First day with MP-E65


No longer a newbie, moving up!
Apr 25, 2012
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Western Pennsylvania
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To say the DOF with the MP-E65 is razor thin is an understatement! Here's a few I shot this morning with the new lens and MT-24EX flash. Would have done more, but this is all I could find (not too many bugs out and about in western PA this morning).

1. An ant on my birch tree. Shot at 2x and cropped.


2. A caterpillar on the same tree. Shot at around 2x and cropped.


3. Same worm again.


4. A moth on the same tree. 3x and cropped.


5. A seed pod from the birch tree, 1x, cropped.


It's clear this is going to take some serious practice and forearms like Popeye's. This lens is heavy and with the flash on it's beastly to hold!
Looks like you had a great first time with the lens - like the moth shot!

It is certainly a monster of a lens to get used to using; one of the hardest just to use! Take your time and practice and it will get easier slowly. One thing you might want to do is investigate for yourself the diffraction limit at each magnification. This is important to get a good understanding of because as the magnification increases your effective aperture is also increasing. This means that whilst your depth of field is getting thinner and thinner as you increase the magnification, your effective aperture is also getting smaller and smaller. This means that whilst at 1:1 you might use f13 or f16 - at 5:1 you might be at f5.6 or f4 as set on the camera. It's a dull thing to test, but set the camera on a tripod at a 45degree angle to a detailed flat surface (I used a coin in mine) and take shots at different apertures and magnifications and have a look at the shifts in sharpness.

You'll get an idea and a feel for what aperture you can get away with at what magnification before the diffraction softening gets too much for your tastes.
Thanks. I like the moth best too. I still need to read up more on using the flash. I switched over to auto mode to see what kind of settings it would pick compared to what I was doing in aperture priority and even though it was sunny and with the flash it was picking around f/4-f/5.6, 1/60 shutter. Maybe I don't understand the flash and flash sync, but I thought shutter would be 1/200th (sync speed) by default in ettl-II mode. The ant shot in particular shows some ghosting from movement because shutter wasn't fast enough.

A good tripod and focusing rails are definitely on the list (and some focus stacking software).
If you're shooting handheld macro let the flash be dominant.
It's also important to remember that the camera meter can only read ambient light; it can't read the light that the flash will add to the scene because its not there to be read; so you can have all the flash in the world and the built in camera meter will still think its got to work with only the ambient light

The way I shoot macro is:

1) camera in full manual mode - I tell it what settings to use.

2) 1/200sec shutter speed - ISO 100 - f13.

3) Leave the flash on automatic - however unless you're also using a diffusion setup you'll likely want to dial in a small amount of negative flash exposure compensation (otherwise it tends to fire a bit too strongly).

After that its all about experimenting. You can shift the flash into manual mode and because the distances of the flash to subject and the subject to camera (for a set magnification) will always be the same you can generally set the manual balance fairly close to what you need it to be for the shot with some experimentation.

If you have the time for a shot don't forget that you can balance the flash heads separately - a ratio of one stronger than the other can be used to give a shadow effect in the shot to add depth and contrast.

Note that the low ISO isn't always what you want. If you raise the ISO up you can increase the ambient light component of a shot - this can often let you bring into the shot more background lit elements that might otherwise be rendered black (underexposed) because the flash light won't reach them with enough power.

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