When I moved to Paris in the late 70s, to study at the Paris Conservatory to become a classical concert harpist, I had no idea that one day, I would instead end up a photographer. At that time, I did not own a camera, and never even thought about taking pictures, but for some reason, the French edition of PHOTO magazine caught my attention, and I was fascinated by the large posters on the back of the Parisian newsstands, blow-ups of their latest covers.
Many of their striking covers featured tight face crops and macro close-ups. As shown below.
Somehow, these powerful images engraved themselves into my subconscious, and as I started my career as a photographer, many years later in the mid-90s, I was eager to experiment with macro setups and to begin practicing for this type of work.
Later, these skills came in handy, as I was often commissioned to shoot close-ups for editorial and commercial clients.
Last week, Fujifilm has announced the addition of the 18/45mm Macro Extension Tubes for the Fujifilm GFX 50S.
I consider this the beginning of a new era for macro photography, as it is now possible for the first time to shoot 1:1 and beyond on a mirrorless medium format camera.
This is quite special, because precision focusing, by zooming in, is incredibly easy and accurate, like nothing ever before.
What you see is what you get, period.
The MCEX-45G WR tube, in combination with the GF 120mm f/4 lens Macro lens, allows for 1:1 magnification, but I like to add the 18mm extension (MCEX-18G WR) to gain slightly greater DOF at equal coverage. There is a small DOF advantage for the lens not to be at be set a minimum focusing distance. With the shorter tube added, you can also go beyond 1:1, but for me, that is not the reason to add it, I only do so to gain precious DOF. One could, of course, choose to focus bracket, and re-compose in post, but I do not like that look, as it is not organic in my opinion.
Even a small DOF gain is considered very valuable, as I also do not want to close down beyond f11.
The extension tubes do not affect the excellent sharpness of the lens, however, the price you pay is in light! The tubes are very hungry for light, so don’t be surprised if you need a lot more power than normal, as much as 2.5 stops in the ‘2 tube’ combo set up.
Manual focusing, when zoomed, is easy and very fast, but, to my amazement, even with both extension tubes added, the GFX’s autofocus is still extremely fast and accurate, allowing to nail 1:1 handheld, and without restricting the model’s natural movements.
Last year, Fujifilm already released the XF 80mm Macro lens, with 1:1 magnification, an extraordinary sharp lens. Having now added 1:1 to both the X series and the medium format GFX system, macro photography has become accessible to everyone!