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Advice on next step in macro
  
 
tshore
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Advice on next step in macro


I've been getting more into macro photography recently, my main interests having been sports and birds/wildlife. I enjoy taking pictures of insects mostly, on walks/hikes, handheld. My current macro-related gear are Canon 6D and 7D bodies, and a Canon 100mm macro (non-L/IS) and Tamron 180 macro. In bright sunlight, the challenge is that the sun is effectively a point source of light that creates strong highlights that reduce image quality. In shade, the challenge is with ISO/shutter speed necessary to expose the image at f/8 -f/16 where I typically shoot.

My question is whether it would be better to invest in a macro flash (mt-24 ex), or an image-stabilized 100L. The former, it seems to me, would help in both sunny and shady conditions, the latter only in shady conditions. But I am interested in the views of the amazing photographers who post here. Am I better off with a a next-step of flash, or IS?

Here are some recent samples, so you have a sense of my relative skills or lack thereof.

Thanks!



tshore 2013

  Canon EOS 6D    EF100mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens    100mm    f/11.0    1/400s    1600 ISO    0.0 EV  





tshore 2013

  Canon EOS 7D    180mm lens    180mm    f/11.0    1/400s    500 ISO    0.0 EV  





tshore 2013

  Canon EOS 7D    180mm lens    180mm    f/11.0    1/640s    320 ISO    0.0 EV  





tshore 2013

  Canon EOS 7D    180mm lens    180mm    f/11.0    1/640s    500 ISO    0.0 EV  




Jul 17, 2014 at 03:21 AM
johnmatrix84
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Advice on next step in macro


Since you have some decent macro lenses already, I would recommend a flash setup with diffusers. You will be amazed what great light can do for a photo. With a flash and a good bracket, you will be able to shoot in any conditions and create your own light. Harsh direct sunlight will almost always look bad no matter how good your lens is, but if you control the light via diffused flash you can highlight detail while not being harsh. Nice pics by the way.


Jul 17, 2014 at 03:41 AM
tshore
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Advice on next step in macro


Thanks John. In terms of diffusers, would this type of diffuser for this product be ok?

http://www.amazon.com/Vello-Bounce-Diffuser-Canon-Speedlite/dp/B00EHSSSA0/ref=pd_sim_e_3?ie=UTF8&refRID=17EA9DXPZH8HD0CKGMQR

Or would I need something more elaborate?



Jul 17, 2014 at 04:04 AM
johnmatrix84
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Advice on next step in macro


I am sure those will work as long as you are close, but you may need more. I shoot flowers with off camera flash and use a small portable soft box. Check out this thread for some diffusers for the canon macro flash.

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1303705




Jul 17, 2014 at 04:44 AM
e6filmuser
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Advice on next step in macro


tshore wrote:
Thanks John. In terms of diffusers, would this type of diffuser for this product be ok?

http://www.amazon.com/Vello-Bounce-Diffuser-Canon-Speedlite/dp/B00EHSSSA0/ref=pd_sim_e_3?ie=UTF8&refRID=17EA9DXPZH8HD0CKGMQR

Or would I need something more elaborate?


I use that type as default on my main flash but more of a soft box will give you the best results. Unfortunately, soft boxes, by definition, are rather large and make aproach to many subjects dificult.

All diffusion reduces the Guide Number. That is not a major problem for metered flash but complicates calibration/calculation for manual flash.

One tip for flash in general. Where your camera will permit it, you can probably use a shutter speed one or two above the spec maximum speed (I do it daily) without framiing issues on the image. I cannot vouch for this when changing the curtain (first or second) synchronisation as I haven't tried it. Try it out before any important shots!

It is refreshing to see that you are not diving straight into macro, as too many seem to do.

Harold



Jul 17, 2014 at 06:26 AM
Dalantech
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Advice on next step in macro


First: IS is only going to compensate for your motion -it will not compensate for subject motion and you seem to go after semi-active to active targets. The other problem with IS is that it may not help that much at 1x -I know that Nikon does not recommend using IS on their IS macro lens when the subject to sensor distance is under about 10 feet. Not sure about IS on Canon's 100L (maybe one of the 100L users will chime in).

Second: Flash presents it's own set of problems. Just like the sun you don't want a light source that's far away from the subject, otherwise you're just going to get hot specular highlights. I would not recommend that you use any of your current lenses with the MT-24EX unless you are also willing to get some sort of flash bracket that will get the macro twin flashes head's within 4" from the subject. The working distance of the 100mm macro @ 1x is 6", and you're 180mm is about 9" at minimum...

My recommendation is two fold: Either get an off camera bracket, a flash cord, and an off camera flash with a diffuser (Lumiquest makes some really good ones) and use it with your 100mm macro. The second option is to get an MT-24EX and an EF-S 60mm. If you put at least a 12mm extension tube on it you can use it with your 6D (but you'll lose infinity focus) as well as the 7D. Since the EF-S 60mm is about a 37mm lens at life size you only need 37mm of extension to get to 2x, and with a working distance at life size of just under 4" you can get good diffused light from the MT-24EX.

If you decide to go with the second option then contact me and I'll help you diffuse the MT-24EX. Out of the box it's a brutally harsh point source that needs some taming...



Jul 17, 2014 at 06:53 AM
tshore
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Advice on next step in macro


Thanks for the tips. In my limited experience with this type of photography, I have found it tough to get within 4'' of my subjects. Most of my shots are from a foot to a foot and a half away, sometimes two, which is why I got the Tamron 180. Many times, I just physically can't get the camera that close, and other times the subject gets skittish and flies away. I guess that's just part of the challenge.

