Monday, March 6, 2017

Oshiro 60mm Super Macro Lens Review

We’ve all seen that interesting bug, that beautiful flower, that fascinating ice formation, and have likely tried to capture it through the lens our cameras. However, we quickly find that the closest we can get still leaves our subject as little more than a boring speck lost in the image. There are many ways to get a macro shot - reverse mounting your lens, using extension tubes, or a bellows for example.  All these options come with significant downsides. To get the best macro shooting experience you need a dedicated macro lens, but those don’t usually come cheap. They are a niche product and thus typically command a high price. However, the Oshiro 60mm F2.8 Super Macro lens is the exception to this rule.

At around $200 (I bought mine for $170), the Oshiro 60mm is most definitely a bargain, though of course its low price comes bundled with a fair number of problems that need to be taken into consideration. The most obvious thing to consider for any potential buyer is that the Oshiro 60mm is entirely manual. It has no electronics in it, so you must adjust the aperture and focus. I actually prefer manually operating my camera, but if you’re used to relying on automatic settings and focus you’ll have a lot to learn.

I have few complaints when it comes to the quality of the construction of the lens itself. It’s almost entirely made of metal, with only a bit of plastic for the focusing and aperture rings. One thing to note is that the design of the lens may differ slightly from one unit to another. I was confused when my lens first arrived because it didn’t look exactly like the one advertised. On closer inspection I realized that its listing in the online store where I bought it showed at least 3 different looking lenses. However, I am convinced that the difference is mostly, if not entirely, cosmetic. It only affects the exterior layer surrounding the interior metal housing of the lens itself. Since optically and functionally my lens works fine, and because otherwise the build quality seems to be extremely high, I am willing to forgive this puzzling situation.

Check out my video review!

The lens has a clickless aperture, which is good for video work, but can make getting an accurate aperture setting when shooting photos a bit tricky. I’m glad to report that focusing manually is made more manageable by the buttery smooth focus ring. I was easily able to adjust the focus while shooting video in a way that made the movement seem very fluid and natural. However, when you get down to really close focal lengths you will run into a very odd little eccentricity with the focusing mechanism. While normally the closer you focus with a lens the closer you will need to bring your lens to the subject, with this lens that is not always true. When you get really close with the Oshiro 60mm you will need to start backing the lens away from the subject.

This brings us to the really interesting way this lens works. It seems to operate on the principles of a macro extension tube, but here the tube is actually the bulk of the lens itself.  Within the lens is a another lens, and as you focus, this interior lens moves up and down the inside of the outer lens. This unfortunately leads to another odd problem with this lens, and that is that as you focus closer you must compensate for a dramatic fall off in the amount of light the lens is able to take in. You’re going to need to shoot in very bright natural light, use an artificial light source, or crank up the ISO if you want to utilize the most extreme close focus lengths.

With that out of the way, I just want to take a moment to exclaim over what gorgeous photos this lens is capable of capturing. The Oshiro 60mm seems extraordinarily sharp at close focal lengths, and seems capable enough at shooting more normal focal lengths, though when shooting landscapes, portraits and the like it is really only average. I won’t go into depth about sharpness, vignetting, distortion, or any of those fiddly details - suffice it to say that optically I can’t find anything worth complaining about.

The Oshiro 60mm F/2.8 Super Macro lens truly is an unusual piece of glass. It is by no means perfect, but if you don’t mind putting up with its various quirks you can save a lot of money over other macro lenses. Now I’m going out to get some close up photos of the budding flowers and leaves. Despite the frequent flurries of snow, spring is in the air, and I’m all the more excited for it because now that I have a real macro lens, I can capture all the beauty of the season in more detail than I ever have before.

To buy the Oshiro 60mm lens go here: 
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Oshiro's website:

If you'd like to view more samples of images taken with the Oshiro 60mm check out these galleries:

Into the Crystal World

Under the Ice