Why no equivalent to the MP-E 65mm?


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Nov 18, 2012
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There's no arguing that the Canon 65mm is the ultimate consumer and professional macro. One one hand, it's a simple concept with next to no electronics, no AF, no manual focus even. And yet it's the only one of its kind.

So why is there no Nikon equivalent? (serious macro photographers could, and I'm guessing have jumped to Canon to utilize it.) Why hasn't Tokina or Sigma come along, copied the design, gotten 80% of the image quality, and charged half as much?

Or maybe it's a patent issue?
Considering that they make 5 macro lenses in their line from 50mm all the way to 180mm Sigma would be who'd I'd put money on being the other company who could potentially make an MPE 65mm style lens - plus because Sigma make their lenses for multiple camera mount types it partly gets around the main reason you don't see many MPE 65mm style lenses in production - limited market.

The MPE 65mm is not just a very specific lens its a very rare lens. Even within macro circles its not the most common in use and many times people who try it out can oft return it simply because beyond 2:1 magnification things get hard; really really fast!

The other factor is that it isn't perfect:

a) The aperture ring could do with a few more and more curved aperture blades - a rather harsh background highlight shape is common with the current lens

b) 1:1 - 5:1 is rather restrictive. Many who shoot in macro would often prefer a 0.5:1 - 3:1 or 4:1 since going all the way to 5 times life size is rare and hard to shoot, whilst at the opposite end many insects and similar subjects can require a bit less than 1:1 for a good shot.

Then you have to consider that macro is one area where you can build a DIY kit from close up lens attachments (macro filters) and reversed prime lenses and extension tubes and get image quality as good as if not better (esp with regard to the aperture blades) than the MPE 65mm - though you will generally lack the zoom functionality.

Finally a lot of big institutions that would use an MPE already use optics in the form of a microscope and miscroscope camera, so there is sadly a somewhat reduced pressure there for a maket option.

The MPE and even more so the Twinflash that is designed to be paired with it could both have an overhaul and come out significantly improved. That Canon hasn't done this and that other companies don't have market options of their own (Nikon has an older 1:1-4:1 or something in that range macro option that was built all in one with a ringflash, sold second hand now but not in production) simply tells me that there is just not the mass market nor high end niche market big enough (in the companies views) to make it either viable or a priority to produce.

I'd love to see an upgrade of these things appear or an offering from Sigma or Tamron to give some variety and a chance at an upgrade in the market. Still the MPE 65mm is still a fantastic lens.

PS - My sharpest macro lens is my Sigma 70mm f2.8 macro, just beating the MPE 65mm and Sigma 150mm and that is mostly only at f2.8 - when the aperture blades are shut its very hard to tell them apart sharpness wise. Sigma might not be Canon, but with regard to macro lenses they are very much capable of being on an even footing with image quality; the same is true of Tokina and Tamron. There are differences but they are honestly quite small (getting into nit picking at things like the aperture blades and edge sharpness on fullframe bodies) when compared against each other.
Couldn't you get something similar with practically any normal lens if it was used with a bellows and focus rail?
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Hehe exactly what I was going to post Kurt :)

Need to get my hands on that lens

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