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Help me with a macro setup


robbie_caswell
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<p>I have pretty extensive experience shooting sports, weddings, and portraits. I've exited that area of interest to shoot things that interest me.</p>

<p>I'm started to build a cheap macro setup. Currently have I have a pair of Olympus OM1 bodies and a 50mm f/3.5 Macro.</p>

<p>Mostly I want to shoot B+W film but leave the digital options open down the road.</p>

<p>I've sold off the majority of my gear but have plenty of brackets, stands, tripods, and a couple of Sunpak flashes, and a light meter. Also, I picked up some Zuiko to Canon mounts that allow me some flexibility.</p>

<p>Is the 50mm a good focal length to start with? For mushrooms, flowers, and bugs should I go wider, longer? What is your lighting setup? Ringflsh? Multiple flash heads?</p>

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<p>While I'm not really familiar with the Olympus setup, and can't comment on forward compatibility, I can say that if you go digital, a 50mm would be <em>effectively</em> longer and of likely greater use for macro work. For things that move, however, longer macro focal lengths will let you stay farther away from nervous little critters.</p>

<p>You've already got the 50mm, so I wouldn't go longer until you have worked in macro enough to see what you may need.</p>

<p>I've been struggling with the lighting dilemma myself, but have reached no firm conclusion. I am beginning to think that ring lights may be of more use for scientific and dental work than for lots of ordinary macro applications. Some flash systems for macro do allow adjustment of the lights to allow more "modeling" than the normally <em>flat</em> light of the rings, per se. Although I am doing less macro work than I thought I would when I got the lens (a 90mm Tamron Macro); what I do, I have been doing so far with simple low-power floods (obviously in the "studio").</p>

<p>To somewhat change the topic, but since you mention shooting in B&W<br>

Since I am just returning to B&W processing after a decades long hiatus, I'm not the one to say this, but...<br>

You might want to consider shooting in color negative. If you do go digital, especially with scanning in the negatives, this will give you more options in converting to B&W than was ever imagined by B&W shooters with their collections of yellow and red filters, etc.<br>

This example isn't macro, but is just a quick-and-dirty example of Adjustments>Black & White in Photoshop.</p>

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<p>For all the subjects you mention, you probably want to go longer.</p>

<p>I do 90% of that kind of work with a 200mm Micro-Nikkor. Aside from giving you distance for skittish bugs, the longer lens also gives you better control of background. When you frame the subject the same size, a moderately distant background is 1/16 the area with the 200mm that it is with the 50mm.</p>

<p>JDM is quite correct, ringlights are about as boring as it's possible to get. Your two flashes, with brackets, are definitely a good start. I typically use two or three flashes with little (6 inch) home made diffusers. I sometimes use available light and 6, 9, or 12 inch square chunks of white matte board on fiberglass rods as reflectors. Black, blue, or green & brown matte board can be background...</p>

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<p>Look around for an old Tamron 90mm macro with OM adapta mount, Mine is YERY old and still works. There is a matching 2x flat field tele converter that goes to this also all works superb for old stuff. Also Olympus has many macro and micro lenses that were in their line that are very excellent, I used to have lot of OM gear but long sold, nice stuff. </p>
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