Friday, June 24, 2011
So, here’s a ladybug. I used my Tamron 90mm macro lens that I picked up used at Glazer’s a year or two ago. The more I use it, the more I’m convinced that it doesn’t result in quite as nice of images as my Minolta-mount Kiron 105 that I got on Ebay. But, it’s a heck of a lot easier to use. That’s because it’s actually a modern, electronic lens that is designed for working with a Canon body, as opposed to an old, physically actuated lens that was designed for a mount that I’m not even sure they make anymore. The reason that makes a difference in usability primarily comes down to the aperture. With modern lenses, the aperture is held wide open as you’re focusing and composing, then it’s closed down to the desired size when you hit the shutter button. The minolta-mount lens has the same idea, but it’s done physically – meaning there’s a little spring-loaded rod in the mount that, when moved to the side, holds open the aperture. When you hit the shutter button on a camera that uses that mount, it then moves something out of the way that was previously holding that rod in place, thus the spring that I mentioned then closes down the aperture. But obviously, a modern Canon-mount camera doesn’t support that.
So, the upshot of all that is that when you’re using the Kiron lens, you have to close down the aperture before taking the shot. Which means that you’re restricting the amount of light that you have to focus with, sometimes severely so. And, to make matters worse, you’re enlarging your depth of field at the same time. So it becomes extremely difficult to tell if you’re focused on just the spot you want, particularly so when you’re taking macro shots, where being off by a millimeter or less can ruin the shot. Yeah, it’s hard. So, that’s what I mean when I say the Tamron is easier to use, because you can use the wide open aperture to focus, and it’ll automatically step down when you take the shot. But the images aren’t as nice. So it goes.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tamron 90mm macro lens with Opteka extension tube and Phoenix macro ring flash. 1/160s, f/16, ISO 100.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Aaaaaahhh!! There’s a giant camera in my face!
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens with Opteka extension tubes. 1/800s, f/5.0, ISO 800.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
What were you expecting, more fall colors?? Nah, not today. Instead, we’re going to go with an insect picture, just because I know how much my friend-in-law likes them. (That’s what you call somebody who is your friend by marriage, right?)
This one wasn’t taken with my normal macro setup. So I think that’s worth talking about. I took this one while out hiking, whereas most of my insect pictures are taken around my neighborhood. The macro stuff I usually use (macro lens, extension tubes, macro flash, sometimes a tripod or a monopod) can be kind of bulky. It’s fine if I know I’m going to be looking for bugs, but on a hike, bugs aren’t really the goal. So, that led to the question of what I should bring along. Ideally, if I did see a cool bug worth taking a picture of, I’d want to be able to do so. But, all the stuff I’m already bringing on hikes (camera, 3 lenses, plus filters, extra batteries, etc) is kind of annoying, so bringing even more stuff, like a lens specifically for macro and a flash, is not really desirable. So, as a compromise, I’ve started just bringing a couple extension tubes. They’re pretty lightweight and small, and they’re pretty rugged, so you don’t have to take as good of care of them as you do lenses. After doing some experimenting, I decided I could get “close enough” by using the tubes with my telephoto lens. (That worked better than with my wide angle or my standard range lens, for what it’s worth.)
The day I took this picture was really the first time I really tried it out in actual use, and I was glad to see that the hacked-up setup did indeed work “well enough”. It definitely wasn’t as pleasant to use as my regular setup, but it got the job done. Good thing, too, since I was on a hike that was supposed to have really great views (but didn’t, they were only mediocre) on a day that was supposed to have really nice weather (but didn’t, it was that bland featureless overcast that just kills me. And then it started raining), so it was nice to have other things to take pictures of. Although the fact that I didn’t have a flash meant that I had to crank up the ISO, but the results were still passable.
So, to summarize, here’s the setup I bring with me on hikes these days, for those who are curious. Camera (Canon EOS Rebel T1i), with Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens attached. I usually have that in my hand the entire hike. Then, I have a small camera bag attached to the side of my backpack. In there, I have two lenses (Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 and Canon 55-250mm IS), two extension tubes, two filters (circular polarizers for the 11-16 and 17-50 – need to get one for the 55-250, but haven’t bothered yet), 3-4 spare batteries (they’re super cheap on eBay), a couple spare memory cards (that I haven’t needed to use in years), and a lens cleaning cloth. That’s all the important stuff anyway. Then, I sometimes also (when I remember) bring along a gorilla pod, but I basically never get around to actually using it. I really should use a tripod more often, for those times when I want to slow down a river or get some depth of field. But… whatever.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Canon 55-250mm IS lens with Opteka extension tubes. 1/250s, f/7.1, ISO 800. Focal length: 55mm (Well, that’s what the lens was set at..)
Friday, July 9, 2010
I realized earlier today that it’s been a little while since I’ve posted a crazy macro bug shot. So here you go. I’ve got a fair number of bug shots that I just haven’t for whatever reason put online anywhere yet, so I had to dig this one up in order to post it today. I took this one earlier this spring, when I went on a little field trip to one of the parks here in Seattle (Carkeek Park, for those that know the area), because I was sick of the lack of bugs in my neighborhood. (Crazy, right? That I’d be complaining about there *not being enough* bugs. Weird.) I was using my recently-acquired macro ring flash, and two extension tubes with my Canon 50mm prime. (I don’t know the exact lengths of the extension tubes, but it was the two longer tubes out of the set of 3. With the third one on there, the already tiny working distance was just too short to be of any use..)
It’s really not very hard to get cool bug shots if you’ve got the equipment (and the equipment is surprisingly affordable!), but it does require a lot of patience. Both looking for bugs to take pictures of, as well as not getting too frustrated when they inevitably fly away before you get set up. Also, getting the bugs in focus is a real pain in the ass.
Another issue that I had with this particular set up is what I just hinted at: the small working distance. In order to focus, the bugs are only an inch or two from the front of your lens. So depending on how skittish the bug is, it can be hard to get close enough without them flying away. Also, they move a lot (especially the crawling bugs), so it can be extremely frustrating. But, it’s fun, so it’s worth the perseverance. (Wow, spell check told me I spelled that last word wrong, and after correcting it, it’s totally spelled differently than I would have expected.) Ideally, it would be nice to have a macro set up that would get me a similar level of magnification (or even more!) with a longer working distance. That’s where 100mm and 180mm macro lenses come in to play. Also, my macro flash isn’t adjustable at all, it just fires at full strength every time. Which means that sometimes there’s just no way to NOT overexpose the picture, because I’m already at the smallest aperture my lens will go to, at the lowest ISO my camera will do. I suppose the options would be to either use a different lens (that can go smaller), to manually cover some of the flash, or to use a neutral density filter. Perhaps I’ll try those later.
Anyway, have a great weekend everyone!
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens with Opteka macro extension tubes. 1/160s, f/20.0, ISO 100.
Friday, June 11, 2010
When I decided that it would be worth my while to crouch on my knees all the way down there on the ground to take this picture, I thought I was looking at a tiny white flower with little bits of red pollen on it. It wasn’t until I actually looked through the lens that I realized that the little red bits of pollen were MOVING. That was pretty creepy. Then, it wasn’t until even later than that, when I was looking at the images on the big screen back at home, that I realized that those aren’t little red insects, they’re actually little red SPIDERS. I mean, wow, that’s straight up freaky right there.
Just thought I’d share…
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens with Opteka macro extension tubes. 1/160s, f/18.0, ISO 100.