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Old Jun 8, 2010, 10:45 AM   #1
BDD
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Default Macro Photography 101

Hello guys,

Just picked up my new Nikon 105mm f/2.8 VRII "micro" (don't know why Nikon didn't call it "macro") yesterday. Have yet to experiment with it.

Looked at some YouTube clips on macro photography. Some recommend using a tripod yet in other clips I saw users hand-holding and not using the smallest aperture. Some guys hand-holding used apertures like f/5.6. What do you guys say on this matter? Hand-holding vs. tripod (plus cable release or timer)? I mean it is a VR lens...

Do you need to always be 1 foot from the subject? Is there a maximum distance for it to work (beyond which it won't)?

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Old Jun 8, 2010, 11:00 AM   #2
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The closer you get to 1:1 magnification (where the image of the subject projected onto the sensor is the same size as the subject) the less effective image stabilization will be, and the more likely you'll need to use a tripod. For 1:3 and less, having VR is better than not having it.

One of the things that happens with large aperture lenses, especially when focusing on subjects that are close, is that the depth of field becomes quite shallow. To get a deeper depth of field, you will want to stop down (use a smaller (numerically larger) aperture.)

Macro lenses allow you to focus on subjects that are as far away as infinity, just like conventional lenses. What makes macro ("Micro") lenses different is that they can also focus on subjects that are quite close.
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Old Jun 8, 2010, 11:27 AM   #3
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Just took some test images hand-held. At f/5.6 to f/9. Seemed to turn out well. Here are two...I was about a foot above...

Though in other shooting situations...such as, if you're trying to shoot a water droplet falling then a tripod would be useful...if there wasn't enough light (requiring slower shutter speeds 1 sec or slower)...etc...lots of other scenarios...

Also, I suppose...if I wanted to have every item in the keys/watch photo in-focus then it would call for using a tripod as well...as sometimes the camera won't put enough AF points on enough areas. I think this photo only had 1..

But in general it seems you can get away with hand-holding and not using the smallest apertures (as recommended on the YouTube clips I did see).
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Old Jun 8, 2010, 12:04 PM   #4
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Quote:
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Just took some test images hand-held. At f/5.6 to f/9. Seemed to turn out well. Here are two...I was about a foot above...
Those are both excellent examples of the problem of depth of field when shooting macro. In the first, the "Toonie" is out of focus, but the Quarters are all sharp. In the second, the watch's dial is sharp, but either end of the wrist strap is blurry.

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Also, I suppose...if I wanted to have every item in the keys/watch photo in-focus then it would call for using a tripod as well...
Well, it would call for using a much smaller aperture, to get a deeper depth of field, and to compensate for the decrease in light, you'd need to use a higher ISO setting (risking image noise) and/or a slower shutter speed (risking motion blur due to camera shake, despite the VR.)
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Old Jun 8, 2010, 12:15 PM   #5
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Smaller aperture, a tripod and enough light may be needed for macros. For small objects, interior macros, a light box (can be hand made; you'll find lots of tutorials in the Web) will make a difference.
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Old Jun 8, 2010, 12:54 PM   #6
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TCav,

As I said, I think it depends on how you look at it. What your goal was in your macro photo? Were you trying to get everything in the frame tack sharp? Or, were you just trying to get specific items sharp...letting areas around the borders blur a little (as we've seen in many commercial photos).

It is possible to get every item (e.g. coins photo) tack sharp hand-held. I do have a few. I just posted one where the toonie was not.

So, I don't think we can say "thou MUST use a tripod" every single time. All items photographed must be sharp. No macro photos can have any blur...etc. I think it depends on the situation and your objective. This is an are no definites in art.

Ordo,

I noticed. I saw how elaborate some setups can be for that one shot. Using a tripod, light boxes, studio lighting, reflectors, shutter cable releases, Live-View (if your camera has it...mine does)...etc. Can be so very time consuming. Requiring tons of patience.

I'll later end up with such setups. Today I was just trying things in "hand-held mode" for the first time. Seeing what could and will not work. In what scenarios...etc.

Experimenting is part of the fun...

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Old Jun 8, 2010, 1:10 PM   #7
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TCav,

As I said, I think it depends how you look at it. What your goal was in your macro photo. Are you trying to get everything in the frame tack sharp? Or, are you just trying to get specific items sharp...letting areas around the borders blur a little (as we've seen in many commercial photos).

It is possible to get every item (e.g. coins photo) tack sharp hand-held. I do have a few. I just posted one where the toonie was not.

So, I don't think we can say "thou MUST use a tripod" every single time. I think it depends on the situation and your goal.
I agree wholeheartedly! So long as you know what's going to happen, you can use it to your advantage.
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Old Jun 8, 2010, 4:35 PM   #8
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TCav,

What other equipment do you use in addition to a macro lens? Do you always use a tripod? Flash? Do you use a ring flash?

I'm sure as I get more into macro photography my setups will be more elaborate. Might find that I'll prefer to use a tripod/flash 9 times out of 10. Who knows. I've barely got my "foot wet".

I just remembered Nikon made a flash kit made for close-up photography..

http://www.vistek.ca/store/CameraMou...-d300-d90.aspx

And I know Expo Imaging has a ring flash...

http://www.expoimaging.com/product-d..._Flash_Adapter

Have you used either? Or do you prefer to use ambient light?
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Old Jun 8, 2010, 6:29 PM   #9
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BDD, please don't think that I'm being picky but in post #3 you said: "Also, I suppose...if I wanted to have every item in the keys/watch photo in-focus then it would call for using a tripod as well...as sometimes the camera won't put enough AF points on enough areas. I think this photo only had 1.."

I only bring this back because I've heard some of my friends talk about the multi-af points in a similar way. Usually, I just smile and wave. But let's be serious for a moment.

Your camera only focuses on 1 plane. All these af points are just giving options on selection of the plane. they do not all become in-focus. Hope how I said this is sort-of correct but I know the more senior members will add some thought.
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Old Jun 8, 2010, 9:52 PM   #10
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Your camera only focuses on 1 plane. All these af points are just giving options on selection of the plane. they do not all become in-focus. Hope how I said this is sort-of correct but I know the more senior members will add some thought.
Hey Frank-in-toronto,

Nice to be talking to another Torontonian. And I hope you don't take offense to the fact that I'm going to disagree with your assumption.

I would have thought our DLSR's would be focusing on multiple plains ("plane"?? ). Since most of what we photograph is 3D. You even go on to say in your 2nd sentence "...selection of the plane (). Which implies more than one.

Having said that I think this point is only important if we're taking hand-held macro shots. Which I'm guessing is a small percentage of macro photographers. I'd venture to guess that over 80% use a tripod (along with many other accessories to get the desired effect).

I'm sure once I really get into this kind of photography 90-95% of my macro work will be done with a tripod. Using Live-View (1 user selectable AF point).
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