Using the Panasonic FZ series of fixed zoom digital cameras for macro- photography...

Text and photography copyright Danny Young 2004. All rights reserved.


Using just a simple + 3 diopter can give good results. Better results can be obtained by using a Nikon 6T, a Canon 250D, or a Raynox dcr-250. These are corrected for chromatic aberrations which cause color fringing, while the simple + diopters are not corrected. The advantage comes from having a large optical zoom with good optics. By simply using the zoom, we can vary the ratio wanted. Don't use or switch the camera to the macro mode. Use the full optical zoom for added lenses.

Here are some examples from a simple + 3 diopter added to the front of the FZ10:

Small syrphid fly.
Another hoverfly.
Falling drops from a carnation bud.
A fresh bud.

What I've done to the front of my FZ10 is to permanently fix in place a filter thread. I do not suggest or recommend this at all. I would urge you to get another reducing hood which is available from several sources on the Internet. I'm accustomed to this setup from using the Sony CD-1000 in exactly the same way. The other thing you will notice is that I don't always reverse my lenses. To enable this, a rear lens cap (Canon, Nikon, Pentax, etc) has the center cut out. The modified lens cap is then glued, using epoxy resin, to another filter thread adapter ring. The added lenses mount onto the rear lens cap and then the complete setup is mounted to the FZ10.

Here are the results from this setup using a Canon 100mm:

Carnation stamen at around 8mm long.
Tiny rain drops in the garden.
Fly and drop.
Aphids on a carnation stamen.

Using the supplied hood, we now insert a Canon 35-70mm zoom, this time in reverse. The smaller the focal length of the lens, the larger the magnification ratio. Focal lengths used are a Canon 35mm, Canon 50mm macro, Nikkor 60mm micro, and a Nikkor 70-210.

Images from this setup are getting higher ratios as below:

Pollen on a tiny pistil inside a flower.
Ant at around 3mm long. We don't have large ant's here.
The side on profile of the eye of a robberfly.  
Beads of pollen on a Dahlia.

The best way to come to grips with any of these setups is just to try everything and try them out, indoors, on stationary subjects to start with. My personal settings are complete manual. Nothing automatic. Spot metering, I always use F 8, and I set the shutter speed to suit lighting conditions, generally using flash when appropriate. I always use the viewfinder. Using the viewfinder allows more stability and, in my opinion, is easier to focus. I have the viewfinder set to automatically enlarge the taken image for 1 second. This way I can see if the image is sharp right away. Spot focus is very clever but, I often find for macro, I personally like to set selective focus. I don't use the live histogram for macro work but I do find the magnified center portion of the viewfinder in manual focus mode very handy for focusing. Items I've found very useful are a Canon rubber viewfinder cap, the Vivitar DF200 flash unit, and I sometimes use a small table tripod or monopod.

--Danny Young--

Text and photography copyright Danny Young 2004. All rights reserved.
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