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:

Macro setup using the Canon EOS 6D camera with an off-camera mounted Nissin Di866mkII flash unit and a reverse-mounted Canon EF15-85.

Macro setup using the Canon EOS 6D camera with an off-camera mounted Nissin Di866mkII flash unit and a reverse-mounted Canon EF15-85.

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):



100mm+tube12 100mm+tube12 1,15
100mm+tube20 100mm+tube20 1,25
100mm+EXT14 100mm+ext14 1,39
100mm+EXT14+tube12 100mm+ext14+tube12 1,61
100mm+EXT14+tube20 100mm+ext14+tube20 1,76
100mm+close1 100mm+close1 1,13
100mm+close2 100mm+close2 1,21
100mm+EXT14+close1 100mm+ext14+close1 1,54
100mm+EXT14+tube12+close1 100mm+ext14+tube12+close1 1,79
100mm+EXT14+tube12+close2 100mm+ext14+tube12+close2 1,97
100mm+EXT14+tube20+close2 100mm+ext14+tube20+close2 2,14
100mm+EXT14+tube20+close1+close2 100mm+ext14+tube20+close1+close2 2,29
100mm+EXT14+tube20+close4 100mm+ext14+tube20+close4 2,55
100mm+EXT14+tube20+close1+close2+close4 100mm+ext14+tube20+close124 3,00
R35mm R35mm 2,05
R35mm+tube36 R35mm+tube36 2,08
R50mm closed to f/11 R50mm-f11 0,91
R50mm close to f/11 with 36mm tube R50mm-f11+tube36 0,89
50mm+tube36 50mm+tube36 0,65
R2470 closed to f/11 @70mm R2470-f11-70mm 1,83
R2470 closed to f/11 @24mm R2470-f11-24mm 3,35
400mm+tube36 @100mm 100400mm-100mm+tube36 0,43
400mm+tube36 @400mm 100400mm-400mm+tube36 0,34
400mm+close10 @100mm 100400mm-100mm+close10 0,82
400mm+close10 @400mm 100400mm-400mm+close10 2,58
400mm+close2 @400mm 100400mm-400mm+close2 0,76
400mm+tube36+tube20+tube12 @400mm 100400mm-400mm+tube36+tube24+tube12 0,47
35mm+close10 35mm+close10 0,43
R1585 @85mm R1585-85mm 2,43
R1585 @15mm R1585-15mm 5,23

Early conclusions

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!