Getting magnification: Stacking objectives

Stacking lenses is an excellent way to get higher magnification in macrophotography.  I’ve only recently started experimenting with this technique, but was immediately impressed by the magnification and clarity of the images.

Clued in by a good friend in Seattle, Bruce Kelly, and a post on photomacrography.net by Rik Littlefield, I bought a few new toys.

At the heart of this method is a Nikon 10x microscope objective with a relatively large working distance – 10.5 mm (about a half inch).  Typical working distance of microscope objectives are 4 mm or less.  Using this lens requires a relay lens.  I had the perfect lens in my camera bag: a Nikon 105 macro lens.

So how do you attach a microscope objective to a camera lens?  There’s an adapter for that.

Here is what the full setup looks like.

Nikon 10x objective stacked on 105 macro lens and 2x teleconverterParts list (left to right):

  • Canon 60D DSLR
  • Adapter (Nikon lens to Canon body)
  • 2x teleconverter (model TC-200)
  • Nikon Micro-Nikkor 105mm macro lens (focused at infinity)
  • Microscope objective to camera filter adapter (M52-M25 in this case)

The results are promising.  Here are some shots of a metric ruler using this setup.

Field of view 10x objective on a 105mcaro lensField of view with 10x objective 105 macro and 2x teleconverter

The top photo was taken with the 10x objective and 105mm telephoto lens.  Those green bars denote distance in millimeters.  With this setup the field of view is about 4 mm.  The bottom photo was taken with the 10x objective, 105mm telephoto lens, and a 2x teleconverter.  As you would expect, magnification is double, providing a field of view about 2 mm.

This bodes well for taking photos of micro minerals. Since I use a camera with a cropped CMOS sensor (APS-C – 22.3mm x 14.9mm), the approximate magnification is 5.6:1 and 11:1.  I will refine the magnification ratios soon and also measure depth of field.

Let's talk rocks.

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