Warning: my digital camera related pages begin here!
Attenzione: le mie pagine dedicate alla fotografia digitale sono qui! La traduzione di questa pagina la aggiungerò in fondo a questa pagina nei prossimi giorni.
Brevemente: SCONSIGLIO l'acquisto del MSN-500, poiché troppo spinto per una FZ10/FZ20/FZ30/FZ50; per le FZ10/FZ20 è meglio un MSN-200, per le FZ30/FZ50 non saprei dire.
Raynox MSN-500 and Panasonic Lumix FZ20
Quick note: I bought and tested this lens for my Lumix FZ20 digital camera, but I do not recommend to buy it - and Raynox as well does not recommend it in its Raynox lenses for Lumix FZ10/FZ20 page.
Instead, it recommends it for FZ30/FZ50 in its Raynox lenses for Lumix FZ30 page.
First, I wanted a super-macro lens for shooting very small subjects, far smaller than the Lumix close-up "macro" mode allowed me The Raynox DCR150 and DCR250 lenses are good (and cheap) macro lenses, but the Raynox MSN-200 had a bigger zoom factor.
Alas, the Raynox MSN-200 wasn't available here in Italy, so I had to order it in the U.S. (ouch!).
In the very last minute, I found that there was also available the MSN-500 lens, plus a warning: MSN-200 and MSN-500 are now replaced by MSN-202 and MSN-505 (at the time I am writing, I did not yet find them for sale; maybe they will be first sold in the Japanese market, and then worldwide).
So I had some mad moments and... ordered the MSN-500 instead, without being able to verify its performance on a Lumix FZ20! (as you an see on Raynox site, the MSN-200 performs well on a FZ20).
When I first tried my MSN-500 at home, it was a perfect insuccess: I wasn't able to focus, and below 9× zoom there was high "vignetting" (black area outside a lens-sized "circle" in the photo).
Actually, it can work (but only at 12× zoom of the Lumix: so it will enlarge, giving maximum magnification).
After a lot of tests, I found that there is a fixed distance on which you can focus a photo: it's about 18mm (eighteen millimeters) from the outer part of the MSN-500 to the subject. A difference of a fraction of millimeter will take everything out of focus!
This means that you can shoot only "plain" subjects (stamps, plates, etc); you cannot shoot a photo to -say- a bug or an ant, because of this fixed distance focus.
I determined this "fixed" distance using continuous autofocus (CAF) and Aperture priority (the "A" of P/A/S/M/closeup). As you know, the Lumix FZ20 (and probably the FZ30) does use "close-up/macro" lens group adjust also in the A/S/M modes, but not in the program ("P") mode. It seems to me that best results come from A/S/M modes.
This means that the area that can fit in a photo is something like 2.6×3.5 millimeters or less, but only the 60-70% of the photo will be actually on focus.
The area has to "stand steady"; you will need to have gold fingers to accurately place it on focus, avoiding any movement which could even slightly move the camera (a tripod could be insufficient).
In the two bad-focused images at the end of this page, you can see some pixels of the LCD TFT screen of my Apple Powerbook G4 computer and some pixels of an HP D2837 CRT display: you can see the red/green/blue leds (TFT) and dots (CRT) - in both cases I shot the photo of a white area! You have a photographic explanation of "why TFT displays perform much better than a CRT one": the "black" area (where no light is produced) is where no light is produced.
After these two photos (which I was unable to focus better, but - as I said above - I'm only in my first days of testing! -, I realized that if the camera is too near to the subject, it's hard to "put" some light on the latter; both the displays, TFT and Cathod Ray Tube, were... er... "backlighted" for free :-)
I made different tests using the Raynox RT5264P adapter (adding the grey weird RT3752 step-down ring) and the Phayee adapter (adding to it the Raynox RA6252 step-down and the Raynox RT3752 on the latter). Obviously, the Raynox RT5264P adapter and the Phayee adapter show even more vignetting: the best view was using the Raynox UAC-3500 "snap-on" adapter directly on the FZ20 lens.
The ABS/PC plasticky UAC-3500 is very good to use 37mm-threaded lenses (like the MSN-500, MSN-505, MSN-200, MSN-202, etc) on any thread ranging from 52 to 67mm.
The UAC-3500 has only one big trouble: if the camera shuts off (or goes on stand-by) when it's mounted, then the lens group of the Lumix could suffer damage because cannot fully retract the group in (the FZ30 does not have this problem because its lens group does not "protrude"). It happened to me four times (ouch!!!): I didn't experience damages on the camera (except the message "Please turn off and on the camera" at power-on which terrified me), but I must definitively warn you about this issue (for anyone using the UAC-3500 adapter).
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