Macro Photography With The FujiFilm X100 & B+W Close-Up +10 Diopter Filter

The FujiFilm X100 is not really lauded for it’s macro capabilities. In fact, across the various forums I’ve heard many a user slating it as near useless for close-up photography so I thought I’d give it a quick test and see if that was true. Now let me state from the off: a camera of this type with a fixed focal lens of 35mm is never going to replace your D300s and 70-180mm Micro-Nikkor. A 35mm lens means you’re going to have to get close so the working distance will get slightly uncomfortable unless you’re used to poking your lens up a ladybird’s nose. There are a few things you can do to improve your results, however and I think you’ll find that if you really want to do macro with an X100 it’s not totally incapable at all.

A tripod is going to be invaluable here, as will plenty of light. Like it or not, the manual focus on the X100 is not great so to a certain extent we’re reliant on AF, something rather alien in the macro world. The X100 is known for hunting like Davie Crockett in low light so keep things as bright as possible. Even on a tripod the lightweight X100 body is not easy to keep still, as I found out today, so I’ll be investing in a cable release before I try this again. With all the above in place, however, the first set of images to roll off the production line were not terrible at all. The first one below is softer than I’d like but that has a lot to do with a distinct lack of cable release and slight camera movement. I’ll redo this shot with the release once it’s here. (click on any of the images below for a larger version)

X100 MACRO

Just so we’re clear what’s been done to this image, it underwent the following post-processing in Photoshop CS4, after the .RAF RAW files had been converted to PS compatible .DNG:

1. Lightly cropped.
2. Re-sized to 1000 pixels.
4. Auto-corrected for tone, contrast and colour.
4. Sharpened using Topaz “In Focus” plugin.
5. Dust removed.
6. Saved as PNG 24 file.

B & W Close-Up +10 Diopter Filter

What happens if you want to get really close up, though? 1:1 and beyond.. Not possible? Not quite! Pick up a B&W Close-Up +10 Diopter Filter and suddenly the X100 will get really personal.

B&W +10 DIOPTER FILTER

This filter is available in 52mm so all you need is the standard 49mm – 52mm step up ring and you’re good to go. What you can’t do is use this filter in conjunction with your lens hood as it’s diameter is similar to that of the hood.

B&W +10 Diopter Filter

Once in place you can now position your camera literally 3-4 cm away from your subject and shoot to your hearts content and yes, it will still autofocus without any problem. As this was the very first time I’d shot with this filter (it arrived via Postie this morning) I decided to test it on something I’m used to shooting: a watch. The indices on the dial of my vintage Seiko 6306-7001 dive watch are quite rough and pitted from ageing and the hands have some light corrosion. The date window has bevelled edges and the dial itself is a nice matt black, making it an ideal candidate for a test such as this but would the diopter filter and X100 combo work well enough to capture that detail and render a worthwhile image? The watch in question looks like this:

SEIKO 6306-7001

Here’s a closer shot taken with a Nikon D300s and 70-180mm Zoom Micro Nikkor.

Seiko 6306-7001

You can see, even from this distance, the rough surface of the indices. So what does a cross section of that dial look like according to the X100 plus 10+ diopter filter? Let’s have a look:

Dial Cross-section

Well, there you go. This is about a 50% total crop. In other words, this cross section constitutes around 50% of the original image so you can see just how close the camera was.  There’s plenty of detail there, nicely rendered and pretty much what I’d expect from a half decent macro lens. Again, had a cable release been available this would have been even sharper. The shutter speed was at 15 for this shot so plenty of time for vibration. Again, I’ll reshoot this when the cable release arrives but considering this was taken with “poor” technique the result is surprisingly good. Post-processing on this one was identical to the first image except that I rather crudely removed two small areas of lens flare which you may or may not notice depending on your monitor and it’s calibration and settings.

Now this test was just meant to be a bit of fun more than anything so don’t take it too seriously but in my humble opinion it does show that you can actually have a bit of macro fun with the X100 and with some better technique than I managed to demonstrate without the cable release I’m sure you could produce some printable results. I need to spend a lot more time with the B&W 10+ diopter filter before I give it the “thumbs up” but for the £38 ($50) I paid for it I’m pleased at the possibilities it opens up for me and it’s a bit of kit that’s easily popped in the pocket when you’re on the go. And that’s really what the X100 is about for me: on the go! I don’t throw my D300s over my shoulder as I head out in the Jeep but I do my X100.

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