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Thread: Alright all you Macro Pros

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    Alright all you Macro Pros

    I just got a Tokina 100mm macro and need some general getting started with macro tips. I've already learned that this is pretty much a tripod lens. It does come with an exposure compensation chart for the differing ratios...what other fun stuff is there I should get used to, do, prepare for, or set up exposure wise. I did not buy the ring flash - yet.

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    Re: Alright all you Macro Pros

    Chris,

    One of the techniques you could try when handholding the lens would be to use the "rocking" technique. I read it on one of the insect photography tutorials. The idea is that you set your focus manually, then gently but continuously rock back and forth pressing the button when you see the subject in focus. While the number of rejects will be higher with this approach, with enough shots you can supposedly use focus stacking. I will try to find the link to the original article for you.

    Abhi

    Update: Here is the link, Chris. This is part of a tutorial on insect macros.

    http://www.insectography.com/how_to_macro/focus.html
    Last edited by abhi; 8th June 2011 at 03:03 AM.

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    Re: Alright all you Macro Pros

    Hi Chris...

    Congratulations on your new lens... A dedicated macro lens is a great way to do macro and close-up photography. IMO, it is far more fun than using techniques like extension tubes, close-up filters or reversing your lens. Also, I think that the 90-100mm focal range is super for closeup work using either a crop or a full-frame camera. It is a nice balance between lens to subject distance and weight...

    If you are using your cameras built-in exposure meter, you should not need the exposure compensation chart. The meter will compensate for diferences in exposure. This is true whether you are using aperture or shutter speed priority, manual exposure using the meter, or even if you use Auto or Programmed mode...

    A ring flash is not necessary for macro work and often doesn't produce the best images because the lighting is pretty flat. I light my macros using a 550EX flash on a Siegelite Bracket modified with a Lumiquest mini Softbox. Of course, I also need an off camera cord. This is what my outfit looks like:

    Alright all you Macro Pros

    The Siegelite Bracket is no longer produced but can often be found on eBay, usually for under twenty bucks. The Siegelite can articulate and place the flash just about any place you desire. The setup is cheap if you can find the bracket used and there are Chinese knock-offs of the Lumiquest Mini Softbox available for less than ten bucks - usually around five. This set up provides quite decent lighting...

    Alright all you Macro Pros

    Alright all you Macro Pros

    BTW: You can also light macro shots using studio flash but, although you cannot usually chase little creepy crawlies around using monolights. The studio strobes do great for inanimate subjects...

    Alright all you Macro Pros

    Have fun with your lens and keep shooting...

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    Re: Alright all you Macro Pros

    Quote Originally Posted by abhi View Post
    While the number of rejects will be higher with this approach, with enough shots you can supposedly use focus stacking. I will try to find the link to the original article for you.
    I think the method of taking multiple shots with different focus settings is described in the "Adobe Photoshop CS5 Classroom in a Book" at the end of lesson 5.

    In short, you use Edit/Align Layers then Edit/Auto-Blend Layers, select Stack Images and Seamless Tones and Colors, then click OK. You might need to add a Vibrance adjustment layer for extra punch. It worked well in the tutorial but they weren't trying it on a macro shot!

    Sounds like it might work with the 'rocking' technique?

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    Re: Alright all you Macro Pros

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    I think the method of taking multiple shots with different focus settings is described in the "Adobe Photoshop CS5 Classroom in a Book" at the end of lesson 5.

    In short, you use Edit/Align Layers then Edit/Auto-Blend Layers, select Stack Images and Seamless Tones and Colors, then click OK. You might need to add a Vibrance adjustment layer for extra punch. It worked well in the tutorial but they weren't trying it on a macro shot!

    Sounds like it might work with the 'rocking' technique?
    Interesting..I am sure I will make a go of all these techniques. I think I actually have a siegelight bracket hanging about in one of my old light kits...now to rummage about. thanks for all the tips.

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    Re: Alright all you Macro Pros

    Hi Chris

    I take a lot of macro shots using my 105 lens and for the most part don't use flash that often. In camera I shoot raw with contrast dialled right back and use a neutral picture control, this is all relevant and retained when I process via NX2. NX2 remembers every camera setting and applies it to the raw file unlike LR or PS that I think understands WB but little else.

    The 105 makes for a great portrait lens as well so don't discount it for those duties. As for specific settings I'd suggest treating it as a normal lens and exposing as far to the right as poss without blowing highlights then make exposure and contrast adjustments in post. DoF is wafer thin in macro so even f32 is going to be tiny. You can try focus stacking either with PS or try CombineZM (google that). Very good prog and free.

    Good luck and show some examples please.

    Alright all you Macro Pros

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    Re: Alright all you Macro Pros

    Chris. Exactly what equipment/method is required will depend on what you are photographing. Flowers, insects, other inanimate objects in a studio all require different techniques.

    That lens is fine for flowers, etc but if you want to get serious with the smaller insects I would say that a converter would be desirable. I often use a 1.4x with my 180 mm lens.

    Most of my macro work, around 100+ photos per day for 3 or 4 days a week at this time of the year, is based on getting identifiable shots of insects for species recording. So I need to get a shot of virtually every insect which comes my way and focusing clearly on the necessary part of an insect's body is more important to me than getting absolutely perfect images.

    The tripod requirement you appear to have already worked out. Cable release or mirror lock up can work well for flowers etc, but I like to have the ability for fumble free quick shooting of insects. So a shutter speed around 1/200 and standard finger on the shutter method works fine for me; and it helps with wind rock or subject movement.

    The normal three way movement tripod head, with locking screws/handles works well enough for static subjects; although some people like a slide mechanism for fine control.

