The Fujinon XF60mm macro lens was one of „starter“ lenses introduced with the X-Pro1 early 2012. I guess everyone ever has used this lens was surely happy with the overall picture quality, detail sharpness and the lightweight and excellent build body. But many of these users may also complained about the very slow and noisy autofocus and the limited magnification factor of ‚only‘ 1:2. In the meantime the autofocus performance was subsequently improved by firmware updates and is in my opinion on the par with full frame macro lenses with noisy micro motors. What of course could not be changed through firmware is the magnification factor…
There are not many options to easily increase the magnification ratio of a Fuji X Camera or even the XF60mm macro lens. One possibility is to adapt a vintage manual macro lens through one of the many available adapters. Both the lens and the adapter can be bought for a reasonable price in various online stores or Ebay. If money is not an issue you may also buy the new and pricey Zeiss 50mm macro, which is a true 1:1 autofocus lens. In every case you will surely abandon your current Fujinon macro, at least for macro shots.
What about the often discussed and used macro accessories e.g. extension tubes? Unfortunately there are no officially released extension tubes or teleconverters available to increase the magnification or the focus length of available Fujifilm lenses. Beside the fact there are third party extension tubes available, I have heard of incompatibility issues with Fuji-X-cameras and I am personally do not like to work with them either.
After some weeks of internet research I came to the conclusion that a close-up diopter like the Canon 500D (which I have extensively used during my Canon phase) or a dedicated macro lens would be the best choice. Due to the fact the Canon 500D uses a fixed filter thread and I have already used a Raynox DCR-202 on my pocket camera, the Raynox DCR-250 seems to fit my needs quite well. The DCR-250 macro lens is a +8 Diopter and is recommended for lenses with focal lengths of 75mm (FF) and larger. It is fitted to the lens through a so called snap-on universal adapter, which connects to filter threads from 52mm to 67mm.
What do you need to mount the Raynox DCR-250 to the Fujinon XF60mm macro lens? First of all you need a step-up ring from the regular 39mm filter thread to 40.5mm. This will provide a small buffer space between the inner lens tube and every subsequently attached filter, lens etc. You may have already noticed that if you switch-off your camera the inner tube is moving back into the lens body. If you have something significantly larger attached directly to filter thread it will block the tube from moving back into the housing, which could damage the lens. The attached 40.5mm ring is of course still too small to be able to mount the Raynox universal adapter. Therefore you still need one additional step-up ring to at least 52mm. Of course it is also possible to directly screw the DCR-250 with its 43mm thread to a smaller step-up ring (40.5mm to 43mm). In this case you can even use the metal lens hood. I am personally prefer to work with the universal adapter. It is more flexible and can be easily attached and detached during the shooting without losing to much time.
What can be expected in terms of reproduction scale? The DCR-250 increases the magnification ratio of the XF60mm to slightly above 1:1. The following pictures are close-up shots of the ‚Fujifilm‘ lettering of my X-T1. The first picture was shot at minimum working distance of ~0.27m. The second one equipped with the Raynox DCR-250 at about 0.2m working distance. The difference is pretty significant, isn’t it?
In my opinion the test shots are pretty convincing in terms of reproduction ratio and sharpness, which seems not to degrade significantly. Of course every attached filter and diopter will surely have an impact on the picture quality of this lens and I therefore would not recommend to shoot wide open with the Raynox DCR-250 attached. Not only in terms of loss in sharpness but also because of the very shallow deep of focus. At minimum focus distance I would use at least F5.6 and more to gain a reasonable sharp focus area to work with. And no, neither I checked the loss in sharpness with a resolution chart, nor I did extensive one by one comparisons. I only went out into the garden and took pictures. And I am still pretty satisfied with the results. A dedicated macro lens will surely perform better. But I am sure not in a way to justify a 900€ invest in a real 1:1 macro lens.
What about general outdoor usability? Not everyone wants to or can use a tripod for macro shots. In this case the lens-diopter combination has to be handy and easy to use. I can tell you the differences to the standard handheld macro work are marginal. Of course the closer focus distance still needs a calm hand but the adapter is lightweight and even autofocus action (I only use manual focus) is still possible. Currently the Raynox DCR-250 is permanently mounted to my 60mm macro lens and I only switch between the camera bodies (X-E1 and X-T1) as necessary. In the near future I will also try to fit the Raynox on my 55-200mm tele-zoom to check again the usability and picture outcome. So stay tuned for more results.
And finally some real world and handheld picture samples: