3 Lenses Which Made Me Buy The EOS R

It is always my view that we shouldn’t choose a camera based on the specification sheet or which one has the latest bells and whistles. Having the best camera doesn’t make us a better photographer. Although I have to admit that if you are already an excellent photographer, there is nothing wrong with wanting the best and latest equipment. For the majority of people who are learning the skill and art of photography, it is better to choose a camera based on 2 factors, ie personal need, and lens selection.

Today I want to give you my personal reasons why I have chosen the EOS R as my main camera because of its lens selection. I used to shoot with a Canon DSLR. 5 years ago, I switched to Fujifilm for its smaller size. Later on, I couldn’t resist the lure of 42mpx sensor and ended up with a Sony camera. Very soon I found out that I don’t need 42mpx files and it was slowing down my post-processing and clogging up my hard drives. I could have downgraded to a 24mpx Sony camera but I decided to get the EOS R because of the following 3 lenses available on the Canon system.

RF 24-105mm f/4 IS

I want this lens as an all-round travelling and personal lens to cover everything from landscape to portrait. This is one of the best all-round zoom available in the market, regardless of brand and system. Fujifilm’s XF18-55mm is affordable, small and of excellent optical quality and I really enjoy using it. However, for me, 28mm equivalent is not wide enough for landscape. 82.5mm equivalent with f/4 aperture on APS-C sensor does not give me enough background blur for portrait. It is also not weather resistant. Fujifilm’s XF 16-55mm f2.8 can give me the 24mm focal length and being f2.8 at 82.5mm equivalent is not bad. However, there is no image stabilization in both the lens and most Fujifilm camera bodies. I could have used it on the X-H1 which has IBIS, but this combo will be similar in size and weight to the EOS R and RF 24-105mm with a smaller sensor and shorter at the long end. Sony’s FE 24-105mm is almost as good as the Canon counterpart but it doesn’t come as part of a kit which means it is a lot more expensive to buy. All in all, EOS R coupled with RF 24-105mm seems to be the perfect combo for every day all-round shooting.

Pictures below just show how versatile this lens is.

RF 35mm f1.8 Macro

On the days when I want to keep everything light and simple, I like to just have one camera with one prime lens. I have always been looking for a small prime lens with wide enough aperture and good close focusing capability. Fujifilm’s 23mm and 35mm f1.4 give you excellent bokeh of f2 full-frame equivalent, but close focusing capability is far from impressive. The f2 version can focus closer but on APS-C body, f2 is not good enough for low light shooting and for blurring out the background, for me at least.

In the Sony world, I have enjoyed using the 35mm f2.8 (I used the Samyang one, not Zeiss) and FE 50mm f2.8 macro. I loved the 35mm for its small size but it doesn’t focus very close and f2.8 for a prime is a bit slow. I loved the 50mm because it is a 1:1 macro. It is very handy to have a walk around prime lens which is also a macro lens. Again, f2.8 just doesn’t cut it for a prime, especially in low light situation and for portrait.

When Canon first announced the RF 35mm macro, I was so excited. Finally, someone is making a lens which is exactly what I need. 35mm is a very versatile and useful focal length as a walkaround prime lens. The f1.8 is probably the largest aperture possible without making the lens big and heavy. It is bright enough for low light situation and provides good enough blurred background. With regards to macro, how I wish it has 1:1 magnification. But 1:2 good enough for most day to day photography, better than all primes except dedicated macro lens. It has IS, which is great as currently, Canon has no In Body Image Stabilisation (IBIS) yet.

EF 50mm f1.2

What else can I say with this legend of a lens?

35mm and 50mm are my two favorite focal lengths. I have tried many 85mm lenses in the past but somehow, I just don’t like it as portrait lens. I like to include more surrounding in the portrait photos. As far as I know, this is the largest aperture autofocus 50mm lens in the market. The only other autofocus lens with a larger aperture is Canon’s own EF 50mm f1.0 which has been discontinued. One of the reasons I wanted full-frame camera is for the background blur and this is as good as it can get. The new RF 50mm f1.2 is a better lens but it also costs a lot more. It is on my wishlist for the future.

