Macro lenses.

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Broder, 3 Feb 2010.

  1. Broder

    Broder Mudshark

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    Quite a lot of alternative ideas to buying an expensive macro lense have been spoken about here on the photography forum. These include reversing lenses, extension tubes and attachments to the ends of lenses.

    As an absolute knob-eyed appie, what will be the best purchase for me. I photograph jewellery for work and really enjoy insect and macro plant photography. Of course I'll be shooting our favourite fishies on the move, and static corals deeper whithin the tank as well. I can't say that money's no object, but I do want to get the best tools for the job, but I don't want to spend a fortune for something which could also be achieved with an inexpensive add on and a bit of extra work.

    The next question is, can I achieve good results in macro photography with an entry level flash or do I need to look at 6k+ macro flash setups?
     
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  3. FDB

    FDB

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    There is no real answer to your question.
    You get the results based on the equipment you use.
    You can very easily outshoot extention tubes with on camera flash as you progress in skill.
    Then you get them all the way up to the MPE 65 lens with the ME24 ringlights (If memory serves, those are the canon numbers)
    But then again... The MPE65 is difficult to use and in some instances, you would do better with a canon 100mm lens....

    Shooting through water is a problem. No matter what equipment you have.

    Start with reverse lens, then tubes, then add a speedlight, then a 100mm macro or such, then a ME24 ringlight, then a MPE 65 lens and you are sorted.

    Remember... Macro demands good light! The best lens without proper light means NOTHING!

    What lens do you have now?
     
  4. Broder

    Broder Thread Starter Mudshark

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    Thanks FDB. I have the Nikkor 18-55mm VR and the 55-200mm VR. Should I buy a cheap non-zoom lense to reverse, and if so which one. Would this not be a waste if I'm going to purchase the extension tubes anyway?

    I hear what you say about skill being the overriding factor.
     
  5. FDB

    FDB

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    If you do reverse lens, your Depth of field goes absolutely crazy. It makes for cool effects, but you get a fery small bit of the subject in focus.
    Reverse lens is just to see if you like macro.

    Light is the most important.
    You want to shoot at ISO 100 and F16-F22'ish. For that, you need high quality strong light.

    Rememer also, that not all macro lenses are true macro... You get lense with macro mode and macro lenses. The best one gives you 1:1 ratio (meaning it will place a lifesize object that is in focus on the sensor)
    The MP-e65 goes up to 1:5 (five times lifesize on sensor) but that is a specialist lens. (See Vida's work on Outdoorphoto.co.za)

    What i'm saying is this...
    I have done shots with a 75-300mm Macro mode lens, and got ok results. R2400
    I shot with my 18-105 lens (piece of nonsense) with the kenko closeup it on it (R500) and got ok results
    Slap a proper flash on it (or use studio lights), and i get good results.
    Same with reverse lens.

    BUT...
    Put a true 100mm macro lens on the cam, and give it proper light (so you can shoot at ISO100 and lets say F22) and you get GREAT results.

    The point i'm making about skill is simply this.
    Most equipment work... With little effort or adding small amounts of money, you can get better results. But at some stage, your skills will be too much for your equipment and you will get frustrated.

    Honestly?
    I would go for the ringflash (Will not work lekker on an aquarium though)
    and get a 100mm ish macro lens. That is a good balance.
    From there, go specialist or stay with what you have.

    Light first, lenses later.

    If you REALLY love macro, get a canon body. :)
     
  6. FDB

    FDB

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    By the way... You can do some seriously cool stuff with a speedlight, cardboard, foil and toilet paper... You build yourself a hairlight based flash over your subject.. You get shadows on the floor yes, but you also get dramatic true life lighting...

    Ringflashes are not a must... You can do strobing for macro too (it just sucks when your goggas move)

    Point i'm making is there are a lot of options, but at the end of the day, a proper macro kit is the way to go (Flash and lens)
     
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  7. Rory

    Rory Admin MASA Contributor

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    Depends on how close you need to get. A 100/105mm macro will give you a 1:1 ratio so would be perfectly fine for most jewellery like rings/earrings/etc. If you really want to blow up a photo of a .5 carat diamond to poster size then best option is probably the MP-E 65mm from Canon.

    The reason you need lots of light is because with macro and focussing so close the depth of field is extremely thin, like a sliver of stuff in focus with the rest out of focus. In order to get more in focus you need to make the aperture smaller which means less light gets in. On the other hand jewellery at least stays still so you can do a longer exposure. You could get the 100/105mm macro lens and still add extension tubes for more than 1:1.
     
  8. Broder

    Broder Thread Starter Mudshark

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    Yeah... that always seems to be the case hey? You've sealed it for me then.... I'll go for the 100mm ish macro lens. But to start I'd like to get a good speedlight flash
    as you suggested, seeing as I'm taking most of my fish shots with a flash these days anyway.
    Would something like this be adequate?
    Nikon SB-400 Speedlight
    [​IMG]
    Ideal for entry-level users, the new SB-400 is a compact and lightweight Speedlight that is perfect for enhanced twilight shots or for adding impact to daylight images.

