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Old Apr 15, 2010, 10:36 PM   #1
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Default Some bugs with the K20, Sigma 180 Macro, 1.7x AFA, and Metz 15

Hi All,

With freshly charged batteries in the Metz 15 MS1, and spares in my pocket, I set off to shoot some bugs.

I've found that with the lens alone, both the K20 and K-7 expose correctly in wireless TTL with the Metz. With the Sigma 180 Macro + the F 1.7x AFA, I have to insulate the #2 and # 6 pins on the AFA in order to get f3.5 as a max aperture baseline and proper exposure with the Metz. I didn't experiment any further with insulated pin combinations. When I got outside, this whole combo was underexposing by almost 2 stops. ISO was set at 100, and I bumped it to 320. This made everything good, and I could use both the flash compensation in the function menu and/or regular Ev compensation to vary the exposure with the flash.

The 1.7x AFA allows magnifications up to about 1.5:1, and 1:1 shot's can be done at a distance of about 1 ft from the front of the lens. This is nice because it seems to be outside the zone where a lot of critters start getting uncomfortable, so they seem to ignore the big glass bubble pointed at them.
It also allows me to use AF with macro. The focusing range of the AFA at macro distances is only about 3/8", so lock to lock hunts take a fraction of a second, and using AF C, I can fire the shutter without needing to obtain a focus lock.

At f10-14 on the lens, where I'd normally shoot macro, the DOF, narrow as it is, will usually give me a shot that's focused within the DOF when the AF C is "stuttering", microadjusting to get optimum focus, so if I fire the shutter anytime the AF is trying to fine tune, I get pretty good focus, even for macros. This is important to me, since my vision changes all the time, I can't see critical focus in the VF a lot of the time, and have to trust AF.

Here are some of the results. The bugs were mostly moving pretty fast, and it was a challenge getting them in the VF, much less getting a good pose and focus, so composition could be better, but I'm assuming that this will come with some experience.

This beetle was scuttling all over the place, but stayed under the dead leaves most of the time. I managed to get these, but the flash unfortunately washed out the iridescent green that I saw under normal light.




I'm sure it wouldn't approve of the look these shots gave it. . .

This Bumble Bee shot would have been good a fraction of a second before this. . . before it ducked its head under the leaf. . .


This little fly is only about 1/4" long (about 6-7mm) The first shot was at about 1.5:1, and the second was at about 1:1. At full resolution, you can easily see the shape of the individual facets in the eyes in either.




All of these were handheld, and I'd say that the flash worked pretty well. Once set, I didn't have to touch any settings, and I've saved the camera settings as my "User" mode for this body so I don't have to remember all the steps to get there.

This last is a 100% crop from one of the shots. I was waiting for a Digger Bee to emerge from her nest, and I noticed a couple of these bright orange-red guys crawling around the entrance. They were just tiny specks in the VF, even at 1.5:1. I calculated the size (might have made a mistake in the math) and it came out that it was about .45mm. At 100% crop, that makes this alittle bigger than 1/36th of the size of the frame. 14.6 MP has its advantages. . .


I'm very pleased with the results I'm getting with this setup. It's heavy, but I can't think of any other combo that allow me to shoot a bird with good detail, then go straight to better than 1:1 macro for the next shot (except for the A* or FA* 200/4 macros, but they'd each cost more than this whole setup for just the lens).

Scott
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 2:38 AM   #2
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Awesome work! I love the first one, perfect focus and "pose" on the beetle

The last one looks like a red spider/velvet mite, I am gobsmacked that you managed to get that much detail from something so small. You have the size about right, assuming they are the same as the ones we have over here.
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 3:19 AM   #3
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VERY awesome work there, Scott!!! Thanks.

Ned
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 5:13 AM   #4
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Nice - especially those of the fly and more especially the 2nd one, that is really nice ! That 180mm seems to be a winner in terms of it's flexibility at the very least.
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 2:14 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Tachikoma View Post


Awesome work! I love the first one, perfect focus and "pose" on the beetle

The last one looks like a red spider/velvet mite, I am gobsmacked that you managed to get that much detail from something so small. You have the size about right, assuming they are the same as the ones we have over here.
Hi Tachi,

Thanks!