If a flash bracket is really what is needed, then maybe I should put the MT-24 on hold, and use my 420 ex ii with a bracket and a diffuser. On my 7D I think I could use the on-camera flash as a controller and bag the cord to the 420 on the bracket. I see a lot of setups using this type of gear on the Post Your Setup thread. The type of setup in the attached picture seems like it might work. I also have a set of Kenko tubes that could allow me to get closer than the lens' MFD, but I found it hard to get close enough to my quarries to make them really useful.

With a bracket, do I need some sort of "lens plate" or "camera plate"? What do those do? Sorry for the dumb question, but I'm a noob in this area.







Jul 19, 2014 at 04:30 PM
e6filmuser
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Advice on next step in macro


tshore wrote:
Thanks for the tips. In my limited experience with this type of photography, I have found it tough to get within 4'' of my subjects. Most of my shots are from a foot to a foot and a half away, sometimes two, which is why I got the Tamron 180. Many times, I just physically can't get the camera that close, and other times the subject gets skittish and flies away. I guess that's just part of the challenge.


That all sounds very normal, the story of my life.

I use twin flash, which is much less intimidating than huge soft boxes and goes a long way towards giving similar lighting. I would rather have a well-lit image of a subject than a perfectly lit image of where it had been seconds earlier.

Harold



Jul 19, 2014 at 07:36 PM
 

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12monkeys
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Advice on next step in macro


If you look through my uploads, you'll see where you can get with a 100L on a full frame body in natural light. It's borderline but I manage.

I had the 100 non-L before the 100L and found that the line was so fine as to what I could get away with, I really did need the IS.

Before you spend any money, though, try f8 or even F5.6 instead of F11 and push the ISO to 1600 on your 6D. Your pictures shouldn't be as noisy as they are - I can only imagine they're heavy crops - so you should at least do some basic luminance noise reduction in PS/LR. Try to shoot insects low down, resting your elbows on your knees, on a slightly overcast day or in the evening when the sun's starting to fade and see if you like the results. If you don't, it's time to invest in a flash set-up. Unfortunately, with a big white diffuser, the insects will be much more likely to fly away.



Jul 20, 2014 at 09:54 AM
skibum5
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Advice on next step in macro


I sort of feel that the IS is the one that only helps in the sun. 1:1 at f/11 needs a LOT of light. In deep shade, even with IS, you'd likely be ISO2500+ a lot I bet. Although the IS does help framing and AF in all scenarios.

One thing with flashes is they can sometimes do weird things to bugs, like this one type of green damselfly tends to loose the rich shiny emerald color under flash.

I notice just a trace of focus miss and more often just a hint of camera shake in some of your shots, the IS and fast USM would be just enough to make those shots 100% crisp (well, not 100% for sure, since it's possible the bugs were moving, but you can often find one frame where they are still and the IS did its best job, if you let off a burst)

Edited on Jul 25, 2014 at 02:03 AM · View previous versions



Jul 25, 2014 at 01:48 AM
skibum5
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Advice on next step in macro


e6filmuser wrote:
I would rather have a well-lit image of a subject than a perfectly lit image of where it had been seconds earlier.

Harold


but, but, but, perfect lighting!
subject of the photo shmubject of the photo, whatever





Jul 25, 2014 at 01:53 AM
skibum5
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Advice on next step in macro


Dalantech wrote:
First: IS is only going to compensate for your motion -it will not compensate for subject motion and you seem to go after semi-active to active targets. The other problem with IS is that it may not help that much at 1x -I know that Nikon does not recommend using IS on their IS macro lens when the subject to sensor distance is under about 10 feet. Not sure about IS on Canon's 100L (maybe one of the 100L users will chime in).


100L from Canon has Hybrid IS with an extra degree of freedom where it applies IS compared to regular IS units. So it does help a bit even at 1:1 (although definitely not as much as at like 2' away and farther where it can help 3 stops; like I said it's more that it lets you hand-hold withotu flash under decent lighting than lets you hand hold in deep shade or anything). Regular IS only compensates for rotational instability of the FOV while Hybrid IS can also compensate a bit for vertical and horizontal shifts in position. It also has fast USM AF which coupled with some bodies does Hyper Macro AI servo AF which is usually fast enough to compensate for forwards/backwards shifting to and away from subject and can better keep DOF centered exactly around the desired point.





Jul 25, 2014 at 02:00 AM
Dalantech
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Advice on next step in macro


skibum5 wrote:
100L from Canon has Hybrid IS with an extra degree of freedom where it applies IS compared to regular IS units. So it does help a bit even at 1:1 (although definitely not as much as at like 2' away and farther where it can help 3 stops; like I said it's more that it lets you hand-hold withotu flash under decent lighting than lets you hand hold in deep shade or anything). Regular IS only compensates for rotational instability of the FOV while Hybrid IS can also compensate a bit for vertical and horizontal shifts in position. It also
...Show more

Thanks for the explanation!




Jul 25, 2014 at 05:55 AM
Nass
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Advice on next step in macro


Good advice in this thread. I think you'll gain a lot more from using flash and diffusion than another lens, even an image stabilised one. Natural light can make for beautiful macro but usually you'll want the specimen to be stationary ie early in the morning otherwise you tend to end up with a lack of sharpness due to blur. On the other hand obviously some people do well without flash too - your mileage may vary.

As for lens plate, useful I suppose if you intend to whack it on a tripod but I've never found tripods especially helpful for this sort of stuff chasing bugs, they just get in the way for me. Small and 'as compact as possible whilst still giving nice diffused lighting' is really the key - many ways to achieve this!



Jul 25, 2014 at 10:52 AM
tshore
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Advice on next step in macro


Thanks folks! I have ordered the MT24-ex ($900 all-in..ouch!), plus a pair of the diffusers that dlantech blogged about. I'll post some results when the equipment arrives and I get a chance to nail some bugs!


Aug 07, 2014 at 02:53 AM





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