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Thread: Getting the hang of a macro lens

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Getting the hang of a macro lens

    Got out in the sunshine yesterday with a recent s/h acquisition - a macro lens

    Getting the hang of a macro lens
    Nikon D5000 + Panagor 90mm f2.8 PMC Nikon AI mount, shot handheld 1/1000s at f11, iso 800.
    Image size here is 1000 x 719.

    This wasn't shot at the full 1:1, I was creeping up from a distance and didn't want to miss the shot, but it is a significant crop from the image.

    Will add a couple more pics to this thread from same shoot later.

    C&C welcome - I had three goes at the PP crop, trying not to go too small, but that just gave more blossom and distracted from my intended subject.

    All later shots of same bug were compromised by it (unhelpfully) putting a leg or two in front of proboscis, making it difficult to see what was happening. There's a lot of luck to this kind of shooting, just need to hang around more to increase my chances of success I guess.

    Thanks,

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Getting the hang of a macro lens

    The next one; this was shot at a marked 1:1 equating to a film/sensor to subject distance of 35cm, but the end of the lens was only about 10cm from subject.

    Getting the hang of a macro lens
    Nikon D5000 + Panagor 90mm f2.8 PMC Nikon AI mount, shot handheld 1/250s at f16, iso 800.
    Image size here is 1000 x 647.

    Suffering from no metering, this had to have the exposure increased nearly 2 stops in ACR

    I also had to give it a little extra on left hand edge as the antenae just touched the edge of frame spoiling composition, but other than that, this is uncropped.

    Being able to go from this close to using the same lens as 90mm (135mm with crop factor) telephoto at infinity with just the focus barrel is mind blowing.

    Thanks,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 25th April 2010 at 11:56 AM.

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    Re: Getting the hang of a macro lens

    Any macro images of a dark insect against a white background will always be tricky. I find avoiding directly sunshine can help, but usually isn't possible.

    Also, it is usually impossible to get a good balance between the insect and the flowers, so you have to decide which is going to be the main subject.

    From my experience, you have done well to get so close with 90 mm. I frequently struggle with twice that length.

    The main problems, I find, with macro photos is that your depth of field is so shallow that a tripod is essential. Using a tripod would have enabled you to increase your aperture slightly, say F14, while reducing the ISO; but handling a tripod in dense undergrowth is never easy.

    But with regards to that image. I would consider a 90 or 180 degree rotation. I say consider as it is difficult to see clearly while standing on my head! Otherwise it is good. Possibly a tiny touch more carefully controlled use of Curves might work. And maybe the same with selective sharpening on the fly; but very little.

    Sometimes I can get away with drawing a freehand selection roughly around the subject, and feathering by about 5 pixels, then applying a little Unsharp Mask; perhaps 80% 1 pixel and 1 level of threshold. After which I apply more Unsharp Mask to the whole image, to suit the background. This gives a bit more 'pop' to the insect and is easier than attempting to use layers and masks. Although that method still remains the correct procedure for many difficult circumstances.

    ps. I think it is one of the Empis brand of flies. Maybe Empis tessellata but the legs are a touch on the dark side.

    Your Alder Fly has just 'appeared'. Once again, I think a tripod would prove helpful but you have probably also lost a bit of sharp detail by being under exposed.

    One word of warning though; Macro photography is addictive and ends up becoming expensive!
    Last edited by Geoff F; 25th April 2010 at 12:20 PM.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Getting the hang of a macro lens

    Now a third; again at 1:1, a crop and rotate from the frame as shot to put the web thread (not his/hers) into the corner.

    Getting the hang of a macro lens
    Nikon D5000 + Panagor PMC 90mm f2.8 Macro: 1/350s at f16, iso800
    Image size here is 1000 x 762.

    Obviously more DoF problems due to angle of beetle relative to camera.

    Thanks,

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    Re: Getting the hang of a macro lens

    Wow! You obviously learn fast.

    I really like the beetle: great composition, and beautiful detail. "DOF problems" is a relative term. It would be nice if the port antenna was completely in focus, but I mostly don't mind if part of the insect is out of focus in a macro shot. Like getting the eyes in focus in a portrait shot, I like to see all the detail around the head section: antennae, mouth parts, eyes, at least one pair of legs. If you have to sacrifice other areas for that, go for it, as far as I'm concerned. The exception is probably things with cool wings, like the fly that you got a nice side view on.

    Cheers,
    Rick

    PS: can't resist noting that the fly can use about a 1 deg CW rotation.

  6. #6

    Re: Getting the hang of a macro lens

    Dave

    Very nice shots and it looks like the old 'dental' is up to the job

    Panagor 90mm f2.8 PMC Nikon AI mount
    Obviously no adaptor needed for he AI mount but will that lens allow auto focus from the D5000?

