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Starting with macro, please advice :)


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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Starting with macro, please advice :)

Hi all!
I am a long time reader of fredmiranda forums, but this is my first post here. Happy to join. Probably is common that the first post is about asking suggestions and here I am.
I am passionate about photography and enjoy taking pictures with many different equipments even if I am particularly attracted by specialized camera (GR, FP, Merrill, ecc).
However I did never practice macro photography before and one of my closest fried wants to start this journey together. I am more on the open field macro flowerabstract, he's more of a studio setting and going into the micro world. But we want to invest together.

I do have a sigma FP and there are plenty of Laowa lens that have interesting features, but I am totally open to your suggestions:

1) which camera do you suggest ? I do think that maybe smaller sensor is better for depth of field
2) lens
3) tripod for field and tripod for studio?
4) settings, lightings, ecc

I am totally open to your suggestion and budget is not a true limitation since it would be a retirement hobby.

I hope for a lot of discussion


Feb 03, 2023 at 07:35 AM

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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Starting with macro, please advice :)

This is a hard question with lots of answers. What I have found is my macro kit is constantly evolving.
1. For macro there is an advantage using an camera with an APS-C sensor versus FF. These cameras turn you 100mm macro lens essentially into a 150mm lens (depending on the crop factor) and the get the sweet spot of a lens. However Id use what you have and I also use a FF.
2. I like manual lenses for macro and Laowa makes some good lenses, as does Sigma. Id start with a something in the realm of 100mm and then build from there based on your style and what perspective you like. You can also get extension tubes and sometimes combine those with teleconverters to also get more bang for your buck. You can also rent lenses and give them a try before purchasing.
3. Tripods will be dictated by your subjects. Invertebrates tend to move locations and can be ground level, flowers do not and are elevated. Convince your friend to get a good tripod. They can carry it to the field, you can borrow it. Team work makes the dream work.
4. For lighting a soft box and getting the light off the same plane as the lens makes a HUGE difference. There are lots of ways to move your light source, and once again this is dedicated by your subject and your style.
As I mentioned, hopefully your friend shoots Sigma. When I was starting out it was a huge benefit to me having a friend who also used Canon as we often swapped lenses. But otherwise start with the gear you have and go from there. I hope this helps some.

Feb 05, 2023 at 09:14 AM
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Starting with macro, please advice :)


All cameras are really good now. Get anything and start shooting. This is the only way to find out what works for ya what doesn't .

You'll be able to figure out on your own if you need just a lens and/or bellows, rings, rails etc.
A lot will depend on your subjects as well.

I recommend an old Sigma 150mm Macro, non-OS if you can find it. I've had and used three for past 20 years with Canons, Nikons and Sonys.

I loved my E-M5II for built in focus stacking with its 60mm macro lens. There are plenty of ways to go.

Talking is the last thing you want to do. Start small and cheap/used. Once you find out what you really need will drain your budget later.

Good luck

Mar 07, 2023 at 12:01 PM

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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Starting with macro, please advice :)

My current macro kit for hunting insects consists of a Nikon D7200, a Sigma 105mm Macro with a Nikon 6T Close-Up diopter, Nikon SB-800 speedlight, and an AK Diffuser. https://akdiffuser.com/

All of my macros thus far have been outdoors. I always shoot hand-held, and this rig is a bit heavy so I also use a Peak Design Clutch hand strap. For a lighter weight setup I'll use a Nikkor 40mm micro lens. I also use back-button auto-focus and find it works quite well, although there are always those situations where I'll end up using manual focus and gently moving back and forth to focus. I'm usually using a shutter speed of 1/100 to 1/250 and aperture between f/11 and f/18. ISO is usually set on automatic but usually ranges between 100 and 400, and I always shoot in RAW. I do a fair bit of macro photography at night so I'll also have an LED light in my left hand with the camera in my right. And don't forget a decent pair of knee pads and possibly even some elbow pads for crawling around stalking bugs.

Mar 07, 2023 at 03:59 PM

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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Starting with macro, please advice :)

I only ever use m4/3. You can adapt almost any legacy lens to it and AF is more hindrance than help.

I would use a tripod for focus stacking or time lapse. Insects won't wait while you set it up!

I have an Olympus EM-1 (original version*). For moderate close-ups to1:1, I mostly use and Olympus 4/3 (not m4/3) 50mm f2 macro, with the matched x2TC where needed. For higher magnifications I use the Laowa 25mm f2.8 2.5x-5x ultra-macro For telemacro (dragonflies, butterflies I use the Panasonic 100 - 400mm Leica DG Vario-Elmar .

I use daylight or flash at low magnification and in good light. At higher magnifications I use twin RC flash, 2 Olympus FL-300R off-camera, controlled by an FL-LM2* on the hot shoe, its light turned off.

* Later versions are available but do nothing I need.

I have been posting images almost every day for many years. I always give my version of EXIF.

I do a lot of higher magnification than most members.


Mar 16, 2023 at 05:01 AM
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Starting with macro, please advice :)

A lot of us got into higher magnifications by simply reversing a lens onto the camera. a 50mm or 28mm is a good start.

Some lenses won't remain stopped down when reversed. Any lens with a Nikon F mount will do it and made quite a lot of use of a Kiron with an F mount. Tubes between the lens and the camera can increase the magnification but finding adapter rings to do that can be difficult.


Mar 16, 2023 at 05:38 AM
Jon Bev

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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Starting with macro, please advice :)

Any camera with manual focus is fine, beware of harsh light, buy a Raynox 250 and a focussing rail, small tripods are useless, too unstable, have fun.

Mar 24, 2023 at 03:38 PM
Tom Conway
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Starting with macro, please advice :)

In addition to the previous comments, I suggest investigating a 100mm SIMA device. They were made in the '80's & '90's & may be found on ebay for $40.00 - $65.00USD. They offer a "soft focus" image which helps with creativity. Macro is fun, with a constant learning curve. . .enjoy!

Jun 13, 2023 at 12:51 PM

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