There you go, here are the 3 lenses which made me buy the EOS R. If I have to add a fourth one onto this list, it will probably be the EF 70-200mm f/4 IS. This lens is almost perfect optically and costs a lot less than the latest EF 70-200mm f/4 IS II, Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 and the equivalent Fujifilm XF50-140mm f/2.8.

At the end of the day, it matters less than what people think. We live in a golden era where there are a lot of excellent and affordable equipments to choose from. So it doesn’t matter what gear you use, make the most out of it to create stunning images and push the boundary of creativity.

Centenary Square Birmingham 2019

A few years ago, Birmingham City Council decided that the famous and popular Centenary Square needed a revamp. The project started in 2017 with some controversy, not least the chopping down of Birmingham’s oldest tree.

Since then, the square which is one of the main attractions of Birmingham has been out of action, replaced by endless chaos caused by construction.

Fast forward to 2019, the square is finally reopenned!

I didn’t find that out through the news or anything. What happened was my twitter feed was full of pictures of the new square tweeted by my fellow photographers. You guess what happened next? How can I resist?

So I woke up very early one morning. I figured out there will be less people walking around in the early hour of the morning before the rush hour. However, what I didn’t realise was that one of the main features of the square, ie the foundation wasn’t turned on that early! Anyway, I was able to take some photos which I thought was fine but not great. I am sure I will be back there again taking more pictures.

Brewdley Poppies Field 2019

A few weeks ago, I went to a poppy field near Kidderminster and took some photos which I thought were quite good. I was pretty satisfied and wasn’t planning to go search for one anymore.

Since then, I had been seeing countless of poppy photos popping up on my twitter feed. These are mostly from local photographers and all were taken from the same place! It is the famous Brewdley poppy field, the place I failed to find in my last outing!

Learnt my lesson, I asked for specific location from a fellow photographer Chris Fletcher on Twitter and went there the day before I was planning to go photographing it. On arrival, I met another photographer who was going to the same place. It was a bit of a walk from the parking site and I was ever so grateful that I met this photographer. Otherwise I would have never found it.

And then the next morning at 330am, I reluctantly got out of bed, had my very early morning coffee and headed to the field. It took me 35 minute to get to the car park and further 15 minutes walk to the field. It was still dark when I arrived at the car park. To my delight, there was another photographer who has just parked his car and was heading to the same place! Again, I followed him on the dark woodland path to this amazing poppy field. What I saw afterward was nothing short of spectacular.

I spent around 2 hours there and it was such a great experience. Here are a selection of photos.

Fuji X Macro [Part 5]: Native 1:1 Macro Lens for Fuji (Zeiss)

It has been 2 and a half years since my last post about Fuji X macro photography. My last post was part 4 of the series titled “Fujifilm Extension Tube MCEX-11 & MCEX-16“. A lot has happened since then. During this time, I migrated back from Malaysia to the UK and it took a while to settle down. Life was so busy I hardly had time do to photography, let alone writing a blog post. Now that everything is settled down and I am starting to devote more time to this blog.

A lot has also happened in the photography world since then. In 2016, the Zeiss 50mm macro was the only Fuji X mount lens which offers 1:1 magnification. Now we have the fantastic 80mm macro and also some 3rd party options.

With that said, the Zeiss 50mm macro remains one of the best Fuji X mount lenses. It is small and lightweight and the image quality is exceptional. If you don’t need OIS and the reach of the 80mm, the Zeiss is the best option for you. Unlike the 60mm, it is internal focusing and also focuses faster. I used it for months, sold it before I moved to the UK and the bought it back again this year. I really missed it when I didn’t have it.

Here are some photos taken with the lens.

Non macro photos:

Macro photos:

Now that Fuji is a well developed and popular system, there is probably no need for me to write about other 1:1 macro lenses as these would have been well covered by other photographers, bloggers, and YouTubers.

Thanks for following this series and I hope you learned something useful.

