April 23, 2010 – Dandelion


Friday, April 23, 2010

Oh, sure, today’s post is all significant because it’s the last one this week and everything. But just wait till Monday’s post. That’ll be big doin’s. Awwwww man, Monday’s a big deal. And yes, I’m being intentionally vague. Right, anyway…

In the last couple weeks, I looked outside and noticed that things had started blooming. Springtime once again. So, I decided to pick up where I had left off last summer with my macro toys. To give a quick refresher, I started out with a standard telephoto “macro” lens (quotation marks because it’s only 1:2 magnification, not even 1:1 like a “true” macro lens). Then I started doing stuff like buying little “macro kits” (little magnifying lenses that you attach to the front of your regular lens), and I ended up buying a reverse-mount adaptor near the end of the summer. I’ve talked about it many times before, but it’s a little metal ring that you screw on to the front of your lens like a filter, and it allows you to connect your lens backwards to the camera body. This gets you ridiculous macro, all for the exorbitant price of 12 dollars. (Although you lose nice things like autofocus and aperture control, since the electrical bits of your lens are no longer attached. – you can mitigate that a little bit by not using your fast glass – I’ve been using my kit lens – but it takes what is already a frightfully small depth of field and shrinks it further.)

Oh, before I move on, I should explain something. Magnification ratio. That’s a fairly important concept when it comes to macro. The magnification ratio is the ratio between how big something is in real life vs how big the projection of it is against your camera sensor (or <retch> film). So, an object that is 35mm across, when using a 1:1 magnification lens, will be projected life-size on your sensor, and if you’re using a 35mm camera or a full-frame sensor digital, it will take up the whole frame. (And then, when you print the picture or view it on your computer, it’ll be effing HUGE.) With most digital cameras (mine included), the sensor is actually smaller than the full 35mm, so in the case of the 35mm object, at 1:1 magnification it would be *larger* than the frame. So, a 1:2 magnification ratio means that the projection on your sensor will be half-life-size. Most standard telephoto zoom lenses have a 1:2 or 1:4 magnification ratio, for your reference. True “macro” lenses usually achive 1:1, and Canon makes this one crazy 65mm macro-specific lens that STARTS at 1:1, and goes all the way up to 5:1. 5 to 1. Think about that. The thing you’re taking a picture of will be FIVE TIMES BIGGER than life size on your itty-bitty sensor. That means that a fly’s eyeball will take up your entire sensor. Now imagine that you’re looking at a picture of a fly’s eyeball blown up to poster-size. Yeah, crazy, right?? That’s where I want to get someday. But that lens costs 1000 bucks, so someday is not today.

ANYWAY… all that talk about magnification ratio, and I actually have no clue what kind of ratio I have on this picture. I’m going to guess somewhere between 1:2 and 1:1. But using the reverse mount, I’m pretty sure I can fairly easily get past that magic 1:1 mark. When you’re using the reverse mount, the usual rule of “larger focal length means more zoomed in” is no longer true. If you’re using an 18-55 lens (like I was), the 18 end is the super close in end (which is actually too close in to really be usable) and the 55 end is more of a normal ridiculous macro. This shot was right out at the 55 and, and you can tell it’s still pretty neat. You’re looking at a dandelion, if that wasn’t obvious.

Why all this talk about macro stuff? Because I bought more macro stuff. Some of it should be getting here today! The rest, hopefully tomorrow, maybe Monday. What’d I get? Well, two things..

First, I got a set of macro extension tubes. Amazon link. You use them by attaching them between your lens and your camera. This moves the optical elements of your lens further away from the sensor, which essentially zooms you in. (Although it also makes it so you can focus closer in, at the expense of being able to focus to infinity.) Basically, it gets you wicked close. How close? Not sure. I’ll let you know after I play around with it. Although, I do know that it has a much more dramatic effect on shorter lenses. As in, if you attach your super-long telephoto lens with them, it won’t change that dramatically, but if you hook up your little tiny 50mm prime, you’ll rock your world so hard they’ll feel it in Australia. Or so I’ve heard. We’ll see. There’s no optics in the rings, they’re just hollow rings. But they DO pass through the electrical connections, so you can USE YOUR APERTURE! WOOOOO! We’ll see how this goes.

The other thing I got is a macro ring flash. Amazon link. This is basically a ring flash that you mount on the front of your lens. It, you know, shines light on stuff. In this case, stuff that’s right in front of your lens. One of the side effects of taking pictures of little tiny things is that you’re dealing with dramatically smaller quantities of light than, say, typical landscape photography. So you have to deal with things like high ISO and low shutter speed. Hopefully, this flash will help out. I started out with a cheapie-cheap one, so I can play around with it and see how well it works. the “real” ones cost much more, like 500 or 800 dollars. So I’m not there yet. Someday, someday. Not today.

So, hopefully next week (maybe even Monday?? Nah, already got a picture picked out for Monday) you’ll get to see some initial results! I can’t wait! Have a great weekend!

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, reverse-mounted 18-55mm kit lens. 1/500s, ISO 800. Aperture unknown. Focal length was somewhere around 55mm, but reverse-mounted.

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  1. avatar
    heph April 25, 2010

    nice details

  2. avatar
    Anna Rose April 25, 2010

    beautiful close-up

  3. avatar
    Brandon Carter May 9, 2010

    the best Telephoto lens that i have used on an SLR is the Canon EF 70-200 F/2.8 lens. Best image quality ever.–‘

  4. avatar
    Dave May 10, 2010

    Definitely won’t disagree with you there, but that lens rules itself out of the running for me based on two practical considerations: it runs $1900 and it’s 3 and a quarter pounds! It’s about 8 inches long and 4 inches wide, and it’s built entirely of metal and glass. Not exactly the kind of lens you want to toss in your pack when you head out on a hike.

    But yeah, I rented one once, and it was a true joy to shoot with. Focus was super quiet, really fast, and superbly accurate. Resulting images were so sharp they made my eyeballs bleed. Loved it. But.. I’ve never considered for a moment actually getting one.

  5. avatar
    Marie June 6, 2010

    good job for this macro shot

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