Macro on the cheap (and suggestions for focus rail, please)


milamber

Link Posted 26/02/2012 - 12:35
Finally some decent weather so I thought I'd get out and try to take a few macro photos with my ultra expensive set-up of M 50mm 1.7 (as new - 24) and Ashai Pentax 50mm auto extension tube bought for 8.

I learned that you need a great deal of patience, co-operative subjects and a focus rail for the tripod. I can be patient, the ladybird I rudely awakened from hibernation wasn't co-operative and I don't have a focus rail.

After much humping about of my new tripod to try and get in the focus range of around 1/10 millimetre (so it seemed) I did manage to get a few pictures of which this is the best, presumably though sheer luck rather than anything else.

It's not earth shattering, but does show just how sharp a cheap manual set up can be if you work at it. It would actually stand a fair bit more magnification before losing the sharpness, so very impressed with this old lens.




No ladybirds were harmed during the making of this photo

Any suggestions for a cheap yet decent focus rail for my tripod gratefully received. Anyone used this?

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Focusing-Slider-Olympus-Pentax-digital/dp/B004MC4YDQ/ref...
Last Edited by milamber on 26/02/2012 - 12:36

tyronet2000

Link Posted 26/02/2012 - 13:50
Wow, it looks hand painted and the paint is still wet. What a super shot

I've used the focus rail that is advertised on your link and removed the side to side section. It works a treat but I've only used it indoors up to now.
Regards
Stan

PPG

SnapperSteve

Link Posted 26/02/2012 - 13:56
Nice shot!

I know how awkward ladybirds can be, they usually sit still just long enough for you to focus, then get up and walk off before you can take the shot

A focus rail does make for a lot less shuffling around of the tripod, I got one off fleabay for about 15, well made in aluminium but it only has the forward/back adjustment (usually sufficient)
Smile! You could be on camera!

fritzthedog

Link Posted 26/02/2012 - 14:27
Well all I can say is that I have never taken a better ladybird shot with my 105 macro. I would not have thought it possible to get such a fine macro shot with nothing more than an M50 and an extension tube - very well done indeed!

Carl
No matter how many lenses I have owned - I have always needed just one more

milamber

Link Posted 26/02/2012 - 14:46
Thanks - I'm almost as red as the ladybird

That was my first ever macro shoot - probably just go downhill from now on.

I suspect the quality of the M 50mm is just as good as many of the expensive macro lenses. The 'proper' lenses just make it easier. I had to get within a few inches of the ladybird and the DOF was tiny.

I tried lots of set-up shots, but, as mentioned earlier, the ladybird upped and left just as I was ready.

In the end I picked it up, turned it around in my direction and waited for it to come into focus when I was able to take a quick burst of shots. This was the best one.

I forgot the exif won't be complete so it was 1/320 at f8, ISO 200. It was nice and sunny which probably helped with the lighting and giving me the ability to use a reasonably fast shutter speed. I did play around a little with sharpness and contrast in Paintshop Pro as well.

I have to confess that I did come close to using a dead one so it stayed still, but it was too dull. The live one was nice and shiny, if a little grumpy. It probably helped that it had just woken up if it's anything like my kids in the morning.

Is there any way of preserving the image size and clarity, but keeping further away from the subject? I have a 135mm manual lens as well, but presumably I would need to add 135mm of tubes for the same image ratio which would be a bit unwieldy.

Pete has a 3x macro converter for sale which I've been considering. If I understand it correctly that might get me the same image ratio from further away, but I'm concerned about the impact on image quality. I'd rather spend a long time getting one decent image than get lots of poor ones.

This macro thing is a bit addictive, though. I've just come in from a hunt in the polytunnel for more victims......

Thanks for the advice on the macro rail. I'm certain that would have made it easier. Micro adjustments by moving a tripod back and forth on a gravel path with a fence in the way isn't ideal.
Last Edited by milamber on 26/02/2012 - 15:04

davidstorm

Link Posted 26/02/2012 - 15:47
Hi Chris, great macro of the ladybird there! Standard lenses with extension tubes can often take better macro shots than dedicated macro lenses, however they are clearly not as easy to use. I find that with a standard 50mm (mine is a Chinon F1.9), the depth of field is absolutely minute, whereas with my Sigma 50mm Macro, there's a bit more depth to play with. However, the Chinon takes nicer images and has better out of focus effects so I suppose it's horses for courses.

I also like to use longer primes with extension tubes - I have had good results with a SMC 135mm Takumar and a 200mm Tele-Takumar F5.6 which can produce more magnified images than the 50mm Chinon.

Well done with your first macro attempt and keep up the good work!