    Or would I want to upgrade to this rather soon?
    Nikon SB-600 Speedlight
    [​IMG]
    A new mid range Speedlight flash compatible with the D70 and D2H Creative Lighting System compatible cameras.

    Or should I bite the bullet and get this? I'd have to save for awhile though and would only go for this if you feel I'd be limited by the other 2:
    Nikon SB-900 Speedlight
    [​IMG]
    Anything more than these would be a little out of range at the moment, and to be honest the macro attachments are quite cumbersome, so I'd need a separate flash for general photography anyway. So the way I see it, I could always upgrade later.

    Sounds like a good plan.... and they're not all that pricey are they? The extension tubes I mean of course.
     
  9. Reef Maniac

    Reef Maniac MASA Contributor

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    If you buy one of these speedlights, you would probably also need an off-body bracket, to mount the flash off-center from your subject. Personally (but keep in mind, I'm also fairly new with macro...), I would buy the macro lens and extension tube first, and get the flash when finance permits. You can always use natural light, and reflectors to illuminate your subjects, especially the stationary jewelry. Obviously, buy the flash (and bracket and extension cable for the flash) as well if you can afford to do so.

    Hennie
     
  10. viper357

    viper357 Admin MASA Contributor

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    I agree with Hennie, an off-shoe cable would be nice to have, I have seen some guys place the flash on top of the tank facing down into the tank and they have produced some very nice pics, although you would obviously need a long cable for this.
     
  11. FDB

    FDB

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    Extension tubes makes you loose F-Stops if memory serves. If you have a macro lens at 1:1, stay with that IMHO.

    Don't discard studio lights. Secondhand, you can get falcon eyes (I use them on models ALL the time) for R3000! No beating studio lights for stills or even aquarium.. But they are not as portable.

    Buy the entry level flash for now and the 100mm'ish macro lens.
    Play with that.
    You will soon know exactly what you NEED when you have that kit.
    (I mean from there you might go studio equipment, or Strobist kit, or off-shoe, or ringlight...)

    You will get better shots with a entry level macro lens and great lighting kit, than you would with the best macro lens and crappy light. Trust me on this one and go check online. Remember... The camera works with light.... Period.

    But in my humble opinion, stick to 1:1 on macro (no tubes) and rather crop your images in photoshop.

    If you want to shoot like Vida one day, considder doing a change to Canon some time...

    How do you think the light was on this shot? (Done while diving)
    Keeper of the Gate - OutdoorPhoto Gallery
     
  12. seank

    seank

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    FDB, who took that photo. It is genuine an awesome pic.
     
  13. FDB

    FDB

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    Wasn't me. I could only dream about such a kit!
    (Macro lenses in a casing... hmmm. quite limited and expensive!)

    But that is the kind of quality people should aim for in macro.
    Extension tubes, reverse lenses, and non optimal light would never give you anything like that.

    Maybe do what i do...
    Go rent the kit you want to buy from Hennie at ODP.. Play with it (it's not expensive)
    Then buy it.
    Hennie would also let you try kit in the store before you buy it.

    Sorry guys.
    I keep mentioning Vida...
    Here is her port on ODP:
    Vida Gallery - OutdoorPhoto Gallery
    Her macro kit is the MP-E65 and the canon ringlight 24 whatnot.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This guy is 3mm long: (Yes.. that is fibre optics on it's backside.)
    [​IMG]
     
  14. FDB

    FDB

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    Look at the ant with the water droplet. See the two lights? Those are detachables on the ringlight and seperately controlable.
     
  15. Broder

    Broder Thread Starter Mudshark

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    FDB, I really appreciate the introduction to macro. I feel confident now that I'm doing the right thing buying the 100mm 1:1 macro when I can afford it. You're right about getting the entry level speedlight flash, as I still need to establish to what extent I'm going to pursue macro photography. For jewellery, I use a simple light box made with Ozalid paper. This works well to eliminate "hotspots", but your idea of some studio lights sounds like an idea that I'd like to investigate. The vast majority of macro photography will be done in my tank, so it's not critical for it to be portable.
     
  16. FDB

    FDB

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    "The vast majority of macro photography will be done in my tank, so it's not critical for it to be portable."

    Then don't waste money on a flash.
    Look for a secondhand studio light kit.
    I have the Falcon Eyes FE200 kit and it works wonders. Would be more than enough for what you want to do.
    I even onced used them off site with a UPS..

    Lemme know if you want to play. My photography studio is a total mess, but i would still be able to show you how they work.
     
  17. Broder

    Broder Thread Starter Mudshark

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    I'd love to take you up on your offer but don't get to your part of the country often. What I'll do is look for a second hand setup as you suggest, and then ask if I can try it out first.
     
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