    For quick shooting of insects, I think that nothing beats a ball head with a quick release trigger handle.

    When using those narrow apertures (I like F14) you will soon find that you spend a lot of time at ISO 800 or use flash. I find that, with carefully use, a standard Speedlite works OK. Try this first.

    Because I am frequently shooting through 'holes' in the foliage I find that just mounting the flash in the standard manner works best for me. But for some circumstances and particularly flowers, you may find that an arrangement like Richard uses or totally off the camera flash will work better.

    For my use, I work with manual camera settings. Choose shutter speed, aperture and ISO to suit the scene then adjust the flash compensation to suit. My typical arrangement would be 1/200 F14 ISO 100 or 200 and a little negative flash compensation which would typically be around -2/3 or -1.

    And then, for flowers etc you will probably want some form of windbreak; and possibly some method of reducing harsh sunshine.

    But the first requirement, obviously, will be to shoot loads of photos of various subjects then come back to enquire further about and difficulties which you encounter.

    Trying to manipulate a tripod when standing up to my wotsits in brambles, thistles and neetles or lying on muddy ground/cattle poo just adds to the fun.

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    Re: Alright all you Macro Pros

    For my use, I work with manual camera settings. Choose shutter speed, aperture and ISO to suit the scene then adjust the flash compensation to suit. My typical arrangement would be 1/200 F14 ISO 100 or 200 and a little negative flash compensation which would typically be around -2/3 or -1.

    This is one of the things I really wanted to know about...I read that the lens hood would block part of the light and today when practicing, I bounced the flash off a reflector card (which also acted as a negative flash compensator) and got some fairly decent results...main thing now is to get the exposure down, and focus...boy, that can be a bigger bugger than I had thought it would be...but, i am generally a quick study, so this too shall come to be. Thank's for you input...I really am having so much fun!

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    Re: Alright all you Macro Pros

    If you don't mind me jumping in on this... I have a mu-4/3 camera with a 2:1 crop factor. Which would make a better macro lens for this, a 50mm or the 100mm you have discussed for the APSc cameras? Any recommendations on particular lenses? I have adapters for nearly anything.

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    Re: Alright all you Macro Pros

    Quote Originally Posted by Boatman View Post
    If you don't mind me jumping in on this... I have a mu-4/3 camera with a 2:1 crop factor. Which would make a better macro lens for this, a 50mm or the 100mm you have discussed for the APSc cameras? Any recommendations on particular lenses? I have adapters for nearly anything.
    Homer,

    The answer to that question depends on what you are planning on shooting in macro mode. If you're looking to shoot just flowers and other static subjects, then the 50mm would be fine. However, if you're looking to get into bugs, then I would go with the 100mm for the extra working distance to keep from spooking every one of your subjects as you try to get too close.

    - Bill

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    Re: Alright all you Macro Pros

    Chris. Lens hood shadow is a bit variable and shouldn't cause any problems until you get really close. Obviously a Speedlite, etc, is better than a pop up flash. For insects, I often remove the hood because that is the closest part to them and therefore the item most likely to scare them.

    With the 180 mm and Speedlite 580, I have never had any problems because my average working distance of around 12 ins is just clear of the shadow.

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    Re: Alright all you Macro Pros

    OK. Advice taken. I can do flowers pretty well with my 200mm Hexanon now. I was thinking bugs and smaller stuff, so the 100mm macro sounds better. Too bad I tossed away (or a least I can't find them) my macro rings for the several Takumar lenses I have. The 135 might have been useful for this with a ring or two. (Of course you can buy a used extension ring set for about $10 on eBay.) So many choices these days!

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    Re: Alright all you Macro Pros

    interesting thread Chris!
    many thanks to you and to all who have written/will write on it.... you help me so much!
    tomorrow at 6pm I'll have in my hands my new Canon EF 100 macro!!!

  14. #14
    ktuli's Avatar
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    Re: Alright all you Macro Pros

    Quote Originally Posted by Nicola View Post
    interesting thread Chris!
    many thanks to you and to all who have written/will write on it.... you help me so much!
    tomorrow at 6pm I'll have in my hands my new Canon EF 100 macro!!!
    And we're all anxiously awaiting the results...

    Which version? L or non-L? Either way, I hear they're both stellar lenses.

    - Bill

  15. #15
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    Re: Alright all you Macro Pros

    Quote Originally Posted by ktuli View Post
    And we're all anxiously awaiting the results...

    Which version? L or non-L? Either way, I hear they're both stellar lenses.

    - Bill
    non L.
    too expensive the L-grade one for my consumer grade use...
    I hope you are right saying both are very good lenses (and I think so)
    I think the differences between them are less than twice the price...
    as one can read on tests

  16. #16

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    Re: Alright all you Macro Pros

    Quote Originally Posted by Boatman View Post
    OK. Advice taken. I can do flowers pretty well with my 200mm Hexanon now. I was thinking bugs and smaller stuff, so the 100mm macro sounds better. Too bad I tossed away (or a least I can't find them) my macro rings for the several Takumar lenses I have. The 135 might have been useful for this with a ring or two. (Of course you can buy a used extension ring set for about $10 on eBay.) So many choices these days!
    What mm thread were they?

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    Re: Alright all you Macro Pros

    Quote Originally Posted by Nicola View Post
    interesting thread Chris!
    many thanks to you and to all who have written/will write on it.... you help me so much!
    tomorrow at 6pm I'll have in my hands my new Canon EF 100 macro!!!
    I've had my (non-L) 100mm for about 1 month now and am very please with it and it's performance. The quality is so much better than flower or bug shots with the kit lens. I still have allot to learn and now have a lens to grow into.

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