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Thread: Macro settings..?

  1. #1

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    Macro settings..?

    I'm sure an easy answer to an easy question for some, but I'm confused.

    I'm just experimenting with macro for the first time and took some close ups of a really striking rose. I placed it on the site yesterday and quite rightly received the comment that the DOF is too shallow.

    Macro settings..?

    I agree... but I set the camera to macro and it set the aperture. I've been thinking about this today and am wondering how to get around it. I used my zoom lens with macro setting and macro dialled in on the camera. To get the deeper DOF should I have set the lens to macro and manually set the aperture in another mode?

    In my naivety I presumed both needed to be set to macro but the more I think about this the more I feel it's wrong...

    If the light wasn't so damn poor now (!) I would go and try again with different settings but thought I would ask the question here for now...

    Also please excuse the typo on the frame - just noticed..!

    Jon

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    ktuli's Avatar
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    Re: Macro settings..?

    Jon,

    I'm not sure what the macro program settings are picking for aperture, but it may be doing auto on both aperture and shutter speed. It may have decided that the shutter speed for that light was too slow and selected a wider aperture.

    To have more control over it, you do have to select either Av or M modes and set your aperture as needed. The DoF depends on your focal length of the lens, the focal distance from the subject, and the aperture... so to give a hard and true answer is near impossible. But you may want to have a look at what aperture the camera selected for you on that shot and use that as your basis (at least for similar subjects in similar settings). In general, I do most of my macro shooting at f/11-f/22. But I am also just starting to use an off-camera flash which is greatly helping me to achieve those smaller apertures without making my shutter speeds so slow that I can't avoid blur.

    Hope that helps.

    - Bill

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Macro settings..?

    Hi Jon,

    Bill's advice is good, for benefit of others, the EXIF shows that your Canon 550D used 1/250s at f/4.5 at iso125 at a 180mm focal length.

    Cheers,

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    ktuli's Avatar
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    Re: Macro settings..?

    Based on Dave's helpful sharing of the EXIF data, I'd say that for this particular shot, you probably would have wanted to bump up to at least f/8 or f/11. But again, the reality is that you'd have to adjust that based on your subject and what your intention is with the shot - sometimes you'll want that DoF to be very thin like that... for example, if there were an insect on the front of the flower and you wanted to showcase the insect without losing the viewer to the flower. But here, where the flower is the main focus, it probably should be completely in focus (though honestly, I'm one of those people who like the shot as it is... or with only a slight increase of DoF... say maybe to f/5.6?... I don't always feel that the whole flower needs to be in focus, then again maybe that is why my photos aren't as good)

    - Bill

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    Re: Macro settings..?

    Hi Jon,

    I agree with Bill's comments. My recommendation would be to set the aperture yourself - don't leave it to the cam. DoF is one of the most important choices in macro photography and the cam doesn't know your intension.
    For the picture you have shown: it will be difficult to get the complete flower in the DoF since DoF is typically only a few millimeters - depending on the magnification. The larger the magnification the less the DoF.

    Cheers,

    Marcus

  6. #6

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    Re: Macro settings..?

    The first thing I would say, Jon, is forget about all of those 'clever' pre set auto settings. And I mean - all of them - including the auto and semi auto options.

    Start to use just Tv, Av and Manual like those 'old fashioned' cameras. It will be a steep learning curve but well worth it in the end.

    Yes, like others, I normally use F11 to F14 for macro work, and predominately around the F14 area. This however, means that in order to retain a reasonable shutter speed you will need to seriously increase your ISO or use flash.

    When not using flash, I expect to have an ISO of 400 on a bright sunny day and 800 in other cases. When I originally started getting interested in macro photography I never used flash, but after a while I discovered the benefits and under the right conditions even the basic camera pop up flash can 'save the day'.

    Not always though, sometimes a softer approach works best. And getting used to using macro flash does take a bit of time and experimentation. I only use it with manual camera settings and vary the flash compensation to suit the scene.

    Did you use a tripod? That makes a massive difference. But even then a reasonably fast shutter speed (say 1/200 or slightly faster) may be needed to overcome wind rock movement.

    And another thing to consider is the camera angle. Even at F14 your available depth of sharp focus may be too shallow to get everything sharp. So you will need to think carefully about composition and decide what needs to be sharp and what can be allowed to blur. As Bill and Marcus have already mentioned.

