Macro Lens Comparison
I have several older manual focus
that are perfectly suitable for use on digital camera bodies. Modern digital cameras with
in-body image stabilization (IBIS) are perfect for macro use so I thought I'd take a few
pictures of a simple object and compare the results. The goal is to use these as I would
in real life - that is to say I would focus using the focus peaking assist of the camera
body, enable IBIS and use a tripod for stability. Since macro photography is extremely
sensitive to camera movement, I would remotely trigger the shutter when possible.
For my test
I used a Sony A7R2 and the Remote PC software to control the shutter. I used focus
peaking on the camera's rear LCD display. ISO was set to 400 and two images were
captured for each lens - one at f/5.6 and one at f/8.0. Focusing was performed
with the lens wide open. All images are in jpeg format with no post-processing.
The A7R2 images are 42 MP. For the Sony A65 images (see below) I used a self-timer.
Those images are 24 MP.
My test object
measures just a tad over 1.5 inches in diameter or a few
millimeters more than the width of a "full-frame" image (24 x 36mm).
All test shots are slightly less
than 1:1 (see images).
I tested the following lenses.
None are native to the Sony E-mount; each is adapted as described.
As you'll see, they vary a a bit.
- Contax Apo-Makro-Planar 120mm f/4 N-mount + NAM-1 + Fringer SN-SE adapter
is a 645 medium format lens so with a 1.5x crop factor, so
the equivalent focal length is about 180mm.
- Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG EX Macro EF + Sigma MC-11 adapter (AF). This is a Canon EF
autofocus lens. I left it in AF mode to act as an AF/MF comparison. Unfortunately
I inadvertently set the lens in AF "limit" mode so it wouldn't focus any closer.
I therefore assumed it was limited to 1:2 (even though it can go 1:1)
and only realized my mistake
after I'd cleaned up. Oops.
- Vivitar 105mm f/2.5 Series 1 Macro + Fotodiox Pro FD to NEX adapter (MF).
This is a Kino lens.
- Tokina 90mm f/2.5 AT-X Macro + Macro extender + Fotodiox Pro FD to NEX adapter
(MF). This is the "Bokina" lens.
- Tamron 90mm f/2.5 SP 52B + Fotodiox Pro FD to NEX adapter (MF). I
don't have the 1:1
adapter for this lens so I could only go to about 1:2.
- Canon 50mm f/3.5 Macro nFD + Vivitar 2X Macro focusing teleconverter + Fotodiox Pro
FD to NEX adapter (MF). I should have used the Canon lens by itself in order
to get the best results for this lens.
- Canon 50mm f/1.4 SSC FD + Vivitar 2X Macro focusing teleconverter + Fotodiox Pro FD to NEX adapter (MF). The 1.4 lens was sitting there so I used it.
- Minolta 50mm f/2.8 Macro (AF). I used this as another point of comparison. This
was taken on a Sony A65 APS-C body with auto-focus, so with a crop factor of
1.5, the equivalent focal length
is about 75mm. The colors from this camera are visibly different and I didn't bother to
match them to the other images.
Use the table below to
download each image for viewing. Note their file size.
I tried to focus all the
lenses the same way; yet there are obvious variations in the focal plane from
lens to lens. This could be user error (me) or the need to
make micro adjustments. So if a lens seems to be less sharp than another at the same spot
in the image, check a different area of the image and see if it's better
elsewhere. That said, from a user point of view, having a lens work just right
without requiring tweaking is important!
Are there any conclusions
you might ask? The Contax is the clear
winner. It has amazing contrast and sharpness across the frame.
well, you be the judge.