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redwatch

Super Macro Photography

46 posts in this topic

I thought I would post a little review/tutorial on how to achieve some amazing macro shots. Please keep in mind that I am an amateur and I only started playing with this new system today. I understand the basic fundamentals of how this works, but I still have a LOT of practicing to do! :D

Please note, this information is based on Nikon camera products (because this is what I use). There are similar products for other camera types, but I am unfamiliar with them.

Traditionally, with a D-SLR camera, if you want to take nice and close shots of an object, you would default to a macro lens which is specifically designed to allow for 1:1 shots, meaning the image on film, or on the digital sensor is the same size as the object being photographed.

In order to get greater magnification, you need to extend the distance between the lens and the film/sensor. There are a variety of ways to do this.

Extension Tubes

extension_tube.jpg

This is a very simple and effective way to get "a little bit more" out of your macro or traditional lens. Of course, once you disconnect the lens from the camera, you lose the electrical connection between the two. Now we are in full manual mode. There is no auto focus and no metering. The camera cannot automatically determine the speed of the shutter or the f-stop that the lens needs to be set to. This is where the fun begins! It takes a lot of trial and error to get the settings correct. You can speed this process up with the use of a good light meter that does Aperture Priority. You would set the aperture on the lens, enter that value into the light meter and if it's a good one, it will tell you exactly what shutter speed to set the camera to to get the best possible exposure.

Lens Reversing Adapter

Nikon makes a very nice 52mm thread adapter called a BR-2A. The older, BR-2 is for manual focus lenses only. You cannot use this one on the Auto Focus lens as it will damage the lens contacts.

nikon_br_2a.jpg

By using a lens reversing adapter, you flip the lens, screw it onto the reversing adapter and then mount it to the camera. It's best to use a prime lens and a manual focus one. This way you can set the aperture on the lens. The newer lenses use the camera to set the aperture and do not have a manual adjustment ring on the lens. Manual focus lenses are very cheap right now and can be had for less than $50.00. I bought a Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 on eBay for $44.00 in excellent condition.

Using this technique you can get from 1:1 to 1:4 (4x the size), depending on the lens you use. Again, this is a fully manual process and takes a lot of trial and error to get the settings correct for proper color and exposure.

The other problem you may encounter is with the aperture ring. When the lens is attached directly to the camera, while looking through the view finder, the camera forces the lens fully open until you press the shutter release. Then the camera automatically stops down the lens to the preset aperture setting. This allows you to see through the lens without restriction for focusing and for the metering to be effective. When the lens is reversed, or extended away from the camera, this system is no longer in place. You can manually hold open the aperture by moving the little lever until you have everything in focus, let go, and take your picture. This can be very cumbersome, so camera manufacturers have created a nice little adapter to compensate for this. Nikon makes two: The BR-4 and the BR-6. They both work the same way but the BR-4 is only for manual lenses. Do not attempt to use one on an auto focus lens because it will damage the contacts. The BR-6 will work with both manual and auto-focus lenses. The other nice thing about the BR-6 is that it has 52mm threads on it so you can mount a filter on it to protect the back elements of the lens from dust and damage.

nikon_br_4.jpg

As you can see from the picture above, the two adapters both have a little slide lever on them that locks the blades of the lens open until you are ready to take your picture. Then you just move that lever and lock into position and you are ready to take your picture. If you do not have this, when you try to set the lens to f/11 or higher you won't see much (if anything at all) through the lens as the opening is way too small. Both adapters also have a cable release attachment if you have a double cable release but I find this is not really necessary to use.

If you are using a BR-4 and want to attach a filter to the reversed lens, you can get a Nikon BR-3 which mounts to the lens mounts and has 52mm threads on the other end.

nikon_br_3.jpg

Bellows Extension

This is where the fun really begins!! A bellows extension is like what you see on the full sized or older cameras. It is a fully variable extension tube. The really good ones are mounted on a focusing rail. With an extension tube, reversed lens, or bellows extension you can only focus by physically moving the whole assembly closer or further away from the object. Having a focusing rail makes it very easy to move the assembly around in very tiny increments. The smallest movement will shift the object WAY out of focus.

nikon_pb_4.jpg

Pictured above is an older Nikon PB-4 Bellows Extension. What makes this one really unique is that it has the ability to tilt & shift the lens around. You can tilt it +/- 25 degress or shift it 10mm side to side. This movement allows for greater depth of field or can shift the perspective lines of the object being photographed. Nikon also made a newer model called a PB-6 and there were a variety of accessories for it. One of the accessories is a PB-6E, or Bellows Extension. The PB-4 allows for 190mm of variable extension. The PB-6 allows for 208mm. With the extension added to the PB-6 you can get a total of 438mm of variable extension. What does this mean in the real world? Well, with a reverse mounted 20mm lens, you can achieve 23x magnification!!!

I recently acquired a Bellows set-up. I purchased a Nikon PB-4, BR-2A reversing adapter, BR-3, BR-4 and a 50mm f/1.8 lens. Here are some shots of the equipment set up:

DSC_1025.jpg

DSC_1021.jpg

Here is the 50mm Lens reversed mounted on the BR-2A with the BR-4 on the back with a BR-3 attached to it.

