After some experimentation with the macro lens set I had originally purchased for my first Canon Powershot on my new DSLR I decided I had better go back to the drawing board and do some further research.
It was not that the 1x 2x 4x 10x lenses didn’t do the magnification I expected but the reduction in picture quality experienced was almost certainly due to the low price I paid for them in the first place.
It became obvious that if I wanted to achieve a tighter crop on my pictures whilst retaining quality I would need to dig a little further into my wife’s purse.
My temptation to purchase a rear converter designed specifically for my camera just had to be the answer for several reasons.
Firstly, during my investigation I found that adding a 1.4x custom built rear converter to a 100mm macro lens would only reduce light by 1 stop which I could easily cope with as I would primarily be using focus stacking.
Hopefully any hit on picture quality would be marginal as the converter was custom built for the purpose.
Effectively it would convert my 100mm macro lens to a 140mm macro lens with the minimum distance to subject remaining the same.
The additional benefit of this meant that if I changed lenses when out in the field I was reducing the possibility of foreign bodies getting to my precious sensor as I would leave the converter in place.
Suffice to say that I could not have been more pleased with this purchase as I have not noticed any significant drop in quality of my images once stacked and post processed
As you can see from the test shots taken the image quality with my rear converter is excellent, but it would be even better for such a small subject to get an even greater magnification.
I decided to reinvestigate magnifying lenses, but this time focusing more on quality products.
Having read reviews in extreme macro publications I came across a manufacturer named Raynox who products were highly praised regarding performance so decided that whilst I was on a roll I would bite the bullet again and give them a try.
The lesson here is that you only get what you pay for in life and my tests with these lenses have proved this fact.
The issues of introducing more glass is the same as with the converter in that you lose light and quality, so you need to compensate where possible.
A subtler problem is that you lose distance to the subject which when you don’t want to disturb your model can, at times, prove rather tricky.
The last shot in the example is noticeably higher as I could not get close enough unless I put the background and moth onto a pot to give more height.
These were early days in my quest to produce quality images of micro moths which I could pass to experts hopefully for a successful identification without any need for dissection.
It goes without saying that this can only be achieved if the subject is extremely fresh as you really cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
Is the effort, cost, time and trouble worth it is something I have asked myself on several occasions but the buzz you get by taking a really good shot displaying something that most people will never see in their lifetime keeps me plodding on.