Starting off

Have questions about the equipment used for macro- or micro- photography? Post those questions in this forum.

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ChrisR
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Starting off

Post by ChrisR »

A relative has had encouraging results of butterflies, bees and the like from a "point-and-push" camera which focusses down to half an inch or so.

To do more, I've suggested he might get a secondhand SLR, and add relatively cheap bellows, enlarger lens, etc.
But I haven't been following SLR development over the last few years. Apart from a mirror-lock, I don't think it matters too much. I find Live View useful but could do without it.
Perhaps 7MP or better. For outdoor work, a smaller sensor makes things easier, of course.
One thing nobody mentions much but I suspect would be useful, is in-camera image stabilisation - like the p&p cameras have.
Any suggestions?

DaveW
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Post by DaveW »

In camera, or in lens stabilisation whichever system the camera maker uses, is not usually considered effective really close up, being more use at normal distances. Nikon in fact recommends Vibration Reduction (VR) be turned off when you are really close. Anti-shake or vibration reduction will only mitigate camera movement, it will not stop subject blur if the subject itself moves and through using this function you are using too low a shutter speed. To quote from Thom Hogan:-

"But, be forewarned that VR is often much less useful than you might think. When you start hand holding a lens at 1/30 or lower, you're definitely going to be fighting subject motion. If your subject is absolutely static, fine, no problema as my South American friends like to say (sorry Brazil--I haven't been there to make friends yet ;~). But most of the folk that'll be using this lens aren't shooting completely static subjects with it, I think.

Also Thom Hogan says for using the 105mm VR Micro Nikkor up close:-

"Oh, you want to know about that caveat, do you? The exact words in the Nikon manual say "As the reproduction ratio increases from 1/30x [sic], the effects of vibration reduction gradually decrease." In other literature, Nikon has flat out said to turn off VR for macro use. What's the real answer? The manual is correct, basically. The closer you focus, the less VR has an impact on the final image. At 1:1 (the closest focus distance), it may not impart any benefit (it didn't seem to in the testing conditions I could create). So do you turn VR off when working in macro? If you're pressed up towards the limits of focus, I'd say yes--you're wasting battery life and potentially making it more difficult to hit a focus point. But if you're focused out beyond two or three feet (~.7m+), it probably makes sense to leave it on, as you'll get some benefit (though not the four stops Nikon claims for the system unless you're focusing far further out into the scene)."

I suspect no other makers anti camera shake functions will work any better in the macro realm. It is also recommended you switch off autofocus for macro work because there is not enough depth of field to cover it's focusing inaccuracies and often the region you should be focused on to maximise the available depth of field contains no object the autofocus can focus on.

The MK1 eyeball on the focusing screen is better than autofocus for macro work almost every time.

DaveW

ChrisR
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Post by ChrisR »

That's for thew in-lens stab method, it would be interesting to hear from someone with say an Olympus who has tried the type I referred to.

I didn't mention autofocus, by the way!

DaveW
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Post by DaveW »

No, just pointing out that many forms of automation should not be relied on at very close distances. Vibration reduction and autofocus very close up may be not so reliable as in general photography, so too high a priority should not be put on it for macro work, though you usually get it anyway whether you need it or not. Still it's as well to know when to switch it off and focus manually.

Also focus confirmation lights in the viewfinder for manual focusing are just as useless as autofocus itself very close up since they work off the autofocus sensor anyway, so are no more accurate than autofocus in that situation and should be ignored.

Cameras are produced for the average market, with few facilities for the dedicated macro photographer other than usually a macro lens in their range. Often you have to put up with loosing some of the automated linkages etc when you start adding bellows and enlarger lenses, reversing lenses etc.

I would also doubt that in camera stabilisation would be much better anyway close up. It's only advantage is the manufacturer does not have to put it in every lens. For a history and pro's and con's of in-lens v. in-body stabilisation see:-

http://www.bobatkins.com/photography/di ... ation.html

http://theonlinephotographer.blogspot.c ... image.html

DaveW

AndrewC
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Post by AndrewC »

I would rely on flash to freeze out vibration rather than electromechanical VR reduction.

Do they want to do "studio" or "live action" ? For "live action", my biggest incremental gain was when I got my first long working distance macro lens - Nikon 200f4.

so my suggestion for outdoors action would be for

1) good tripod
2) decent DSLR
3) long macro lens
4) good flash. The flash doesn't need to be fully automated all bells'n'whistles. Any manual flash would probably work.

moving indoors onto >2x magnification is a different game

rgds, Andrew

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Post by ChrisR »

The question was about s/h SLR cameras really.
Anyone using something which would now be regarded old tech, so cheap?

AndrewC
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Post by AndrewC »

Cameras- very subjective - the D100 has a great sensor but small screen / viewfinder. I still use mine for IR photography. You can find them for around GBP100 +/-

Would it be for macro only or be used for "real" photography as well ?

To be honest, I think any Nikon or Canon DSLR released in the last 5 years is actually pretty good. Don't be seduced by huge frame rates and very high iso performance.

