Thursday, January 20, 2011
I’ve been sitting here for awhile now trying to figure out what to, you know, say about this picture, but nothing’s really coming to mind. It’s a shot of some pine needles, taken with a reverse-mounted kit lens. Uhhmm… Yup, that’s what it is.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, reverse-mounted 18-55mm kit lens. 1/250s, ISO 400.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Welcome back from the weekend, everyone! This picture was taken almost exactly a year ago, immediately after I had originally gotten my reverse-mount lens adapter. (End of August, to be a little bit more specific.) I chose it today because it’s particularly illustrative of some of the cool parts and some of the not-as-cool parts about using a reverse-mount for macro shots.
First, the good parts. This was taken with a 13 dollar attachment and the 18-55mm kit lens. So, “very minimal financial investment” would be appropriate to say. This bug was freaking tiny. I mean, it’s a gnat. You know how big gnats are. They’re little dots. So to be able to see all of this detail is (I think) really cool. I could go on and on about that, but, that’s the basic idea.
Now, the bad parts. This list is longer than the “good parts” list, but that’s not intended to say that the negatives outweigh the positives, it’s just that I can speak more specifically to the drawbacks. The first is the extremely limited depth of field. One thing I really love about this picture is how well it illustrates that. I mean, you can SEE how narrow of a band you’re working with. That’s a gnat, for god’s sake, and only 2 of his six legs are even discernible. So, forget about using autofocus, you just need to pick a focus point, then move forward and back until your subject is crisp. Then, hopefully your shutter finger is fast enough to get the shot before you sway backwards or forwards by a fraction of a millimeter. (Did I mention that taking these shots is ridiculously aggravating??) This will sound familiar if you read this blog with any frequency, but: a big part of the limited depth of field is just due to macro photography in general. But it’s exacerbated by the fact that you’re using a reverse-mounted lens (as opposed to one that’s macro-specific.) This is because, since the electrical connections for your lens are now at the *front* of the lens, your camera can’t control the aperture, and thus you’re taking pictures with it set wide open. Because of this, using the kit lens (or other less-expensive lens with a usually-undesirable small maximum aperture size) is actually helpful. If you were using a lens that was stuck at f/2.8 or wider, it would be even worse.
My other favorite frustrating thing about using a reverse-mount is that you end up working with an extremely small amount of light. This picture was taken with very-late-afternoon light (probably an hour before sunset) shining directly on the subject. But yet, I still had to resort to using ISO 1600 and a 1/80s shutter speed to even get it to expose. (It was “hand-held”, but I had the camera wedged up against the tree. It was an image-stabilized lens, but your electrical connections aren’t connected, remember?) Full-on mid-day sunshine is better, but still, you’re stuck with higher ISOs and slower shutter speeds, unless you’re using a macro flash. So, I apologize for the ugly graininess, it was really unavoidable. I believe this issue is really unavoidable with extreme macro photography. It may not be quite as bad with a regular-mounted macro-specific lens, I’m not totally sure if different optical setups are able to help with this sort of thing or not, to be honest. But, it’s a true fact that macro photography is a different beast.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Reverse-mounted 18-55mm kit lens. 1/80s, ISO 1600.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Remember those days, back before I had a macro lens or even a set of extension tubes? Ha ha, yeah, those were the days, huh? Back when we were all (5 months) younger and (5 months) more foolish. Back then, in order to get macro shots, I either had to use a set of magnifying glasses on the front of my lens, or just focus as close as I could and call it good. Wow, how primitive! And then, and then, and then.. I got my hands on a reverse-mount adapter, which suddenly allowed me to get freakishly close! I could take pictures of flowers and bugs and little awesome tiny things! Unfortunately, since none of the lens’s electrical connections were attached to the camera, I lost the ability to do simple things like control my aperture. That meant that, in addition to the shallowness of field that comes along with macro under normal circumstances, I had to approach the problem wide-open! That meant that, instead of getting a picture of a bug, I’d get a picture of an extremely narrow sliver of a bug, surrounded by a big blurry splotch that was most likely the rest of it. Ah, nostalgia.
That’s when I took this picture. This spring. With my reverse-mount adapter. I was really excited about it at the time, but since then I’ve moved on to things like extension tubes, which are really not much more expensive (30 bucks instead of 15), but still give you the benefit of things you normally take for granted, like the aforementioned aperture. Combine those with a cheap macro ring flash, and then the magic starts happening! But, I didn’t realize any of that at the time. Oh well, it was still fun.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, 18-55mm kit lens with reverse-mount adapter. 1/1600s, ISO 200.
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.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Alrighty, I finished up with that whole travelling to Montana thing. Now, back to real life. My original plan was to use something from that trip here, but honestly, I haven’t had a chance to even BEGIN going through them yet, so instead today I’ll fulfill one of last week’s requests. (If you want to request anything, either leave it in the comments or contact me directly – dave (at) davefry (dot) net. I’ll see if I’ve got anything that works.)
This is a green bottle fly (or at least that’s what my (really) brief research on google suggested), seen through a reverse-mounted 18-55 mm kit lens. I talked about this already at length in this post, so if you’re at all interested in this kind of stuff, please do yourself a favor and read that entry too. But, long story short, you buy a little adapter for your lens, and then the magic happens. Wooo!
I’ll try to at least do something resembling a first pass on the Montana pics tonight, at least as far as finding one worthy of posting here. We’ll see how that goes.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, reverse-mounted 18-55mm kit lens. 1/320s, ISO 200.