I’ve been investigating how I wanted to do certain close-up photography work on the Sony E-mount. Transitioning from the Sony A-mount I had the Minolta 200mm f\4 macro lens. This is a superb lens but it has a screw drive autofocus system which is not accommodated by the LAEA3 adapter and if used with the LAEA4 adapter forces me to have the so-called “translucent mirror” of the adapter in between the lens and the sensor. So I went around looking for other options. I rented the Sony 90mm f\2.8 macro lens. It is excellent and has an excellent autofocus response with the Sony A7 III camera. But it is less than half the focal length of the 200mm lens. I looked at adapting the Sigma 180mm f\2.8 macro in Canon mount with the Sigma Canon to E-Mount MC-11 adapter. I rented this combination and found the autofocus inconsistent at best. Finally I tried to find the Sigma 180mm f\2.8 in A-mount and see if the LAEA3 combination would autofocus better. The A-Mount is not a very popular one so none of the rental places had this lens. I called up B&H Photo who had the lens and asked them to mount it on an A7 III with the LAEA3 and test the autofocus. They said the autofocus was fair but completely blown away by the native Sony lens performance. When I heard this I knew it was time to give up and go with the Sony 90mm f\2.8 macro lens. I’ll always have the Minolta 200mm for times when I want the extra reach but autofocus is not critical. But for hummingbird and butterfly shots the autofocus of the native sony E-Mount lenses is more important than the extra focal length. I ordered it from B&H last night. Case closed.
We’re entering the winter months in New England (also known as frozen hell) and at that point shooting outside is not only less interesting but also much less comfortable. Luckily, macrophotography is something you can do from the comfort of your nicely heated home. I like to do macro indoors in the winter. To accommodate this, I look around during the year for interesting subject matter that I can bring inside for the winter and also try to improve on the set-ups I use to make indoor macrophotography more convenient and effective.
For instance, real macrophotography (which involves at least 1X magnification) requires extreme stability because even a tiny vibration will be noticed when apertures are small and magnification is high and exposures can be long. One of the things I have lacked in my equipment is a table top tripod. Up to now, I’ve compensated by setting up my full-sized tripod near a table and stood up while working. I will be the first to admit that this isn’t a comfortable arrangement but I was always preoccupied with lens and camera buying priorities. But now that I’ve got the A7 III I’m where I need to be for camera and even my Minolta 200mm f\4 macro becomes convenient enough for indoor macro work. So, it’s time to look at the table top tripod. The other thing that I wanted to add to my set up was a macro bellows. It’s a bellows with a camera connection on one side and a lens connection on the other. This allows you to increase the magnification with even non-macro lenses. I’ve just purchased the Fotodiox Macro Bellows for the Sony E-Mount. This adds 150mm of extension when completely extended. And just in case I want to go completely macro crazy I can add my Kenko Extension tubes. That adds another 68mm of extension. Between the two extenders I can reach a little more than 2X magnification with my Minolta 200mm macro lens. And with shorter focal lengths I can probably do even better. If I add a lens reverse mount then I can take a wide-angle lens like my 10mm and get some really ridiculously high magnification but that may be a bridge too far right now.
I’ve got to mount all this paraphernalia on the table top tripod with my 200mm macro and camera to really test its stability. I’ve selected the JOBY GorillaPod 5K Stand. The sales literature says it can hold eleven pounds. Between the camera, lens and macro thingamajigs it won’t add up to eleven pounds but it will be four or five I’ll bet. If it turns out that this is not stable enough, I may have to add a rail to stiffen up the set-up but at that point I might as well paint it with purple polka dots and donate it to the circus with the other clown props. Stay tuned and I’ll follow up with some photos of the rig and macro shots that I take. It may be interesting or ridiculous but I’m sure to learn something.