TPF Noob!
Jun 16, 2006
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I'm new to both the forum and photography and I have a huge fascination with insects and I would love to combine the two hobbies :hug:: .
I'm on a limmited budget of -£100, So I would guess I'm looking at a manual SLR with DOF preview with a 50 or 100mm lens whith a Extension tube :confused: .
I have very limmited knowledge when it comes to buying Photography gear, I would be most grateful if you could recommend me a camera and suitible lens along with a estimate of how much one should pay.

Assumption: you wish to photograph insect specimens which you can mount on a background.

My suggestion would be any of the older 35mm manual SLR's [Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Konica, Olympus, Minolta, etc.] with a 50 or 55mm lens and either a bellows or a set of extention tubes and a lens-reversing adapter. You can rig some sort of camera support. Add to that a cable release and exposure meter and you're in business. The only problem is that you will probably go over your budget by a bit.

Be aware that exposures for extreme close-ups will be different from that indicated by the meter. You can find tables for correction [They're usually included with extension tube sets] or you can bracket at 1, 2 and 3 stops over until you have experience with your particular set-up.

Final thought: If you are going to set up a standard rig for photographing specimens, you can do away with the need for an exposure meter. Just keep your lighting the same and shoot a test roll for several stops around a 'best guess.' You can then work out a standardized exposure, corrected as needed for the particular extention used in a given shot.
From having recently spent a lot of time with bellows cameras, and having used tubes and secondarly lenses, I would tell you this...

If you can find a close up bellows buy it. You will be much happier with that than the tubes or lenses. With a bellows you can frame and adjust your camera with infinite variety not be dictated to by the tube or glass on front of the camera.

As a matter of fact, if I did not have a camera, I would look for the bellows first, then buy the appropiate camera body to work with it. Just one more humble opinion..
Another option that isn't too expensive is to buy a set of close-up lenses, which mount on the front of your lens just like a filter. They have some distortion, and I've noticed a bit of chromatic aberration, mainly with the cheaper models, but overall, I've been quite satisfied with them. I do very little close-up work, however, so your requirements are obviously different from mine. Still, it might be worth a look, as a set of them isn't terribly expensive.

They allow the lens to focus more closely than it would be able to otherwise, at the expense of being unable to focus at infinity (or anywhere near it). They're stackable, as well. If you use flash, you'll probably have to run a test for the correct exposure, as I'm not sure how they affect the effective aperture. Also, you'll want to use an off-camera flash. You can also expect some vignetting if you stack them. Depth of field is considerably shortened, as well: I've taken a picture of a coin from directly above, laying on top of a mouse pad. With the coin surface in focus, the weave of the mousepad's surface was noticeably out of focus. Using small apertures and longer shutter speeds (and a tripod, or flash) helps with this.
and if you are really really poor like me, try a pair of dollar store reading glasses pop out the lens and use it in front of your normal lens. Works really well considering it doesnt say camera gear on it. I looked at the pic so you want the leaf in focus but not the insect. For that the above idea would work peachy keen

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