Do-it-yourself-1:1 120mm Macro (shots added via post)

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I was experimenting yesterday to find a way to combine elements from my "photojournalism kit" into a decent macro. Only way I was going to get a macro as I was completely out of space in the bag.

So here was my solution: the 85mm f/1.8 with a Kenko Pro 300 1.4x added, thus becoming a 120mm f/2.5 lens, combined with 56mm (36+20) of Kenko extension tubes. The result: a 1:1 (actually a bit better, I think) lens that is sharp wide open (although obviously shallow) and has good enough IQ to be acceptable. Here is my first venture into the garden.

1 Daddy Long Legs (handheld, f/5) Barely visible to the eye. As close as I could focus.
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2 Yellow Jacket? (handheld, f/5). That's a mint leaf he is on, for scale. As close as I could focus.
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3 Unknown Flower & Sidekick (handheld, f/11) Flower is between the size of a nickel and a quarter. This is as close as I could focus.
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4 unknown flower #2 (handheld, f/11) A little glare on this one, which is a weakness of the 1.8 lens. The flower cluster is about the size of two quarters laid top-to-bottom. In other words, two quarters fill the frame.
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**********************

I figured I was onto something late at night when I first tried the scheme, and all I had to test on was a dirty kitchen timer placed in the middle of a range and illuminated with a 40watt hood light:

5. Kitchen timer (handheld @ f/2.8)
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Not the greatest macro in the world, but it uses nothing but what is already in the bag.

Just in case others here might have a similar problem.
 
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Hey Harry, Great shot of the daddy long legs. I dont see them as much as I used to. Cool spiders . Iv used the 85 1.4 with P.K tubes and T.C 14b and had good results. The shallow depth of feild can be a creative advantage over the slower 105 F4 in my bag.

Greg
 
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Interesting experiment but, I agree with Nick - they are a bit blurry which surely defeats the object.
 
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another gem from Harry! I plan to order the tubes but I wasn't sure on the tc. Thank you.
Thanks, Danielle. Good luck.

Hey Harry, Great shot of the daddy long legs. I dont see them as much as I used to. Cool spiders . Iv used the 85 1.4 with P.K tubes and T.C 14b and had good results. The shallow depth of feild can be a creative advantage over the slower 105 F4 in my bag.
Glad you like the daddy, Greg. Come to think of it, I haven't seen one for a long time either.

As t depth of field, the extenders sure do narrow it down. I'm using f/11 for normal perspective...the f/5 here was right on the edge....I wouldn't have wanted to be narrower...although with a normal lens I'd be shooting f/2.2 or so.

Thanks for your comment...illustrating the field of view and depth of field with this combo was why I posted it.
 
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No offense or anything but they're all blurry.
Motion blur.....
Nick, I actually started to answer this earlier this morning but ran out of time as I had to shove off for an assignment.

I understand where you are coming from, since macros are normally shot on a tripod at low ISOs, and these are shot handheld (you did see that, did you not?). As I explained, this is a cobbled together macro for a photojournalism kit...not a dedicated macro rig. As such it is more likely to be used on the fly to just document details rather than as an excercise in brilliant macro photography. I've never seen (much less shot) any handheld macro shots that didn't have motion blur when compared to a tripod shot.

The reason I said that it was sharp enough and had adequate IQ was that I have taken shots using my regular macro under these conditions (handheld, with high SS/high iso) and the results are pretty similar. The purpose of the post was to show that you could make an "adequate" macro from these pieces in such a way as to provide some subject distance with adequate depth of field and adequate sharpness. In retrospect I should have made that much clearer up front.

Knowing how sharp both the 85 1.8 and the Kenko Pro 300 1.4x are, I am highly confident that when I finally get around to putting them on a tripod on a decent day the combo will prove quite sharp enough for photos to go in the macro gallery (although I fully expect it will not be the equal of a dedicated macro lens).

Sorry if I sound a bit defensive, but these photos were posted in Lens Lust for a specific purpose and reflected my excitement at passing along a find...they were not intended to be showcase macros, or they would have been put in the macro gallery.

