Beauty with the Fujifilm MCEX-16 Macro Extension

As I have traded in most of my kit in recent months (For the record I have also now gone full Fuji and will be covering that in a collection of blog post yet to come #watchthisspace) and most of my bread and butter comes in the form of portraiture and beauty photography I decided to trade in my Fujinon 60mm F2.4 R macro lens For the Fujinon XF56mm f1.2 lens plus the Fujifilm MCEX-16 Macro Extension tube ….So let’s see how they cut the mustard in comparison.

First off here’s my original review on shooting beauty with the Fujinon XF 60mm F2.4 R Macro lens. As most of you blog followers know this lens has been with me since my original Fuji X pro 1 days. Yet despite it being a constant in my kit and it’s exceptional fuji lens image quality, it has always been my least favourite fuji lens, as it felt too bulky, was quiet noisy and I often found myself struggling with both manual and auto focus despite the various firmware updates… Eventually I ended up shooting most of my portrait and beauty on my Canon 6D purely because I preferred the performance of the Canon EF 100 mm f2.8L  Macro IS USM lens  but now those have both gone.

As a portrait lens the Fujinon  XF56mm is first class and excels in comparison to both the Canon EF 100mm and Fujinon 60 mm macro. It’s fast, quick to focus, renders a beautiful bokeh and stays pin sharp even at at it’s widest aperture (f1.2)

Michelle George Fujinon 56mm

ISO 800 ƒ/1.2 1/950 sec Shot from about 1 metre away. Due to the high ISO the focus is somewhat soft but eyes, nose and lips are still sharp and in focus (see close up crop below for detail)


Close in crop

The main problem with the Fujinon 56mm lens is that the working distance is 612 mm in comparison to the Fujinon 60 mm which is 185 mm, meaning close up beauty shots are restricted. Even the Fujinon 35 mm ƒ 1.4 lens allows you to get closer with a working distance of 211mm. And despite Fujinon 60mm not being a true macro due to it’s max magnification of 0.5, instead of 1.0, the 56 mm max magnification is the lowest in the Fujion lens range, standing at only 0.09.

…In walks the Fujifilm MCEx – 16 Macro extension tube to save the day…

The FujiFilm MCEX extension tubes sits between the camera and the lens and enables users to focus much closer to the camera resulting in a more ‘macro’ effect. They come in two sizes : 11 and 16. For this blog I am using the 16.

Th working distance and shooting magnifications changes for each Fujinon lens with these extension tube. See below list for details:

Macro extention tube

In using the Fujinon 56mm with the Fujifilm MCEX -16 extension tube I now have a working distance of 138mm and a magnification of 0.39. Here are some examples below:

Michelle George Macro

ISO 3200 ƒ/13 1/40 sec As the extension tubes greatly reduces the depth of field a narrow aperture is recommended to get everything is focus.

Michelle George Macro

ISO 800 ƒ/11 1/18 sec

Michelle George eye

ISO 800 ƒ1.2 1/2200 sec See the dept of field in this eye shot when a wide aperture is used.

I have to be honest despite being relatively happy with some of these results The Fujifilm MCEX- 16 took quiet a bit of getting use too. Firstly once this puppy was on the lens was incapable of focusing outside of the macro range so I needed to remove it before I could go back to shooting portraits. Also focusing was a challenge, it made the Fujinon 60mm F2.4 seem like a fast shooter in comparison and when trying it out with a variety of other lenes I found the working distance way to close. In some instances I was nearly touching the models face with the lens especially when using it with the Fujion XF 18 -55 mm f/2.8 zoom which gave me a working distance of only 4mm at it’s widest angle and 63mm at the telephoto end. Being up so close also effected the lighting.

See the not so pretty results below.


ISO 500 55mm ƒ/4 1/120 sec

All in all I will stick this out as my work requires more portraiture than macro beauty and the Fujinon 56 mm lens is out of this world in this regard. I will continue to play around with the MCEX- 16 extension tube as I have a feeling I have only scrapped the surface of its capacities and lets hope that practice makes perfect…

Make up by Viktor Charles using NudeStix and Kevyn Aucoin

Model Angie Cricq 

Photography and Retouching Michelle George



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Posted: May 11, 2018


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