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Testing the Nauticam SMC and Nauticam Multiplier lenses

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Nauticam SCM and multiplier lens

Test of the Nauticam Super Macro Converter and Multiplier lenses

Recently I lend the Nauticam Super Macro Converter lens (SMC) and Nauticam Multiplier-1 lens to a very skilled underwater photographer.
I know him to be a very thorough guy and wanted his view on the Multiplier lens, that you can mount on top of the SMC lens.
I find that lens hard to use as the magnifying effect is very high.
Here is the report I got back.

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Report by: René Bruno Nielsen

Hi Lars
Thanks for lending me the lens kit. Finally, I got the chance to play with it!
It was very interesting. But also very tricky.

I decided to take it out early January. It was my first dive this year.
Weather was calm and nice. About 0°C and clear. I planned 2 dives in the 2-3°C cold and relatively clear water. The place was Lillebælt. Nice and easy for winter-diving. All in all a god day to do an unplanned/unstructured test of the Nauticam SMC + Multiplier. I knew that at about 15 meters it is always good for small critters. Not to mention that “nudi season” had started, so I had high expectations to this ultra macro kit.

When I was about ready to jump in the water I recalled that one guy joked with the SMC+Mulitipler requires a tripod! But I did not expect it to be a problem. So I just swam out to approx. 10m and located a (very) small nudi. After one quick test shot without magnification I removed the SMC from the lens holder on my flash arm and screw it on my port. Then I switched the multiplier on as well, and was ready to shoot some details on the nudi.
But when I looked into the viewfinder there was nothing to see and I got completely lost – What the… where did it go….? Everything in the lens was blurry!

A little note about gear:
I use a Nauticam housing for Nikon D7000 with AF-S 105mm,2.8 macro lens and two inon z240. This is a DX system – and means that I have a cropfactor of approx. 1,5, which gives me a 157mm (on a 35mm equivalent camera).
On top of this I´ve used Subsee +5 and +10 over some time. And I would say with some good results. I mainly use the 105mm/+10 combination but I also like the Nikon 60mm macro – a very fast and nice lens. I have used that with the +5. I sometimes would have liked some more magnification and hence that, I have an interest in testing this lens.

So… Back to the water: I did a retreat from the missing nudibranch site and found a very small shell instead that was hid behind a big stone (There are always a bit of current here, so I had to be sheltered as much as possible) The shell was less than 8 mm and I started out with only the SMC. That worked better.

(Picture taken with SMC – 1/250; f:32)

SMC without Multiplier

So now it was time to add the Multiplier again.
And this time I was better prepared and able to located the shell again.
So I made this picture:
(With Multiplier: 1/250; f:32)

SMC with Multiplier

I was now close… very close!
And it was really hard for me to place the focus where I wanted it.
The depth-of-field got dramatically reduced. Even at f:36 I could not get focus depth for the whole shell… Very sharp but not much of the shell in focus!

I also found a starfish as a motive.
Placing the focus where I wanted it was hard, but a lot easier now that I had some practice with the lens.
(More SMC+Multiplier – 1/250; f:36 – Small starfish leg)

SMC with Multiplier


Second dive

At the second dive, I was on top of things. I now knew how to handle the lens, but as I still did not have a tripod, the Multiplier was almost impossible for me to use. It seemed that every time I found something interesting, the magnification and narrow depth-of-field would not work with me.
And honestly it is meant to be used for really small things. The crop-factor on my DSLR did not help me either.
But with nearly 2 hours in water I had good time to play. So I quit the Multiplier and aimed at an Eremite just to prove to myself that I could actually make photos. That was a lot better. Focus was again fast and pictures not blurry. The SMC is sharp!

(SMC – 1/250 f:36)

SMC without multiplier

 

(SMC – 1/250; f:36)

SMC without Multiplier

 

I would probably never go into water with a Nauticam Multiplier in the front of my lens without a heavy tripod, no current and a very specific project to use it for.
But from my short test I have to say that the SMC is HIGH quality optic. It’s heavy with the Multiplier – make sure to get a StiX-belt to lift the front of the housing while using it or you will get sore hands… I would think the SMC to be around +13-15 compared with Subsee.
The lens does not pull the subject right into the flat port, but actually leaves the focus distance a little away from the lens. And that gives room to mount some light from the front. Very nice feature!

I could easily fall in love with the SMC on my DX camera! However, the DX / FX is the whole key for the right solution. In my personal opinion the Multiplier is for FX cameras (and still only for extreme pictures).
With the DX/MIL camera we are already way ahead when doing macro, as the crop factor 1,5 (1,6) give us more than FX users get with a +5 diopter!

Later that night I looked through my pictures – and at the corner of one of the images I noticed this little guy.
I am not sure what it is, but it is a baby-something… and not more than 0,5 – 1 mm tall.
THAT might be an interesting project for the Multiplier lens. But not without the tripod!

(picture is approx. 100% crop)

SMC + Multiplier
See you under water – and have a fun Dive.

 

René Bruno Nielsen

René Bruno Nielsen – René has been a diver for more than 25 years – instructor and trimix educated.
For the past 12 years his main interest has been underwater video- & photography.


All Above pictures are “non cropped” – and “just added a little bit of the “lost in water” contrast with Lightroom.

© 2016 – René Bruno Nielsen

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Lars Kirkegaard Lars is one of Scandinavia's very experienced photo/videographers with many years of working as both an active member of the Scandinavian Underwater Community, an underwater photographer, studio photographer, TV-videographer and as a Graphic Arts specialist. Owner of FOTOGRAFIT.eu