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Sony FE 70-200mm F/4 macro lens


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I am moving this lens to a thread of its own if anyone is interested.

 

I have attached some photos of the Marelux housing configuration and some test shots above water with the Sony FE 70-200mm F/4 macro. I actually took an interest in this focal length after a trip to Bali where both of my dive buddies were using the Nikon D850 and the Nikon 70-180mm F/4.5-5.6 AF-D Macro a lens discontinued in 2004. This is a 1:3.20 at 70mm to 1:1.32 at 180mmm lens. Both use Nauticam housings with modified ports with both flat or interchangeable curved ports.

 

Marelux offered support for the Sony FE 70-200 F/4 1:2 macro as soon as it was released. Marelux recommends two configurations, one for 70-100mm behind a 67mm flat port and a different configuration for 100-200mm with the 67mm flat port. I am using the Sony 90mm macro lens port with a total of 75mm of extension which brings the total length to 172mm for the 100-200mm range. This would be a total of around 152mm port and extension for Nauticam A7R V users. The two different configurations are to prevent vignetting behind the small flat 67mm port due to the extension of the lens between 70mm and 200mm

 

The Marelux zoom gear works flawlessly with the system as does the modern auto focus system. To zoom the complete range I will be trying the 140mm dome but I think this could also be done with the Nauticam N100 four inch dome. Not completely sure in the case of Nauticam. I have attached three images the first is at 200mm and 1:2 and the image is 68mm across or slightly less than 1:2. The second image is 200mm at 1:2 using the APS-C format. The third image is 200mm at 1:2 with the Marelux MV-10 closeup lens which brings the image to beyond life-size to about 2:1.

 

 

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Hi Phil, two questions:

 

- Does the 100-200mm setup start vignetting right at 100mm?

- How much working distance do you get at 200mm?

 

Looking forward to your experiences with this setup.

 

PS:  That is quite a 'he-manly' rig 🙂

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I just looked up the port chart on the Marelux site and see the two focal range configurations you mention. I assumed the numbers on the ports and extension rings referred to their length. In that case, the 70-100mm configuration has 70 + 104 = 174mm length and the 100-200mm configuration has 100 + 71 = 171mm length. I assumed that the 70-100 focal range configuration would be significantly shorter to avoid vignetting and have more working distance. Am I missing something?

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Interesting - it looks like SeaFrogs offer a port and zoom gear for a 70-200 F4, although they don't specify whether it's a 1st or 2nd generation lens. Looking at wayback machine, this listing appeared quite recently, so it's likely to be the 2nd gen one, and the 4" diameter front element suggests that it should have the full zoom range without vignetting. I have to admit I'm kinda curious as to how it would perform... but not US$2000 level of curious.

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Thanks, very interesting, especially the possibility to use the closeup lens to reach real macro capability of 2:1 (comparable to the Zuiko 90mm lens, but, of course smaller sensor and hence more magnification relative to the frame size?)...

 

Is the Marelux closeup lens more comparable with Nauticam's SMC-2 or SMC-1?

 

Wolfgang

 

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On 3/30/2024 at 4:05 PM, Biodives said:

Hi Phil, two questions:

 

- Does the 100-200mm setup start vignetting right at 100mm?

- How much working distance do you get at 200mm?

 

Looking forward to your experiences with this setup.

 

PS:  That is quite a 'he-manly' rig 🙂

The very slightest of vignetting starts at 90mm and you could get buy down to about 88m.

 

Working distance at 200mm using AF to get to minimum focus distance is 16.5cm at 1:2.

 

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Neat, that means the bulk, and most interesting part, of the focal range is accessible in the 'tele configuration'.

 

At 70mm the minimum focus distance is 16cm less than at 200mm. So if you put the lens behind a dome to get access to the full zoom range you get the wider field of view benefit but at the wide end of the range there will be almost no working distance left.

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I use 70-200mm lens topside to shoot bees in flight. Still long way to go but is coming together

I do not understand the benefit underwater though. On land you use a tele lens because you want distance for critters that do not want you to get close

Fish in general have much closer distances than topside animals so don't require you to step back a macro lens is indeed just fine

What is the use case that makes a long telephoto useful underwater???

