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Author Topic: Macro Photography  (Read 8521 times)

Old Sarge

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Macro Photography
« on: September 12, 2013, 10:07:07 AM »
I have to admit that I have never done any true macro (at least 1:1) photography in my close to sixty years of practicing this hobby.  But I have been thinking I might have some fun with it.  Currently I own no prime lenses (loaned my 50mm 1.8 to grand-daughter, doubtful I will see it again).  I have an EFS 17-55 2.8 (which I love), a 70-200 2.8L II, a 100-400L, and several other lesser quality mid-range zooms (between the wife and I we have three bodies, 30D-hers, 40D and 7D-mine).  Due to a lengthy fall vacation (I'm retired, what am I vacationing from?) where we will visit four National Parks and one National Monument plus a day trip into Canada and a planned mission trip in November to a third world nation, my budget is a little strained. 

Finally to the question.  What do I need?  Would it be wiser to wait until I could afford something like the 100 2.8L Macro ( or other lens suggestion) or should I pop for a set of extension tubes such as the Canon extension tubes (or should I go for something cheaper in the tubes).

Thanks for any advice from those much wiser than I.
The Old Sarge

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Macro Photography
« on: September 12, 2013, 10:07:07 AM »

paul13walnut5

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Re: Macro Photography
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2013, 10:18:35 AM »
My take on it is that if you want a macro lens, then you will waste more money on workarounds than if you  just go and buy the right lens to begin with.

You have a cropped sensor which makes your effective focal length 160mm, although this doesn't affect the reproduction magnification at the film plane, the cropped sensor will affect your composition. 

A shorter focal length that also offers 1:1 is the way forward for APS-C users in my opinion, an effective 100mm with 1:1 is probably the holy grail.

When I was buying the two options were Canons EF-s 60mm, or the Sigma 70mm DG Macro, I went with the Sigma as it was better reviewed in all areas bar AF, and for me at least, macro is an MF pursuit.

Do you absolutely need 1:1?  I know it's not technically macro, but the close focus on my Sigma 18-50 is so good that I rarely carry my dedicated macro lens these days... I don't know the 17-55 so well.

I would avoid tubes, reversers etc.. in favour of even a good used lens..

Also, think about flash... at managable apertures (depth of field is tiny with macro lenses) you might welcome the extra light.  You don't mention your body, does it have off camera flash?  If not, you might also want a cable so as the lens hood doesn't cast a shadow.


GmwDarkroom

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Re: Macro Photography
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2013, 10:29:31 AM »
Finally to the question.  What do I need?  Would it be wiser to wait until I could afford something like the 100 2.8L Macro ( or other lens suggestion) or should I pop for a set of extension tubes such as the Canon extension tubes (or should I go for something cheaper in the tubes).
I don't know about "wiser", but here's my two cents from having done macro on film and then in digital (my first lens was the 100mm macro which I still have):

1.  Macro is a BLAST.  The best part is that you don't need to leave your own house or yard to find all kinds of interesting subjects.
2.  You need a steady tripod.  Not one of those flimsy $35 jobs you find in Best Buy or Ritz.  But you don't need a $600 carbon fiber tripod either.  Not to say that wouldn't be a sweet present for "grandpa".  ;D
3.  Cable release.  I say this because you can trigger the depress-focus on a cable release.  I am not sure you can do that with an IR remote.  Either way, the cable is easier to work with behind the camera.
4.  Patience.  I've yet to get a good "quick" macro shot.  Take your time and set up the camera correctly.

You could start with some tubes to see if you like it, but I think you'll be happier with a macro lens.  You don't need the 100mm L macro unless you have a real need for the image stabilization.  The image quality between that and the regular 100mm macro is pretty much identical.  Certainly not worth 2x the price if you're on a budget, in my opinion.  The non-L can be had for less than $400 if you really bargain hunt and go for a "gently used".  Both make excellent portrait and general use lenses as well.

I have not used the 65, 60, or 50 macros so I could only repeat what reviews write.

m

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Re: Macro Photography
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2013, 11:45:40 AM »
hey sarge,

I bought the 100mm this year adding to a 40D and a good wooden tripod.
On a trip to a national park this year I packed the macro to try it out.
Here are some thoughts.

The thing you need the most is light. A lot of it.
When you dial the aperture down to get more focus, things get really dark.

Now on how to get more light:
One option is to use a tripod as mentioned.

The important property is to be able to get very low.
I achieved that by flipping the centre column and take pictures upside down.
This has the advantage that you do not need to spread the legs of the tripod out far, which isn't necessarily possible in the woods and you can go as low as the ground (depending on the tripod).
A swivel screen would be handy for this.

