Got my Macro Lens, now what?!?!

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by smackitsakic, Jun 14, 2010.

  1. smackitsakic

    smackitsakic TPF Noob!

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    I am extremely excited about my new Sigma 50mm F2.8 DG Macro lens arriving today. Out of the box and onto the camera, I quickly found myself eager to start shooting. The lens is used and didn't come with a user guide, though it seems fairly straight forward.

    What are some tips and hints to shooting good quality macro shots?

    I quickly understood the simplicity of shooting in direct sunlight with a faster shutter speed. I also see the need for a small tri-pod for the shots on the ground (insects, flowers, etc.)

    For a complete beginner to macro photography, what can you share with me to make me better at perfecting this delicate craft?
     
  2. dak1b

    dak1b TPF Noob!

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    congratz on ur new macro lens. My canon 100mm macro lens is def my faovrite lenS!!!! macro photography is awesome! you really get to view a new perspective that people aren't use to cing..I would highly suggest you get a cable release cord so you don't get any camera shake. and of course a descent tripod.

    good luck on ur new lens!

    post pics when you get a chance. I love to c em!
     
  3. SoulfulRecover

    SoulfulRecover No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Congrats on the lens! I miss having a macro in my setup but that wasnt my choice to see it go.

    A nice tripod and patience goes along way. Ive never used a cable release when shooting macro but it would have been nice on more than one occasion

    also make sure you post up some pictures!
     
  4. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    One tip that should help a lot:

    Macro lenses don't usually have the best AF - and due to the nature of shooting macro, AF isn't always that useful anyway...

    One thing a lot of people do is switch it to manual focus and focus by moving the camera. They make focusing rails for just that, if you need a high level of precision...
    focusing rails

    If you're shooting hand-held, you can just rock on your feet a little. Just move back and forth a little till the sharpest focus is where you want it.

    If you're trying to focus stack (combining multiple images with different points of focus for greater DOF), you will have to do it this way. If you turn the focus ring, the magnification will change. The reproduction ratio should be marked on the distance scale on the lens...

    You'll have the regular marks in feet & meters, and above that there should be something like 1:1, 1:1.5, 1:2, 1:3, etc...

    edit
    Just did a search for that lens - it doesn't look like it has the reproduction ration markings... 1:1 will be at the closest focus.
    The limiter switch is for the AF ... in the 'Limit' position, it will only AF in the close end of the focus range.
    (It may still focus throughout the entire range, but it will focus faster if you set it to the appropriate position.)
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2010
  5. Robin Usagani

    Robin Usagani Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Now what? Send it to me LOL.. I wish I had one :(. Have fun with that!
     
  6. burstintoflame81

    burstintoflame81 TPF Noob!

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    I use my canon 50mm f/1.4 with extension tubes a lot for macro. I usually use a handheld flash with wireless trigger on it. I shoot with my right hand and hold the flash with my left. Not the most ideal, but handy when wanting to shoot macros on a walk without lugging a bunch of gear and wasting a bunch of time. This also allows me to stop down the lens for DOF with the flash providing enough light. sometimes for really low shots of flowers and such, I will just hold the camera blindly for a few shots. I almost always end up with a keeper and sometimes am surprised at some shots that end up framed different than planned, but look great. You just have to get a feel for the minimum focus distance for your lens when trying this method. Other than that, use the mirror lock up, a tripod, and cable release. Also LiveView tends to help too.
     
  7. dxqcanada

    dxqcanada Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    You will find yourself using small apertures after a while ... when you start shooting very close objects the depth of field is something you will be playing with.

    I use a tripod (than can go very low) with my macro ... as I tend to use f8 to 22 most of the time.
     
  8. burstintoflame81

    burstintoflame81 TPF Noob!

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    The problem with long exposures is that unless it is a controlled environment, things tend to move. Especially if you are shooting outdoors. Thats why I like to use the flash. It keeps movement down. Although if you aren't careful with how you control and modify the flash, you can end up with harsh light and shadows. However, the long exposure is a great method if you cannot use flash, or if you know the subject is not going to move at all.

    I got a new Vanguard Alta Pro tripod with a ball head which is great for macro work. ( other than not having a macro rail if you find a need for that ). Vanguard | Alta Pro 263 AT Aluminum Alloy Tripod | ALTA PRO
     
  9. smackitsakic

    smackitsakic TPF Noob!

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    Here are some initial pictures with my 'new-to-me' macro lens.

    I realize that these may not be the most compelling exposures, nor do they follow any particular framing rules, I was just excited and wanted to snap away to experiment.

    Sorry for the boring-ness of these!! Not really looking for critique as I know these are nothing special, but if you have anything to add to improve upon what little 'correct' things are in these pictures that would be great! I'll try to take some better exposures in the future and post them up!

    1- 1/100 shutter speed, F14, ISO 100 (outdoors, direct sunlight)
    [​IMG]

    2 - 30 second shutter speed, F14, ISO 100 (indoors, sunlight coming form window)
    [​IMG]

    3 - 30 second shutter speed, F22, ISO 100 (indoors, sunlight coming from window)...this is the second picture I took with this lens...
    [​IMG]

    4 - 1/100 shutter spped, F14, ISO 100 (outdoors, direct sunlight)
    [​IMG]
     
  10. KvnO

    KvnO TPF Noob!

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    +1 on the flash. Especially when shooting critters.

    Someone around here used to get great shots with a camera mounted flash plus a Lumiquest Softbox.
     
  11. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    My advice is to compare your f22 shot (pencil ) with the other shots you took with wider apertures (smaller f numbers). Even at websize we can see that this shot is looking softer than the others but what is the reason for this? It shouldn't be motion shakde because you've a totally static subject and at a 30sec exposure I assume a good steady tripod or support under the camera. So nothing is moving to cause blur.

    The answer is diffraction which is an optical problem and is the result of lens and camera body giving you a softer image as you continue to stop down the aperture. As a general rule of thumb (it varies from lens to lens and camera body to camera body) most lenses get sharper from wide open (smallest f number) to arond f8. Thereafter they will start to give softer reults. Generally up to f13 you are still able to get good sharp and usable results from most lenses and sometimes can even get away with f16 on a crop sensor camera body (fullframe camera bodies can go to f16 like a crop can to f13). After that point however the sharpness dropoff increases a lot - by f22 you are already seeing softness and going any smaller it becomes quite damaging.

    So smaller apertures give you that depth of field you want, but also can rob you of overall sharpness, no matter how well you take the shot. My advice is to play around and se for yourself (with a single subject) what the different apertures look like and where the photo becomes too soft for your personal taste.
     
  12. smackitsakic

    smackitsakic TPF Noob!

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    Thanks, Overread, that is very helpful. I assumed that my focus was just a bit off on the pencil shot, but wondered about that because of the low low aperture value.

    If I want to go take some macro shots of insects, what's the best way for me to do that later this afternoon? Try to get as fast of a shutter speed as possible and manually focus on the subject? I would predict that most of the insect shots will be moving targets, which AF will likely be too slow for?
     

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