Andrew

DaveW
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Post by DaveW »

As you spoke of 7 megapixels I presumed you meant a DSLR (Digital Single Reflex) and not a film SLR (Single Lens Reflex)? It depends what your final reproduction method is? If for Web use anything over about 5 megapixels is usually said to exceed the resolution of most computer screens, so more megapixels don't provide any benefit unless you want to do radical crops. If you want to make extra large prints then more megapixels are a benefit. See:-

http://malektips.com/digital_photo_printing_0004.html

As many photographers must have the latest highest megapixeled camera or "neck jewelry" there are plenty of lower megapixeled cameras for sale on EBAY, which if we are honest few of us using them would notice much difference in image quality for our normal usage.

The average shelf life of a new DSLR model is now said to be 18 months before it is superseded by a new model, so there should be plenty of cameras around 4-5 years old out there going cheap.

Also simply cramming more megapixels onto the same size sensor with each new camera does not always help with image quality, even if it sells cameras! See:-

http://www.clarkvision.com/imagedetail/ ... ze.matter/

However lenses don't become obsolete that quickly so a decent lens may loose it's value far less than possibly the camera it was originally sold with, particularly dedicated macro lenses. With new cameras it's usually best to buy the body only and then the lens you want if your prime interest is macro photography, rather than the camera and kit lens.

However with secondhand cameras you may have to take the kit lens with the camera, though some people do sell the body only when upgrading and keep all their lenses for the new camera. Don't be afraid to buy a DSLR body only though and then look around for the type of lens you really want.

DaveW

lauriek
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Post by lauriek »

AndrewC wrote: To be honest, I think any Nikon or Canon DSLR released in the last 5 years is actually pretty good. Don't be seduced by huge frame rates and very high iso performance.
Andrew
I'd expand that to pretty much any DSLR from the last 5 years. I'm still using an E330 which can be had for less than 200 pounds on eBay.

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Post by puzzledpaul »

To re-iterate previous comments on

<< Anyone using something which would now be regarded old tech, so cheap? >>

Yes - I use a 20D (8Mp) for all my pics now (and for about the last 18months) - before that a 10D.

Advice would be buy the best glass they can afford / need for their purpose(s).

Specific lens(es) depends on what they're intending to do - outdoors, uncontrolled (generally) situations or not ... and subject size / how much they want to fill the frame.

Don't forget to factor in flash / support cost too.

Some sort of support definitely useful if using longer lenses - although doesn't have to be a tripod.

pp
Boxes, bottlebottoms, bits, bobs.

elf
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Post by elf »

I'd say the two best choices would be the Olympus e330 and Canon 40D. The e330 has articulated Live View (which is the primary reason I bought it), excellent inexpensive macro lens (35mm), and the flange focal distance is shorter than all of the other current mounts so lens from other manufacturers are easy to adapt. The 40D has the advantage of electronic first curtain shutter.

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Post by Cyclops »

One more thing about anti shake or image stabilisation. My panasonic has it and it works fine,but only when hand held. If i tripod mount the camera I have to turn it off or the camera won't focus!
Canon 30D | Canon IXUS 265HS | Cosina 100mm f3.5 macro | EF 75-300 f4.5-5.6 USM III | EF 50 f1.8 II | Slik 88 tripod | Apex Practicioner monocular microscope

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Post by DaveW »

No doubt whether vibration reduction should be on or off on a tripod can vary from camera to camera and the version of vibration reduction or anti shake used, so you need to read the manual or research this beforehand.

In Nikon's case, with DSLR's with detachable lenses since the VR is in the lenses itself it varies with lens versions. See:-

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read. ... e=26834299

I would think cameras with the early versions of VR, or anti camera shake would probably need it turned off when the tripod head is locked solid, the requirement to turn it off on a locked head tripod only seems to have been removed in the latest versions.

DaveW

Joseph S. Wisniewski
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Post by Joseph S. Wisniewski »

The reason image stabilization systems don't work at macro distance is a little complicated.

A camera can undergo six different kinds of motions. Three are rotations:
pitch - where you rotate the camera up or down
yaw - turn the camera left or right
roll - rotate it so that the horizon rotates clockwise or counterclockwise

Three are translations, where you move the camera without changing the direction it's pointed in. There's:
elevation - raising the camera up or down
lateral translation - move it left or right
longitudinal translation - move it toward or away from the subject.

For objects at a distance, translation has virtually no effect on the image, while two of the rotations (pitch and yaw) dominate. So that's what stabilization systems are built to deal with, they have "rotational accelerometers", devices that can measure pitch and yaw, and move lenses or sensor in order to counter that.

For extremely near objects, the situation is reversed, and the lateral and elevation translations dominate. In order to compensate for those, you need accelerometers that measure translation, and you need to know the exact lens to subject and lens to sensor distances. Autofocus lenses provide those distances to the camera, but you can't get that distance easily with a bellows and enlarger lens. You'd have to take a tape measure to the bellows, measure two distances, and dial them into camera menus.

And, of course, for intermediate distances, you have to worry about both the rotations and translations, so you need four accelerometers, eight times more processing power to compute the higher order shifts, and, of course, that distance information.

Basically, it's a complex problem that no one has really tackled yet.

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Post by rjlittlefield »

That's a beautiful description, Joseph. I've added that one to my list of reference links.

--Rik

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