Please check out the other posts in my Fuji X Macro series:

Part 1: x100s + Raynox-250
Part 2: Fujinon 60mm f2.4 with or without Raynox-250
Part 3: Adapted Macro Lens
Part 4: Fujifilm Extension Tube MCEX-11 & MCEX-16
Part 5: Native 1:1 Macro Lens for Fuji (Zeiss)

Poppies 2019

I can’t believe after living in the UK for nearly 15 years, I have not been to a poppy field. Officially a type of weed, Poppy has a very important symbolic function. To keen photographers, a big field of blossoming poppies is like a heaven.

This year I have decided to take a few hours off my busy schedule to hunt for a poppy field near where I live. I first went to a location suggested by a friend but to my disappointment, there were only a few flowers there. I then blindly drove around the area and to my great delight, I found a big field near Kidderminster.

At the time, the sun was almost gone and I had around 30 mins of sunlight left. It was also very windy which made using a small aperture for a larger depth of field impossible. I didn’t even get to use the tripod I brought with me. With a 28mm lens, I was able to quickly grab a few handheld shots before the sun fully set.

As poppy blossom only lasts for a few weeks, and it has been raining heavily for 1-2 weeks since I took those picture and it is forecasted to rain further, I don’t think I have the opportunity to go back there again this year. I am so glad I made the trip. I will definitely plan it better next summer.

Fuji X Macro [Part 4]: Fujifilm Extension Tube MCEX-11 & MCEX-16

When Fuji X system first came into existence, there is very little 3rd party support. With the XF 60mm macro lens only goes to 1:2 magnification and without any 3rd party macro lenses for the X-mount and good usable extension tubes (from Fuji or 3rd parties), the only ways to get to 1:1 magnification is by using close up filters like the Raynox or adapting lenses. I remember reading horror stories of people using poorly made extension tubes which damages their lens mounts and lenses.

So when Fujifilm announced their extension tubes MCEX-11 and MCEX-12 in 2014, it was indeed a fantastic news for Fuji X macro shooters. I owned both of these extension tubes and they are very well built and fit nicely to the the lens mount and the lenses.

You can achieve different magnification depending on which lens you use. Generally speaking extension tubes have greater effect on shorter lenses. Fujifilm has published a guidance chart as seen below. What fujifilm didn’t include in the chart is the effect of combination of both the MCEX-11 and MCEX-16 extension tubes. I often use both of them together to achieve greater than 1:1 magnification.

mcexchart

These extension tubes cost around $100 each. You can get cheaper 3rd party ones but my advice is to stick to Fuji ones. $100 sound like a lot for extension tubes but you get the best quality and it is much cheaper than a macro lens.

Here are some example photos.

XF35/2 with Extension Tubes:

XF35 with extension tubes

XF35 with extension tubes

XF35 with extension tubes

XF56/1.2 with Extension Tubes:

Green Praying Mantis on forest ground

Hairy spider on its web waiting for prey

Brown milipede looking for food on the floor

Please check out the other posts in my Fuji X Macro series:

Part 1: x100s + Raynox-250
Part 2: Fujinon 60mm f2.4 with or without Raynox-250
Part 3: Adapted Macro Lens
Part 4: Fujifilm Extension Tube MCEX-11 & MCEX-16
Part 5: Native 1:1 Macro Lens for Fuji (Zeiss)

Fuji X Macro [Part 3] : Adapted Macro Lenses

macro-insect_2016-07-28_21-05-49_0048_©KetSangTai2016

Due to the limited availability of native 1:1 macro lenses, many photographers started using adapted macro lenses. Using an adapter, many old and classic as well as modern lenses can be used on Fuji camera. The excellent manual assist features on Fuji camera make manual focusing adapted lenses very simple and straight forward, even for people like me who have never used manual focusing before.

Lens Adapters

There are many options out there and I won’t go into all the different types of adapters and many people have covered this topic extensively. This blog has good information about lens adapters and how they work. For the purpose of macro photography, the easiest option is to get a Nikon to Fuji adapter as there are a wide ranges of Nikon mount macro lenses available both from Nikon themselves and from 3rd parties like Tamron and Sigma. You need to know there are two types of Nikon to Fuji adapters, the Nikon G to FX and Nikon F to FX.

