After my positive experiences with microscope lenses, I slowly switched from enlarger lenses to microscope lenses in low magnification. Of course, this is for studio work. It is impossible to use a microscope lens in hand.
Finally, I acquired the Plan 2.5X 0.08 model microscope objective of the German Carl Zeiss, known for its legend lenses. Our lens is slightly larger than the Lomo lenses. It wasn’t a problem to mount it because it carries the same RMS connection. So I used it on bellows with an RMS adapter. The “Plan” in the name of the lens expresses that the focus field forms a flat plane, which is very good for macro shooting.
As soon as the lens arrived, I did the first test. I chose a hornet that I found dead a few days ago. I used a flash with a diffuser for lighting. I also put plastic cups and a double napkin around the lens and softened the light.
Due to the typical narrow depth of field of the microscope lenses, I had to shoot a series of 127 pictures. The result is:
The lens has a few weak spots.
- When we force it to a lower magnification, vignetting occurs. We need to be careful when creating the frame.
- The second is CA color distortions. I do not expect from our non-APO lens to have perfect colors. Well-diffused light largely eliminates this problem.
- The working distance is very limited. We work at a distance of about 1cm. So much so that when I focused on the back leg of the bee, its antennas were in contact with the lens. You have to pay attention to this and choose a right subject. But the good thing is, there’s no perspective distortion. That would be a bigger problem.
As the price is quite affordable ($40), it is not worth worrying about these weaknesses. It is important to know all the equipment well and use them in their strong field.
Later on, I had the opportunity to work with a large number of microscope lenses and enlarger lenses. I can no longer agree with the statement written in the first paragraph. It doesn’t make sense to switch completely to the microscope lenses. Enlarger lenses are my first choice as very important and valuable macro equipment in low magnifications. Microscope lenses are not suitable for low magnifications. Generally, the working distance of the microscope lenses under 3X is very short. We have to get too close to the subject. However, the image we get is not much better than enlarger lenses.
The best performance under 3x is achieved with enlarger lens. We also have control over the depth of field because we have the aperture.
If you want the sharpest image above 4X, you still have to look at microscope lenses.