Macro photography setups


SimonMW

Link Posted 26/08/2007 - 12:15
I've never attempted macro photography before. But yesterday I saw a grasshopper resting on my dustbin lid, and it didn't seem to want to go anywhere. My father had some old extender tubes for S-mount lenses. So I used the adaptor to attach them plus a 55mm prime onto my K10D to see what would happen. It was pretty difficult to see what was happening as I had to put the lens in A mode and took the photo at f16, so it was very difficult to see what I was shooting.






Looks like something I'd like to do a lot more of, but perhaps with more colourful backgrounds and much better composition!

Just wondering if anyone had any tips on the best ways to obtain macro shots, and what sort of equipment is considered essential for it for maximum versitility, best lenses etc?

Would it be easier to mount a zoom on the front rather than a fixed focal length? Sounds like a dumb question, but since I know next to nothing about macro photography...

SimonMW

Link Posted 26/08/2007 - 17:49
Took some more photos today to experiment a bit more. This time with an old bellows unit and a 135mm Super Takumar lens. Some of these are cropped, others are left.

Lost a lot of light with the bellows. Most light was supplied by way of the on board camera flash (haven't budgeted for a decent flash unit yet). But it was difficult, or rather impossible, to find a happy medium between f-stop and shutter speed and low ISO. Most of these I did manage to take at 100ISO, but shutter speed and iris were still difficult.

How can I best overcome the incredibly shallow depth of field? I've read of some people taking multiple shots at different focus points. But when the wind is blowing the leaves that the insects are on about, and the cumbersome nature of taking pictures of such things with a tripod, how is this possible?

Anyhow, here are the best of the crop I managed today for what they are worth. This one was lucky. It was hovering in roughly the same place for around 30secs or so and by sheer fluke I managed to track it (most of the day I had spent getting frustrated at how awkward a macro lens is to aim!). Still didn't manage to get perfect focus though. I'm determined to get a better one!




I think it is the best of the ones I took today because it is in focus! The full resolution picture shows all the detail on the eyes. But I think it is also cool because it looks like some kind of cross between a fly and a praying mantis!



The rest of these are more generic. Well, more generic in relation to those above anyway.








George Lazarette

Link Posted 26/08/2007 - 18:03
Depth of field is the big problem with macro, and can only partially be solved by heaving lots of light at the subject so that you can use a fast shutter speed (where necessary) AND a smal aperture.

G
Keywords: Charming, polite, and generally agreeable.

TallNHairyDave

Link Posted 26/08/2007 - 20:32
Great photos Simon. I love the one of the bee!

George is right about lots of light, fast shutter and a small aperture to overcome macro DOF issues.

I'm planning on getting a fluorescant ring tube "magnifier lamp" from Maplin ( click here) and yanking out the magnifying glass so I can use the light as a desk mounted daylight balanced ring light for studio macro shots.

I've heard it works quite well, so at 30 I figured it's worth a try, and if I don't get on with it, I can always put the magnifying lens back and use it for painting minatures.
Dave Appleton

Happy Pentax K10D owner since 21-08-2007
http://www.davidappleton.co.uk/photos/

SimonMW

Link Posted 27/08/2007 - 22:17
Thanks Dave. I'm hoping to start going out a lot more to see if I can get some shots that are worth keeping.

Reading about macro photography from other guys who photograph nature, they seem to say not to bother with a flash. Many of them seem to be using very slow shutter speeds a lot of the time at around f-16. Though I have yet to make up my mind as to what to do about improving the equipment.

The bellows unit I have is old and is designed for S-mount lenses, and the 135mm S-mount lens I was using also seems to be showing a lot of CA on highlights.

My current main everyday lens is a Sigma 18-50 EX DC Macro. But I was considering getting a higher focal length + TC's as I feel that I would like to do a lot more macro work. Makes a change from landscapes and people!

Though it seems as if some of the longer focal length macro lenses in Sigmas range don't have a Pentax fit

Any suggestions for the best lens combination that doesn't break the bank and can still get professional results (all camera people being equal!)?

I'm thinking about perhaps the Kenko DG AF Extension Tube Set in combination with a fix focal length lens. The highest I can find in the Pentax range is the smc-DFA 100mm f2.8 Macro. Its a good price, but not sure of its quality, and preferably I'd like to go higher than this, perhaps 200 or 250mm. So not sure where to look.

chirpy

Link Posted 27/08/2007 - 22:27
I have the Sigma 180mm and it's very nice - but does break the bank

I'd recommend looking at a second hand Pentax 100mm Macro lens or a second have Sigma 105mm Macro if you can find either. The latter you might be able to pick up for <200, the former depends on what you get hold of. There are manual versions which you can sometimes find for a good price.

I also have the Sigma 50mm Macro which is lovely, but with that you need to be around 5cm from the subject to get 1:1.

A cheaper alternative would be to start with a good lens and use extension tubes.

I've converted from using natural light to flash (with a soft diffuser, aka a plastic milk carton) on a flashgun as it helps so much with DoF and the poor light we've had in the UK this summer.
Jonathan

Macro & Wildlife Photography

SimonMW

Link Posted 27/08/2007 - 22:46
Hi Jonathan,

Do you use extension tubes etc or TC's?

I'll probably investigate flash later. My bank account is already feeling the strain. But the idea of macro photography of subjects such as insects has really grabbed me in a way that I wasn't expecting.

