obtain; it is probably near true macro with respect to the G9 sensor.

Of course, there are simple screw-on closeup magnifier lenses that look almost like filters. Here’s an uncropped image shot with a +4 closeup lense screwed into the Lensmate (no coupler required). The G9 lens was set for f8, maximum zoom and minimum focus distance. The penny was moved into the field of focus. Again, this image is uncropped. This configuration and setup would be very useful for similar subject sizes.

The G9 minimum focus distance is about 20 inches at maximum zoom but a fraction of an inch at wide angle. In-between those focal lengths, the minimum focus distance is, well, in-between. It seems to me that a good working combination is at mid-zoom and minimum focus of about 7 to 10 inches on the G9 manual focus scale. Here’s a shot at mid-zoom with the +4 closeup lens attached. Not quite as much magnification as at full zoom but potentially very useful.

Lessons learned? The +4 closeup lens is very useful. It provides good magnification and versatility while allowing enough separation between lens and subject to allow variations in lighting. If an extreme closeup – near true macro – is needed, then I’ll use the reversed 40mm Hexanon.


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if its the quality of the photos or if its the quality of the photos on the website but it looks like you went through a lot of trouble to produce mediocre macro pictures. I have just a plain lens adapter bayonet and a 10x macro HD filter on the end of my G9. I get some amazing macro shots this way. Particularly on from coins. I can take a shot and its amazingly clear. I can't wait till I get a ring light to put on the front. Then I'll be cooking with gasoline.

Gordon Buck Jr. said...

Congratulations, BigMac, on finding a simple setup that produces the results you want. My purpose for my own mediocre results was simply to illustrate the relative size that can be obtained, the depth of field and to see if a reversed lens was workable and useful for the G9.

dd said...

Thanks for some fine examples and great new ideas for shooting macros with the G9 or the Canon s-series.
And as always, a bird in hand is worth two in the bush.... :)

Kathy Magee said...


You seem to be someone that might know this - is it possible to configure some kind of set up so I can use my lensbaby with my canon G10?

Gordon Buck Jr. said...

Kathy, at one time I was also interested in attaching the Lensbaby to the G9 but couldn't find a way to do it.

bill said...

this is a test to see if I can add comments or ask questions