The world’s first ever fashion shoot with the MPE-65

Two of my favourite types of photography are fashion/portrait and macro. Generally the boundaries of the two don’t cross – unless you’re into eyeball portraits that is.

Canon do a variety of macro lenses, I’ve already told you how highly I regard the EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM, a lens that is just as happy doing serious portrait photography as it is doing 1:1 macro. There’s even the EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro, the lens that has been in continual production and sale since 1987 despite hardly anyone even knowing it exists.

And then there’s this, the MPE-65 1-5x Macro:


Richard Bartz CC-SA 2.5

This is no ordinary lens.  This is designed for one job. And one job only. And that’s manual focus macro photography of very tiny things.  If you’re expecting to use it like a normal lens you are in for a big surprise.

Firstly, no autofocus.  Ok. That’s understandable for a specialist lens.

Secondly. no manual focus either.  Um, what?

Well. there is an adjustment ring but that adjusts the “zoom” from 1x magnification to 5x magnification.  What does that mean?  At 1x magnification something that is 35mm wide will COMPLETELY fill your full-frame camera sensor.  At 5x magnification something 7mm wide will fill your sensor.

That’s right. Not only does this lens have a minimum focus distance, but it also has a maximum focus distance. And they’re  exactly the same.

How do you get things into focus?  Simple. you move the object or you move the camera.    Oh, and did I mention that the depth of field at 5x, even at f/16 (which you wouldn’t want to use anyway because diffraction), is paper thin? This is not a lens for beginners to macro photography.

Needless to say a lens that cannot focus on anything further than about 8cm from the front of the lens at very best is not something you’d immediately want to pack for a fashion shoot.

However. I had an idea.

What if I was to make a really really small fashion shoot?

I recruited some friends:


Note, these are not official LEGO® figures, because LEGO® costs a lot more than these did. I was able to get a pack of 40 assorted fake-lego-type people for £8 from Wilko. They also do this set, which was only £1.

PERFECT! The fashion shoot is ON!

OK. First problem. Even with a LEGO® Blox fashion catwalk it’s still far too big for the MPE-65 to focus on.

So we ended up with this:


After a lot of messing around, changing lights and backgrounds the model was clearly getting tired, so I recruited another:

Getting better. I think this model has the perfect combination of looks and attitude for the shoot. Let’s take some shots..

I improvised a background by showing a photo of a pile of skittles on my iPhone arranged just behind the model.

HOT STUFF!  But of course, no professional fashion photographer would call this complete without the obligatory touch-up to improve skin tones, face shape and everything else that was never really wrong to begin with on the model.  And nowadays of course we can do this all automatically with PortraitPro!



Perfect! Now all we have to do is submit it to the client and we’re done.


Thanks to for the previous image.


Next week: Taking macro photos with the EF 1200mm f/5.6L USM.



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