Canon MP-E 65mm

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by commtrd, Jul 26, 2008.

  1. Well I will probably get flamed for this but here goes: Has anyone ever devised a way to adapt a Canon MP-E 65mm
    macro lens for use on a Nikon camera body like the D300? I don't believe that Nikon has a lens that will provide
    greater than 1:1 magnification. The Canon lens will go to 5X without any tubes or other means of achieving this
    magnification. I suspect this will not be possible so would Kenco tubes be the best option for use with a Nikkor 105
    VR lens? I would like to get to at least 3X magnification if possible. I have been acquiring my FX lenses for use with
    Nikon D300 and D3 bodies so I don't have resources available for getting a dedicated Canon body for use only on
    macro with the MP-E 65mm.
  2. The distance between the rear element and the image plane is the problem, and that's why nobody's made such an adaptor.
    To work properly at all focus distances, such an adaptor would need some elements of some kind, and would likely
    degrade the image.
  3. You will have to make such an macro only adapter yourself. One way to do that is get a cheap manual EOS adapter
    from ebay (made in China version). Screw the top off and glue a step up ring to the bottom (ie. 52mm to 62mm) then
    attach a Nikon K2 ring to it.

    With the adapter, you changed the flange to sensor distant and also lose aperture control. The MPEF 65mm is a
    macro only lens plus using it at a fixed aperture is not too bad, so losing some minimum magnification and aperture
    adjustment is not that big of a deal. The bigger problem is some of those expensive optical correction may be
    on flange to sensor distant and could degrade the result by some.

    Unless you already have a MPE65 at hand. I would simply reverse any of Nikon's older 55 macro on a compact
    bellow plus some rings to do get the higher magnifications, much cheaper and less work and restrictions.
  4. Keith, you need about 150mm of tubes to get a 105mm Micro Nikkor up to 3x magnification. That's fourn of the big 36mm tubes, stacked. I would not do this...

    I'd agree with Tommy Lee, the 55mm Nikkor is a stellar performer reversed on a bellows. And it will do 3x easily.

    I thought the MP-E 65 was so great when I first heard of it. But after borrowing on and a Canon body, I came to two conclusions. First, it is cute, but very inconvenient to focus and operate. Second, it's a pain to light around. Third, it can't match the optical quality of my favorite setups in that area, the Zeiss 63mm and 40mm Luminars on a Nikon bellows.

    1) Why a pain to focus and use? When you "zoom" a MP-E 65, all it does is extend farther from the camera. That is equivalent to the "front standard" adjustment on a bellows. A good bellows has three adjustments: "front standard", "rear standard", and "focus rail". Front standard is usually the most useless of the three adjustments. A good three adjustment bellows is not expensive: look at Nikon PB-4 (about $200 on the bay of e) and PB-6 (about $100 on the bay).

    So the MP-E has to be used with a focusing rail (a $100 "hidden cost" unless you already have a rail). Even then, you're controlling magnification with front standard adjustments, which dramatically shift focus and sending the lens plunging into your subject or your lighting setup.

    When you use a three adjustment bellows, you would be amazed how quickly you get used to operating where you alternate quickly between changing magnification a bit with the rear standard knob (disrupting focus much less than if you had done it with the front standard) and then immediately jumping to the rail knob to "touch up" the focus, back to the rear standard knob to adjust magnification some more, and back to the rail...

    It is even possible to take the PB-4, remove the bottom rods and turn them around so you get a bellows that you can focus with your right hand on the rail knob while adjusting magnification with your left hand on the rear standard knob. Once you master this, you can actually zoom in or out while holding focus. It's just too cool, especially on live view.

    2) Lighting? The front of an MP-E 65 is huge. It's 10-15mm bigger than the rear of a reversed 55mm f2.8 Nikkor. And, if you're going to commit the Nikkor full time to reversed macro use (not an unreasonable thing to do, considering you can get one for about $100) you can remove the rear lens mount and gain even more "smallness". Or, if you use what I'm used to (primarily a 63mm Luminar), you're comparing a 65mm diameter MPE front end to a 25mm diameter Luminar front. The difference in how much the MP-E is "in your way" is staggering compared to the Luminar.

