Macrophotography at a distance

Introduction:

Short list of macro solutions for 1:1 (ie. subject width 36mm) at a long working distance:

Olympus ZD 50-200mm Nikon Micro 200mm f/4D IF Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L macro
closest focus 1.2m 0.5m 0.48m
working distance ~0.9m (requires 2x TC for 1:1) ~0.3m for 1:1 on full frame 9FX);

~0.5m for 1:1 on DX

~0.6m for 1:1 on FX with 2x TC

~0.9m for 1:1 on DX with 2x TC

0.29m for 1:1 on full frame;

~0.4m for 1:1 on APS-H;

~0.5m for 1:1 on APS-C;

~0.9m for 1:1 on APS-C with 2x TC

macro 1:2 1:1 1:1
effective f/ratio f/3.5 at 200mm setting (ie. 400mm in 35mm reach) f/4 f/3.5
image stabiliser yes via body no no
lens weight 1kg 1.19kg 1.09kg
blades circular ? 8
flat field no yes? yes?
focus range limiter no yes but doesn't help macro shots yes but doesn't help macro shots
ring flash non SWD lens only, must hand hold for SWD lens no yes
twin flash yes yes yes
wireless TTL twin flash not yet, but via usual flashes yes no but via usual flashes
very versatile lens and the TC20 is of the highest quality which makes this an incredible 800mm hand held portable lens as well as a very useful macro for nature and a great portrait lens.

needs the TC20 for 1:1 macro but what a nice working distance!

if you are serious about your nature macro work, then this lens combined with a D300 and Nikon flash system may be the way to go, but lacks the versatility of the Olympus lens.

BUT if you are not carting around your flash system and tripod, the lack of IS will limit you significantly.

similar comments as for Nikon, although the Nikon has a better wireless macro flash system.