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2 hours ago, Architeuthis said:

Thanks, very interesting, especially the possibility to use the closeup lens to reach real macro capability of 2:1 (comparable to the Zuiko 90mm lens, but, of course smaller sensor and hence more magnification relative to the frame size?)...

 

Is the Marelux closeup lens more comparable with Nauticam's SMC-2 or SMC-1?

 

Wolfgang

 

The MV-10 would be most like the SCM-1, Marelux has MV-15 which is about 11mm across full frame at 1:1 and you can also stack the two lenses and get around +23.

 

 

 

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10 minutes ago, Interceptor121 said:

I use 70-200mm lens topside to shoot bees in flight. Still long way to go but is coming together

I do not understand the benefit underwater though. On land you use a tele lens because you want distance for critters that do not want you to get close

Fish in general have much closer distances than topside animals so don't require you to step back a macro lens is indeed just fine

What is the use case that makes a long telephoto useful underwater???

 

Depends on your definition of macro. The 70-200 F/4 Macro focuses to 1:2 from 70 to 200mm Some may find the added distance to subject useful and others may not. 

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14 minutes ago, Phil Rudin said:

 

Depends on your definition of macro. The 70-200 F/4 Macro focuses to 1:2 from 70 to 200mm Some may find the added distance to subject useful and others may not. 

What kind of fish is this set up suitable for that I could not shoot with something else?

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1 minute ago, Interceptor121 said:

What kind of fish is this set up suitable for that I could not shoot with something else?

You tell me 121, the Nikon 70-180mm F/4.5 to 5.6 was a popular range for many U/W shooters for years because it had similar macro features. The common 70-200 has a close focus range around 40cm this lens focuses much more closely and has a zoom range covered by many popular fixed macro lenses offerings. If how it could be used is beyond your grasp then it obviously is not for you. 

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The main point of considering this this lens for UW use seems to be to allow shooting small to medium fish that often move quickly that won't allow you to get in close to shoot with conventional lenses.  If that is your interest, how useful it is I would think depends on how quickly it will AF.   Many macro lenses are not so good with AF if they need to move focal range extensively and it seems to be related to the wide focal range which takes time to cover.  A prime example for me is the 12-40 f2.8 Olympus lens which snaps to focus very quickly while the 60mm macro takes a leisurely cruise to get there and seems more likely to hunt.  As for 1:2, well if you want to fill the frame comfortably with a 40-50mm fish on full frame you need to achieve about 1:2, sure you can do that with a long macro lens but will it focus as fast?

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5 hours ago, Interceptor121 said:

It is definitely not for me

and I don’t understand why anyone would bother to get 1:2?
I could see some use for a 150mm macro lens indeed

 

The majority of reef fishes like damsels, gobies, blennies, wrasse, etc are longer than 3.6cm and therefore don't need 1:1 magnification. Although it wouldn't hurt to have full 1:1 macro, and yes that would be preferrable over 1:2 macro, there are currently no native long focal length macro lenses for mirrorless cameras and I don't know of any zoom lenses that give 1:1 macro. So the 70-200mm offers an interesting mix of features with a magnification that is good enough for those interested in intermediate size subjects.

 

I think this lens would be good for shy fish like the whitecap shrimpgoby, jawfish, wormfish, sanddivers, ...

It is also good for fish that you can't get close to like some pygmy and other gobies that live in the back of small caves or under overhangs that you can't physically reach. A third application would be taking video of fish behavior from a distance large enough not to interfere with what they are doing.

 

Ultimately the proof is in the pudding. If I had that lens available for underwater use how frequently would I use it? If I had a 200mm 1:1 macro lens then it would be a specialty lens too long for most subjects. But with a 70-200mm zoom range it is pretty general purpose. In another thread we just discussed what people who take pictures for fish id books use and in two examples they used exclusively a macro lens of about 100mm focal length. That is what I probably end up with for my next trip. I bet that the great majority of images will be at less than 1:2 magnification. The question then is, how often would I have wished my lens was longer than 200mm.