Nikon F to FX adaptor is almost like an extension tube except that it is of fixed length and has a Nikon mount at the front end. There is no electronics built in. This can be used with any Nikon mount lenses (after 1977) which have an aperture ring. You can’t use it with newer Nikon G lenses or 3rd party lenses without aperture ring as there is no way you can control the aperture.

That is where the Nikon G to FX adapter comes in. It has a built in aperture ring with a mechanical lever which changes the aperture on the lens itself. This can be used on all Nikon F and G mount lenses and all Nikon mount 3rd party lenses, including those with and without aperture ring.

Tamron 90mm with Nikon G to FX Adapter
Tamron 90mm with Nikon G to FX Adapter

Camera Settings 1:

When you use adapted lenses, make sure you set your Fuji camera to “shoot without lens”. If you do not choose this option, the camera will think no lens is attached as there is no electronic contact and the shutter will not fire. It is under Shooting Menu 3 as shown.

FullSizeRender (3)

You can also tell the camera what focal length you are using so it will include it in your EXIF data.

Fujifilm Adapted Lens Setting

Fujifilm Adapted Lens Setting

Camera Settings 2:

With adapted lenses, as there is no electronic contact between the lens and the camera, you don’t get automatic aperture. Automatic aperture means the camera keeps the lens aperture wide open while composing and focusing and only closes it down to the desired aperture at the time of exposure. Without automatic aperture, the aperture will be stopped down to whatever you set during composing and focusing, which means your viewfinder will be darker. With EVF, the brightness of the viewfinder is boosted but it can get very grainy if you shoot in low light with flash. Make sure you set your camera’s Screen Set Up to Preview Exp/WB in Manual Mode OFF.

FullSizeRender (5)FullSizeRender (6)

A few other points to note about adapting lenses:

  1. There is no autofocus.
  2. If your lens has image stabilisation, it won’t work.
  3. There will be no aperture info in EXIF file.

Here are some of my photos taken using Tamron 90mm with Nikon G to FX adapter.

macro-insect_2016-07-28_21-19-06_0102_©KetSangTai2016

macro-insect_2016-07-28_20-59-51_0031_©KetSangTai2016

macro-insect_2016-07-28_21-08-40_0066_©KetSangTai2016

Dragonfly

Please check out the other posts in my Fuji X Macro series:

Part 1: x100s + Raynox-250
Part 2: Fujinon 60mm f2.4 with or without Raynox-250
Part 3: Adapted Macro Lens
Part 4: Fujifilm Extension Tube MCEX-11 & MCEX-16
Part 5: Native 1:1 Macro Lens for Fuji (Zeiss)

Fuji X Macro [Part 2] : Fujinon XF 60mm f2.4 with or without Raynox-250

Fujinon XF60mm f/2.4 is the first and only native macro lens until Zeiss produced the 2.8/50 M. Its color rendition and sharpness rank among the best of all Fujinon lenses. However, due to the fact that its maximum magnification is only 1:2 (0.5), it has serious limitation if you want to use it to do a lot of macro work. Its slow focusing also put people off from using it as a general short telephoto lens. It is also dwarfed by the XF56mm for people who want to do serious portrait work.

Having said that, its small size is a huge advantage and if you add a close up filter like the Raynox 250, you can get more than 1:1 magnification. If you are interested in how to calculate the magnification with close up filter, here is the formula:

Magnification of close up lens = Primary lens focal length/Focal length of close up lens

Focal Length of the Raynox.250 is 125 mm. So the Raynox 250’s magnification on the 60mm lens is 0.48(60/125)

Total Magnification = (1+max mag of primary lens) x (1+mag of close up lens) – 1

So for the 60mm macro lens:

Max magnification =  (1+0.5)(1+60/125)-1 = (1.5)(1.48)-1 = 1.22

Here are some example of photos taken with the XF60mm.

