Very often I’ve played with various lenses, tubes, close-up filters and reverse-mount rings. But I actually never did a big test on my various lenses to see how they perform in the macro realm with all the tricks I could think of. So now I finally decided to do all the macro tests using all of the lenses, rings and adapters I could find in my camera bag. Some worked really bad, some worked really well. Some were a real surprise.
Lenses I used in this test
I used all of the glass I have laying around. These are the lenses I tried to “macrofy”:
- 100mm: Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM (as a reference)
- 35mm: Samyang 35mm f/1.4 AS UMC
- 50mm: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
- 24-70mm: Tamron 24-70/2.8 SP Di VC USD Canon
- 100-400mm: Canon EF 100-400/4.5-5.6 L IS USM
- 15-85mm: Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM
On each lens I did tests that seemed to make sense, plus I measured the magnification each of the setup would give me.
Camera and other hardware
For all of the test shots I used a simple tape measure as the subject. I used my 6D, and took all of the test shots at f/11 unless noted differently. For lighting I used my Nissin Di866 mkII flash unit mounted at an 45 degree angle:
I also used a set of Soligor tubes of 12, 20 and 36mm denoted as tube12, tube20 and tube36. I also used some close-up lenses I denote with close1, close2, close4 and close10 for 1,2,4 and 10 diopter close-up lenses. Finally I have a Soligor 1.4x PRO teleconverter which I will denote as EXT14.
The big list of tests performed
So here are the tests I performed, combined with the images taken (click the images for a larger version):
Looking at all of the images, I think there are some early conclusions we can draw:
- Tubes work better on short lenses, close-up lenses work better on long lenses (< or >100mm);
- When reversing lenses the shorter the lens, the bigger the magnification (40mm delivers 1x magnification);
- Dedicated macro lenses beat “creatvie setups” most of the time;
- The Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM really surprised when mounted reversed; it almost has the same range as the Canon MP-E 65!