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Thread: Lens for Extreme Close Up?

  1. #1

    Lens for Extreme Close Up?

    Hi Folks,

    I am interested in doing some extreme close-up work with a 4x5. I am interested particularly, working in a magnification range 5-10x, photographing water droplets. I have tried using an enlarger lens that I had lying around, an EL-NIKKOR 1:5.6 F=80 MM, with marginal results. I hope to have the front and rear surface of the droplet in focus and be able to make reasonable size quality enlargements. I realize that I am pushing the limits of what is achievable, but assuming that I have the bellows extension and enough light to make the exposure, what lens (or lens combination) is best suited for this?

    Thanks very much for your thoughtful replies,

    -John Chervinsky

  2. #2
    Cooke, Heliar, Petzval...yeah
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Re: Lens for Extreme Close Up?

    IMHO, almost any. Image circle is not a problem. You can use lens even the don't cover 4x5. But shorter ones saves you bellows extension. I'm not sure if droplets would be lying on some surface or not, but you would need plenty of light to capture the size of the droplet. Water evaporates quickly, so you need to make sure that exposure won't be longer than few seconds in that magnification, because you will get fuzynnes from shringing sizr of the droplet.

    That means lots of luxes and with this comes lots of heat and faster evaporation. maybe you need to cover with some heat glass. You definitely need to do some testing.

    Definitely fast film such as FP5 or TMY.
    Peter Hruby

  3. #3
    Jim Jones's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Chillicothe Missouri USA

    Re: Lens for Extreme Close Up?

    Normal or wide angle lenses from 35mm cameras, perhaps macro lenses for their small minimum aperture, reverse mounted on a 4x5 might work for you. You may lose definition from diffraction at the smallest apertures. Lennart Nilsson used a similar technique for a few of his spectacular macro- and microphotos.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Flint, MI

    Re: Lens for Extreme Close Up?

    I found a JML lens [f/1.9] in a copal shutter off of a Techtronix oscilloscope camera. It focuses very close, I don't know about 5x10 mag, but it might. I see these lenses for sale on fleabay often.

    On the other hand, I use a Micro-Nikkor for some 2-3X magnification work with a bellows. I know this would be a very sharp lens, but without a shutter I think you'd have to improvise a way to control the exposure.

  5. #5

    Re: Lens for Extreme Close Up?


    short lenses for a rangefinder (Leica) may work better for this, they don't need to retro-focus to clear a mirror. Reverse mounted on a 4x5 they should cover well. Bellows extention, small f/stop, inverse square rule = long exposure, no shutter should not be a problem.

    Good luck with it.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    S.W. Wyoming

    Re: Lens for Extreme Close Up?

    Some of the short focal length lenses for the Polaroid MP-4 copy camera should do the trick nicely. I have a pretty good set of these, in sizes down to 35mm. They have the apeture in the lens barrel and will screw directly into a Copal 1 shutter. Since the apertture is in the barrel, any shutter will do.

  7. #7

    Re: Lens for Extreme Close Up?

    Best there is are the Luminar series (16/25/40/63mm in RMS thread, 100mm in M35). Linhof used them many years for their systems.

    You won't find better for high magnifications and they cover full format up to 1000mm bellows extention.

    All are documented on my site

    Ask if you should have further questions.

    Cheers, Klaus
    Klaus for macro and special lens info for UV Images and lens/filter info my UV diary

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Dec 2001

    Re: Lens for Extreme Close Up?

    John, did you reverse the enlarger lens?

    Otherwise, I second Klaus' recommendation with one reservation. Macro Nikkors, Nikon's answer to Zeiss' Luminars, are also very good.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jul 1998
    Lund, Sweden

    Re: Lens for Extreme Close Up?

    How big are your droplets?

    If they are any larger than a fine condensed mist, I suspect you will end up uncomfortably sandwiched between the Scylla of diffraction and the Charibdis of depth of field. Whatever you do, you get a blurred image.

    I know that when we try accurately to measure the shape of millimeter-sized water droplets (we're trying to measure the contact angle), we take a stack of images and digitally combine them. Trying to do it with a single micrograph doesn't work well enough.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Austin, Texas

    Re: Lens for Extreme Close Up?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Chervinsky View Post
    I hope to have the front and rear surface of the droplet in focus and be able to make reasonable size quality enlargements. I realize that I am pushing the limits of what is achievable
    -John Chervinsky
    John -
    I own and use a set of Luminars (and a 19mm MacroNikkor), and agree with the previous comments about their superb optical quality. For very good performance, and far less money, I would recommend initially getting a used movie lens, for 8mm or 16mm format, and and using it reversed on a lensboard. These are always available on eBay and other online auction sites.

    However, it will be very challenging to accomplish what you want. If you assume a spherical water drop size of 2mm diameter, at 10X this would be only 20mm wide (less than an inch) on your film. The depth of field at f/8 on 4x5 film would be approximately only .16mm, and your effective aperture would be a huge f/88, introducing both resolution and lighting issues. Even if your droplet is resting on a surface, and is a flattened hemisphere, the height far exceeds the depth of field. You may wish to consider using a smaller format, where less magnification is required, or making scans of several images at different image depths, and compositing them with a program like Helicon Focus or CombineZM.

    Good luck with your project!

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