Macro Help (With Sample)

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Tee_bird, Sep 2, 2009.

  1. Tee_bird

    Tee_bird TPF Noob!

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    Hello everyone. I want to thank you all first, for being such a helpful community. In my first thread here, I asked for macro help, but didn't provide any examples. I'm here to do that now.

    [​IMG]

    There's a 100% crop from a picture I took just a couple of minutes ago. It's really, really noisy.. and was only taken with 400 ISO. (The ones I took with 100 and 200 weren't much cleaner). It also looks really soft, but I think I was focused okay.

    Mind you, this was handheld with no flash. (I'm definitely going to work on Rosemarie's suggestion. Link provided in my original thread by Overread.)

    What's something I can do to make this image more crisp and less grainy? Is that the limitation of my camera (Rebel XT)?

    PS: I used the Canon 100mm F/2.8 lens for this.
     
  2. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Juza Nature Photography
    scroll down - the second shot is with an XT (350D) and the canon 100mm macro is certianly on par with the canon 180mm macro in terms of image quality - so nope its not your kit that is lacking, its the lighting that your working with.

    So how is it done? Well you need more light. The 350D is not a wonder with ISO, though its decent enough, but if you after the fine details in a shot then your going to have to use your lowest ISO to get a shot.
    After that you need to make sure that your lighting is good so that your not having underexposed (dark) areas - if you look at the fly a lot of the shot is quite shaded and dark, and DSLR cameras can't being out as much detail in those areas - so you get again get a buildup of noise. (of course whilst also keeping your low aperture and handholdable shutter speed).

    One trick on a very still day, early in the morning is to find sleeping insects, use a tripod and then use a slower shutter speed. Of course you need no wind at all for this to work otherwise you will get motion blur - though if an insect is sleepy enough you can move them into an indoor studio, in the field many macro shooters will use claps and such to secure the subject so that it is as still as can be.
    You can also use reflectors to redirect lighting (either natural or manmade) onto the key areas of the subject. Again this method often benefits from a tripod shooting stance (it gives you a free hand to hold the reflector).

    Boost your lighting and you can then get your ISO down - letting you get that ultra fine detail

    edit - oh and stop cropping - get yourself properly close to the subject :) takes practice, especailly if the subject is warmed and mobile, try not to lean over and shade them (often sets them flying) It takes time and you will miss a lot of bugs as they fly/hop/crawl away if your shooting whilst they are active - this is perfectly normal.
    Other hints are to find feeding spots for the bugs - many insects have a very limited attention spane when they feed and will totally ignor most external interferance whilst they eat (bees can be likes this and wasps drunk on rotten fruit) though cabbage butterflies seem to just get even more hyper!
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2009
  3. Tee_bird

    Tee_bird TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for another well written post, Overread.

    I'm going to try and build that special flash... thing (lol) this weekend and mess around with it! The fly picture was taken in direct, bright sunlight... but it loses a lot of its brightness, it seems.
     
  4. Tee_bird

    Tee_bird TPF Noob!

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    That right there is the closest my lens will let me get to the insect. Maybe I should start modifying that too?
     
  5. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    hehe one step at a time ;)
    The wings are not badly lit, though they are suffering from being out of the depth of field range and (possibly) some shake. But the shadowed areas of the fly are where your getting the problem - so its not so much that there might not have been the light, but that you just didn't have it in the right place.
    Natural light macro shots are certainly possible, though it depends on your country and area - I see very little in the UK when compared to places like France and Italy - simply as they get more sun, less cloud and stiller wind conditions far more than we do - tripods are also an important consideration for this method

    I must admit I am not used to 1:1 shooting anymore, I have used a 1.4 Teleconveter on my sigma 150mm macro for a little bit more magnifaction (great in flysized things I find). But Canon's TCs won't fit on the 100mm macro so you have to look at 3rd party - sadly I don't know which sort will fit that lens. There are also some other options that you can consider, but like I said lets get the lighting right first (the more magnifcation you get though any method the more lighting you will need to light the scene).
     
  6. Tee_bird

    Tee_bird TPF Noob!

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    Here's another try with my camera flash. Still not looking too good...

    [​IMG]
    EDIT: Ew. That looks nasty. XD
     
  7. 512

    512 TPF Noob!

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    hi, the subjects seems to be quite out of focus and poor in sharpness. try a better camera setup for the sharpness and use the manual focus. results will be better ;)
     
  8. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I'm not 100% sure about the fly, but looking at the head of the insect there is a section of the nose which appears to be in focus (sharper than the surrounding) and there are hairs on the legs (underside of the body) which also appear to be in focus.
    The Spider shot is certainly in focus, you can see clearly on the wall in the top left a foreground section of blur, followed by a strip of infocus wall and then again back into out of focus - also one cansee that some of the legs and the main head area of the body are in focus when compared to the rest of the insect.