The attached image of flowers was taken this way. The other pictures were taken without a tripod.

However, as most things you will take pictures of are near the ground, I'd try something like a gorillapod.
Additionally to letting you mount the camera to the ground, it's lightweight.
Although I don't think you're afraid of heavy gear owning several tele zooms.

The other option is to use flash.
Some things move (due to wind or being alive) and to get those sharp you need shorter exposure times.
As you probably know, the 40D is not able to be the master flash for slaves with TTL.
I did not have the time to get my flash out and set it up in manual mode in one situation.

As your wife has a camera, she's interested in photography. Give her a ttl slave flash and be the val (voice activated lightstand). One of those collapsible softboxes could improve the light even further.
Use your 7D to allow master control of the flash if necessary.

Take a look at the spider image eating that insect.
This happened really fast and I was afraid to loose the best shots while getting the flash out.
So I took those without artificial light and by that being forced to use settings that were not very good. (slow shutter speed with fast moving subject)

There are situations in which light is not the most desired thing, but luck.
Take a lot of images. Use burst if necessary.
Look at the spider web image. It was very hard to focus on this and these are a few images of many that I took.
Also notice that the spider is building its web, but I could not manage to get all of it in focus.
My goal was to get anything in focus.

Sometimes you just can't get everything in focus, I guess. (blossom image)

tl;dr, to sum it all up:
- Get a gorilla pod compact tripod, to reduce overall weight.
- Let your wife operate the flash for those moving objects and splitting responsibilities.
- Use a 7D to allow wireless enslavement of the flash and the possibility to get started shooting quickly by relying on ttl
- Take a lot of shots.

Sorry for the crappy jpg files, no color management whatsoever.
I couldn't find the raw files which explains my lack of details of settings.
But still, I guess they explain my thoughts.

Most importantly, have fun =)
« Last Edit: September 12, 2013, 01:29:25 PM by m »

wsmith96

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Re: Macro Photography
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2013, 12:06:00 PM »
I own the EF-S 60mm macro and it's been a pleasure to have.  Macro pictures are good and it can double as a portrait lens if needed.   The only downside is that sometimes I have to get the camera really close to get the detail shot I'm looking for on small subjects.  If it's a bug, it'll jump/fly away before you even get the camera close enough to take it with this lens unless there is a compelling reason for the critter to stay. With the crop factor it's roughly a 96mm lens.

I've heard and read that the 100mm f2.8 non L macro is a good lens as well if you want to stay with canon products.  Something around 100mm might be nicer for you by allowing you to have a greater distance between you and the subject.

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AcutancePhotography

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Re: Macro Photography
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2013, 12:42:59 PM »
I like macro photography, but many photographers don't.

If you are just curious about macro/close up photography, I would NOT recommend you buying a Macro lens.  There are many good reasons to buy macro lenses other than macro photography, but just trying out to see if you like macro is not one of them.

Macro lenses are expensive!  They have other than macro uses, but make sure that you really need a macro before forking over the cash!

It is quite possible that once you try macro, you may decide it is not for you.... or you may  become a macro fan.  Don't spend big money until you find out.

If you have photography friends or are a member of a club, ask if you can borrow a macro lens. 

If you can't, then ask if anyone can lend you a set of extention tubes. 

Some stores may allow you to rent a macro lens or extention tubes.  As a last resort you can always buy a set of extention tubes which are a lot less expensive than a macro lens. 

The other stuff you will need for macro is a tripod.  Yes there are thousands of photographers who can do macro hand held.  I ain't one of them and I have been doing macro for a bunch of years.  In my opinion, trying to learn macro photography handheld is difficult.

I would also recommend trying to borrow/rent a single axis focusing rail.  They are not expensive if you want to buy one.  A focusing rail is a movable rail that you mount between your camera and your tripod. It allows you to precisely move your camers toward and away from your target.  Instead of trying to manually focus with your lens, you are focusing by moving your camera.  Focusing in macro is a matter of milimeters.  This can be tough with some lenses. Generally, AF and macro may not work well together. I usually turn AF off when doing macro.  Other photographers say they have no problems with AF in macro. 

With DoF of macro being razor thin, AF may get you close, but not close enough to the percise focus you need.

There are tons of instructional articles on the Internets Tubes. 