Regards
David
My Website http://imagesbydavidstorm.foliopic.com

Flickr

Some cameras, some lenses, some bits 'n' bobs

milamber

Link Posted 26/02/2012 - 16:02
My somewhat limited understanding is that to produce 1:1 the length of the tubes needs to be the same as the lens. Does this mean I'd need 135mm of tubes with my 135mm lens to get the same magnification as the 50mm plus 50mm tube? Would I be able to use the 135mm from further away? Minimum focus with my 135mm is quite long - about 1.5 metres, but that lens is a bit of an oddity, bought for it's superb bokeh.

I tried the 135mm with the 50mm tube and the results were nice, but nowhere near the magnification of the 50mm.

I'll keep an eye out on Ebay for the two lenses you mention. If you can suggest anything else that would be great.

I'll probably need some more tubes - I just have the Pentax 50mm at present.

The irony is that if the cat hadn't been ill, I wouldn't have had to sell my two FA 50mm's to help pay for the operation. I only bought the M 50mm as a poor man's alternative and I've had far more fun with it than the FA's it replaced.

davidstorm

Link Posted 26/02/2012 - 19:18
The magnification depends not only on the focal length of the lens and the length of the tubes, but also how close the lens will focus in the first place. If you have a 100mm lens that focuses to 1.0m and a 100mm lens that focuses to 0.8m without tubes, then the one that focuses to 0.8m will produce a larger image both with and without tubes. I know this doesn't really answer your questions, but it's not a simple relationship between focal length and image size!!

Regards
David
My Website http://imagesbydavidstorm.foliopic.com

Flickr

Some cameras, some lenses, some bits 'n' bobs

milamber

Link Posted 26/02/2012 - 19:23
Thanks David, that does help.

It seems I could do with something a bit longer than the 50mm then, that focusses closer than my existing 135mm.

Any suggestions for a manual lens of between say 90mm and 200mm that produces an excellent image and focusses closely!

tyronet2000

Link Posted 26/02/2012 - 19:27
Whatever you do be careful if you are using two lenses coupled front to front. I pulled the front off a K7 when the weight of the lenses pulled the quick release from the tripod, only looked away for a second
Regards
Stan

PPG

Charlotte

Link Posted 26/02/2012 - 19:35
I found this site helpful when I first started trying macro;

http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/macro-photography-intro.htm

Experimentation and practice, practice is really the only way to learn though, be very careful because it becomes incredibly addictive if you aren't careful.

The main thing is to enjoy yourself, congratulations on your ladybird shot it's a cracker.

Kind regards
Charlotte
Pentax Photo Gallery
Photography blog

milamber

Link Posted 26/02/2012 - 19:58
tyronet2000 wrote:
Whatever you do be careful if you are using two lenses coupled front to front. I pulled the front off a K7 when the weight of the lenses pulled the quick release from the tripod, only looked away for a second

Heck, I've only just learnt to cope with one lens. Wouldn't know where to start with two so no danger there, but thanks for the warning should I ever progress that far.
Last Edited by milamber on 26/02/2012 - 20:00

milamber

Link Posted 26/02/2012 - 20:01
Charlotte wrote:
be very careful because it becomes incredibly addictive if you aren't careful.

Too late

Thanks for the link.
Last Edited by milamber on 26/02/2012 - 20:01

George Lazarette

Link Posted 26/02/2012 - 20:12
davidstorm wrote:
The magnification depends not only on the focal length of the lens and the length of the tubes, but also how close the lens will focus in the first place. If you have a 100mm lens that focuses to 1.0m and a 100mm lens that focuses to 0.8m without tubes, then the one that focuses to 0.8m will produce a larger image both with and without tubes.
Regards
David

I think you are in danger of confusing things. It is irrelevant what the normal closest focussing distance is - you use tubes to reduce that distance. A lens that doesn't focus quite so close simply needs another tube.

A longer focal length will give you more space between lens and subject - useful if the latter is venomous.

G
Keywords: Charming, polite, and generally agreeable.

milamber

Link Posted 26/02/2012 - 20:19
George Lazarette wrote:
davidstorm wrote:
The magnification depends not only on the focal length of the lens and the length of the tubes, but also how close the lens will focus in the first place. If you have a 100mm lens that focuses to 1.0m and a 100mm lens that focuses to 0.8m without tubes, then the one that focuses to 0.8m will produce a larger image both with and without tubes.
Regards
David

I think you are in danger of confusing things. It is irrelevant what the normal closest focussing distance is - you use tubes to reduce that distance. A lens that doesn't focus quite so close simply needs another tube.

A longer focal length will give you more space between lens and subject - useful if the latter is venomous.

G

So a 135mm lens with 135mm of tubes will give the same size image as my 50mm lens with 50mm of tubes, but from further away?

Is that right or am I being too simplistic?
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