DSC_1022.jpg

With the Bellows fully closed, and the 50mm lens attached normally (ie: not reversed), I was able to capture this shot of a Gen Ingy AMG Chrono dial:

DSC_1005.jpg

With the Bellows fully extended and the lens mounted normally, I was able to capture these shots:

DSC_1015.jpg

DSC_1014.jpg

DSC_1012.jpg

In this shot, I used the tilt ability to tilt the lens ever so slightly to the left. This seemed to increase the depth of field and allow for better focusing:

DSC_1016.jpg

And finally, here is another shot of the 6 o'clock position but with the 50mm lens reversed on the end of the Bellows:

DSC_1018.jpg

You can see it's a tiny bit bigger than the shot above, but I believe if i was able to get closer to the dial I would have been able to enlarge it even further.

Thanks for looking! I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did writing it and taking the pictures!!! :thumbsupsmileyanim:

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Now.....that's what I call MACRO! :thumbsupsmileyanim:

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Great work man!

By the way, this is where you see the huge difference between rep and gen dials. Like I mentioned in another thread, my gen Aquaracer chrono has utterly AMAZING dial details, even in macro shots. It's very impressive. But when I shoot macros of the rep dials I always want to just delete the photos instantly. :D

Of course, when a human eye can't see the details it doesn't matter, really. It's just an observation.

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I use the reverser ring, but I got mine off ebay for a fiver.

Speedmaster-02-640.jpg

3719-08-640.jpg

macro-2.jpg

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Here's a couple more with the bellows and the reversed 50mm f/1.8:

DSC_1032.jpg

DSC_1035.jpg

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Couple of macro's of the ETA 2893-2 from FxrAndy:

DSC_1039.jpg

DSC_1040.jpg

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Holy macro!!!!

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oh man, exposes SOOO MUCH dust that would drive me nuts!

what ratio are you getting with this?!

Pugs $5 setup yields great results, i've pondered the five dollar setup but the thought of damaging or getting debris on the element pretty much discouraged me...even tho it was a $100 lens to begin with..hmm.

I assume metering doesnt work properly with reverse adapters

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I assume metering doesnt work properly with reverse adapters

As long as you set it to Aperture Priority, metering works fine.

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Unfortunately, with the Nikon system, metering does not work at all. You cannot set the D40 to aperture priority when the lens is reversed. The camera complains and the screen displays a warning indicating that there is no lens attached. You can only set the camera to full manual to get it to work.

There is a work around - but I haven't gotten to that part yet :D

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just ordered a reversing ring... for a whole $4.70 w/shipping!:thumbsupsmileyanim:

fortunately (this time) im on a Canon setup, AV setting it is.

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Nice find!! I'm sure you will enjoy it! :thumbsupsmileyanim:

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great tut Red, its almost beyond macro, seeing things you would rather not sometimes..;)

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just ordered a reversing ring... for a whole $4.70 w/shipping!:thumbsupsmileyanim:

fortunately (this time) im on a Canon setup, AV setting it is.

I have a Canon EOS 400D and I'm looking to try this reversing ring..could you tell me where did you fing yours..?

Thanks

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I have a Canon EOS 400D and I'm looking to try this reversing ring..could you tell me where did you fing yours..?

Thanks

The bay has them also amazon, and most camera stores.

These were what i bought to try out some macro stuff...

4449024751_9dd8477cfb.jpg

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The really good macro extension tubes are quite nice as they do carry through the electrical contacts from the lens to the camera allowing autofocus and metering to work very nicely. How do you like them J?

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I like them so far. The autofocus and everything works in most cases.

4457253893_330ddb8195.jpg

4458030550_de3890598f.jpg

4449827998_c236ee6264.jpg

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Very nice J! Looking good!

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Just curious. Is anyone using Helicon Focus Software? Looks quite promising and with a focusing rail on the PB-4 bellows, could be quite fun to do Super Macro shots without any depth of field focusing issues.

This picture of the Nikon 135mm f/4.0 Bellow Lens was taken using 21 shots and then they were focus stacked using Helicon Focus Lite.

4298882553_99b203f409.jpg

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If it works let me know! I would love to get a hold of this! Which version did you find? The lite or advanced?

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Here's another one. A friend of mine also bought a Bellows, but he got the Nikon PB-6 with the PB-6E extension system. Gives a total of 438mm of extension or about a 1 to 8 magnification amount. Below is a photo of a $10 bill with Alexander Hamilton:

ten-10-dollar-bill.jpg

And here is a picture of Alexander Hamilton's eye:

DSC_1050.jpg

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christ!

what kind of exposure times are you looking at with these magnifications?

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That shot was taken at f/8 with a 2 second exposure time. That was with the bellows at full extension (438mm) with the 50mm f/1.8 Lens reverse mounted.

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Mine were snazzy hand held.

This one was F3.2 at 1/30sec handheld. Probably could go much sharper if I was willing to set up the tripod or base.

4469341423_17557d6dce.jpg

This one was F2.8 at 1sec handheld resting against body lens on desk.

4457253577_cf69f0fa3e.jpg

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