    Steve

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Getting the hang of a macro lens

    Quote Originally Posted by Wirefox View Post
    Obviously no adaptor needed for the AI mount but will that lens allow auto focus from the D5000?
    Hi Rob,

    Perhaps I should say AI-S?, anyway, it is old film Nikon manual (no electrics at all), so it has aperture ring , but I have to remember to turn it
    And without a microprocessor in the lens, the D5000 doesn't meter either, so it's; guess, shoot, histogram, re-shoot

    As well as remembering to focus
    There's no AF slot hole, so I don't see how it could AF, even on a D90 with a body motor.
    The focus ring is amazing; it turns over 2 and a half barrel revolutions and extends both ends to triple its infinity length when at 1:1!

    I think it's sharper than my zoom at infinity, so it has been on camera for over a week now while I try all kinds of shots

    Cheers,

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Getting the hang of a macro lens

    Quote Originally Posted by rick55 View Post
    Wow! You obviously learn fast.
    Ah, my handheld secret is; set focus, approach insect as as soon as it starts getting really sharp, slow, but not stop, the advance while shooting several frames - one usually has the head or wings (as appropriate) in focus

    Quote Originally Posted by rick55 View Post
    I really like the beetle: great composition, and beautiful detail. "DOF problems" is a relative term. It would be nice if the port antenna was completely in focus, but I mostly don't mind if part of the insect is out of focus in a macro shot.
    Thanks Rick, as above, it was one of about 50 in total taken over 15 minutes or so (s/he was quite mobile), there are others that may be worth a showing.

    Quote Originally Posted by rick55 View Post
    PS: can't resist noting that the fly can use about a 1 deg CW rotation.
    Darn it, caught in the act, how did I forget that! You're right

    Cheers,

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Getting the hang of a macro lens

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    Any macro images of a dark insect against a white background will always be tricky. I find avoiding directly sunshine can help, but usually isn't possible.

    Also, it is usually impossible to get a good balance between the insect and the flowers, so you have to decide which is going to be the main subject.

    From my experience, you have done well to get so close with 90 mm. I frequently struggle with twice that length.

    Possibly a tiny touch more carefully controlled use of Curves might work. And maybe the same with selective sharpening on the fly; but very little.

    Sometimes I can get away with drawing a freehand selection roughly around the subject, and feathering by about 5 pixels, then applying a little Unsharp Mask; perhaps 80% 1 pixel and 1 level of threshold. After which I apply more Unsharp Mask to the whole image, to suit the background. This gives a bit more 'pop' to the insect and is easier than attempting to use layers and masks. Although that method still remains the correct procedure for many difficult circumstances.
    Thanks Geoff,

    Probably mis-guidedly, I actually tried your idea of selection and independent sharpening of the insect on this one, it would be far more appropriate to the first and similar compositions though.

    Getting the hang of a macro lens
    Nikon D5000 + Panagor 90mm f2.8 PMC Nikon AI mount, shot handheld 1/250s at f11, iso 800.
    Image size here is 1000 x 745.

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    But with regards to that image. I would consider a 90 or 180 degree rotation. I say consider as it is difficult to see clearly while standing on my head! Otherwise it is good.
    Thanks again, I did consider rotating or flipping, but it really was that way up and I didn't want the image to look odd because the light was apparently coming from below the subject. It would also draw attention to the wings being oof.

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    The main problems, I find, with macro photos is that your depth of field is so shallow that a tripod is essential. Using a tripod would have enabled you to increase your aperture slightly, say F14, while reducing the ISO; but handling a tripod in dense undergrowth is never easy.

    Your Alder Fly has just 'appeared'. Once again, I think a tripod would prove helpful but you have probably also lost a bit of sharp detail by being under exposed.
    I haven't 'caught' the tripod 'bug' yet, so tend to avoid them, but I can see that one day I'll probably become a 'pod user. (cue Colin to say "resistance is futile")

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    One word of warning though; Macro photography is addictive and ends up becoming expensive!
    I know, I think I am (re) addicted already; I really should know better, I have been there before and once owned a nice set of M42 bellows (and tubes). I was lucky, I escaped, got a job, had a family, etc., but after 30 years, I seem to have fallen off the wagon again

    I can feel something like an automatic 180mm being on a shopping list quite soon, this manual '90 has seriously whetted my apetite

    Thanks for all the advice,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 25th April 2010 at 05:12 PM. Reason: forgot a bit

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    Re: Getting the hang of a macro lens

    Dave, all your images scream photographer!

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Getting the hang of a macro lens

    Quote Originally Posted by Bannacht View Post
    Dave, all your images scream photographer!
    Thanks Carol,

    I take that as a compliment.

    Part of me wonders that if my ratio of shooting : keepers ration is 50:1, that only makes me 1/50 of a photographer

    I'll keep working at it to improve that.

    Thanks,

  12. #12

    Re: Getting the hang of a macro lens

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Part of me wonders that if my ratio of shooting : keepers ration is 50:1, that only makes me 1/50 of a photographer
    Nice work Dave.....happy new toy

    Wouldn't worry about the manual exposure guessing thing.....I often work that way when doing available light shots. I don't have a lot of choice when using the Canon tilt/shift 90mm but even with the 100mm macro I sometimes use manual anyway. As long as you remember to change the exposure when the light changes you don't have to change the exposure compensation every time the composition changes.