I suppose the first step would be to get the extension tubes. At least then they will work with my current lens even though I will need to get very close to the subject.

Clarky

Link Posted 27/08/2007 - 22:55
This could be a good option
http://cgi.ebay.com.au/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=200145386781&ssPageName=STRK:MEWA:IT&ih=010
I hear these Tamrons have an Excellent reputation I have just got hold of one myself but it hasnt arrived yet so i cant comment on its quality. But in saying that i haven't heard one bad thing about them
If you can get this one for under 100quid you should go for it.
Camera:|K-7|
Pentax Lenses:|DA12-24/f4 ED AL|DA35Ltd Macro|FA31Ltd|FA77Ltd|FA50/1.4|F70-210|FA20-35 f4/AL|A*200/f4 Macro ED|A50/1.7|A50 Macro f2.8|1.7xAF adapter|
Voigtlander|125/f2.5SL Macro APO Lanthar|
Sigma Lenses:|EX DG 100-300 f4|2X & 1.4X TC|
Flashes:|AF540FGZx2|RingFlash AF160FC|

TallNHairyDave

Link Posted 27/08/2007 - 22:55
Like chirpy I've also got the 50mm Sigma macro lens and I can definately vouch for the fact it's a lovely lens (and that you do have to be about 5cm away for 1:1, fine for flowers and objects because they don't generally get scared and buzz off if you get that close!)

I've also got the Sigma 70-300 APO DG Macro, but while it isn't a true macro lens (i.e. it can't do 1:1) it's also a cracking lens as many other posts can testify.

I'm keeping my eyes open for a set of second hand Pentax bellows at the moment, although if Speedgraphic had these in stock and money was no object I would be rather tempted as they retain "full coupling of the camera and lens without external connectors".
Dave Appleton

Happy Pentax K10D owner since 21-08-2007
http://www.davidappleton.co.uk/photos/

chirpy

Link Posted 27/08/2007 - 23:42
SimonMW wrote:
Do you use extension tubes etc or TC's?

I don't own any TC's as yet. I have a set of extension tubes and have put them on a macro lens and the DoF becomes vanishingly small. I've had fun with them on telephoto zoom lenses, though not tried them on prime lenses which is meant to be good.
Jonathan

Macro & Wildlife Photography

SimonMW

Link Posted 27/08/2007 - 23:58
All great advice guys. Thanks.

The 90mm looks interesting, but I would prefer to be able to have a greater
working distance.

I'm having trouble getting my head around what sorts of ratios I can achieve with different combinations.

Quote:
I don't own any TC's as yet. I have a set of extension tubes and have put them on a macro lens and the DoF becomes vanishingly small.

Is depth of field likely to be more manageable when using TC's instead of extension tubes?

George Lazarette

Link Posted 28/08/2007 - 00:02
Macros of more than 100mm tend to be very expensive indeed, and hard to find.

The Pentax-A and -M 100mm 1:4 macros are often on Ebay and very good. I'd start with those, and some tubes, unless you're rolling in money.

G
Keywords: Charming, polite, and generally agreeable.

Clarky

Link Posted 28/08/2007 - 00:05
SimonMW wrote:
All great advice guys. Thanks.

The 90mm looks interesting, but I would prefer to be able to have a greater
working distance.

I'm having trouble getting my head around what sorts of ratios I can achieve with different combinations.

Quote:
I don't own any TC's as yet. I have a set of extension tubes and have put them on a macro lens and the DoF becomes vanishingly small.

Is depth of field likely to be more manageable when using TC's instead of extension tubes?

If you can get hold of one of these dedicated converters it will bring it out too 180mm if i am not mistaken. I have seen them going cheaply on evil-bay.
http://www.adaptall-2.com/lenses/01F.html
Camera:|K-7|
Pentax Lenses:|DA12-24/f4 ED AL|DA35Ltd Macro|FA31Ltd|FA77Ltd|FA50/1.4|F70-210|FA20-35 f4/AL|A*200/f4 Macro ED|A50/1.7|A50 Macro f2.8|1.7xAF adapter|
Voigtlander|125/f2.5SL Macro APO Lanthar|
Sigma Lenses:|EX DG 100-300 f4|2X & 1.4X TC|
Flashes:|AF540FGZx2|RingFlash AF160FC|

chirpy

Link Posted 28/08/2007 - 00:10
The problem, AIUI, with TC's is that you're putting more glass in front of quality macro lenses, which probably means that what you gain from having the TC you may well lose in quality. Whereas, with tubes, you lose nothing in quality, but do lose light.
Jonathan

Macro & Wildlife Photography

Clarky

Link Posted 28/08/2007 - 00:22
Heres a Vivitar 105mm thats in my neck of the woods i have read some excellent reviews on this lens also.
http://cgi.ebay.com.au/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=280147261586&ssPageName=STRK:MEWA:IT&ih=018
Camera:|K-7|
Pentax Lenses:|DA12-24/f4 ED AL|DA35Ltd Macro|FA31Ltd|FA77Ltd|FA50/1.4|F70-210|FA20-35 f4/AL|A*200/f4 Macro ED|A50/1.7|A50 Macro f2.8|1.7xAF adapter|
Voigtlander|125/f2.5SL Macro APO Lanthar|
Sigma Lenses:|EX DG 100-300 f4|2X & 1.4X TC|
Flashes:|AF540FGZx2|RingFlash AF160FC|
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