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4 hours ago, Biodives said:

 

The majority of reef fishes like damsels, gobies, blennies, wrasse, etc are longer than 3.6cm and therefore don't need 1:1 magnification. Although it wouldn't hurt to have full 1:1 macro, and yes that would be preferrable over 1:2 macro, there are currently no native long focal length macro lenses for mirrorless cameras and I don't know of any zoom lenses that give 1:1 macro. So the 70-200mm offers an interesting mix of features with a magnification that is good enough for those interested in intermediate size subjects.

 

I think this lens would be good for shy fish like the whitecap shrimpgoby, jawfish, wormfish, sanddivers, ...

It is also good for fish that you can't get close to like some pygmy and other gobies that live in the back of small caves or under overhangs that you can't physically reach. A third application would be taking video of fish behavior from a distance large enough not to interfere with what they are doing.

 

Ultimately the proof is in the pudding. If I had that lens available for underwater use how frequently would I use it? If I had a 200mm 1:1 macro lens then it would be a specialty lens too long for most subjects. But with a 70-200mm zoom range it is pretty general purpose. In another thread we just discussed what people who take pictures for fish id books use and in two examples they used exclusively a macro lens of about 100mm focal length. That is what I probably end up with for my next trip. I bet that the great majority of images will be at less than 1:2 magnification. The question then is, how often would I have wished my lens was longer than 200mm.

You can get 1:2 in several ways

1. With a 1:1 macro lens doubling the distance

2. With any lens that takes a flat port using a close up diopter

3. With a zoom lens behind a dome port overlaying a close up lens with a special mount

 

The lens in question is very long when extended making it challenging to use.

I use lenses like this topside a lot and those that extend are the worse as the balance changes a lot when you zoom

 

The interesting part of a long lens is the very narrow field of view that eliminated the background, the challengin part is to find your subject in the frame in the first place because of said narrow angle of view

 

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13 hours ago, Interceptor121 said:

What kind of fish is this set up suitable for that I could not shoot with something else?

 

When I consider the way I make macros, I believe (hope) a long tele lens may be useful for really small critters to get some reasonable distance between front of the assembly to the critter. Usual magnification ratios 2:1 and more, where one has almost to press the front element at the animal to get such magnifications at shorter focal length (also lighting becomes a problem then)...

I am excited and surprised that 2:1 may be possible with SMC-1 plus the 70-200mm f/4 at 200mm (??; this is what I get with Sony 90mm plus SMC-1 and the 90mm lens has already 1:1 by itself, not 1:2 as the 70-200mm f/4). I did not expect this from the specs...

 

=> For me, a lens longer than the Sony 20-70mm behind domeport is not really interesting for medium sized fish, as 70mm is already long for UW and provides enough distance. An exception may be documentation of behaviour of individual and very shy species, where photography requires longer lenses, but IQ will suffer then...

 

Wolfgang

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As always, getting closer is your first choice underwater but when you are shooting fish you very often find that you cannot get as close as you would like. Sometimes 1m distance is the best you can do even if you have a lot of experience. That means you get a lot of water in the light path which reduces image quality and, if it is a small fish, a tiny subject in the frame. I can't do anything about the amount of water, but a longer focal length avoids having to crop heavily.

 

With my current m43 camera, the 60mm macro lens (120mm FF eq.) does the job most of the time but I regularly wish it were longer. Maybe that is no longer the case after I get the A7R V with the 90mm macro because with 60Mpx you can crop a lot more. However, it is still better to enlarge optically than digitally. The 70-200 lens would allow me to do that without locking me into a very long focal length, as would be the case with a dedicated 150mm or longer true 1:1 macro lens. And with a working distance of only 16cm at 200mm you can get close if the subject allows it.

 

Practical issues like the sheer size of the lens, vignetting, or imbalance when extending can make all of this a moot point. But balance may be less of an issue underwater. I am just going to wait and see what Phil's experience with the lens is.

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2 hours ago, Biodives said:

 

As always, getting closer is your first choice underwater but when you are shooting fish you very often find that you cannot get as close as you would like. Sometimes 1m distance is the best you can do even if you have a lot of experience. That means you get a lot of water in the light path which reduces image quality and, if it is a small fish, a tiny subject in the frame. I can't do anything about the amount of water, but a longer focal length avoids having to crop heavily.

