Help in macro photograph

This discussion group is is hosted by Robert Oehler and dedicated to the art of photographing models. Subjects include tips & techniques, equipment, lighting, and digital photography.

Help in macro photograph

Joined: November 5th, 2008, 8:18 pm

May 13th, 2009, 7:35 pm #1

Hello


I am doing my first steps in photographing my models. My equipment is a SLR Canon EOS-40D with a lens 17-85, with stabiliser. My first test shots were focused in the frame or scene setting. In other words: how I see the model in the picture, too big, too small, or ....
I quickly noticed I see it too small in the frame even for focal distance 85, and if I want to see it bigger I have to get closer. Then I start to find problems of minimum focusing distance, for my lens it is 0,38 m => I have discovered that I have to go into this mistery world of "macro photograph".
I recently purchased a 70-300 lens which overcomes partly this issue but I keep having some minimum focusing distance by 1,20 m, and I know I will have more depth-of-field and exposure problems when I start with the tripod with serious shots.

Asking in the photograph shop, they tell me about several solutions.
1) Expensive macro specific objectives => discarded by the moment, my budget is "dead" due to the 70-300 lens...
2) A raw magnification lens assembled on the objective like a filter, which for between 50 and 100 euros will allow to see just bigger things
3) Extension tubes which are mounted between the camera and your objective. These modify the minimum focusing distance, allowing you to go closer. One tube could be 150 euros, a set or threee could be for 300 euros.
4) A kind of hybrid, a lens asemmbled like a filter but doing the function of 3). For 54 euros. This really works but the one I tested has a too small lens and is not usable in my camera, I see black corners. Well actually I see even the lens' black plastic frame in the display...sad.

The guy in the shop told me that usually many people choosing 3) are later disappointed by the performance compared to the cost, close to some macro-special objectives. He recommended me to go for 2) which is not the greatest miracle but it is cheap.

Please anybody out there could give me some advice, and also some guidelines in this kind of photographs?

Kind regards
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: August 23rd, 2004, 4:20 pm

May 15th, 2009, 4:02 am #2

If it is for posting on the internet or for prints or for submission to magazines? Each destination will warrent a different answer.

For the internet:
Pictures destined for posting in articles on the inernet don't need to be large. With the lenses you have you could set up the camera at it's closest focusing distance, take numerous shots and crop them later for posting. With 12 megapixels at you command, a picture taken from 0.38M can be cropped and still have enough detail for the internet. The added bonus of doing it this way is that the depth of field is greater. Since you have the equipment, experiment and see if cropped photos give you what you want.

For print media (home use):
As for pictures printed in 4"x6" (100mm x 150mm) size, the same rules for the interent apply. I have sucsessfully printed photos froma 2 megapixel camera on 8"x10" (200mm x 600mm) and had it come out clear. Your existing equipment should be good enough for home use.

For Print media (magazines):
Though I have never submitted a photo to a magazine in digital format, the quality of the photo should be much higher. If you intend on taking a lot of macro photos, saving up and investing in a macro lens (not add on filters) may be your only recourse.

Style:
Photos taken very close to the model look different from photos taken at a distance and then cropped. If you want the picture to look like you were standing next to the real thing, you will need a macro lens to get close enough to achieve the same vanishing points. I wish I had an example to show you, but none are near to hand. If I can, I'll take some photos tonight and post them tomorrow.

I hope this helps. Have fun experimenting with your D40!

Aloha,
Val

Quote
Like
Share

Joined: November 5th, 2008, 8:18 pm

May 15th, 2009, 6:00 pm #3

Hi,

My objective by now is only to "experiment" and being able to get good results. It is more the fun of learning something new about photograph, reaching a good result just for my satisfaction, than anything else. Of course no magazine...I am not a professional neither in photograph nor in models (kits). Just kidding...

On the other hand I thank you for reminding me that anyway the best is to adapt your gear to your goal, but it is very interesting your remark about the proximity sense in order to get a impression of being as close as to the object in 1:1 size. This makes me understand that, going for a "non prefessional" or "not so expensive" way, you recommend me to go for the extension tube (or any solution for reducing minimum focusing distance).

About cropping the big pictures with vignetting, this could be an idea, but in my actual case it is catastrophic. My main objective has diameter 67 while this macro lens I purchased was for 49. Vignetting is normally "slightly dark corners". In my case I could see a full "tunnel", the complete plastic circle around this macro lens I purcahsed, which leaves in the center a rectangle of just 10-20% of the original pixels. Too poor...

I am looking forwrd for your samples !!

Best regards
Last edited by Nacho Roces on May 15th, 2009, 6:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: August 23rd, 2004, 4:20 pm

May 16th, 2009, 4:49 am #4

I am using a Sony H50 with a protective barrel on the end casing some vignetting at full wide angle. The model is Tamiya's 1/48th scale Pz IV and an Ott Lite for light.

This first shot shows the model on the black velvet background on my desk. The camera is set about 0.5m from the model. The camera is zoomed fully wide.


This photo is the same as above cropped to concentrate on the tank only.


The camera was moved closer to the model, about 5cm and the lens zoomed fully wide.


Same photo above but cropped. This photo is a little sharper than the long distance one above


Camera at the same 5cm but lowered to dramatize the feel of the photo


Same photo above cropped to act as a macro photo of the bow machine gun


Another photo taken from a distance of 0.5m but zoomed in


Same photo above cropped


same as above cropped to the bow machine gun


Down the gun barrel from 5cm


Same photo above cropped to the bow machine gun


Down the barrel from 0.5m


Same photo cropped. This photo looks very different from the closer photo. This shows how the different vanishing points change the feelof the photo.