    If you search around the previous posts you will find a lot of more detailed information about macro photography.

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    Re: Macro settings..?

    Thanks for all the comments and advice. The colours of the flower really attracted me to the shot but I was immediately struck by the DoF problem when I looked at it in Elements. I will try again over the next few days taking into account the comments above. I didn't feel right using the macro setting on camera as well as lens but now I know...I will try it on an AV setting first I think.

    Am I being realistic expecting a zoom lens to produce a good macro shot? The two disciplines appear as opposites to me...

    I did use a tripod on the shot but there was a breeze at the time so that may have affected the sharpness.

    Out of interest Dave refers to EXIF data. What is it (well I can see what it is) and how did you find it in a jpeg such as posted?

    Thanks again all.

    Jon

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    Re: Macro settings..?

    Quote Originally Posted by jp01 View Post
    Am I being realistic expecting a zoom lens to produce a good macro shot? The two disciplines appear as opposites to me...
    The most important thing with macro is the magnification, or the representation of the subject on the sensor. A true macro lens will do what is called 1:1 magnification, meaning that if your sensor is 22mm wide, and you take a photo of something 22mm wide (at the 1:1 focusing distance for that lens) the subject will fill the width of the image. The best magnification ratio I've seen with a zoom lens is 1:2 - meaning that if you have that same 22mm wide sensor, the best can get with the macro magnification is a subject of 44mm to fill the frame. Most people will consider 1:2 macro, but purist will only say 1:1 is true macro. You can change that ratio with extension tubes on your zoom lens, but I'll leave that for another discussion.

    I did use a tripod on the shot but there was a breeze at the time so that may have affected the sharpness.
    To counter a gentle breeze, you'll need a shutter speed of around 1/125 or faster. When you start combining a smaller aperture of f/11 or higher, with a shutter speed of 1/125, you'll either have to crank the ISO or use a flash unless you have some really stellar bright light.

    Out of interest Dave refers to EXIF data. What is it (well I can see what it is) and how did you find it in a jpeg such as posted?
    Exif stands for Exchangeable Image File Format and is information embedded in the image that stores information about the image... things like the time it was taken (based on what time your camera has set), exposure settings, lens information, camera model, etc, etc, etc. In Elements, if you go to File -> File Info, then select the Camera Data tab, it will show you the Exif data. There are many other ways to view the info, but that's just one for you.

    Hope this helps!

    - Bill

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    Re: Macro settings..?

    Originally, I started getting serious with macro by using a Canon 70-300 (macro zoom) and eventually added a 25 mm extension tube which allowed me to get a little closer.

    It worked reasonably well, although if I knew then how much macro photography I was going to do and if funds had been better, that money would have been better used as a contribution to a 'real' macro lens. Currently using a Sigma 180 mm macro.

    However, apart from price, one benefit of using a tube is that you don't need to carry 2 lenses and that little tube easily fits into a camera bag or even a pocket.

    Flowers, I'm afraid, will always suffer from wind movement; and harsh sunlight can also cause problems.

    The only real answer is to provide support for the flowers or use some sort of windbreak. But both are extra items to carry around unless you are going on a specific flower shoot.

  10. #10

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    Re: Macro settings..?

    Thanks all - more practise required before splashing out new / more equipment I think...

    Jon

  11. #11
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    Re: Macro settings..?

    Quote Originally Posted by ktuli View Post
    To counter a gentle breeze, you'll need a shutter speed of around 1/125 or faster. When you start combining a smaller aperture of f/11 or higher, with a shutter speed of 1/125, you'll either have to crank the ISO or use a flash unless you have some really stellar bright light.
    - Bill
    I agree with Bill. The shutter speed is important when you go outdoors, unless you are fine with taking a tripod and supports for the plants with you. And an aperture of F/11 or smaller should work fine for most photos. You have to find out though what the minimum focus distance of your lens is and what that means for your DOF.
    You might be able to use a higher ISO as well, depending on your camera's sensor, just experiment a bit. And sunshine really helps when you use a small aperture and don't want to use flash (like me, because I get tired of lugging around both a heavy camera and flash).

    Have a look at Macro flower photographs for some examples of macro photos and post some of your results there if you want.

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