 

With my current m43 camera, the 60mm macro lens (120mm FF eq.) does the job most of the time but I regularly wish it were longer. Maybe that is no longer the case after I get the A7R V with the 90mm macro because with 60Mpx you can crop a lot more. However, it is still better to enlarge optically than digitally. The 70-200 lens would allow me to do that without locking me into a very long focal length, as would be the case with a dedicated 150mm or longer true 1:1 macro lens. And with a working distance of only 16cm at 200mm you can get close if the subject allows it.

 

Practical issues like the sheer size of the lens, vignetting, or imbalance when extending can make all of this a moot point. But balance may be less of an issue underwater. I am just going to wait and see what Phil's experience with the lens is.

I think you are making confusion here

Having a longer lens does not translate in higher magnification. Your 200mm lens frame will be 72mm wide and 48mm tall which is 1:2.

If you had a macro lens 200mm that would make the frame 36x24 with double the working distance (from the sensor) of a 100mm lens

If you were looking at higher magnification the olympus 90mm would be a better choice

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21 minutes ago, Interceptor121 said:

I think you are making confusion here

Having a longer lens does not translate in higher magnification. Your 200mm lens frame will be 72mm wide and 48mm tall which is 1:2.

If you had a macro lens 200mm that would make the frame 36x24 with double the working distance (from the sensor) of a 100mm lens

If you were looking at higher magnification the olympus 90mm would be a better choice

 

That is only the case if you can actually get to the minimum focusing distance. At a distance of 1m, a 200mm lens will magnify more than a 100mm lens independent of its macro abilities. For many (super)macro subjects you can pick the subject distance freely, for many fish that is not the case.

 

With the OMD 90mm macro I would be limited to very small subjects for the entire dive, the 70-200 on FF is more flexible, at least on paper.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Biodives said:

 

That is only the case if you can actually get to the minimum focusing distance. At a distance of 1m, a 200mm lens will magnify more than a 100mm lens independent of its macro abilities. For many (super)macro subjects you can pick the subject distance freely, for many fish that is not the case.

 

With the OMD 90mm macro I would be limited to very small subjects for the entire dive, the 70-200 on FF is more flexible, at least on paper.

 

 

1 meter is a lot of water to go through for a flat port and for your strobes that will need to be near wide angle setting and blast the whole subject removing any ability to control light

I think 60mm on M43 is really only useable in clear water most times 45mm is better, I cannot see how 50-100 in M43 equivalent is easy to manage anyway up to you

 

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Posted (edited)

So first let me say that I don't have any interest other than in trying to point out upsides and downsides to lenses I get to test. The 70-200mm F/4 macro would be my first choice for shooting above water in the focal range because of the macro feature and the fact that I don't need the F/2.8 of the Sony FE 70-200mm F/2.8 II which cost $2798.00 US V $1698.00 US new. Tamron also has a 70-180 F/2.8 for $1299.00 US which focuses closer than the Sony F/2.8 but does not get near 1:2. 

 

After further testing I found that the 70-200mm F/4 macro does not focus at 1:2 through the entire range as was advertised but is more like 1:3/3.5 at 70mm, very disappointing. In addition at 200mm and 1:2 the distance to subject is only a mm or 2 better than the excellent 90mm macro at 1:2. To test this I set the 70/200 at 200 with MF and focus peeking V. the 90mm set the 1:2 with MF and focus peeking. Results were when the lenses came into focus the 90mm was only slightly ahead of the 200mm. This was pointed out earlier by 121 and the lenses act very much the same at different magnifications only gaining or loosing a bit of DOF depending on the setting.

 

The Sony 90mm macro is my go to lens for things in the up to about 18cm range, With macro focus limiter on you max out at about 14cm, so I stay set to full range most of the time because the new A7R V, A1, A9 iii and so on do a great job with AF down to 1:1 in most cases. 

 

If I know my intent is to shoot at 1:1 or greater using C/U lenses you start getting into the range of having some upsides going manual focus. For 1:1+ subjects where you need greater distance than the 90mm can give you to the subject I have been testing the excellent IRIX 150mm F/2.8 1:1 lens. At 1:1 you get an added 4.5cm over the 90mm macro which can make a difference with skittish critters. 

