Re: [OM] Zeiss Luminar Lenses

Subject: Re: [OM] Zeiss Luminar Lenses
From: Jan Steinman <Jan@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 7 May 2017 10:43:14 -0700
> From: Moose <olymoose@xxxxxxxxx>
> On 5/6/2017 11:41 AM, Maggie wrote:
>> I am planning... a photographic record of 600 or so of the major flowering 
>> plants of New Zealand.
>> ...
>> All of the (many) macro shots were taken (to use his words) using special 
>> Zeiss Luminar lenses in combination with 
>> electronic flash as the light source… wonder how they would perform on OM 
>> digital - probably the M5.
> Sitting around in the ground, focusing a manual lens, remembering to set the 
> diaphragm, etc. will make it ever so much larger that it need be...
> Lenses:

I agree with Moose, for the most part.

However, I am having great fun these days with a OM Zuiko 135/4.5 Macro on a 
Telescoping Extension Tube. You can go from infinity to better than life-size 
easily, without changing lenses or extension tubes or changing close-up 
filters, and without a tripod, if you have Olympus IBIS. The new Olympus OM-D 
E-M1 Mark II claims 5.5 stops of image stabilization, which I believe, based on 
my experience.

In my OM-4T days, I would often neglect opportunistic macro, because I just 
didn’t want to carry a tripod. Now the 135/4,5 lives in the bag, ready at a 
moment’s notice, thanks to IBIS.

> For prime macros, the Oly 60/2.8 Macro is an excellent lens. 
> <http://zone-10.com/tope2/main.php?g2_itemId=8362>
> The time and trouble saving over an old MF lens is huge.

Agree fully. It seems this macro is the modern lens to beat. With the E-M1.2 
(at least, possibly others), you can do in-camera “focus stacking,” the camera 
automagically takes a number of shots at slightly different focus points, and 
then combines them, giving you true in-focus over a much larger range than 
could normally be achieved. Note that this is truly in-focus, not merely 
smaller “circles of confusion,” which is what stopping down gives you. (Focus 
stacking requires a tripod, and no subject motion for several seconds, and so 
is not suitable for windy days.)

From samples I’ve seen, the result appears to be incredible and stunning… but 
my budget won’t tolerate any more lenses for a while, so I force myself to be 
happy with my old Zuiko macros.

> If you really need a short FL, bellows macro lens... The Oly 38/2.8 is 
> outstanding for 2-8x (4-16 eq.). On the 
> Oly bellows with a cable release, it's semi auto diaphragm, too.

In my experience, you’ll need a tripod for the 38/2.8, and again, I heartily 
recommend the Olympus Telescoping Extension Tube for convenience in the field 
over using a bellows. I have had mediocre results with IBIS with this lens. The 
high magnification factor seems to blow IBIS’s mind. I might try dialing-in 
other focal lengths to see if I can tame IBIS, because the camera seems to 
think that 38mm doesn’t need much stabilization. I suspect the effective focal 
length (for IBIS purposes) is probably closer to 500mm than 38mm.

Also, the more esoteric OM Zukio macros have become collectors’ items, and are 
way more expensive that what I paid for them used, 30 years ago.

One thing Moose didn’t mention is the establishing shots. I love the new Zuiko 
Digital 7-14/2.8. It is every bit as incredible as its 4/3rds cousin, only 
faster, smaller, and lighter! Having a super wide angle zoom can be important 
in a crowded woodland or cliff, where you can’t simply step back to get the 
whole tree in the frame.

> Lighting:

I’m a huge fan of ring lights for even lighting. The Oly RF-11 is nice, but is 
hobbled by lack of compatibility with very many lenses. I don’t understand why 
the idiot ME who worked on this did not put filter threads on the thing! I am 
in the process of modifying mine so it can go directly on a 72mm filter thread, 
and be adapted down to any other filter size.

I’m also in the process of converting the OM System T-10 and T-8 ring lights to 
the Olympus Digital FC-01 macro flash controller, for camera-controlled 
exposure. The T-8 with its reflectors, in particular, does awesome 
low-contrast, flat, even lighting.

Twin lights can be useful, if you need to enhance contrast. The FC-01 and TL-22 
combo is great, and lets you dial-in lighting ratios between the two of up to 
eight stops. The 55mm or 49mm lens-end mounts can be adapted to other filter 
sizes, and let you position the two flash heads at any angle.

I have not the budget for the latest Olympus macro flash, which is the only one 
that works with focus stacking.

Other than that, I wouldn’t listen to anything “No-Flash Moose” has to say 
about flashes… :-)

But I am quite partial to using a white bedsheet draped over a tripod, both for 
wind control, and to provide flat, low-contrast light on a sunny day that would 
give delicate macro subjects too much contrast.

> Camera support:

This is where IBIS pays off. If you can afford the new OM-D E1.2, go for it. 
The IBIS is simply incredible, and from what I’ve read, better than the rest of 
the Olympus Digital line, although the E5.2 may do as well.

Get the best IBIS you can afford, and leave your tripod home. Or bring it and a 
white bedsheets along so you can crawl under it and get both low-contrast 
natural light, and more importantly, wind control - - they haven’t invented an 
IBIS to control subject motion yet. :-)

> ... the IBIS on the E-M5 II is spectacularly good. (Oly claims the even 
> better IBIS 
> on the E-M1 II is limited in some circumstances by the rotation of the Earth.)

I haven’t shot the E-M5.2 yet, but I am blown away by the IBIS on the E-M1.2. I 
routinely shoot hand-held at several seconds!

> Depth of Field
> Here again, tech has changed the possible dramatically. The project you are 
> contemplating is primarily documentation, 
> not art. Focus stacking (which Oly, correctly, but confusingly, calls Focus 
> Bracketing) changes the whole process. It's 
> possible to have the sexual organs of a Hibiscus, for example, AND the front 
> part of the petals, AND the bent back tips 
> of the petals, ALL in focus at once, in one "shot”.

Not having a compatible lens, I have no experience with this, but I see it a 
lot on mu-43.com, and it is mind-blowing! I agree that this feature alone make 
the E-M1.2 in combo with the ZD 60/2.8 macro look like the winner.

> One problem for this is... it requires software to merge the slices of the 
> stack, and likely more computer power.

My understanding is the E-M1.2 (at least) does this in-camera; no computer 
needed. But I could be wrong.

I’ve been working with an ethnobotanist, documenting native food trees in our 
region. This is not as demanding as what you are contemplating, and I am 
finding the OM 135/4.5 macro with the telescoping tubes to be a winner, and at 
least as capable as I imagine Zeiss Luminar lenses would be. The ability to not 
have to constantly change extension tubes really helps.

But the new macro technology blows all that away, and should be carefully 
considered, should you have the budget.

:::: Jan Steinman, EcoReality Co-op <http://www.ecoreality.org/> ::::

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