    Have you had it on a tripod yet?

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Getting the hang of a macro lens

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy View Post
    Nice work Dave.....happy new toy

    Wouldn't worry about the manual exposure guessing thing.....I often work that way when doing available light shots. I don't have a lot of choice when using the Canon tilt/shift 90mm but even with the 100mm macro I sometimes use manual anyway. As long as you remember to change the exposure when the light changes you don't have to change the exposure compensation every time the composition changes.

    Have you had it on a tripod yet?
    Thanks Andy.

    I'm learning a lot going manual

    Regarding the final question, not with this one, but there is also a Micro-Nikkor 55mm f2.8 which I have used extensively on a tripod with remote release to photograph (mainly) stuff for e-Bay.

    Cheers,

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    Re: Getting the hang of a macro lens

    I can feel something like an automatic 180mm being on a shopping list quite soon, this manual '90 has seriously whetted my apetite
    Dave: have you done any research or do you know anything about this lens. Selfish reason for asking - it is kind of on my wish list as the next lens I would like to get. I'm not sure though and it will be a long time coming anyway. I've read good things, but reviews are what they...

    http://www.nikonusa.com/Find-Your-Ni....8G-IF-ED.html

    Nice shot by the way, I love the wings. You do good work. I don't think you need a different lens.

    Wendy

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Getting the hang of a macro lens

    Quote Originally Posted by ScoutR View Post
    Dave: have you done any research or do you know anything about this lens. Selfish reason for asking - it is kind of on my wish list as the next lens I would like to get. I'm not sure though and it will be a long time coming anyway. I've read good things, but reviews are what they...

    http://www.nikonusa.com/Find-Your-Ni....8G-IF-ED.html

    Nice shot by the way, I love the wings. You do good work. I don't think you need a different lens.

    Wendy
    Hi Wendy,

    No, I don't know about that lens, I like the VR II and the SWM though
    Ideally I'd like those feature on the 200mm, but for half the price

    Thanks for the kind words, but I noticed I've blown some of my white petals in #1

    You're probably right, I don't need another lens, but my shooting ratio would improve if I didn't have to ditch half because of bad exposure due to no metering

    Cheers,

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    Re: Getting the hang of a macro lens

    Thanks for the kind words, but I noticed I've blown some of my white petals in #1
    Hmmmm, I don't see them and LR does not show any blown highlights either. If there is an itsy bitsy blown pixel somewhere, I'm not sure it really detracts from the subject (in this case) though.

    You're probably right, I don't need another lens, but my shooting ratio would improve if I didn't have to ditch half because of bad exposure due to no metering
    Yes, I guess the toughest part would be missing the shot altogether if the subject decided to leave while having to ditz around. Considering you just started with this though, I'm thinking you won't miss too much.

    Wendy

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Getting the hang of a macro lens

    Quote Originally Posted by ScoutR View Post
    Hmmmm, I don't see them and LR does not show any blown highlights either. If there is an itsy bitsy blown pixel somewhere, I'm not sure it really detracts from the subject (in this case) though.
    Perhaps my comment on your magnolia is unfounded then

    Quote Originally Posted by ScoutR View Post
    Yes, I guess the toughest part would be missing the shot altogether if the subject decided to leave while having to ditz around. Considering you just started with this though, I'm thinking you won't miss too much.
    Only 'cos I've learnt from Geoff, Andy and other's here, to shoot first and ditz second

    Thanks,

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    Re: Getting the hang of a macro lens

    From Dave:
    Perhaps my comment on your magnolia is unfounded then
    No, you are right on with the magnolia comment. It does have blown highlights and they were done in PP. I guess I should never accept blown highlights, but I liked the lighter effect and didn't thing the blown out parts were too bad. The large flower is just slightly blown a bit on the top edges, on the small flower to the left the tip of one petal is blown, and on the bud there is a blown area on each petal.

    I'm relaying all this more or less to confirm (to myself) that LR is giving me the same readings as what you see.

    On your first shot with the flowers, LR does not show any blown areas black or white. In fact both are right on the edge of the histogram. Could go to school on it actually. : )

    The point being, I think we are seeing the same thing. That's a good thing, yes

    Wendy

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    Re: Getting the hang of a macro lens

    Well I use the Sigma 180 macro, which does give you a bit more working distance; but it is a heavy tripod only lens with slow and rather erratic auto focus. However, I mostly prefer manual focus so that isn't a problem for me.

    So if anybody has money in their pockets and itchy fingers, here is a review http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/30...report--review

    But I started out by attaching a 25 mm extension tube to my 70-300 zoom, which gave reasonable results and better working distance at a greatly reduced cost. The main disadvantage of this set up is that you do need good light.

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