Canon 40D Macro Setup

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

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Canon 40D Macro Setup

Post by uncleoinky »

Hi all, I am sure you have had a pile of these questions before - as I have browsed through a lot of the threads and seen them, but sometimes with limited knowledge it is best to just come out with it and ask. (Thanks in advance)

My intended goal is to be able to shoot around 3X to 20X magnification, though probably would be lying more towards the low or mid range of that.

My problem is that at this point in time I only possess the camera and no rig. I lack the knowledge and experience about good models for objectives and bellows (novo and nikoncf read so far) as well as the adapters required.

Money is not critical, though there is a hesitation for an overly large outlay for something that is unknown. Then again, I don't want to buy cheap things, have a hard time when starting (adjustments/stability/lens quality) and sook about it.

Charles Krebs
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Post by Charles Krebs »


There is so much on this forum, that it can be difficult to locate it. Let me point you to a few places: ... php?t=9370
(entire thread. Page two for some specific suggestions) ... php?t=6070

links at the end of this post: ... php?t=2825

Basically up to about 5-7X you can use certain "macro" or "micro" lenses. From 10X and up certain microscope objectives are really the best options.

Bellows are important (although recently folks have been experimenting with "infinity" type objectives on lenses of about 200mm focal length), but equally important is some mechanism for moving either the camera unit or the subject in the very small, accurate increments needed at these magnifications. (All bellows units I am aware of are good for "roughing in" focus at these magnifications, but far too coarse for the fine focus needed).

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Post by rjlittlefield »

unkcleoinky, welcome aboard! :D

I presume you're interested in a bench setup, as opposed to field shooting.

One good approach is to think of the setup in three major chunks:
- optics
- mechanics (especially for focusing)
- illumination

Below 5X, the most commonly used optics consist of reversed enlarger or video lenses, or special purpose macro lenses made to work with bellows. On Canon bodies, you also have the option of the Canon MP-E 65, which is also good for field shooting if you can deal with the always shallow DOF at high mags.

At 10X and above, high resolution requires using microscope objectives. There are two approaches. The first is to buy older "finite" design objectives and put them on bellows, projecting directly onto the camera's sensor. The second is to buy newer "infinite" design objectives and mount them in front of a typically 200mm telephoto lens. Most of what you see in the forum to date has been done using finite objectives on bellows, but several of us have recently had very good success with infinite objective on telephoto. For finite objectives, the Nikon CF line is safe and effective. For infinite objectives, any Nikon should be color-free (CF) even though they may not be labeled as such.

At higher magnifications, you will almost certainly want to use focus stacking, so you will need a setup that makes that easy. In the category of automated systems, the new StackShot rail is getting great reviews. Its minimum step size seems to be OK for use up to about 10X, but beyond that is unclear. Manual systems using screw-driven rails or tables can be assembled more cheaply. At magnifications above 10X, you will probably prefer a high precision focusing mechanism, typically based on a microscope focus block. These can comfortably make focus steps down to around 1 micron or smaller (0.001 mm), which is fine for any magnification you'll be using.

For illumination, your choices basically break down to continuous versus flash. Continuous illumination, typically through a dual-head fiber optic illuminator, offers more control and flexibility but is also more sensitive to vibration and is one more thing to buy. Flash illumination is just the opposite -- less control and flexibility, but much less sensitive to vibration, and you probably have flashes in your kit already. In either case, be sure to learn about diffusers such as tissue paper, pingpong balls, and food containers -- properly diffused illumination makes a huge difference at high magnification.

The links provided by Charles are excellent. You might also want to look at the FAQ: What's the best way to focus when stacking? and follow the links therein.

You will also need focus stacking software. Most of the recently posted images come from Zerene Stacker, which was specifically designed to work well with deep high magnification stacks. Other reasonable options include Helicon Focus and CombineZP.


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Location: Perth

Post by uncleoinky »

Thanks for the prompt replies.

Yes Rik, a studio setup is intended.

Admittedly I had read those pages that were linked by CK prior to him posting, but hadn't immediately understood that objectives were not limited to a bellows setup.

Based on the above responses I have been able to narrow down what I want to do much more effectively..will be back later with more beginner questions :)

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