Lighting for macro photography of fern gametophytes

A forum to ask questions, post setups, and generally discuss anything having to do with photomacrography and photomicroscopy.

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jsp
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Post by jsp »

May I ask - do you think there's any point trying this without having absolutely scads of cash to throw at it? The setups that I'm seeing obviously have taken a lot of time and money to set up and probably constitute a life's work. My camera and MP-E lens cost a lot already but the thought of spending so much more on a really solid setup really concerns me. Do you think this kind of work is possible to do on a relative shoe-string?

I figure that, for an easy life, I ought to be using a stackshot and proper positioning arms for the lights, but that is way out of my budget. Do you some of you have home-built systems that work? The systems that you've shown are really amazing, but I'd love to know if some of you have cheap systems full of rubber bands and bits of cut-off worktop, that still produce results. Thanks!

ChrisR
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Post by ChrisR »

Do you think this kind of work is possible to do on a relative shoe-string?
Yep.

Stackshot takes out many of the hassles, but there are lots of low-cost ( say under £/$100 ) ways which have different hassles. Quite a number of popular ones depend on "finding something on ebay", but not all.
If you can make an R-Pi drive a small stepper motor to drive a microscope fine focus knob, and also operate a shutter, then you're good to go a long way, for well under £100.

Doing it all manually - see Proxxon
See Microscope bases (used) (I've bought Olympus whole microscopes for around £60, and sometimes bases are half that).
See Ebay for micrometer driven Thorlabs/Parker etc linear stages, good to just about 10x, portable.

Automated - free Canon programming with an Internal-focus lens, covers a range, even with a microscope objective screwed on the front.

I'll look for links though others may beat me to it... (Apart from THE thread here which you'll have found).

Screwing the camera or subject to the scanner head, would put me off, apart from the lack of easy/fine control.

I stuck with manual for years, mostly using a microscope base with a bellows & camera replacing the viewing parts.
If you're having to press the button, then you may as well turn a knob too, but at around 5x, somewhere about 100+ shots per subject view, it gets pretty boring to have to do a re-run to alter the lights, so your output quality suffers.

In the US, a used Stackshot is likely to be about $300, which is just plain annoying.
Doing 800 manually (yes, been there and beyond) - well you'd have to mad if you weren't dedicated ;).

Lou Jost
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Post by Lou Jost »

I'm a beginner so take this with a grain of salt.

Since you are a programmer, you can probably write a script for your Canon to step-focus and do everything automatically, without having to move camera or subject. Apparently you pay a small price in image quality, but I think the image quality difference would be particular to each set-up, and is not too important compared to the image quality degradation caused by severe vibrations.

This would save you the cost of a Stackshot or more scanners....

jsp
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Post by jsp »

Hi Lou,

That's a very interesting thought for my other lenses. The MP-E is manual focus only, but with my 100mm macro I could do some very very interesting work with the technique that you suggest. I must do some googling on that. I hadn't heard of canon programming.

Thanks!

Jennifer

jsp
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Post by jsp »

Do you happen to know where the online docs are for programming a lens? All the search terms are quite ambiguous (e.g. program conflicts with P mode). Thanks!

Lou Jost
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Post by Lou Jost »

All I know is that Canon makes its SDK library available and people have written programs to run Canons. I am sure people here know more about this than I do.

For examples of the literature see:

https://www.didp.canon-europa.com/

http://www.codeproject.com/Articles/688 ... -in-Csharp

I am a Nikon user and a VB programmer so I have no direct knowledge about this.

Edit: A good set of search terms is "Canon SDK"

jsp
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Post by jsp »

Thanks, that's enough to put me in the right direction. It sounds very interesting. Thanks for letting me know about that.

jsp
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Post by jsp »

I did try a third party programming system to try to get the raspberry pi to fire the shutter, but installing the programming system at all turned out to be a bit of an epic adventure in itself so I gave up on that. It sounded fun though. I only have very limited time unfortunately, or else I'd be spending days fiddling with this kind of thing. :D

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Post by ChrisR »

Here I'm speaking with the great authority of someone who hasn't done it, but Rik gives instructions on using Canon software to drive the lens, and the indpependent s/w is called Magic Lantern.

I have used CHDK, which is/was for Powershots (Canon compacts). Powerful, easy programming, but to get it going, "Epic Adventure" would be magnanimous.

Programming Canon DSLRs to use their own lenses depends on whether the lens uses Internal Focus or not. I think both the current Canon 105mm Macros are IF.

