Macro Photography and Macro Converter

Close-up and Macro Photography is a popular category with many photographers. Some of the reasons being macro photographers don't need to look for the right models with well equipped studio, or travel to exotic far away places. However that was always the dream and aspiration of many photographers. Macro photographers are also unlikely to land themselves into some sticky controversy spot with the authority. Several renowned photographers had mentioned in interviews and talks that they find serenity and contentment within themselves when they are engrossed with macro and nature photography.
Creative Macro Blue flower
The close-up of these blue flowers complimenting with the green background in a low angle view point made this photograph look abstract and artsy.  --   Camera: Olympus Pen Lite E-PL2. Lens: M.Zuiko ED 40-150mm 1:4.0-5.6 telephoto lens and MCON-P01 macro converter. Setting lens zoom at 70mm and f/5.0 1/200s and ISO 2

It is easy to get started with Macro Photography - all it takes is a camera with close focusing features. Most modern point-and-shoot digital camera has surprisingly good close-up focusing capabilities. Even if the close focusing on the said camera is not close enough an inexpensive close-up converter lens is readily available from the camera makers as an add-on.

System cameras such as DSLR and Mirrorless Compact System Cameras normally come with standard zoom lens in a kit set. The close focusing features of most standard zoom lenses are usually just passable. However DSLR and Mirrorless Compact Cameras have the option of interchangeable system lenses. A high grade macro lens from the camera maker or  from a third party lens manufacturer is easily available for these system cameras. True macro lenses are well built and deliver very high optical image quality. However Macro lenses are expensive due to it being specialized lenses and not expected to be sold in large quantities.

Magenta Phalaenopsis Orchid or Moth Orchid
A macro shot of Magenta Phalaenopsis Orchid a very popular hybrids orchid commonly known as Moth orchids. -- Camera; Olympus Pen Lite E-PL2. Lens: M.Zuiko ED 40-150mm 1:4.0-5.6 telephoto as the master lens for the MCON-P01 macro converter. Setting lens zoom at 78mm and f/5.0 1/400s and ISO 200.

Technically speaking a true macro lens has a macro reproduction ratio of 1:1,  also referred as macro magnification ratio of 1.0 X. In layman terms it means  the smallest field-of-view that can be captured by the macro lens is the same as the dimension of the sensor in the camera. In other words, an insect 1cm in length will appear 1cm on the image sensor. However some manufacturers had loosely labelled close focusing lens as macro lens regardless of whether the lens is able to achieve a 1:1 macro reproduction ratio or not.

If a macro lens is out of the budget the inexpensive alternative is the add-on macro converter. There are also other alternatives such as extension tubes and bellows. But extension tubes and bellows are far from user friendly, they need to be mounted between the lens and camera. Photographers also need to take into consideration the smaller effective aperture opening resulted from the longer lens to sensor distance. Extension tubes and bellows might create more problems than it solved but mirrorless camera and Live View in DSLR make life easier in using them. Better image quality can be expected from extension tubes or bellows than macro converter provided one is willing to learn to master the techniques required. The learning part can be fun for some but too technical and dry for others.
Crimson Marsh Glider dragonfly
A beautiful and sexy looking male species of Crimson Marsh Glider or Trithemis Aurora dragonfly from the Libellulidae family.    --    Camera: Olympus Pen Lite E-PL2. Lens: M.Zuiko ED 40-150mm 1:4.0-5.6 telephoto lens with MCON-P01 macro converter. Setting lens zoom at 128mm and f/8.0 1/250s and ISO 200.

The Olympus MCON-P01 Macro converter lens featured on our previous post provides an inexpensive beginner friendly path into the the world of macro photography. My wife is still thrilled with her Olympus MCON-P01 Macro Converter lens since she acquired it. All images in this articles are from her using the Olympus MCON-P01 Macro Converter with the M.Zuiko ED 40-150mm 1:4.0-5.0 telephoto zoom as the master lens. The photographs on this page are captured from our backyard and from a garden not far from where we stay.

There is a story with the red dragonfly.  It came and rested on our fence one day while my wife was drying some clothings. The red dragonfly was a male Crimson Marsh Glider commonly found near ponds, marshes and lakes. But this one came to our front porch and just refused to go anywhere despite the fact that our driveway was dry with no water tank or any vegetation. I guessed it came with the purpose of seeking a free portrait session.

Crimson Dropwings dragonfly or Crimson Marsh Glider
The Crimson Marsh Glider dragonfly relaxes with its wings pointing down also known as the Crimson Dropwings dragonfly.   --    Camera: Olympus Pen Lite E-PL2. Lens: M.Zuiko ED 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6 telephoto lens and MCON-P01 macro converter. Setting lens zoom at 89mm and f/5.6 1/500s and ISO 200.

When Elaine was done with her clothings she reached for her Pen Lite E-PL2 with the MCON-P01 on the M.Zuiko ED 40-150 mm telephoto zoom and started a portrait shoot for our crimson red visitor. That red dragonfly changed a few posts but didn't go far from its original position. So Elaine had a willing model to experiment with her MCON-P01 on the M.Zuiko ED 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6 telephoto lens and further her skills on macro photography. The Crimson Marsh Glider also known as Crimson Dropwing dragonfly finally decided to fly off when we were about to leave our house for a short trip to town.

Close-up and Macro Photography teaches a photographer to see more attentively at things otherwise overlooked or go unnoticed. It opens up a photographer's eyes in looking at mundane things around us and makes one more conscious and observant about our environment. Close-up photography should not be limited to tiny flora and faunas.  It can be applied to other areas  such as still-life photography of tiny objects as well.

Close-up of white flower with three petals.
These beautiful three petals white flower had high contrast area that shows slight CA at the edges of the white petals but easily removed with software. -- Camera: Olympus Pen Lite E-PL2. Lens: M.Zuiko ED 40-150mm 1:4.0-5.6 telephoto as the master lens with the MCON-P01 macro converter. Setting lens zoom at 92mm and f/5.6 1/320s and ISO 200.

Macro photography can easily become additive for many photographers and new macro photographic gears are added because of that. Though having the right macro lenses, macro flashes and accessory are an essential part of close-up photography, but equally if not more important than new gears is the understanding of your subjects.  Notably if the subject is an insect or a tiny plant,  an understanding of their life cycle plus general knowledge of their behaviour can  make your next macro photography outing more satisfying. Taking time in improving the macro photography techniques and experimenting with the gear already in our possession can deliver better results than unexplored new gears.

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