    3) Optical quality? I don't think the MP-E delivers. It wasn't as sharp as the Zeiss, comparing both setups with the same Canon DSLR (magic trick, reverse Nikon T-mount, regular Canon T-mount).

    Just one crazy man's opinion ;)
  5. Forgot two things...

    First, I don't know what the availability of used MP-E 65 are, but they're around $850 new, before you get
    through playing with adapters to mount it on a Nikon. The PB-6 with 55mm micro-Nikkor shouldn't set you back more
    than $250, with an upgrade to PB-4 bringing it to around $380 ($100 more for the older, but more in demand, PB-4,
    and $30 for a "reversing ring" that a PB-4 needs and PB-6 doesn't).

    A 63mm Luminar typically goes for around $300 on the Bay of E. So combined with a used PB-6 at about $100, and an
    RMS adapter at $50, you're up and running for about $450 ($550 if you spring for the PB-4).

    Second, have you heard of a technique called "coupling"? Certain lenses, when placed "nose to nose" with "macro
    coupling rings" work surprisingly well. Magnification is the ratio of the two lenses focal lengths, so if you
    reverse a 35mm f2.0 on the front of a 105mm macro, you get 105mm/35mm = 3x magnification. Coupling is a little
    complicated (you might search for my previous post on "waterhouse stops") but the results can be excellent, and
    the cost is very low if you already have the lenses.
  6. Good advice here. I would go either with the bellows setup that Joseph describes, or coupling lenses (as he also describes. I've gone to near 3x with a 50 coupled to a 135 with good results. Getting suitable rings is easy (e.g. Heliopan has them new), but for focusing you probably need to think about a suitable focusing rail. The bellows would have the focusing mechanism built in. Also, you need pretty serious support for this.

    Take the lens-to-subject distance in consideration as well as the front element size; with these magnifications you might easily shadow the subject making it difficult to light it properly.
  7. Joseph,

    This approach sounds really neat to try. I think I will give it a go as that would be a lot more cost effective than going with the Canon lens / body. Plus I would get to tinker with photography stuff even more and macro photography is just fascinating to me. Thanks for the advice.
  8. I have a 50 / 1.8 lens in the bag...I think I am going to look for a coupling ring to mate up the 50mm to the 105 just to
    start with so that will get me to 2X and I need the lighting set-up to make it all work. I have a SB-800 but I think I
    need to get the flash off the camera based on the shots I have been getting. It's a continual learning process but sure
    is fun and rewarding to see the results from good macro work!

    Then next will be the bellows setup to incorporate a focussing rail with a good tripod setup. All my macro shots so
    far have been handheld but I know when going greater than life-size will need a lot more stability (I think).
  9. Just make a cardboard snoot for the sb-800. You can make a very decent macro snoot out of a toothpaste box or something similar. All you need is something to channel the light and reflect it down on your subject. A little blue (removeable) masking tape is all you need to keep it on the flash.
  10. Outside, a monopod can be pretty useful. Sb-800 in fp mode will let you use high shutter speeds with most Nikons. If you happen to have a d50 laying around it will flash sync with about any old flash at at any shutter speed (electronic shutter). Use a monopod to get close to steady and the flash and Fstop to do the rest.

    I've even used a 2x tele behind a bellows and 55mm micro lens for some pretty decent magnification.
    There is a point of no return though...
  11. I asked a similar question a little while ago...

    I recommend getting a Zoerk mini-macro tube (22-60mm extension) and a tominon/luminar/ photar lens in the 40-50 mm range.

    Now I realize you need extension equal to focal length to get lifesize magnifciation, however, does this apply to short mount lenses like these?

    That should take care of your 1:1-3:1 needs. I'm in the market for this range as well.

    To us High Mag photographers!


Share This Page