I’m still trying to withhold final judgement, but my most recent tests indicate that it really should work quite well for me.
Recently took it camping, and the results were somewhat spotty: sometimes I could nail the focus, sometimes it just seemed to have issues. But that was trying to take pictures in windy weather (read: subjects waving in the wind), and I didn’t have a tripod (read: my own shaky hands were a factor).
Sure, it has image stabilization, as pretty much all digital cameras these days do. But that only goes so far, and nothing works as well as turning IS off and mounting the camera on a tripod. Once I do that, focusing consistency seems to improve to what it is with a traditional film SLR.
As an example, I tried to focus on the anthers of the floret in the center of the picture, and so far as I can tell that is where the focus ended up being.
Sure, it’s a little wonky: the view isn’t exactly live and the lens doesn’t respond at the exact moment you twist the focus ring, and you hear a little motor racking the focus in or out a fraction of a second after you tweak the focus ring a little bit one way or the other.
But, wonky or not, it is possible to manually set the focus with a minimum of fuss or bother. Really, given how fiddly macro photography is in general, by the time I’m done fiddling with the tripod and getting the framing right, the tiny bit of extra time it might take to focus is pretty much dust on the gears.
And it’s not all a loss, either. That picture was taken in the shade at ISO 1600. There’s no way you can get ISO 1600 slide film: it’s just not made. And ISO 1600 print film is way grainier than the image I just got above. I’d have had to fiddle with an off-camera flash or exposure times in the range of a second (and hope a slight breeze wouldn’t ruin the shot) to get the same results on fine-grained slide film.