At work I am always on the hunt for an upgrade.  My latest upgrade is for one of the more-fun parts of my job: photograhy!

Warning: photography equipment geek post follows.  Click images to see them bigger at

Specifically, I got a new macro lens the other day.  No, not one to go on the mellow cam, although that would definitely be the preferred type.  This one is rather incompatible with my big ol’ Nikon SLR.  Rather.
 photo newzoomlens_zps0fe0ea26.jpg

That’s it.  This little Lumix came through the other day as a piece of trash somebody was getting rid of with a pile of old electronics.  I snagged it and . . . fount it wouldn’t turn on.  So being perhaps more determined that was totally called for, I took apart the battery* and charged it up, put it in the camera, and . . . it would not extend the lens.  I had nothing to lose, so I pulled on the lens with a fingernail and it extended!  And then got stuck again!  A few times cycling it in and out seems to have cleared the malfunction (dirt?) and now it works**.

The quality of the image out of this thing under my shooting lights in Macro mode*** is acceptable, so I think I’ll keep it.  My previous best macro lens is only usable in the center of the frame due to horrendous distortion around the edges.  The more lens I mostly use for a quick close-up is the 35mm I always shoot, with close-up lenses screwed in the filter threads.  It’s not great, but it works and gets decently close.

Here we have some close crops and the view from the whole frame from:

  • Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 with no filters.  This lens is ridiculously sharp for $200 but for a small subject you have to really abuse the image in processing to get a close-up.
  • Nikkor 35mm with 4d close-up filter.  This is an acceptable result for web publishing, which is why I use it.  Note the lack of detail on the left edge of the crop, and the over-sharpened look of the whole thing.
  • Nikkor 35mm with 2d close-up lens screwed into the 4d lens.  This gets a little closer, but there starts to be too much glass in front of the lens to preserve clarity. Maybe a lens hood would help, but that gets pulled off to fit the close-up lenses . . .
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS15 in Macro mode at minimum object distance.  This is obviously much closer, and with more pixels in the frame a crop has a better chance of being sharp.  Notice the lack of over-sharpening noise and the presence of detail on the left edge of the ruler in the crop.  I’ll take that.

 photo zoomcrops_zpscbe956aa.jpg

The color, obviously, is insane, but that’s what Photoshop is for.  Until they decide to spring for a decent macro lens (LOL right that’s going to happen) I think this will do.


*never, ever, but NEVER disassemble a battery!  I am literally a trained professional.  Bad Things that could happen include minor personal injury, including puncture and cut type wounds, as well as burns and shrapnel wounds.  Lithium chemistry batteries have this fun failure mode that does a good imitation of an explosion.  They also have a nasty thing they do where they catch fire at random times after they have been badly treated, with zero warning.  Seriously: do NOT take apart batteries.

**I can deal with crunchy sounds from the lens and occasional memory card errors on a perfectly-good memory card.  Heck, if it dies, I’m out $0 anyway so why not use it

***Full camera review: In regular camera mode, this thing is mediocre at best.  In dim light in intelligent auto mode, forget about it, the thing sucks.  But in macro mode, under bright lights, in trained hands, you can get a decent close-up.


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