Interesting experiment but, I agree with Nick - they are a bit blurry which surely defeats the object.
Counter, it depends IMO. It defeats the object if you want a showcase macro. It does not defeat the object if what you want to do is just show a yellow jacket up close, for example (a more typical photogournalistic goal). For example here is another hand held shot of a rusty nameplate on an iron fence taken with my regular macro lens on a recent tour.

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It is sharp enough to capture the essence of the closeup without rising to the quality level of a framed 13" x 19" macro print.

******************************

I can see the point you two are raising - that if you want to evaluate sharpness, you should do it under the best of conditions...good light, tripod, low ss and low iso. I should have, but did not, stop to consider that these pics would be evaluated by the same standards as had I hung them in the macro gallery.

I will try to take some more stringent shots tomorrow or this weekend to update this thread and we shall see how the combo stacks up. But in the field I do not expect to have a tripod with me...a monopod at best.
 
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As I promised, now that the sky's have lifted, I put this lens combo on a tripod and shot similar flowers to those in the main post. I'll let you conclude for yourselfs whether or not the combo is sufficiently sharp to serve as a makeshift conventional macro.

One thing is for sure; depth of field must be carefully considered even at f/16, as the too-forward oof stem on the purple flower shot reveals. It is possible there is a slight systemic back focus with this combo, but mostly it is just an extremenly narrow DOF. As a result, I am going to explore just using the 36mm tube by itself as a next step and when I get around to it, also checking the focus.

1/40, f/16 @ 120mm iso200. Again a reminder...this flower is the size of a nickel.
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1/40s f/16.0 at 120mm iso200. The winged fly at the top in reality is the size of a tick, and can hardily be seen by the naked eye.
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Thanks for looking, and for any comments you wish to offer pro or con.
 
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Harry, daddy long legs was great. I once found a similar one, brown in colour in my washroom. It seemed a great shot but the very look gives me the creeps, hence desisted.:smile:
 
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Very cool, makes me want to try using the 85 in this manner.
Thanks, Peter....go to it. Let us see the results.

The tripod shots are pretty good, Harry. It's fun to experiment a little, isn't it?
A great deal of fun, Tom. Unfortunately I had to wait until retirement to have the time to do so. Glad you like the pics.

Nice combo you came up with. The shots are all very good.
Appreciate that very much, Art. Thanks.

Harry, daddy long legs was great. I once found a similar one, brown in colour in my washroom. It seemed a great shot but the very look gives me the creeps, hence desisted.:smile:
Gurudutt....I react that way to really big, nasty looking spiders. Probably because as a kid I had a run-in with a tarantula while unpacking bananas at the local supermarket. This little guy I just stumbled across, and since I was looking for something to shoot with my newly-cobbled macro, I didn't stop to even think about it.
 
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I do this all the time, with my 80-200mm, here ya go.

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Good enough for me until I come up with the 5 or 6 hundred bucks for a real macro lens.
 
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I do this all the time, with my 80-200mm, here ya go.

<snip image>

Good enough for me until I come up with the 5 or 6 hundred bucks for a real macro lens.
Really nice image....I see that combo works well. I tired that as well, but where the lens is sharpest (short half of the range) mine tends to backfocus which makes it a bit hard.....what size spacer do you use, and which end of the 80-200's range, if I may ask.
 
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Thanks Harry. I used all 3 of my spacers. I dont know the size in MMs or inches. They are a cheap $12 set I got off ebay. I dont know how to figure out the reproduction ratio either:redface: But I do know that I shot that mantis at 200mm with my flash off camera. The mantis was only about an inch and a half long. Its a very hard set up to use as my tripod thinks its to heavy, I am in full manual and I have one touch with a loose zoom:biggrin: Hit my flicker link for a few more shots of the mantis. The water drops are with the same set up, minus the flash.
 
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You've got some nice shots there. The water droplets are excellent. I really dig the flying bee....and what the heck is that green thing / imitation leaf? Native to your neck of the woods?
 
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