The new Macro kit - Barry Wells Nature Photography
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Saturday April 5th, 2014

This winter I have been re-evaluating my macro photographic equipment.  For some time I have wanted to use Canon's legendary MPE-65 lens, as this appears to be arguably the finest macro lens on the market at this time. However, having sold all my Canon equipment several years ago, I was reluctant to swap camera brands again.

After some research, I found that several manufacturers were now making adapters that allowed Canon lenses to be used on Sony NEX bodies, retaining autofocus, electronic aperture, EXIF and image stabilisation. Chief among these is an American company, Metabones, whose products get great reviews, but are quite expensive - $399 for the EF to NEX adapter!

Luckily there are similar products at much lower prices and picked one up from TECHART for £77. This has allowed me to use the MPE-65 on my NEX bodies retaining all of its functions.

The MPE-65 is an extremely powerful macro lens going from life size to 5 x life size. Obviously at these extremes, the light gathering ability of this lens is very limited and the use of flash to light the subject is essential.

I experimented over the winter with various Sony flashguns, diffusers and  flash arms - all with limited success - and all of which have ended up on Ebay! Canon users have a dedicated twin head flash set up that works well with the MPE-65 but this will not work on non-Canon bodies. Luckily I discovered that Sony sell a similar product - the snappily named "HVLMT24AM Macro Twin Flash", and this has turned out to be near perfect for my new macro set up.

I can also use this with my Sigma 105mm macro lens that covers the magnification range of 1:4 to life-size (1:1). The third lens in my macro armoury is the outstanding Sigma 150mm which I will be using for more timid and distant subjects, using natural light.

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