Same photo again cropped to the bow machine gun. Notice the degradation in quality.


Fisheye lens added to my H50 from 5cm


Same photo cropped


Same photo cropped to the bow machine gun


Fisheye lens from 5cm


Same photo above cropped to the bow machine gun


So what have I learned from this little exercise? You really do need to get close to the model for a high quality macro photo. You can get decent overall shots from far away (over 0.3m), but not decent macro photos. This I didn't know until I did this.

Thank You, Nacho, for asking a good question and allowing me to learn something about my camera and taking macro photos form a distance.

My final suggestion to you, get the macro lens. If the extension tubes allow you to get closer to the model (within 10cm), then that might be the way to go. Just remember, you get what you pay for. My Sony cost less than US$400, but I am very happy with the results I am getting. I can allow the model to touch the lens and still keep most of it in focus.

I hope this helps.

aloha,
Val

Quote
Like
Share

Joined: November 5th, 2008, 8:18 pm

May 19th, 2009, 6:38 am #5

Hi Val,

Just so that you can see what I mean with "the tunnel" that I see...some examples. Forget about focusing and everything else, I did the pics freehand without worrying about exposure time and everything else. Only the tunnel matters now.





For sure you will agree this quick macro-lens was a waste, no matter you final objective. Next time I will follow this known advice: "try these wonderful things in the shop itself".

I went yesterday to the photo shop where they kindly agreed to exchange the item for something else. I tested the extension tubes but I decided finally to go for the cheap solution "magnification glass" because for the same cost (54 euro) I had paid for the "mistake #1" I have now two magnification glasses in diam 67 and 58, useful for my two objectives 17-85 and 70-300. I have greater hopes in the second, since this lens directly allows you to increase thigns much more but with a "con" of minimum distance of 1.2 m. I will see.

The extension tubes (I tested them) seem to be fine but for my objective EF-S they had no tube sold as single; If I wanted tubes valid for EF-S it was a set of three tubes, for "only" 199 euro. Perhaps in the future, but not one month after buying the 70-300 lens for "only" 550 euros. The magnification glasses were (tested in the shop, this time) giving approx a x1.5 magnification factor, and added to this you can reduce your minimum focusing distance to be 1/3 closer more or less, which is also a "magnification" in the praxis. In total things looked approx x2 bigger inmy first quick trial shots.

I will do some trails and post them later; I hope to be as systematic as you were Val! Your way of testing everything was "scientific" to sat the least! I will start to worry about depth-of-field, which seems to be the tricky thing in this kind of extreme close-ups.

If you are wondering about these high prices, it is so in Europe in general. I have seen in amazon.com same photo material roughly speaking 40% cheaper but they don´t deliver to my adress. Anyway buying something some hundreds expensive and sending it in small box all over the world is something I wouldn´t probably get used to.


Best regards
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: November 18th, 2007, 3:51 am

July 15th, 2009, 5:45 pm #6

Hello


I am doing my first steps in photographing my models. My equipment is a SLR Canon EOS-40D with a lens 17-85, with stabiliser. My first test shots were focused in the frame or scene setting. In other words: how I see the model in the picture, too big, too small, or ....
I quickly noticed I see it too small in the frame even for focal distance 85, and if I want to see it bigger I have to get closer. Then I start to find problems of minimum focusing distance, for my lens it is 0,38 m => I have discovered that I have to go into this mistery world of "macro photograph".
I recently purchased a 70-300 lens which overcomes partly this issue but I keep having some minimum focusing distance by 1,20 m, and I know I will have more depth-of-field and exposure problems when I start with the tripod with serious shots.

Asking in the photograph shop, they tell me about several solutions.
1) Expensive macro specific objectives => discarded by the moment, my budget is "dead" due to the 70-300 lens...
2) A raw magnification lens assembled on the objective like a filter, which for between 50 and 100 euros will allow to see just bigger things
3) Extension tubes which are mounted between the camera and your objective. These modify the minimum focusing distance, allowing you to go closer. One tube could be 150 euros, a set or threee could be for 300 euros.
4) A kind of hybrid, a lens asemmbled like a filter but doing the function of 3). For 54 euros. This really works but the one I tested has a too small lens and is not usable in my camera, I see black corners. Well actually I see even the lens' black plastic frame in the display...sad.

The guy in the shop told me that usually many people choosing 3) are later disappointed by the performance compared to the cost, close to some macro-special objectives. He recommended me to go for 2) which is not the greatest miracle but it is cheap.

Please anybody out there could give me some advice, and also some guidelines in this kind of photographs?

Kind regards
Nacho,

You didn't mention the easiest, cheapest option. Most point and shoot cameras have very good macro capabilities, some cameras letting get as close as 0.5 inches to the subject. I shoot all my model pictures with a Canon point and shoot (check my signature), just have good lighting and a tripod and you are all set. A decent camera is probably $200 dollars nowadays.

Now for general macro photography, like insects, you do want a macro lens with long focal length (60 to 100 mm), reason why is that you don't have to get close to the subject to get the close up. This is especially useful when photographing insects, they'll fly away if you try to close in with the camera.

For depth of field issues shoot in aperture priority, set the aperture to F4.0 minimum and let the meter compute the shutter time, since you have a tripod, it doesn't matter how long the shutter needs to be open for good exposure.

xPLAN303Ex: The portrait of the artist I am not.
http://xplan303ex.wordpress.com
Quote
Like
Share