I bought the Canon MP-E 65mm f2.8 manual 1-5x macro lens a month ago and today was the first time I had a chance to try it out. The lens is $1000.00 and it is a specialty lens. It is good for only one thing, macro photos and video (using Letus DOF adapters or a video-enabled DSLR).
This lens is sweet. I love it. I attached it to my Sony PMW-EX1 with the Letus Ultimate 35mm lens adapter and left the manual film lens aperture wide open. The resulting shallow depth of field is unlike anything I have ever seen. This lens was a real challenge to focus.
The way it works is simple… You just get the object you want to focus on in the sweet spot of the lens… around 1-2 inches from the dime sized front lens element. If you want to get even closer, you twist the focus barrel on the lens and move the camera slightly back. This effectively “zooms” the lens in to 5x (lots of lens focus breathing on this thing) and the lens works like a microscope. I was amazed at how close I could get to the insects and the detail that the lens reveled on their tiny bodies.
You cannot use this lens for anything other than macro work. It just will not focus to infinity or to half a meter for that matter!
Keep this stuff in mind as you watch the video above. I was shooting in late afternoon light, deep under tree cover. There was little light on the forest floor. I worked on a single rotten log, finding the centipede and the grub living the bug’s life on the soft decaying wood.
I shot for about an hour splitting the time between the centipede and the grub. Pulling focus was difficult and the DOF was a hair. Notice how soft and blown out (focus wise) the back ground is. It looks like I shot in a studio!
So why not use this Canon lens on the Canon 5dmk2? The Sony EX1 and Letus Ultimate just have a look that I am very fond of. I really like having the extra weight and proper camera functions.
I used my Vinten baby legs and the Vinten Vision 10 AS tripod head. This got me real close to the ground and next to the bug infested deadfall.
I love this Canon lens and I am looking forward to using the ring flash unit to capture some great macro photography. I find it amazing that something as small as a bug, is full of incredible detail! Look for the missing leg on the centipede and the tiny hairs on the grub in the video.
Let me know what you think.