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Cheap, effective macro lighting setup

Discussion in 'Macro, Flowers, Insects, and Greenery' started by Duncan C, Jun 30, 2008.

  1. I've been searching for a long time for the ideal lighting for shooting handheld macros of insects.

    I've now found something that comes pretty close. I found a pop-up diffuser on ebay that attaches to the front of your lens. I bought one, and found that it didn't stay on my lens very well. Off to the workshop, to attach a wide rubber band to the hole in the diffuser. Now it fits snugly and securely. on the end of my lens.

    Here is a link to the Ebay auction where i bought it. The shipping is a rip-off at nearly $10 US, but the price was $0.99, and it was worth $11 to me.

    Anyway, this diffuser gives very nice light. It's soft and directional, and casts very soft shadows, and creates nicely feathered highlights. It beats the pants off my Sigma macro flash, which costs several hundred dollars, and is a lot simpler to use.

    And here are several images I shot using this setup:

    Ants Tete-a-tete
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    Slug love
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    Bee profile
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    Bee extreme closeup:
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    Shot with my D200 plus a Nikon SB-800 fired into my new pop-up diffuser.

    c/c welcome.

  2. Those are some super pics, I would be very happy if they were mine. What lens and tubes are you using? As for the flash diffuser, I have a similar arraignment made from milk jugs.
  3. Tom,

    Those shots were taken with just my Tamron 90 mm 1:1 macro. I had it at closest focus, so they are at 1:1. I recently got a set of Kenko tubes that I've used some, but I find getting good focus REALLY hard handheld beyond 1:1, especially for moving subjects like bees and ants.

    I've used a milk jug diffuser too, but I like the quality of light better with the pop-up diffuser, and it also folds up and fits in my camera bag, where the milk jug diffuser does not.

  4. Well these are great pics, so i guess these are cropped? The image is so good, they look 2 or 3x. I have this wonderful little diffuser a friend sent me from Australia, it does not have a name on it but it is the only one I can keep up with, fits inside the 800 pouch.
    Have you tried trap shooting with the tubes?
  5. Tom,

    Some of them are cropped, yes.

    Lets see:

    The one of the ants is cropped, then downsampled from around 1700 pixels wide t. 1200 pixels wide.

    The slug picture is full frame. The bee profile is only a very slight crop. The bee face closeup is a moderate crop. Here's what that one looks like as a 100% crop:

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    And here's my favorite image from this series, shot yesterday. I think it's my favorite shot so far this year, actually:

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    (Click that image to see it in a larger version on my pbase site, with EXIF data.)

    That last one is just about full frame. I cropped it to make it fit 8x10, but it's a huge image. I printed it at 8x10, and that doesn't quite do it justice. At 8x10 you can't see the facets in it's eyes very well for some reason.
  6. Duncan, that last shot is awesome! I am relatively new to photography and very new to macro, but I love it...have just ordered my first macro lense. The bee on the flower really pops, as a friend of mine says.
  7. Jeff Lee

    Jeff Lee

    May 16, 2006
    Nice series....
  8. Fantastic shots!

    I don't have any flash except what came on the camera (you know, that little annoying pop -up deal), but I've used a plain piece of paper folded so that it sticks up in front of my little popup and it give a really nice soft light. It works pretty much like the diffuser you pictured from ebay.
  9. raian,

    The pop-up diffuser works pretty well with the built-in flash on my camera as well. It runs out of power sometimes, though. (I tend to use really small apertures like f/22, which takes a lot of flash power.) I use my SB-800 so I have enough power.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 2, 2008
  10. Wow, awesome, intimate shots.
  11. Thanks!
    Duncan after reading both your post, you inspired me to try and handhold my 70/200 and 62mm of tubes. I went out on the front porch tonight and got this. While this is not the greastest pic, it does represent the spirit of the Cafe, to share and learn. I honestly did not think I could hold the rig still enough. Thanks for the motivation.

    The spyder nab the moth as I was watching.
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    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 2, 2008
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