Thursday, 13 June 2013

Meike macro extension rings used on an Olympus 40-150mm

I don't shoot macro enough to justify buying a dedicated macro lens, but I've spent some time searching for a low-cost, low-weight macro alternative. I had a close-up lens that I didn't think got good results. I had manual focus macro extension rings, which only worked with my manual focus lenses, and thus I sold them on. And lately I got the Olympus 12-50mm pseudo-macro kit lens with my Olympus OM-D E-M5, but, while it gets decent results it doesn't provide as high a magnification as dedicated macro lenses, and its 211g of weight felt a bit too much for hiking trips where I would only use it for a few shots.

 10mm ring, f/5.6, 128mm 1/400s, ISO 200

I knew of Kenko macro extension tubes with auto-focus (AF) capability, but they seemed a bit too pricy for what are essentially pieces of metal with some wires going through, but recently I found out of some lower-priced alternatives.

16mm ring, f/5.6, 123mm, 1/800s, ISO 200

So I ordered Meike macro extension rings in for ~$50, which also offer AF pass-through.

I tested them at home with mixed results, but then took them out on an outing and got some results which will justify taking one of them with me on an upcoming hiking trip, especially in conjunction with the Olympus 40-150mm f/4-5.6 lens which I quite like and which is almost always in my bag

16mm ring, 150mm, 1/200s, ISO 200

They come in 10mm and 16mm versions and you can combine them to get 26mm although in my experience the 26mm combination is not easy to use in the field due to very narrow working distance.

16mm ring, f/5.6, 1/130s, ISO 200

The rings were quite nice to use - the DoF was quite thin at f/5.6, but it would be helped by stopping down and using a dedicated macro flash. The AF worked reasonably fast although it seemed to get confused more often than usual.

The working distance when extended to 100mm or beyond was very nice, but the magnification you get at 40mm was higher at the cost of a smaller working distance.

All shots were hand-held and at natural lighting, and all were focused only using auto-focus.

All in all, I will be leaving the 12-50mm home for most of my outings, as, while the 43mm macro-mode may get slightly better results the 40-150mm with the extension rings is more versatile working distance wise, and the Meike rings only weigh 8g + 8g + 21g + 27g = 64g; including front and rear caps.

Also the rings are quite versatile - in addition to the 40-150mm I also got nice results from them using the lovely Olympus 45mm f/1.8 and they also work in conjunction with the 43mm pseudo-macro mode of the 12-50mm!