Focus Stacking with Digital Teleconverter Test

Yesterday I spent some time doing a handheld in-camera focus stacking with digital teleconverter test with the M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro lens. I also had the M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter attached as part of my macro set-up.

I figured if I was going to push myself and my gear… I might as well try to break through a new personal, handheld macro boundary by combining the Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking function with the Digital Teleconverter. And… and throw in the MC-14 for good measure.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter and Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, f/8, -0.7 EV, 1/320, ISO-320, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 1 metre

Earlier in the week I had done a couple of initial test images to see if the in-camera focus stacking function would actually work with the digital teleconverter. Once that was confirmed, I decided to see how far I could push this approach with my handheld macro photography.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter and Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, f/9, -0.3 EV, 1/320, ISO-800, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 395 mm

Beginning with some macro images of flowers is usually a good starting point with this type of test since the subject matter isn’t going to fly away.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter and Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, f/7.1, 1/320, ISO-320, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 330 mm

Given the rather extreme nature of this macro test I had to concentrate on even the slightest subject movement due to the wind… and time my shutter release accordingly. The Sync-IS in the M.Zuiko 90 mm macro was invaluable for this type of macro work.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter and Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, f/8, -0.3 EV, 1/320, ISO-500, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 420 mm

All of the photographs featured in this article are displayed as full frame captures without any cropping done to them at all. Images were created from out-of-camera jpegs that were adjusted in post, then resized for website use.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter and Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-500, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 375 mm

As is my standard practice for all of my photography, I used a single auto-focus point for all of the images in this article. All photographs were captured handheld. No manual focusing was used.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter and Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-640, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 330 mm

It was critical that I chose subject insects that would remain motionless for at least a couple of seconds. Any leg, head or body movements would leave motion artifacts on my files.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter and Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-800, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 255 mm

I also had to remain very aware of the wind causing movement with the foliage on which my subject insects were perched. I had a few instances when I had to wait for almost 10 seconds for the breeze to subside before I could capture an image.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter and Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-640, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 245 mm

Obviously I had some insects fly off before I could photograph them. Patience was a necessity for this specific test session.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter and Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, f/9, -0.3 EV, 1/320, ISO-320, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 315 mm

Without question this was one of the most challenging tests that I have ever done with my Olympus/OM gear since moving over to the system 5 years ago.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter and Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-500, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 295 mm

Most of the subject flies were extremely small and quite skittish. I had to locate them quickly, compose my images as fast as possible, and time my shutter release during lulls in the breeze.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter and Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-1250, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 290 mm

My goal was to capture a good assortment of macro images under the stated technical shooting parameters… so I could demonstrate that this macro photography approach could generate repeatable results.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter and Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, f/7.1, 1/320, ISO-320, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 265 mm

All of the photographs in this article were captured in my yard. For several hours I moved around to various spots looking for subject insects.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter and Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, f/9, 1/320, ISO-500, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 290 mm

All of the images were captured while I was seated on a short stool. The majority of the photographs were composed from the rear screen of my E-M1X. I did use the EVF when possible.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter and Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, f/7.1, 1/320, ISO-500, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 245 mm

Using the MC-14 or MC-20 teleconverters with the M.Zuiko 90 mm PRO IS does change the closest focusing distances of the lens, as well as the maximum image magnification. Without teleconverters the minimum focusing distance to achieve 1:1 is 0.250 metres (~ 9.84 inches). This reduces to 0.224 metres (~8.82 inches) when using S Macro mode and achieving 2X magnification.

When using the MC-14 the closest focusing distance is 0.265 metres (~ 10.43 inches) which provides a 1.41 magnification. Using the S Macro mode with the MC-14 has a closest focusing distance of 0.239 metres (~ 9.41 inches). This delivers 2.83 magnification.

The MC-20 teleconverter increases the magnification to 2X  with a closest focusing distance of 0.276 metres (~ 10.87 inches). When used with S Macro mode the MC-20 delivers 4X magnification with a closest focusing distance of 0.25 metres (~9.84).

By comparison the M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro lens can achieve 1:1 with a closest focusing distance of 0.19 metres (~7.48 inches).

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter and Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, f/7.1, 1/320, ISO-800, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 240 mm

When working with natural light and doing this type of macro photography, it is best to find subject insects that are in shaded areas if possible.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter and Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-640, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 275 mm

It is also helpful to establish a ‘shooting zone’ that is small enough to monitor insect movements, while still maintaining a productive shooting angle.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter and Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, f/7.1, 1/320, ISO-400, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 265 mm

I find that using a 6 square foot shooting zone i.e. 3 feet wide X 2 feet high (~ 1 metre X 0.67 metres) works very well when shooting from a sitting position on a short stool.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter and Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, f/7.1, 1/320, ISO-640, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 255 mm

Having an articulated rear screen and being able to reach into foliage with my camera gear with my arms extended, helps to maximize the available photographic opportunities. These movements were done slowly as not to scare the subject insects.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter and Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, f/9, 1/320, ISO-800, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 270 mm

I was able to capture a decent assortment of test images using the combination of handheld in-camera focus stacking and my E-M1X’s digital teleconverter.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter and Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, f/7.1, 1/320, ISO-400, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 285 mm

Even though I was using reasonably low ISO values, the out-of-camera jpegs did have some artifacts on them, so I had to be pretty aggressive in post.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter and Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-640, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 240 mm

From a practical perspective this does tend to limit the overall usability of the images. For example, on a personal basis I would not choose to produce any significant enlargements from these files. In the future when I need additional magnification I will like use the MC-20 teleconverter rather than the digital teleconverter. The other option would be to shoot images using Handheld Hi Res and crop as needed.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter and Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, f/7.1, 1/320, ISO-320, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 265 mm

All things considered, it was a fantastic experience creating these images. Sometimes it is more than enough to just prove to oneself that a particular photographic approach will actually work.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter and Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-2000, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 285 mm

I still have a bit more field work and experimentation to do with the M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro lens before I can write my hands-on review.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter and Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-500, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 305 mm

At this point what I can say is that this is an incredible piece of kit that can dramatically expand a photographer’s handheld macro potential. I can’t comment on using it with a tripod as I’m a dedicated handheld shooter.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter and Digital Teleconverter @ 252 mm, efov 504 mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-400, Handheld In-Camera Focus Stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 255 mm

Regardless of the camera equipment that you may own, I’d encourage you to get out and experiment with it. You may discover new and different ways of creating images. Any new approaches can help get your creative juices flowing… and increase your enjoyment of photography.

Technical Note

Photographs were captured handheld with the camera equipment  noted in the EXIF data. My in-camera focus stacking was set to 12 images with a focus differential of 5. All images were created from out-of-camera jpeg files using my standard process in post. This is the 1,390 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.

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6 thoughts on “Focus Stacking with Digital Teleconverter Test”

  1. Thank you for all your hard work. The information you provide will help many of us as we try to learn the complexities and capabilities of our equipment.

  2. Hello Thomas

    I’m considering purchasing this lens, which for me represents a big financial commitment.
    I am very interested in knowing the working distance (subject-front lens mount).
    At a 1:1 magnification ratio, what is the difference between 60mm macro and 90mm macro?
    Thank you.
    Greetings from your loyal reader Riccardo.

    1. Hi Riccardo,

      Thank you for your comment and question. I thought this was important information for readers so I have added these details to the article after image 14.

      Tom

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