Seeing things differently since 1894

Macro Photography – Attempt 1

By on Jul 21, 2020

I treated myself to a new macro lens last week. After doing a bit of research I decided to buy the Laowa 2:1 100mm f/2.8. They also do a 5:1 and you may have seen those funny looking ‘probe lenses’ that they do.

Anyhoo, here are a few shots I got over the weekend:

These are the shots, straight out of the camera. I don’t think they’re too bad for a first go. Annoyingly, I only noticed the dust specs around the outside of the pictures when I got them back on the computer. This is a disadvantage of using a mirrorless camera – the sensor is exposed to the elements when changing the lens.

With macro photography, getting the right balance between shutter speed aperture and ISO is even more pronounced than normal. I have been thinking of getting a ring flash – is this a good idea? What is the best way to light bugs for macro photography?

    9 Comments

  1. Some good first attempts there Daniel ~ realistic colours and interesting angles.
    With the limited depth of focus with such a lens, it is difficult to judge which part of the image to select as being sharp.
    I’m sure you will get further messages relating to macro shots of bugs and suchlike.
    I find the worst thing is, the smaller the item is, the more you notice the movement caused by even the slightest breeze when shooting it situ ~ imperceptible on the back of the camera, totally obvious and disheartening on the computer screen. mini beast shoot. 🙂

    Looking forwards to your next

    Jo Humberstone Jo Humberstone

    22/07/2020

    • Thanks Jo 🙂 It is very disheartening. My current method is to take a burst of 10 pictures and hope that one of them is in focus where I want it to be. Of course, if I get different areas of the bug in focus, I can then focus stack afterwards; but even that is tricky when the bug is moving and the DOF seems to be half a millimetre at f/11 😛

      Daniel Firth Daniel Firth

      22/07/2020

  2. Hi Dan

    It good to see your first Macro attempt with a good and varied selection of subjects, I think the lens you’ve bought is well thought of in the world of Macro. There are a good few people on the internet using it and singing its praises.
    If I may offer one piece of advise it would be to stick to the 1:1 magnification ratio until you familiarise yourself with the complexities of close up work. The higher the magnification the the harder it gets.
    Look for Stewart Woods on Youtube he uses the same lens as you and has some good content for those stating out. Good look we look forward to seeing more.

    Avatar john Dadley

    22/07/2020

    • Cheers John. I’ve checked out a fee of his videos and they’re really good!

      Daniel Firth Daniel Firth

      23/07/2020

  3. Hi Daniel. Some great shots. I find macro really hard to get right although well worth trying. Did you take these hand held? I was advised to use a mono pod rather than a tripod. You have a bit more flexible movement. Contrary to what you think you have to use a small aperture, something like f16 in an attempt to get maximum DOF.

    Mike Stringer Mike Stringer

    29/07/2020

  4. Hi Daniel. Some great shots. I find macro really hard to get right although well worth trying. Did you take these hand held? I was advised to use a mono pod rather than a tripod. You have a bit more flexible movement. Contrary to what you think you have to use a small aperture, something like f16 in an attempt to get maximum DOF.

    Mike Stringer Mike Stringer

    29/07/2020

    • Thanks Mike. These are all hand-held. I have a monopod and it is useful for reducing camera-shake but in practice, by the time I extend it to the right length; the bug has buggered off! I’ve found crouching down and resting the lens barrel on my knee an effective way reduce shake.

      DOF is a challenge with macro photography, even when using small apertures – the short distance between the camera and the subject means a very shallow DOF. The wasp photo, for example, was taken at f/16. The eye is in focus but its wing isn’t.

      Daniel Firth Daniel Firth

      30/07/2020

  5. Hi Daniel. Macro is a truly difficult genre of photography to grasp, there are many things to think of such as how much of the subject to have in focus to how big in the frame to worrying about the background, all of these things to keep in mind while you compose the shot.
    The subjects i like to shoot are very rarely static so flash is a necessary, that needs to be diffused as most bugs have metallic like carapaces, all in all not the easiest subject to master and we would all like to feel we are improving, despite the very low hit rate.
    i have been looking at the lens you have bought also, the 2x magnification is drawing me. I have looked at Canons offering the MPE 60mm but not only is it expensive but its a big ol lens. i have canned it for now as other things are afoot.
    You have made an investment in Macro photography now and i am sure it will pay dividends in the future, i look forward to seeing some award winners in the future mate.

    PS i have been doing a lot of Macro myself these last few weeks, i will put some on the website. cheers Dan.

    john Thorndike john Thorndike

    02/08/2020

    • I bought a Neewer ring flash which is pretty good considering it was only 20 quid: it works as a flash or a continuos light and it has a diffuser attachment that goes on it. I do feel though, that I’d probably get nicer, softer light if I was using a flashgun with one of those elasticated diffusers that go over the lens barrel. Which method do you use?

      If you’re considering the Laowa lens be sure to check the prices on the UK and International website. I found the international website was £100 cheaper! Though of course, you do have to wait a while for it to get from Hong-Kong. Also there is a 2:1 65mm which you might want to consider.

      The Pros: It has a physical aperture ring with a nice ‘clickiness’ at each stop stops (an under-rated feature IMO). APO. The images seem really sharp. The focus ring has a long rotation between the minimum focus distance and infinity so it’s quite easy to accurately manually focus, especially with peaking on (I’m sure there’s a better way of wording that). The 2:1 magnification! Doubles up nicely as a portrait lens.

      The Cons: No electric contacts, so you’ll never know what aperture you used from the exif data unless you remember (though do check this for canon mounts). Manual focus only (so probably wouldn’t use it a portrait lens). The minimum aperture is f/22.

      Overall, I like it. Like you say there is a low hit rate and that’s discouraging at first but I’m finding after a bit of practice, I’m getting one or two more ‘keepers’ per thousand shots! 😛

      Daniel Firth Daniel Firth

      03/08/2020

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