 

Contrary to what you would think if you set the IRIX 150mm at 1:2 minimum focus using peeking against the Sony 70-200mm at 200mm and minimum focus using peeking the 150mm has about 9.5cm greater distance to subject. This is not at all what I would have expected.

 

Some other observations are that the 200 at 1:2 has slightly more magnification than the 90mm at 1:2. At 1:1 the IRIX has more magnification than the 90mm at 1:1 both shot using peeking. In AF the 90mm at 1:1 does not focus as close as when it is set to manual focus. This is common with all AF close focusing lenses.  

 

Bottom line is that while the 70-200 range is desirable above water the 70-200mm F/4 macro seems much less useful under water than say the IRIX 150mm which costs $599.00 US in the Sony FE mount.  

 

Photos are the 90 and 150 both at 1:1 at minimum focus and the 150 and 200 both at 1:2 and minimum focus. You can see the differences in close focusing distances.

 

 

 

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IMG_5649.jpg

Edited by Phil Rudin
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1 hour ago, Phil Rudin said:

So first let me say that I don't have any interest other than in trying to point out upsides and downsides to lenses I get to test. The 70-200mm F/4 macro would be my first choice for shooting above water in the focal range because of the macro feature and the fact that I don't need the F/2.8 of the Sony FE 70-200mm F/2.8 II which cost $2798.00 US V $1698.00 US new. Tamron also has a 70-180 F/2.8 for $1299.00 US which focuses closer than the Sony F/2.8 but does not get near 1:2. 

 

After further testing I found that the 70-200mm F/4 macro does not focus at 1:2 through the entire range as was advertised but is more like 1:3/3.5 at 70mm, very disappointing. In addition at 200mm and 1:2 the distance to subject is only a mm or 2 better than the excellent 90mm macro at 1:2. To test this I set the 70/200 at 200 with MF and focus peeking V. the 90mm set the 1:2 with MF and focus peeking. Results were when the lenses came into focus the 90mm was only slightly ahead of the 200mm. This was pointed out earlier by 121 and the lenses act very much the same at different magnifications only gaining or loosing a bit of DOF depending on the setting.

 

The Sony 90mm macro is my go to lens for things in the up to about 18cm range, With macro focus limiter on you max out at about 14cm, so I stay set to full range most of the time because the new A7R V, A1, A9 iii and so on do a great job with AF down to 1:1 in most cases. 

 

If I know my intent is to shoot at 1:1 or greater using C/U lenses you start getting into the range of having some upsides going manual focus. For 1:1+ subjects where you need greater distance than the 90mm can give you to the subject I have been testing the excellent IRIX 150mm F/2.8 1:1 lens. At 1:1 you get an added 4.5cm over the 90mm macro which can make a difference with skittish critters. 

 

Contrary to what you would think if you set the IRIX 150mm at 1:2 minimum focus using peeking against the Sony 70-200mm at 200mm and minimum focus using peeking the 150mm has about 9.5cm greater distance to subject. This is not at all what I would have expected.

 

Some other observations are that the 200 at 1:2 has slightly more magnification than the 90mm at 1:2. At 1:1 the IRIX has more magnification than the 90mm at 1:1 both shot using peeking. In AF the 90mm at 1:1 does not focus as close as when it is set to manual focus. This is common with all AF close focusing lenses.  

 

Bottom line is that while the 70-200 range is desirable above water the 70-200mm F/4 macro seems much less useful under water than say the IRIX 150mm which costs $599.00 US in the Sony FE mount.  

 

Photos are the 90 and 150 both at 1:1 at minimum focus and the 150 and 200 both at 1:2 and minimum focus. You can see the differences in close focusing distances.

 

 

 

IMG_5646.jpg

IMG_5649.jpg

The point is that the 70-200 reaches 1:2 at 43 cm however the lens is 20 cm long when extended if not more so your working distance from the front is 23 cm

The 90mm reaches 1:1 at 20 cm from the front of the lens so the difference is not important

The benefit of shooting a telelens at close range topside is that if you cannot actually get close when you approach infinity distance the lens does have more magnification in the end and also focuses much faster so you can shoot burst while the macro lens will take much longer to focus due to the breathing

the 150mm manual lens looks more interesting underwater as you say

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