Macro photography is fun for many photographers, not so fun for many others.  Don't spend a lot of money trying to find out if you like macro.  There will be plenty of time for spending money after you find you like macro.  :)

Good luck with this.
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danski0224

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Re: Macro Photography
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2013, 02:35:21 PM »
I have to admit that I have never done any true macro (at least 1:1) photography in my close to sixty years of practicing this hobby.  But I have been thinking I might have some fun with it.  Currently I own no prime lenses (loaned my 50mm 1.8 to grand-daughter, doubtful I will see it again).  I have an EFS 17-55 2.8 (which I love), a 70-200 2.8L II, a 100-400L, and several other lesser quality mid-range zooms (between the wife and I we have three bodies, 30D-hers, 40D and 7D-mine).  Due to a lengthy fall vacation (I'm retired, what am I vacationing from?) where we will visit four National Parks and one National Monument plus a day trip into Canada and a planned mission trip in November to a third world nation, my budget is a little strained. 

Finally to the question.  What do I need?  Would it be wiser to wait until I could afford something like the 100 2.8L Macro ( or other lens suggestion) or should I pop for a set of extension tubes such as the Canon extension tubes (or should I go for something cheaper in the tubes).

Thanks for any advice from those much wiser than I.

The 60mm EF-S Macro is a nice lens, works out to ~96mm equivalent. It is made for your cameras.

A longer lens, like the 100mm L Macro allows a bit more distance, which can come in handy for bugs or bigger flowers. That is ~160mm on your cameras. The IS helps for handheld shots.

The 180mm macro is also a nice lens, but sometimes it is too much. I found that I like ~150mm on a 5D series camera.

As previously mentioned, lighting can be an issue, especially if you stop down the lens for a greater depth of field and it isn't daylight. Proper and even illumination in macro shots is a whole subject by itself. There is a "post your set-up" in the Macro section of FM Forums.

Extension tubes also steal light.

Close-up lenses like the Canon 500D do not steal light and may give you some limited macro use from your 70-200.

Renting a dedicated macro lens or two may help.

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Re: Macro Photography
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2013, 02:35:21 PM »

Richard8971

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Re: Macro Photography
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2013, 11:32:07 PM »
I have owned 3 EF-s 60mm macros and 2 EF 100mm macro lenses. They are all fantastic and I would highly recommend any one of them.

The 60mm is a super sharp lens and I always loved the photos it produced BUT the 100mm gives you better distance from the subject so skittish bugs won't get as frightened so quickly.

Check Adorama, I bought my last 100mm used from them for a steal. $450.00. It looks and performs like new. They also have great deals on the 60mm as well.

EF-s 60mm macro : http://www.adorama.com/US%20%20%20%20589828.html

I didn't find any used EF 100mm macros but they get them frequently as I usually see a couple used for sale there.

Macro photography is fantastic and opens up a whole new world of things to photograph, you won't regret the $$$ spent.

CR is being picky tonight, I can't seem to upload and photos tonight. :(

D
« Last Edit: September 12, 2013, 11:49:37 PM by Richard8971 »
Canon 6D, 5D2, 7Dv2.03, 50D, 40D, T1i, XTi...XT (& lenses, flahses), various powershots... You get the idea... I have a problem. :)

Wife shoots Nikon, D7000, D7100, (lenses and flashes)... we constantly tease each other that our cameras are better than each others!

Old Sarge

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Re: Macro Photography
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2013, 07:40:08 AM »
I appreciate everyone's sage advice.  I'm traveling right now but after I return from this vacation and my fall mission trip, and buying Christmas presents for all the grand kids and great grand kids, I will probably start looking for a macro lens in the used market.  Not going to be in a rush about it. 

I liked the advice about the focus rail.  I have a couple of decent tripods, a Bogen aluminum for around the house and an Induro carbon fiber for traveling. 
The Old Sarge

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Re: Macro Photography
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2013, 08:41:59 AM »
Depending on your patience you can start with something simple and cheap. Get some extension tubes (metal preferably) which costs around $10 (in USA). Plus get some old manual lenses from any manufacturer (canon, nikon, pentax etc) which has a aperture ring to control the aperture plus an adapter (without corrective optics) to put that lens on the extension tube (will be "manufacturer of the lens/mount of the lens" to EF adapter). The lens focal length should be around 50 or less. This lens should cost around $100 and the adapter another $10. This way you keep your initial cost under control. Then with your tripod and focusing rail try out your new macro set up. Remember couple of things

1. You will need plenty of lights (flash required most of the times).
2. You will always need to stop down that is why the need of the aperture ring.
3. The macro lens that you "building" this way (lens + adapter + tubes) will not be "flat-field".
4. The subject to lens front distance will be around 6 inches (so bug eye macro will be out of question).

Feel free to check my flickr account there are couple of macro photos that I took this way before I understood I really like macro.

