Friday, March 9, 2012

G1X: Macro

G1X adapters

As noted in comparisons of specifications, the G1X minimum focus distance is significantly more than previous G series cameras.  Strictly speaking, the G1X does not do macro-photography on its own and even adding the 250D accessory lens (above) does not make the G1X a macro camera.  In fact, the 250D is labeled as a “close-up” lens.  But enough nit-picking; here’s how the G1X performs up close to the subject.

G1X Macro

                   Fig. 2. Minimum AF focus distance at wide angle

In Figure 2 (above), the G1X was set for maximum wide angle and “macro” focusing.  This uncropped image was as close as I could get the G1X and still have automatic focusing.

G1X Macro

                     Fig. 3.  Minimum AF focus distance at telephoto

I prefer to get close-ups at telephoto-like focal lengths because distortion is reduced and the subject is easier to light.  Figure 3 represents the uncropped scene at minimum auto focus distance in macro mode at the maximum telephoto (full zoom).  Disappointingly, the combination of increased focus distance at increased focal length resulted in a reduction in macro effect.

G1X Macro

                     Fig. 4.  Minimum AF focus distance at wide angle with 250D

As shown in Figure 4, adding the 250D produces a significantly larger image at wide angle and minimum autofocus distance.

G1X Macro

                    Fig. 5.  Minimum AF focus distance at telephoto with 250D

The 250D is really intended for longer focal lengths than the wide angle of the G1X.  Therefore, as shown in Figure 5, when the G1X is zoomed to maximum telephoto, the resulting image with the 250D is noticeably larger than when the G1X is at wide angle. 

G1X Macro

                    Fig. 6.  Minimum focus distance at telephoto with 250D

My approach to using the 250D is to set the G1X lens to manual focus at infinity distance and move the camera to get the best image.  The result is shown in Figure 6.


G1X Macro

                                  Fig. 7.  DOF at telephoto, 250D, f5.8

Figures 2 though 6 were all made at ISO 100, 1/250 second and f6.3. Because of its relatively large sensor, depth of field with the G1X is less than previous G series cameras. Although reduced depth of field can produce a nice blurred background effect, that blur is usually not desirable at extreme close-ups.   Figure 7 shows the depth of field up close at f5.8 using the 250D with the G1X at maximum telephoto and infinity focus distance.

G1X Macro

                                     Fig. 8.  DOF at telephoto, 250D, f16

Figure 8 shows how depth of field is increased at f16.  (ISO was increased from 100 to 200.)

All the above photos were taken handheld using trial and error to get a “minimum” distance.  While I’m thinking of it, I suspect that the “macro” mode of the G1X (and previous G series as well) is really a shift in the expected distances used in the autofocus algorithm and not a realignment of the optics.  I say this because the close distances of “macro” are also available in manual focus mode.

The “macro” performance of the G1X provides a good illustration of the trade-offs and compromises in camera and lens design.  For enthusiasts of macro photography, a small sensor camera, perhaps one of the prior G series, might very well be a better choice than the G1X.  I expect to be using the 250D regularly with the G1X when close-ups are needed but I may be using the G12 instead – we’ll see how it all works out.


Anonymous said...

Is the D250 a standard screw on type? Just curious how long it would take to put it on for a few shots then remove? Thanks nice review..

Sean McCormick Photography said...

$100 for a filter seems a bit expensive. I had the 500D close-up filter for my 70-300EF back with my old Digital Rebel (300D) almost a decade back and the quality was nothing to write home about. I gave it to a friend and bought a cheaper set of extension tubes, which I am still using.

As that's not an option with my G1 X, I just spent a whole $2.13 on eBay for a 55/58 male reversing coupler that I intend to use with an old Olympus 50mm lens in my gear closet. It's from a film body that is collecting dust, so maybe this will help. Not expecting any better quality than you'll get with the 250D, but I'm saving $98. That buys a tank of gas for the van to collect more pixels.

I will definitely check back to see how your images turn out.

h n said...

Thanks, this is a very helpful post, in plain and clear speak!

I just wondered, as you write about fig. 6:
"My approach to using the 250D is to set the G1X lens to manual focus at infinity distance and move the camera to get the best image. The result is shown in Figure 6."

So you set the camera to _infinity_ and not to the closest distance?

Thanks for your great helpful blog!

Ronaldy Ongky said...

Hi im buying g1x very soon. Ad the only concern i have is the macro. And i read that we can use macro adapter. Im new to camera so i dont know much.
Do you use canon one? I read somewhere else they use reynox 250. Which one should i use?

And what other accessories you recommend me to buy for the g1x thanksss :)