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I'm a big fan of hand holding below the 1:1 rule for low light work, and 1/40 vs. 105mm is certainly doable. However, that is more appropriate for "normal" subject distances. As you move closer to your subject, the magnification of those induced motions becomes even greater ... hence tripod's rule when you're talking about shutter speeds below the 1:1 ROT and shooting macro.
Karen & I differ on the matter of diffraction and it's impact. For your particular lens, the diffraction between f8 vs f16 is marginally noticeable in test shots on a D3X and probably quite negligible in practice on such larger pixels sensors than yours (not to be confused with high resolution sensors). However, by the time you get to f22/f25, it's going to be even worse than f16. Combining some motion blur and some diffraction, is going to produce a softer result. If you truly need the extra DOF, and you're shooting handheld ... you might consider stepping back a small amount (you can crop in PP) to reduce reduce the motion blur impact. Also, shooting @ 1/40 is getting closer to that range where mirror slap (especially for macro distances) is more prominent.
If I were shooting hand held 105mm and no tripod (assuming same EV @ 1/40 @ f/25) I'd probably shoot it 1/100 @ f16, but preferring to be around 1/160 @ f11 ish.
Skip the autofocus, skip the VR ... both are prone to induce error in these kind of shots. Retain control via manual focus and avoid the "offsetting" aspect of VR.
Motion is the bane of macro ... and some antidotes.
Camera motion (you) ... tripod, cable release
Camera motion (mirror slap) ... Mirror lock up, timer
Subject motion (wind) ... higher shutter speed, wind block, short flash duration
Subject motion (subject) ... higher shutter speed, short flash duration
The closer you put the subject & camera, the more these are amplified. The more pieces of the puzzle that are causing problems (even little ones), the add up and multiply. Toss on the impact of PP processing and those little details can turn into mush quicker than you'd imagine. It is really a matter of process control regarding technique (i.e. Demming) and macro simply magnifies the bad stuff as much as it magnifies the good.
Going back to the subject of diffraction ... it is also relative to the pixel size upon which you are projeting your image. Large pixels are less prone to diffraction (for a given aperture), whereas smaller pixels are more prone to diffraction. While there is more resolution on your D7000, the pixels are quite small and the ability for the airy disc to overlap those tiny pixels is much greater than an otherwise larger pixel. Using the Nikon D2X with a roughly 25% larger pixel, airy disc coverage looks something like this in the interactive link below: f8 (1 pixel wide) vs. f11 (1.5 pixel wide) vs. f16 (2 pixels) vs. f22 (3 pixels wide) vs. f32 (5 pixels wide). Conversely, shooting on something like a canon 5D the airy disc coverage @ f16 is only slightly more than 1 pixel wide.
Your smaller pixels are going to be even more prone to diffraction than the D2X. The more overlap you have among neighboring pixels, the more 'fuzzy' you're gonna be. Despite the fact that you have a stellar lens ... I'm of the opinion that your tiny pixels really shouldn't be shot much slower than f13, with f8/f11 being preferrable ... if you are striving for optimal sharpness.
Bottom line ... handheld, mirror slap, slow shutter, close distance, diffraction, small pixels, AF, VR, wind ... that's at least NINE different things working against you. The more of those you can reduce or eliminate, the sharper you image is going to be. It's up to you to decide what you can live with or can't live without.
Also, Cranking up the saturation and going vivid isn't doing you any favors when it comes to your quest for detail for your jpg output. If you also shot them RAW (NEF) then you've probably got something to work with in post.
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Edited on Dec 05, 2011 at 01:32 AM · View previous versions