Greater than 1:1 macro techniques?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by beth_johansson, Jan 24, 2008.

  1. I just got a reversing ring to use with my 20mm f2.8 lens. I'm going to get a
    focusing rail for the tripod but I've read a few posts from people who shoot
    hand held. What's the technique to get a sharp shot? Small aperture and flash?
    Move in slowly while firing off at 5fps? Do you use some crazy bracket for
    flash? It seems like you'll be so close that you will block the flash. I'd
    appreciate any other techniques or good links.
  2. I'm sure you're going to get a lot of good suggestions from this site.

    Mine is for you to get a copy of John Shaw's Closeups in Nature.
    This is a clear exposition of most of the things you can do
    (or might do) to get good macro pics, and how you go about doing it.

    It's really more about guidelines and, common sense than "laws".
  3. Macro lens, extension tubes, and/or bellows. Tripod, flash, wind break, reflector,
    background .
  4. "Move in slowly while firing off at 5fps?" - that is something that perhaps should not be recommended for macro photography at 1:1, but you may get lucky.

    Rather, focus carefully, lockup mirror, and take a picture. Verify and re-adjust if not good.

    20 mm at reverse may not have sufficient focusing distance to use flash on the camera. Nikon micro/macro flash system allows proper light direction and distribution. Use of cords and SB800/600 flashes is another option. You need to try what works best for you.
  5. To clarify, when I use my 55 and 105mm macros I am on a tripod 80% of the time and hand held the other 20% when I'm chasing an insect or something like that where I can't be stationary on a tripod. I use flash about 20% of the time.

    For tripod work I have a RRS ballhead and use one of the rails as a focusing rail but it is just slide then lock the camera. For the 20 reversed I think I need a rail with knobs that allow fine tuning?

    But I'm just astounded when I see insect shots that say "reversed lens hand held."
  6. The technique for a sharp image, especially for macro, starts with a rigid platform and accurate focus. Turn off AF and use mf. You need a tripod, then mirror lock up, or self timer or cable rlease. To increase magnification, add extension tubes, teleconverters or both, all the time keeping the platform rigid. For less than 1:1, you might be able to get by with a monopod, but I doubt if you will get consistently good results w/o a tripod. I try and use ambient light as my main light so the light looks as natural as possible even when using flash as fill light. 5fps? Forget it. I gave up on using lenses on my reversing rings in the field as too unworkable. The lens was inches away from the subject. I have never taken a macro shot with any of my three Nikon macro lenses hand held. Joe Smith
  7. You're right about blocking the flash's illumination at extremely close shooting distances,
    on-camera flash is not going to work at close distances. You should look into one of the
    various flash brackets or arms available. You could also try using an off-camera, hand-
    held flash with one of the Nikon SC cords. I've done that when shooting close-ups
    handheld out in the gets a little tiring, holding the camera in one hand, the flash
    in the other and crouching and crawling around, but it's fast and flexible.

    John Shaw's book is quite good and it gives a lot of useful setup advice for extreme close-
    up work out in the field.
  8. [​IMG]
    Zeiss Luminar 40mm, D40x, ~5X, Flash
    Click for larger
    Dedicated macro lens, flash and good support. I do not like lenses with large working distances for macros. The 40mm lens used here has a WD of 4 cm. Good enough for flashing.
    See also here
    It does not matter what others say (hand-held, no flash, reversed lens, whatever..). What matters is what works for you! Just work out what is suitable for you and use it.
  9. umd


    Nikon AF 50/1.8 reversed on AF 105/2.8 Micro Nikkor, one SB-600 and one SB-800.
  10. It depends how far beyond 1:1 you're going to go. Close to 1:1 you might just get lucky enough to shoot hand held with plenty of light (off camera flash). Close to 2:1 you will be very frustrated as most of the pictures will be hit or miss without some fine focus tuning device, good ball head.

    Nikon makes a focusing rail that has fine tuning which is critical in what you are trying to accomplish. The focusing rail works ok with the digital bodies, but it was designed for smaller, manual bodies. Your ballhead will have to be rigid enough to support the camera, the lenses and the focusing rail on top of this. This and off-camera flash(es) should get you started. If you want some additional assitance, a right angle viewer will help you to magnify the image as well as work in "unusual" camera positions where the viewfinder could be hard to use.

    I second the recommendation for John Shaw's book -- it is a great resource to get started on this challenging aspect of photography.
  11. I use a 70-300ED with a 6T diopter for 0.87:1 macro. Works pretty well, though not as good as a dedicated macro with reverser or a 1-5x macro would.
  12. With RRs of greater than 1:1 the most critical distance is the lens to subject. If you are using a focussing rail (good idea), see if you can attach a flex clamp to the front of it that will in turn grasp the item being photographed. This makes for a very stable configuration.
  13. Whatever you do, remember something John Shaw says a number of times in his book
    about close-ups: keep the subject parallel to the film plane. And keep in mind that DOF
    gets shallower as you get closer, and therefore you may need to close your lens all the
    way to f22 to ensure and decent DOF.

    All the suggestions about flash are on the dot, but keep in mind that TTL flash is the best
    thing here. However, be aware that on-camera flashes get blocked by the lens itself, so
    the idea of buying a bracket and positioning the flash above your subject (while using a
    flash diffuser) makes sense.

    What do you intend to do? Flowers? Insects? Small objects?

Share This Page