Last week I went for my usual forest walk and decided that I would only take my Panasonic GH-1 with Olympus 50mm f/2.0 macro for Four Thirds, the Olympus EC-20 2x teleconverter and the Olympus Ring Flash.
Personally, I think the Micro Four Thirds system is a great option for macrophotography as:
- the sensor is large enough to give great image quality even at ISO 800 when you need to use a faster shutter to minimise camera shake or use a smaller aperture to give adequate depth of field – this is a problem with the “compact digitals” such as the Canon G11.
- manual focus is MUCH easier than on a dSLR as there is no need to move the mirror out of the way to do magnified live view manual focus
- you do not need to worry about mirror lockup before you take the shot to minimise camera shake due to mirror vibrations at such high magnifications, because there is no mirror to worry about.
- the swivel live preview LCD is just brilliant when doing ground level macro shots, and it allows you to keep your eye out for other nasties which may be nearby. NB. only the Panasonic GH-1, G1, and G2 have a swivel LCD at present.
- you can use almost any macro lens ever made, with extension tubes or bellows if need be, and the 2x crop factor will in effect give you more magnification or more working distance.
- you can buy a tilt adapter which can convert any legacy macro lens into a tilt macro lens which can be extremely useful to change to focal plane to achieve greater depth of field or to selectively focus on one plane.
First, here is one without the Ring Flash or teleconverter – just hand held close to the ground in low light conditions using the wonderful swivel LCD of the Panasonic GH-1 and manual focus (ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/160th sec, no Photoshop, no cropping):
Remember to click on these to get larger views.
and a European wasp (I presume), using the ring flash hand held off to camera left with the 2x teleconverter and again the camera near ground level using the swivel LCD and manual focus hand held (no PS, no cropping):
and here is a medium sized (~15mm) Australian native bull ant (these can give you a very nasty sting and, along with bees, are the most common cause of human deaths in Australia due to animals – if you are allergic to them!). At such high magnification levels, a moving subject such as this can be very difficult – all the more so when you need to keep an eye out for her and her friends! (no PS, no cropping)