Nikon Micro / Macro for Copy Stand

Discussion in 'Macro' started by jefflandis, Jul 28, 2018.

  1. My objective is to get a copy stand to photograph my large collection of comic books (for ease 10.5x7in) for the comic product.

    I am not sure which stand yet, but for this size product, fixed to a stand (lighting a different subject) what lens should I get?

    I’ve seen the 60mm micro D and newer G recommend and also a 55 some version. My goal is to capture in the product all kinds of things older comics carry: creases, blemishes, corner tears, etc. I’ve found a scanner just does not capture this on a flatbed scanner at my specifications. Even at 600 dpi. Which takes way to long.

    Price is a factor but quality is a focus: including the overall intended use.

    Any other thoughts on a lens choice?

    I’ll have a workflow in place, setting comic, remote trigger for vibration, and all the settings manual to dial an exact replica image. Autofocus is probably needed, but don’t mind manual settings.

    I want something FX with my D800.

    Given your preference, please recommend if you can a good place to find one, with recommend spend.

  2. The 55mm Macro-Nikkor AI works very well. Inexpensive (used) so you can put your $$$ into the stand and lighting.
    DavidTriplett likes this.
  3. I wonder if you would not find it easier and even better to do this on a flatbed scanner. That way, you don't have to worry about the copystand bugaboo of even light, without reflections.
    Sandy Vongries likes this.
  4. Oh, yes. I’ve considered it and have done it until now. But flattening a comic does not show cover creases like a properly lighted more real world photo like a copy stand would. Including correct white balance to show yellowness on inside pages. There’s no way not to ruin a book laying an inside page on a flatbed.

    The other factor is the workflow. At least my scanner 600dpi takes at least 100 sec per side of book. If I have a copy stand set to all settings, I can have a better workflow, book by book. And my D800 is more like 720 dpi. If I need that. Being said I think a copy stand set up correctly would be faster and show real world condition. Not a flattened out rendition. Just my thoughts, not an expert.

    Copy stand would also allow me to do some figurine photography which I’d like to get info. :)
  5. If you are doing a "product" shot for on-line sales, then a copy stand and lights make sense. Then, the "flaws" in the approach have value.

    However, I think figurine photography is not particularly well-served by a copy stand, per se.

    A tripod, gooseneck lamps, perhaps a light tent, on a table top would work better, IMHO

    The general rule that something for all purposes will do any one of them poorly still holds.
  6. I would experiment with the lenses you already have to determine what focal lengths provide pleasing perspectives and the lens-to-subject distances required. Then I would select a lens and copy stand.
  7. Lens choice depends on ergonomics; so @timcox 's advice above is sound. - I don't shoot Nikon, so I do not know how your D800 can be operated without using the view finder. - If shooting it tethered via live view on a computer screen is an option, I'd recommend going for it. - AF might be sluggish but not getting up to bend over the VF seems worth coping with that. (Sorry if I am thinking for a guy much older than you feel, but such projects tend to take ages so why not prepare for that?)
    Any decent macro lens should do excellent copy work. If you can get a tall enough stand maybe ponder also the portrait length macros. - The Tokina 100mm has an excellent reputation.
    For that reason the flatter perspective of a longer lens might be appreciated.
    If you want to copy inside pages of books, figure a different solution than conventional copy stands out. the trick would be something that doesn't demand opening the book entirely. A 90 - 100° angle would be preferable. you could place the book on a tin plate and let the interesting half dangle down in front of your horizontal lens or rig up a "V" shaped support structure and shoot at an angle from above. Two cameras shooting 2 pages at once would be ideal but maybe 2 stands with QR system work well enough?
  8. +1 to the 55mm Micro-Nikkor. At 40+ years old, mine is still the sharpest, brightest lens in my bag. For copy stand work you'll want to manually focus, anyway. Jochen is correct regarding the "flatter" perspective of a longer lens. Shorter focal lengths tend to have more edge distortion, which is anathema to what you're trying to accomplish. A longer lens is, however, difficult to make work at normal copy stand distances. You can also use the macro to focus in on specific, unique details. There is another thread regarding copy stand options <HERE>.
  9. I just thought of something. To photograph something as large as a whole page of a comic book you do not need a macro lens. You probably already own at least one lens that would work very well.
  10. "...And my D800 is more like 720 dpi."

