Its been a while since I first tried the macro filters, but over the past 2 or 3 weeks I have been able to test the performance of the +4 filter. The +10 filter needs to used on static subjects and preferably with a tripod. The depth of field is very small, in the order of millimetres rather than centimetres You need to take that into account when shooting with a +10 filter.
The +10 filter is clearest through the centre of the lens and acuity drops off towards the edge of the lens. I’ve seen this sort of effect with the Raynox Macro lens as well, but it isn’t as pronounced because lens quality is better in the Raynox.
That said the depth of field of the +4 lens is very small as well, as you will see in the hovering bee shot below only half the bee is in focus. A little of this may be attributable to the bees movement but its mostly caused the the very shallow depth of field. This helps in creating better Bokeh for the shots but really isn’t all that helpful in getting a more complete shot.
In this second shot the subject is basically at rest, although the bee was harvesting pollen, it was much easier for me to brace myself and get a better shot. You can see some purple fringing in the background buts its not overly distracting. More of the subject is in focus and detail is good. These shots were both taken with the +4 filter in very good daylight ( you would need flash or other lighting if the scene became darker, which really is not an option with shooting fast moving objects such as bees.
I used 23 & 29 mm focal lengths for these two images, with the camera set in macro mode and +1.00Ev to make sure I had more light in the shot. Shot in shutter priority mode with shutter speeds varying from around 1/600 sec to 1/2500 sec at +2.0Ev. Getting the higher shutter speeds means using full + Ev and keeping the cameras focal length/aperture at f2.8 to f3.6 anything over that reduces available light too much and you have to reduce shutter speeds.
To add to this process I used the camera set at 16:9 (L) as a compromise between quality and speed. As I was shooting burst mode ( for all the bee shots) with a setting of 4 shots and a rate of 5 shots per second, this helped in both speeding up write times to the memory card and improving the odds of getting at least one frame that could qualify as a “Keeper”. Be prepared to throw away 95% of the shots you take doing this sort of work. When you do get a keeper hopefully it has that Wow factor you want in these sorts of images.
While the Macro Filter Lens is a handy tool as it provides larger subject size relative to the shorter focal lengths, for sheer clarity, its hard to go past the standard lens of the HS-series cameras. I’ve heard a lot of talk that suggest the lens isn’t all that good and the resolution from the sensor tends to get mushy, and the camera is too slow to do any really useful photography.
To those that say that I look at it this way. A good photographer takes the time to learn to use his/her equipment to its best advantages despite any inherent lack in the design or performance of the equipment, and is able to produce high quality images despite these so perceived restrictions. Bad photographers generally want the camera to do everything for them so that the process of thinking is eliminated from the image taking process. Thats not photography that’s point and shoot, and I’m doing a dis-service to some very handy point & shoot photographers in saying that.
The next two images are taken with out the filter lens attached and are standard macros shot as described above.
The above shot is an example of the type of (almost got it ) image that you will get a good deal of shooting in the manner I have just described.
The following shot is one I am quite pleased with. I would have preferred to have the wings stopped in motion to complete the image, however available light at the time meant a reduction in shutter speeds and this meant the opportunity wasn’t there. Even at 1/2500 sec the bees wings can often be seen still slightly motion blurred. In one image I can see at least 2 wing beats even though the wings also appear frozen. This sort of works takes time and patience.
This image has pretty well all the attributes I was aiming for, good IQ, color, tone focus and almost arrested wing motion.For some folk there would be too much background in the shot and they would prefer more isolation of the subject. For this type of image I don’t think that would really help as it would remove the subject from its environment which is something I generally try to include.
However one of the real beauty’s of burst mode is you get a good sequence from time to time so a cropped image can well fit the requirements when necessary. This is the reason I use the large image size settings and only 4 shots as it keeps the file size from the camera at a good size for being able to crop and hold good overall image quality. While the image file size is only 2.65 Mb (which may seem very small) its more than enough to go from this original to a cropped version and still retain good quality.
So don’t be afraid to crop and post process your images. The Fuji Jpegs are well able to stand a good deal of PP work (much like a RAW file) and still give you excellent results.