X-E1, XF60mm, 1/250, f/8, Flash
X-E1, XF60mm, 1/250, f/8, ISO800 Flash

X-E1, XF60mm, 1/250, f/16, Flash
X-E1, XF60mm, 1/250, f/16, ISO800 Flash

X-E1, XF60mm, 1/250, f/8, Flash
X-E1, XF60mm, 1/250, f/8, ISO800, Flash

X-E1, XF60mm, 1/125, f/5.6, ISO800, no Flash
X-E1, XF60mm, 1/125, f/5.6, ISO800, no Flash

Please check out the other posts in my Fuji X Macro series:

Part 1: x100s + Raynox-250
Part 2: Fujinon 60mm f2.4 with or without Raynox-250
Part 3: Adapted Macro Lens
Part 4: Fujifilm Extension Tube MCEX-11 & MCEX-16
Part 5: Native 1:1 Macro Lens for Fuji (Zeiss)

Macro Photography with Fuji X [Part 1] : x100s + Raynox-250

[Updated Aug 2016] More than 2 years since I first started doing macro work using Fuji, I have tried various different options and decided to make this a series of 5 posts about doing macro work with Fuji X.

Part 1: x100s + Raynox-250
Part 2: Fujinon 60mm f2.4 with or without Raynox-250
Part 3: Adapted Macro Lens
Part 4: Fujifilm Extension Tube MCEX-11 & MCEX-16
Part 5: Native 1:1 Macro Lens for Fuji (Zeiss)

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Since I started using the Fuji X system a few months ago, I often come across people in various forum asking if Fuji X system is good for macro and what lens or accessories should they use? I have decided to write a few articles about this with some pictures I took using different set up.

Macro Photography at Home

I would say Fuji X is not ideal for macro work if:

1. You often need to go beyond 1:1 magnification.

2. You are a pro macro photographer and you make macro pictures for living

3. You are into fast moving inserts

This is because the only native lens in Fuji’s macro lens line up is the 60mm f/2.4 which only goes down to 1:2 magnification. Having said that, Zeiss does make a 1:1 macro and you can use macro lenses from other brands like Tamron or Nikon using an adaptor. It gets the job done. However, if the above 3 points apply to you, you may want to consider investing in a mid range Canon camera to use their fantastic range of macro lenses ranging from 180mm 1:1 macro lens to the one of a kind 5:1 macro lens, as well as choices of at least 2 dedicated macro flashes.

Fuji, however is more than good enough if you do macro work for fun or the type of macro photography you do does not need to go beyond 1:1 on regular basis.

So what are the options with Fuji?

1. Dedicated Macro lens – The 60mm f/2.4 is a great lens. It has an equivalent focal length of 90mm and it is very sharp and it produces great colour. As said previously, it only gives you 1:2 magnification. It is still pretty close.

2. Close Up Lens – There are many close up lenses around and the most popular one is the Raynox brand. I own the Raynox-250 which is a great piece of accessory. If you put it on your 60mm lens, you can get down to 1:1 magnification. It can also massively increase magnification of any other Fuji lenses you have. It works best on longer focal length (>60mm) as it will gives you more magnification. For example, if you put it on the XF 55-200mm zoom lens, I was told you can get down to 2:1 magnification. On wider lenses and on the XF 18-55mm, it causes a bit of vignetting which need some cropping.

3. Extension Tube – From what I can gather from forums and various blog posts, there is no good Fuji extension tube in the market at the time of writing of this post. Those on the market are not fit for purpose and some can damage your camera. I would avoid this until someone else have produced a better one.

4. Adapted Lenses – Personally I have not tried this. There are many people posting on forums and writing blog posts about this. The most popular adapted macro lenses are Tamron and Nikon lenses. Ideally you want one which has its own aperture control, otherwise you will need a special adaptor to control the aperture.

I own the 60mm lens. I will show some picture in my next post. Today, I want to show you what can be achieve using the Raynox-250 close up lens on my x100s. The x100s already has very close focusing distance. If you add the Raynox-250 on, you can get really really close. Here are some pictures. Most are not cropped or only very slightly cropped.

Macro Photography with X100s & Raynox-250

Macro Photography with X100s & Raynox-250

Macro Photography with X100s & Raynox-250

Macro Photography with X100s & Raynox-250

Macro Photography with X100s & Raynox-250