    So as far as I am concerned both shots are in focus - though what you might be referring to is the fact that there is not much of either in that plain of focus and this is perfectly normal for macro work. Both shots were taken at small apertures (f10) which is small, though personally I would push for f13 where possible - and the small depth of field is a part of macro work. The key is to get the right angle on the subject to maximise this limitation - to cover as much of the key areas as possible.

    Also as my linked showed earler the combo that TeeBird has should certainly be able to get a higher quality of shot (though of course better cameras are always nice to have).

    The lighting in the second though has left some massive shine on the subject, something which can be limited by effective use of a diffuser on the flash. Myself for the popup flash I used a few folds of white toilet paper held over the flash with the aid of an elastic band (making sure the band did not cover the front of the flash and thus give an odd colour cast). This should help to limit the harsh lighting effect of using the flash.

    I suspect also that the spider shot is taken inside rather than outside and thus lighting from natural sources is lesser than it would be outside
    We are still getting back to the lighting issue I feel - you need more. Try shooting some outdoors shots in some sunlight, whilst using your flash for supporting lighting (remembering to use the diffuser option).
     
  9. Tee_bird

    Tee_bird TPF Noob!

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    Your tips are amazing. Thank you so much!

    I've been looking at extension tubes and been trying to work on my lighting. For now, I can work with the flatness that camera flash gives me, and just read this post with the toilet paper suggestion. I'm going to try that when I get out next (hopefully tomorrow).

    Since I have no idea about extension tubes (without the price being a factor) which of these would benefit me the most?

    Canon | Extension Tube EF 25 II | 9199A001 | B&H Photo Video or Canon | 1.4x EF Extender II (Teleconverter) | 6845A004AA | B&H ? (Don't make fun of me.)

    I also managed to get out and take some pictures today that seemed to be okay. I used the flash outside. (ISO100, still grainy though.)

    [​IMG]

    (Sorry about all the fly photos. Their eyes are fascinating.)

    Thank you again for all the help!
     
  10. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    You actually have two different product types listed there - though canon don't make it easy since they call teleconverters, extenders (for some odd reason). The Extension tubes though are not worth their cost from canon - far better to get a set of Kenko AF extension tubes, you get 3 of them at differnet lengths and since they only add air to the setup the quality you get with them is exactly the same as you would with the canon. Make sure you get the AF versions though (if you do decide to go for them) since they have the electrical contacts which allow you to control your lenses aperture blades.

    The second product you have there is the canon 1.4 extender (or as everyone else calls them teleconverters). Its different in how it operates and has glass optics inside it as well, but notice that the lens sticks out from the front of it - that means it will only fit onto select canon lenses (their L range ones). So it won't fit onto your 100mm macro lens. There are 3rd party ones by sigma and kenko which have a very good optical quality to them, but check with an owner of them as to which will fit your 100mm lens.

    But still which is the better - its partly down to personal prefrence. The extension tubes work by reducing your lenses minimum focusing distance, thus letting you get close and thus a more increased magnification - however it comes at that cost of removing your infinity focus - limiting you to a few feet or even less of distance inwhich you can focus your lens (distance dependant on how much tube length you use and the focal length of the lens your using). The amount of magnifcation you get increased depends on the length of tubes you add and on the focal length of the lens - simply put the longer the lens in focal length the more tube length you need to increase magnifcation.
    Note that whilst tubes don't contain any glass the more you use of them the more you will get slight image degradation and lightloss (as you move the lens away from the optimum position for it)

    Now we come to the teleconverter (or extender as canon like to call) this works by increasing the lenses focal length (by a multiplication of the teleconverters factor - so 1.4 times for a 1.4 and 2 times for a 2*TC) which effectivly zooms the lens in closer. The bonus is that the focusing distances for the lens remain the same - both infinity focus and your minimum focusing distances. The cost is image quality though and light - the 1.4TC will take away 1 stop of light and a small amount of image quality - the 2* 2 stops of light and a noticable amount of image quality.

    Personally I prefer a 1.4TC - not too much light lost and image quality is hardly affected at all.



    Ok now for flies - and yeah insect eyes are amazing things - you wait till you get a look at dragonfly and moth/butterfly eyes! :).
    But flies are good testsubjects certainly. As for the ISOs, your noise in that shot looks ok to me and your not going to get noise any lower than ISO 100. Though exposure is key - if you get a good exposure over the whole shot the noise should be low - dark areas though will show more noise in general. But if you selectivly edit you can leave these areas darker and thus not show up their noise levels.

    Hope that rambling helps = any questions just ask
     
  11. Tee_bird

    Tee_bird TPF Noob!

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    Last edited: Sep 7, 2009
  12. Tee_bird

    Tee_bird TPF Noob!

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    Sorry for the double post, but is this the equivalent to the one you use? Just trying to get the right thing. lol
     

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