Sony RX10 M3: Close-Up Experiences - Hand-held Close-up Lenses

Introduction | An Experiment | Conclusions | References

This page and its companion pages discuss the macro, or better, close-up, abilities of the Sony RX10 M3. Although the camera has a macro mode (allowing shots from 3 cm), I would not call these photos "macros" and therefore use the term "close-up."

On this page, I present some experiments with hand-held close-up lenses, a Marumi +5 achromat, and a cheap set of small close-up lenses. The basis question was which diopter values might fit a lens with a long telephoto range.

Note: This page is also valid for the Sony RX10 M4, because both cameras have identical lenses.

Note: See also page Close-Up Experiences - +3 Achromat Tests.



Since the close-up performance of the Sony RX10 M3 (and M4 as well...) offers room for improvement, I considered buying an achromat or two for the lens. I considered the Marumi achromats that I have already been successfully using. But since the RX10 M3 has a 72 mm filter thread, the achromats are nearly twice the price of my 52 mm achromats. In addition, on the site where I looked for the achromats, Marumi warns to use achromats with two many diopters for strong telephoto lenses. Since they offer a +3 and a +5 achromat, I asked myself, which one to buy. Up to now, I had mostly +5 achromats (and one +10 achromat of a different brand), but that might already be too much...

So, before I ordered an achromat, I decided to test the magnification with some close-up lenses that I just hold in front of the lens with my hand to get an idea of the magnification (and distance). Of course, this could only deliver poor results, but perhaps I might be able to pull some numbers out of this... Therefore, I did a first experiment with some of my close-up lenses, a +5 Marumi achromat, and a cheap set of small close-up lenses, the results of which I report on in the following.


An Experiment

I did my experiment at a focal length of 600 mm (equiv.) and in the closest and the infinity setting for this focal length. The following photos just shows my experimental "setting", that is, the lenses used:


Figures: My equipment used in this very "quick-ad-dirty" test

The following table summarizes my minimum object width results for the Sony RX10 M3 (I did not measure the distance):

FL (equiv.) Distance set to...
 600 mm > Infinity Close-Up
Object Width Object Width
+5 12 mm 15 mm
+4 15 mm 18 mm
+3 20 mm 22 mm
+2 30 mm 30 mm
+1 60mm 40 mm

The results look somewhat inconsistent (the +1 results could be replicated), but a general direction can be derived from them. A +3 achromat would allow an object width of about 2 cm, one with +5 diopters one between 12 and 15 mm. There was little distortion in my test shots, but I cannot report on image sharpness because of the way that I took the photos...



In general, using close-up lenses at the Sony RX10 M3 makes sense only when these are used at the telephoto end. The magnification increases consistently with increasing diopter numbers and the shooting distance is wider and thus, leads to a better perspective and disturbs insects less. You also cast less shade on the objects that you take photos of. But at these huge magnifications (or small object widths) the image quality may be questionable...

With respect to my original question, namely whether to buy a +3 or a +5 achromat, I would conclude that a +3 achromat would be the safer choice. So, I would not only conclude this, but I concluded it and ordered a Marumi +3 achromat. I report on the results here.




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