Leaf-Footed Bug Nymph - Venus LAOWA 60mm
This is the same bug as yesterday's post. I shot this one with my new lens, the Venus LAOWA 60mm. The previous one with my less expensive old El-Nikkor enlarging lens with eBay helicoids.
When I first heard about the Venus lens that can go from infinity focus to 2:1 magnification, I wanted it, but it didn't seem real. I finally ordered it after I saw Thomas Shahan's video review and some comments by other insect photographers. It is available in several different mounts.
I used this bug as a test to compare the lenses. I brought the plant inside where wind would not be a variable. I averaged about 20% more missed focused shots (of around 100 shots each) at 1.25x magnification with this lens handheld. Maybe due to the extra weight of the lens. When I got the focus right, the image quality is nearly the same between lenses. I like the natural looking background of this shot a lot more, but the antenna are posed better in the other shot but neither had anything to do with the lens.
The weight is more than I am used to when shooting macros, but not terrible. The lens is heavy and solid, it feels like an old manual 80s lens. The focus distance at 2:1 is really close, about 5.5cm. My eBay lens setup (explained here with exaggerated photo) gives me 2:1 at 6.5cm. I can use camera mounted external flash with a diffuser and get decent lighting with my eBay solution. The Venus blocks nearly all the flash at 2:1 because of the wider lens and closer distance.
I have always hated being limited to shooting either extreme or regular macros so this lens's ability to do both is great. My enlarging lens starts at around 1.27:1 and cannot do infinite focus. Anything bigger than a honey bee and I can't get the whole thing in frame.
So far, I am pretty happy with the lens. I do miss autofocus when shooting larger subjects, but at least I don't have to change lenses or miss the shots. My enlarging lens is also 100% manual so adapting to this lens is no trouble thanks to Sony's Electronic Viewfinder and Focus Peaking. Without that, I am sure this lens would be more difficult to use.
The wavy distortion at the bottom of this shot is due to the transparent mirror of the Sony. It shows sometimes at narrow apertures when the light hits it just right. I really wish they would go mirrorless with the A-mount.