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Macro with your DSLR and 10 bucks

 
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ChrisR
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Joined: 14 Mar 2009
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Location: Near London, UK

PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2010 12:55 pm    Post subject: Macro with your DSLR and 10 bucks Reply with quote

You can certainly get started with very little to buy, and very little to carry apart from your SLR and ordinary lens.
This started off as "look you just need a bag" but it grew...

I'm aiming at those who want to have a go at macro photography, but aren't sure, and are put off by the amazing equipment and costs which some people involve themselves with! To pinch someone's maxim, it's probably 5% money, 50% inspiration, 95% perspiration Very Happy

If you simply reverse a lens on a camera, it'll focus close.
You'll need a macro reversing ring, and perhaps a Step Up ring to go between whatever filter thread that has, and the lens you're using.
For example, a Nikon reverse adaptor ( less than $5) on ebay) might have a 52mm thread, and for a general purpose zoom you might need to step that up to 55, 62 or 67mm. Again, less than $5.
That's it. No tripod!

Almost any lens will do. Wide ones will get you close up, with high magnification (perhaps 3 x life size), longer ones will let you get the subject big in your frame, without getting too close. That's good for butterflies and the like if you can get to within, say, half arms-length of them. If you use a wide-range zoom, you'll get a range of useful abilities.

You DO need to make sure the lens will shut the aperture down when you take it off the camera. Nikon non "G" will do that.
Canon - you have to stop down while ON the camera, and they stay that way when you take them off (Canon user please comment if necessary).
Others, I don't know, sorry.

Use a middling aperture. Too wide and your depth of field will be too little, too small and you won't be able to see what you're doing, and the lens quality may fall off noticeably.

You need flash (unless you're on a tripod), to get things still when you're up close. A pop-up flash on your camera will do - no need for reflectors, or people to hold them. You DO need one more thing. Wink
Use a white plastic bag. If you want to be complicated, use an elastic band too, but you don't need one.


The subject gets lit from all the parts of the bag which the flash hit, and came off. The angle of that seen from the subject is something like it would be from the sky, so you get fairly non-directional lighting. Experiment, using a flared-cup sort of shape. If you get "hot spots" you need more diffusion, = more bag.

Shiny black subjects can be difficult very close, because the highlights get "burned out" very easily, so here's one, which I found dead. This is a quick trial, as close as I could go with an old 28 - 300 zoom. More modern lenses would focus closer than that one, so you get closer when the lens is reversed, too. This is at 28mm, and the working distance is still enough to be able to get the light in from a good wide angle. That's usually not the case with a compact.



The squares are 1mm, and the image is made up from about 8 frames, "stacked" for depth of field. You can download some stacking software free, such as CombineZM. (This is with Zerene Stacker) No need for a tripod, you just keep one spot in the middle and the stacking software lines things up.

With the lens at the long end of a zoom, distances are greater and lighting less difficult, you can still use the bag with a pop-up flash.



This monkey nut ( international unit of measure) is many monkey nut lengths ( so i didn't matter anyway) from the front of the lens. This is a single frame, and the image quality is falling off towards the edges, partly because the field is curved so the edges go out of focus. If you use stacking software, you can get some of that quality back.

Lenses, particularly zooms, vary a lot in their construction, so you won't really know what you're going to get until you try.

Next on, would be coupling rings which allow you to reverse a short lens onto the front of a long one. Again cheap, and results can be surprisingly good. As soon as you have more than one lens, you can try it. ( A 50 on the front of a 200 gives you 4x life size)
Then would be close up extension tubes which go immediately on the front of the camera. Prices for those go from a few pounds/dollars (to a few hundred.)
That's about it for less than 20 pounds/dollars, but it's enough to get you a long way.
With off-camera flash and "proper" diffusers (even if home-made) your options are much greater. With better lenses, used how they were designed to be, you can achieve startlingly good results, quite quickly.
Using Stacking software, you can relatively easily get images which would have been impossible just a few years ago.

You very quickly learn that the hard bit needn't be the equipment.

Folks, please point out errors/omissions. There would be lots of refinements our reader could make on his or her journey.

Edit
Another go with ringo. A prime 28mm reversed (f11) on a $5 extension tube. Better, but beyond my abilities to control the technique. Again about 10 frames, but showing focus banding. This means there would be no point fpoor me to use a better lens while still hand-holding. Magnification about 3x, FX.

I believe he's one of these:
http://www.kerbtier.de/Pages/Fotos/FotoLarge/Carabidae/Cychrus%20caraboides.jpg
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