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High Magnification Setup

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Joined: 19 Sep 2011
Posts: 30
Location: North East, U.S.A.

PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2012 10:28 am    Post subject: High Magnification Setup Reply with quote

EDIT: Click Here for updated version.

I've been using the following setup for a little while now.

It seems that many people on here use vertical setups and, after acquiring some new equipment (see pictures below), I'm wondering if I should change my setup from horizontal to vertical.

I'm wondering if someone who has used both could please tell me the pros and cons of each and which they ultimately prefer.


Last edited by Noah212 on Sat Mar 30, 2013 1:45 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 20486
Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2012 1:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My usual position is "it depends".

I have a variety of setups that can run from horizontal to vertical and everything in between. All of them include a StackShot these days. Usually I prefer the horizontal rig because it's the most stable and the easiest to change optics without fear of dropping them. But the vertical and tiltable setups are handy on occasion for dealing with subjects that I want to hold by gravity or photograph in situ.

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Rylee Isitt

Joined: 13 Apr 2012
Posts: 475
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2012 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My current system is a work in progress, and I have never actually posted details about it here (yet). I keep waiting until it's "done" and just when I think I'm there, I get another idea about how to improve it.

But one major thing is that I knew I'd want both horizontal and vertical, so my rig needed to be modular. Both horizontal and vertical have distinct uses. There are certain types of subjects that are easier to work with in a vertical setup, and others that are easier with a horizontal setup. I usually find that flat subjects, heavy subjects, and slides (especially wet ones) are easier to deal with in a vertical setup. But my horizontal setup gives me a bit more room to work with for lighting and backdrops.

Both are based around a pair of BHMJ focusing blocks.

Rik makes a good point about dropping things. I make full use of the safety stops in the Arca plates to prevent accidents as best as I can, and the plates are oriented so that the camera/bellows/etc mates with the clamp in a sideways fashion. So loosening the clamp will not cause the gear to fall, unless you loosen it completely.
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Chris S.
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Joined: 05 Apr 2009
Posts: 3453
Location: Ohio, USA

PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


My approach so far has been entirely horizontal, and often, I'm very glad that I have a horizontal rig. But I keep encountering situations in which a vertical or diagonal rig would be easier to use--so adding vertical and diagonal capability is on my "do-list" for this winter. So you might not want to constrain yourself.

From the work you've shared so far, you are putting your horizontal approach to very effective use. Smile And your recent additions to your equipment are decidedly modular--a very useful feature. So your natural upgrade path may well be to allow yourself a range of orientations.

BTW, your BHMJ focus block has a somewhat unusual adapter plate mounted on the face opposite your Arca-Swiss style clamp. (I say this as someone who has worked with several BHMJ blocks.) This plate is likely a pretty nice thing, as it would make it easy to mount your BHMJ on something like a Velmex Unislide, and use the Velmex for rough positioning, then use the BHMJ for stacking movement. Conversely, you could place your BHMJ on a pole mount and use a thumbscrew for rough adjustment. Depending on how your adapter plate is configured, you might have to remove it or add a through-hole to do this. Also, some BHMJ blocks are missing a tightening ring internal to the prominent hole. This ring facilitates a tight, secure mounting on a pole. If missing, it is easily fabricated (I recently had two such rings made at modest cost).

Another likely step in the evolution of your rig may be the inclusion of a StackShot controller and stepper motor. You probably don't need the StackShot macro rail, but may wish to adapt the controller and motor to your linear stage and/or focus block.

For clarity, your approach might be best described as a "moderate," rather than "high" magnification setup. These terms are of course relative--neither patently right or wrong. I bring it up in that some of the mechanics in your rig probably work well at the magnifications you are currently using, but would likely be problematic at, say, 50x or 100x, where you would likely want to shift to even tighter mechanical regimes.


The Bratcam: http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=8247
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Joined: 12 Jul 2012
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Noah,

I like your holder with the aligator clip, is that custome made or you bought it as is?

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