Found one link...
http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/v ... 14569Using Canon AF for stacking

And
http://zerenesystems.com/cms/stacker/do ... eosutility

jsp
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Post by jsp »

That's amazing. I've got the 100mm f/2.8 (non-L) equivalent of that lens, but not the microscope objective. He makes it sound so easy but I bet there was a bunch of work in getting the focus ring to do what was wanted, and to attach the microscope objective to the lens without damaging either. :D Thanks for showing me. That certainly opens up a whole lot of other options.

jsp
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Post by jsp »

Gosh, the zerene guide does make that a bit easier doesn't it? I might give that a go on a bigger subject. It would be nice to have an easy win after all this fruitlessly fiddling about with wires. :-)

Lou Jost
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Post by Lou Jost »

No, attaching the microscope objective to the lens is trivial and cheap!!!! There's a ton of stuff on this forum showing exactly what you need.

Edit-this comment was aimed at your second-last comment, not your last one, which crossed mine in cyberspace.

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Post by ChrisR »

Again, grannie's pearls may not have to be pawned. There are "accessible" objectives at 4x and 10x.

See http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/v ... hp?t=27205 for the Nikon 4x and 10x BE objectives
Those work better for you on a 200mm lens though.

A 100mm lens means
1) you get half the marked magnification and
2) you'll lose your corners -vignetting. They just about cover APS sensors.

(20x and up objectives are a very different proposition)

You may find it's altogether an easier way to "stack", or not, which would colour your choice of route.
I don't know for example if a common 50mm f/1.8 standard lens reversed on the front of your 100, would cover your sensor. It would give you 2x. Old people might be likely to have one you could borrow to try, from some long-redundant camera. (I must be quite old, then.)
You could try a 35mm for about 3x, but probably your MP-E would be so much better optically that you'd want to stick to it - it depends on the application.

There is a limit on how much you can stack with the internal focus, it'll only cover a range.
In your situation I thnk I'd probablystick to fiddling with wires until I'd either
1) found an affordable Stackshot or
2) found something like a microscope base and a design/software to pinch /adapt from someone else, with a stepper motor driving the scope.

jsp
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Post by jsp »

Thanks Chris, I think you're probably right. It seems a shame to have the MP-E and not use it.

I do actually have a 50mm f/1.8 lens. I was given a lovely one by the man who trained me, as he is now retired and doesn't need it any more. It's a manual focus Olympus Zuiko and it has the most amazing Bokeh. All but the top left and right of these was taken with it: https://www.flickr.com/photos/97964477@N03/

It produces such lovely images, and is a total pain the head to use. I always end up taking about 40 shots of a single flower and if I'm lucky, then one of them is o.k. It takes really effort and luck to get a great shot. It's soooo worth it though.

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Post by rjlittlefield »

jsp wrote:One of the photos that I took was from 800 slices, taken every three seconds with me firing the shutter manually by remote control.
That's a lot of slices. More than I've ever done, for what that's worth. What was the application? Do you know if so many steps were really required, or did you happen to be using a focus step that was much smaller than the optical DOF?
What do you all do for your focus stacking?
In addition to reading all the posts here at photomacrography.net, I answer all the support requests for Zerene Stacker. Across that experience, StackShot rail seems by far the most popular tool for full automation. After that is CamRanger (mixed hardware/software) and other software-only applications that all work by controlling the focus motor inside the lens (and thus won't work with your MP-E 65). Then there's a broad and diverse collection of DIY systems that involve either homemade rails or homemade drivers for commercial rails. For very high magnifications, using objectives at 20X NA 0.40 and up, microscope focus blocks are popular because of the roughly 0.003 mm or less optical DOF of those objectives. The StackShot rail will work in that range, but it gets notably fiddly. Pairing a StackShot controller with a stepper motor hooked to a focus block provides a relatively undemanding way to get high precision and full automation.
May I ask - do you think there's any point trying this without having absolutely scads of cash to throw at it?
Well, in the beginning I did all my stacking using a repurposed XY clamping table with handwheels at 0.1" per rotation, which I borrowed from my drill press. It worked fine up to using a 4X NA 0.10 microscope objective, for which the optical DOF is about 0.002" (0.050 mm). For 10X NA 0.25 it got annoyingly fiddly, and beyond that it was essentially impossible.

I would have to say that the differences in image quality between that "system" and what I do now are pretty small, in the range of feasible magnifications.

The main differences are in time, annoyance, and in some cases physical pain. Staying hunched over a handwheel, trying hard not to move, because moving shifts the floor and thus the table and thus the lens-to-subject position, is not a healthy way to spend many hours.

So I think the key question is what do you mean by "this"? Getting good images is a relatively simple problem by itself. Setting up to do that quickly and easily for hundreds or thousands of stacks is more challenging.

--Rik

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