Extending Your Digital Kit with Analog Optics

Even though I shoot mirrorless most of the time, I still like using my Canon 5D Mark II. When I made the transition to Micro Four Thirds, I sold many of my Canon optics to pay for the new gear. As a result, I have a few gaps in my DSLR kit.

One of those gaps was a macro lens. My beautiful Canon 100mm L Macro fetched a great price on the used market. It was a good call to sell it. So now, when I want to shoot close with the 5D, I use this rig that leverages my Zeiss lenses that I have on hand for film photography.


The macro rig that I've cobbled together uses a Zeiss 50mm f/1.7, Contax 13mm extension tube, and a Fotodiox lens mount adapter. If I had to buy this stuff, which I didn't, it would run me about $175 on the used market. And if I substituted an excellent Yashica 50mm for the Zeiss, total cost drops to about $65. (But it's so hard to resist the Zeiss...)


The 13mm extension tube combined with the 50mm focal length provides excellent magnification. I shoot in manual mode, setting the aperture on the lens, then adjusting the shutter speed until the readouts are correct in the viewfinder. Since macro photography is a bit slower than other types of shooting, using manual exposure and focusing isn't really a handicap.

macro-web.jpg Canon 5D Mark II with Zeiss 50mm lens and Contax 13mm extension tube. Aperture set to f/1.7. Photos by Derrick Story.

Much of the work I do with the Canon is in the studio, and having a array of full frame optics to complement the handful of EOS zooms I kept, feels like a real luxury. And the image quality is terrific.

We're on Apple News!

Find us now on the Apple News App for iOS! Just open this link on your iOS device, then add The Digital Story to your Favorites.

Want to Comment on this Post?

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.