Many of my colleagues have some exotic macro lenses. One friend has one which he always claims is the 'cream' of macro lenses. Certainly I have seen images from it which are superb, and many reviews for this lens always rate it as being one of the very best.
Being the gracious chap he is, and also the fact he has more cameras/lenses than he knows what to do with, I asked him if I could borrow the 'rig' for a few days.
I am not going to name the camera/lens combination, as this is not about 'pissing on the parade' of that rig, it is about how good is the HS-10 lens in macro mode.
As I said this post was inspired by some simply amazing macros I saw from the HS-10. Personally, I have always found the HS-10 lens (as with most Fujinon lenses) to be incredibly sharp and clear.
So, with all that in mind, I set up a simple test setup. To satisfy myself, I shot many test images with the camera/macro lens rig (Camera 1) to determine it's sweetest spot.
Having done that, I then did a simple comparison shoot between Camera 1 and the HS-10. These were shot in Raw for Camera 1, and Raw + Jpeg for the HS-10.
I have always found that the HS-10 'sweet spot' is between f 5.6 and f 7.1, with f 6.4 being my preferred setting. However, and for the purposes of this exercise, I used f 5.6.
This simply shows the two images (from Raw) as opened in Photoshop. Both have had levels adjusted. Nothing else.
Note : Clicking on any image will show you a larger size of that image
The two images (from Raw) shown at 100% view. This is akin to viewing at about 30 x 40" print size.
Camera 1 image (from Raw), at left, compared with HS-10 Jpeg. This is straight from camera with the exception of levels control to match the Camera 1 image. In other words, brightened slightly.
Back to the two, from Raw, images. Now, both have had sharpening applied. Same amount for each.
See my Simple Sharpener post here
Now sharpened Camera 1 image (from Raw), at left, with HS-10 Jpeg image at right.
It may be difficult to see at these sizes, but the Camera 1 image was actually suffering quite a bit of luminance noise. More so than the HS-10 Raw image and also more than the HS-10 Jpeg image. Keep in mind though that the HS-10 Jpeg engine will be applying a degree of noise reduction.
When I first saw the out-of-camera HS-10 Jpeg image, I was quite impressed with it's overall clarity. So what I was trying to achieve here, was to see if I could 'tweak' the Camera 1 image to get a similar degree of sharpness and clarity.
What I have done here is to pass the Camera 1 image through Nik Dfine. The HS-10 Jpeg image is still as shot.
The same as above but now viewing at 50%. This is roughly equal to viewing at a print size of 20 x 30".
With my Camera 1 image now sharpened and with some noise reduction applied, I wanted to see how it would compare with the HS-10 image (from Raw) which has had sharpening applied, but no noise reduction applied. Frankly, it doesn't need any.
Same as above but both images now viewed as if at a print size of 11 x 15".
Almost all the time I shoot Raw (Raw + Jpeg). However, having used the new settings on the HS10 for the past several weeks, I am now starting to question why I do - For this camera. Simply, the Jpeg engine does an excellent job.
(The Jpeg settings I am using, can be found here )
So, below is the from camera HS-10 Jpeg (left), with the HS-10 from Raw image, at right.
As mentioned prior, the only post process work done to the Jpeg image was some slight levels adjustment. The same was applied to the from Raw image, and that has also been sharpened.
These are also being shown as if at a print size of 11 x 15"
After going through this exercise, I came to the following conclusions :
- The HS-10 lens is remarkably sharp and clear
- Shooting Jpeg only, for this sort of work, works extremely well
- I'm not in the market for a specialised 'rig' for shooting macros
See also a second part to this, here