But this way at a lower cost you can test the waters and see if you really like macro or not. If you find you really like macro then you can go ahead and buy true "flat-field" macro lenses where your choices are plentiful depending on your budget - 50mm(Canon), 60mm(Canon and Tamron), 70mm (Sigma), 90mm (Tamron), 100mm (Canon), 105mm (Sigma), 150mm (Sigma), 180mm (Sigma, Canon, Tamron). But remember one thing the longer the focal length of the macro lens the more distance you will have between front of lens and your subject. So for bugs and stuff the longer (and hence costlier) macro lenses are more suitable - 150 mm or 180mm. All macro lenses are great and sharp and all of them can be used as non-macro telephoto primes as well.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2013, 08:44:37 AM by RAKAMRAK »
Need to learn a lot more.
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surapon

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Re: Macro Photography
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2013, 09:07:06 AM »
I have to admit that I have never done any true macro (at least 1:1) photography in my close to sixty years of practicing this hobby.  But I have been thinking I might have some fun with it.  Currently I own no prime lenses (loaned my 50mm 1.8 to grand-daughter, doubtful I will see it again).  I have an EFS 17-55 2.8 (which I love), a 70-200 2.8L II, a 100-400L, and several other lesser quality mid-range zooms (between the wife and I we have three bodies, 30D-hers, 40D and 7D-mine).  Due to a lengthy fall vacation (I'm retired, what am I vacationing from?) where we will visit four National Parks and one National Monument plus a day trip into Canada and a planned mission trip in November to a third world nation, my budget is a little strained. 

Finally to the question.  What do I need?  Would it be wiser to wait until I could afford something like the 100 2.8L Macro ( or other lens suggestion) or should I pop for a set of extension tubes such as the Canon extension tubes (or should I go for something cheaper in the tubes).

Thanks for any advice from those much wiser than I.

Dear Sarge.
I agree with one of our friend  about--First Try the Cheapest Thing , buy The Tube( $ 20 US Dollars) , and try first---And see do you like Macro Photography or not, If Yes, Save your Money and Buy the Used  EF 100mm. Macro First.
Yes, I am the  super/ crazy Geek of my Hobby Photography, When I see a great Macro Picture, past 8 years, I just go to buy Canon EF 100 mm., EF 100 mm L  IS, Ef 180 MM L Macro and MP-E 65 mm. F 2.8 1-5X Macro----Yes, I get a great Macro Photos from Them, The Great Lenses----But, All of my Lenses/ Macro are sit in the Dried Box, and I just use them 1-2 times per months---Such Weste of the Money.
Yes, Just try the  equipment as Less money first, And Learn that You like the Macro Photography or not.
Good Luck.
Surapon

surapon

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Re: Macro Photography
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2013, 09:22:37 AM »
Sample of MP-E 65 mm. 1-5 X Macro---The Most Tiny world that we can not see in our own eyes.

Enjoy
Surapon
« Last Edit: September 15, 2013, 09:24:10 AM by surapon »

Click

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Re: Macro Photography
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2013, 09:36:08 AM »
Sample of MP-E 65 mm. 1-5 X Macro---The Most Tiny world that we can not see in our own eyes.

Enjoy
Surapon

The second one is very impressive with the droplet on the eye. Well done Surapon.

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Re: Macro Photography
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2013, 09:36:08 AM »

surapon

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Re: Macro Photography
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2013, 09:36:44 AM »
Sample of MP-E 65 mm. 1-5 X Macro
Enjoy

The second one is very impressive with the drop of water on the eye. Well done Surapon.

Thanks you, Sir, Dear Mr. Click.
After that photo., I do not do it again, Because I kill that poor Bug----Why, I  have learn from my Great Teacher--The Great Master of Supreme Macro Photographer, I just capture the Insect and put in zip lock bag, and put in Refrigerator for 30 minutes to make them stop  moving/ Hibernation, And Bring Them back to my DIY. Equipment ( I can show you if you want to see), and spray the water by the spray bottle, and hope to get lucky shot.-0----Yes, The Bug is dead after I shoot the Macro Photos----No, I never do again.
I just do the Extreme Macro with the Dead/ No life Subjects, or no harm to the live subjects.
 Have a great day, Sir
Surapon
« Last Edit: September 15, 2013, 10:05:04 AM by surapon »

Click

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Re: Macro Photography
« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2013, 10:25:13 AM »
Dear Surapon

Thank you for the additional information. Don’t feel too bad about the fly, it has been immortalized by your picture.

Have a great day, Surapon my friend.

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Re: Macro Photography
« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2013, 10:25:13 AM »