"Gobsmacked" -- not a common term where I'm from, but very nicely descriptive -- I looked up mites, and was a bit freaked out to find that it seems that these might be what are known as "chiggers" around here!!! an old nemesis of mine when I was a kid. Luckily, I was sitting on the pavement, and don't think any were near me, but I'm starting to itch just thinking about them. . .

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VERY awesome work there, Scott!!! Thanks.
Hi Ned,

Thanks!

I'm pretty new to this, though I've managed to accumulate quite a bit of macro equipment, I haven't really used it much, but I'm hoping to start putting some through their paces this spring/summer. Compliments like these are very motivating.

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Nice - especially those of the fly and more especially the 2nd one, that is really nice ! That 180mm seems to be a winner in terms of it's flexibility at the very least.
Hi FF,

Thanks!

I really liked the way the two fly shots turned out. Ugly little guy, but it's fascinating for me to see these guys so close up. I haven't had too many chances to shoot birds with the 180 + AFA, but I've attached about a 1/2 frame crop of a Song Sparrow that I thought was going to be a throwaway, but turned out pretty good, and a portrait shot of a captured Screech Owl taken through a screen -- the ability to focus closer than normal was essential to getting this shot. All the results I've gotten from this lens are promising at the very least -- it's a very impressive lens!

Scott
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 3:19 PM   #6
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Scott - that is a tremendous shot of the owl (my favourite birds). The eye is so sharp and the reflections in the eye are what makes the shot. Wonderful.

Maybe a few more shots, later stacked, would have brought all of the head into focus (unless of course your aim was just the eye and assuming the bird didn't move) !

How did you capture this ? When you say screen do you mean at the zoo or through a window / door ?
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 3:31 PM   #7
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Nice work Scoot!
That's quite a reflection in the owl's eye.
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 5:15 PM   #8
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creepily impressive magnification. well done, you have a nice setup there.
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 8:12 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frogfish View Post
Scott - that is a tremendous shot of the owl (my favourite birds). The eye is so sharp and the reflections in the eye are what makes the shot. Wonderful.

Maybe a few more shots, later stacked, would have brought all of the head into focus (unless of course your aim was just the eye and assuming the bird didn't move) !

How did you capture this ? When you say screen do you mean at the zoo or through a window / door ?
Hi FF,

Thanks!

Owls are at the top of my list too, but I've yet to see one in the wild. . .

I never thought to focus stack -- it's just not in my usual bag of techniques --- maybe next time. . . with this guy, it might just be possible -- he can stand pretty still. . .a very good idea.

He's a captive -- blind in one eye, so they have to keep him in the Nature Center -- his other eye does not close down at all, and he usually keeps it closed. His enclosure is about 4x4x4 feet, and two sides are a heavy 3/4' mesh screening, so the mesh crosses the front of the lens quite a bit. I shot with the lens right up against the screen so the wires would be totally out of focus. For this shot, he was perched on one of the rope covered bars that span the enclosure, so he was 2-2.5 feet away which is closer than most 180-200mm lenses will focus, so the macro was about the only way to both focus that close and get the screen totally OOF. Sorry for the long explanation. . .

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Nice work Scoot!
That's quite a reflection in the owl's eye.
Hi GW,

Thanks!

If you look closely, you can just make out my reflection (light ball cap, below and to the left under the skilights)

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creepily impressive magnification. well done, you have a nice setup there.
Hi Hards,

Thanks!

I'm just getting used to what it can do, so I'll be playing with it a lot in the coming months.

Scott
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 10:03 PM   #10
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While i do like nature reserves and the cause, the thought of keeping him in a 4x4x4 cage depresses me. Does he get to fly out in a bigger area?

Great shots! Im lovin the setup you have going here. Looks like it works well
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