    - Let's clear a few things up.
    Firstly; digital image 'resolution' is measured in pixels per inch - PPI -not dots per inch - DPI. (DPI should only be used for half-tone images and printers.)

    Secondly; said pixels don't have any fixed size! They can be printed or displayed at any magnification.

    Thirdly, the D800 has a useable 'resolution' of 727ppi versus a choice of 600 or 1200 ppi for any decent flatbed scanner.

    At 600 ppi, a flatbed scanner will give a 24 megapixel image of a 10.125" by 6.625" comic book, or 96 megapixels(!) at 1200 ppi. The D800 can deliver a maximum of 35.5 megapixels from the same subject size. Any of those options is more than enough to resolve the individual ink dots that make up the printed image. Although there may be an issue with moire patterning with both the D800 and flatbed at 600 ppi.

    Whether the comic is pressed onto a flatbed platen, or flattened under glass to be camera-copied, I can't see any way of not flattening it if a reflection and distortion-free copy is to be made.

    Also, there's nearly always an issue with print through when copying thin pages. This is when print/images from the other side of the page shows through in the copy. The usual remedy is to back the page to be copied with a sheet of black card or paper - not white, as provided on most flatbed/photo copiers!
  11. Look up "Grazer Buchtisch" - Sorry, there is only a German Wikipedia article about it at hand. Maybe even click the link to Wolfenbütteler Buchspiegel Both are illustrated and hopefully Google translate will help.
    Professional tools of the trade are apparently called "book cradle" and partially equipped with scanning devices.
  12. I can understand the desire to photograph. Even if a scanner may give "better" results, it's a lot slower. I also have concerns when scanning books about damaging the spine. I scan a LOT, but I'm almost always either scanning film. When I do flats, they're almost always work related and get done on the Xerox multi-function at work-it's not great quality wise but it's good enough for archiving work documents(I don't need a receipt scanned at 600 ppi, or even worse a stack of 300 Scan-Tron cards-the latter I keep scans of as a cheating deterrent) plus the page feeder makes life easy.

    In any case, in your situation a manual focus 55mm Micro-Nikkor would be my personal choice. There are two main versions of this lens-an older 55mm f/3.5 that is either non-AI or AI(you need an AI or AI-converted one) and a 55mm f/2.8 AI-S. The latter is actually still cataloged new, but they are available on the used market.

    The AI-S lens is legendary, BUT I sold my copy and kept my f/3.5s(I have one in non-AI and one AI). In my own testing-and this mirrors the general opinion on the lens-is that it's superb(perhaps Nikon's best normal-ish lens) when used from infinity up to "close but not really Macro" magnifications. By contrast, in my opinion and experience, it starts showing its weakness when getting close to 1:2, and the f/3.5 is noticeably better by the time I get to 1:1(and continues to be superb beyond there). BTW, my testing for this was done on a D800, but people have been saying this since the film days. I THINK/suspect that one of the issues is that floating element in the f/2.8, something which corrects it well when it's mounted directly on the camera, but which kills it when you throw in extension tubes or bellows(I love my AF-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8, which makes extensive use of floating elements, but I only use it directly on the camera-fortunately it goes to 1:1).

    I think either 55mm would serve you fine, BUT you are working in the range where-in my experience-the AI-S excels. I'm too lazy to do the math, but with a document 10.5" on the long dimension you're going to be at 1:8 or lower.

    I normally like longer focal length macro lenses, but working on a copy stand changes thing and on film/full frame a "normalish" lens usually gives about the right working distance.

    BTW, if you shop for a used AI-s f/2.8, just be aware that they have a known issue with oily aperture blades. On an SLR, the blades need to "snap" closed pretty quickly for correct exposure, and oil CAN slow this down to the point where you get inconsistent exposure. This is a lens that-if I were buying another-I'd prefer to buy it in person and actually "play" with it to make sure it didn't have visible oil and wasn't sluggish. Of course, I'd be fine with a trusted seller, although this might be something that a place like KEH MIGHT not notice and you might end up going through a couple to find one.
    DavidTriplett likes this.

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