While both Olympus and Panasonic offer several interesting macro options, they aren’t the only tools available to Micro Four Thirds shooters who want to be creative with their close up photography.
One “outside the box” approach is the Lensbaby Composer system. There are a couple of approaches with this lens. Lensbaby offers a set of diopters that can be mounted on the front of the standard Lensbaby optic. The company’s newest option though is a much more professionally oriented system. The Lensbaby Composer Pro with either the new Sweet 35 or Edge 80 optic with extension tubes is capable of excellent macro results.
One of the nice things about this approach is the newest optics have variable aperture control built in (no more drop in aperture rings). Coupled with one or both extension tubes, the Composer Pro with the Edge 80 lens can focus as close as 9 inches to the subject. Other Lensbaby optics can get even closer. In fact, with the Fisheye Optic, it’s possible to actually touch the subject with the front of the lens and still get the subject in focus. Depending on the optic you can achieve 1:1 reproduction or even closer.
Like other Lensbaby products, the Composer Pro does not offer autofocus. This really isn’t much of an issue with macro photography where the photographer often racks the lens out to closest focus and then maneuvers the camera and lens to and fro to bring the subject into focus. Even though the Lensbaby is known as a selective focus tool, stopped down, either of its variable aperture optics are capable of maximizing depth of field.
Even with the lack of autofocus, the Composer Pro is a versatile photographic tool. Its uses include macro photography, portraiture, landscape photography and more.
When using it for macro photography, it’s best to have some kind of a plan before shooting. Visualizing the image, pre-focusing and setting aperture settings put the photographer in a position where all he or she has to do is find a subject, arrange the composition and start shooting. This is very useful when photographing living creatures, which are often not very cooperative.
Sidebar: I just received a Mirrorless Mover 30i from Think Tank Photo. While not a macro tool, this is nice camera bag for the Micro Four Thirds or small camera shooter. As is typical of this company’s products, it’s very well thought, with rugged construction and the little details that make a bag workable. For example, to maximize space, the bag includes an inner lens divider with SD memory card slots built in, making a memory card wallet unnecessary. As with other Think Tank Photo bags, it also includes a raincoat to protect the bag from bad weather. This is the largest of the company’s new Mirrorless Mover line and can easily handle an O-MD E-M5 with power grip and multiple lenses and other accessories.