Focusing rail

Joined
May 5, 2005
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25,052
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SW Virginia
You can probably tell from this post that I've never used a rail. :eek:

This is my first experience. I had thought about getting one for quite a few years, but always resisted. My new 50mm Z-mount macro has lens focus marking for 1:2, 1:1.4, and 1:1 magnifications. You can manually set it to one of those ratios and use the focusing rail to obtain precise focus. That is what I'm experimenting with now.
 
Joined
Mar 22, 2008
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Closer examination reveals that this JJC rail is exactly like the Neewer that I got, but includes all the Arca-Swiss attachments you would need for over twice the price.



They both allow 160mm forward/backward travel, but the NiSi rail has more unused length at both ends.
It seems that since you had the necessary Arca-Swiss hardware the Neewer may be the one to use.
 
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I spent some time today doing a direct comparison of the two devices.

_D721550.jpg
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The Neewer rail on the left has a Z50 with FTZ and 40mm f/2.8 DX AFS micro lens, which is capable of 1:1. The NiSi rail on the right has mounted a Z6 with the new Nikkor Z 50mm f/2.8 MC micro.

I used both to try to get sharp close-up images of a tiny blossom on this plant:

_JZ66656.jpg
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With the Z6 and 50 MC I was able to get this one:

_JZ66653.jpg
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And with the Z50 and 40mm DX I got:

_Z506000.jpg
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The results look pretty much the same, but it was much easier to achieve with the Z6 on the NiSi rail. It feels very precise and solid, and one turn of the crank moves the camera a very small distance. The Neewer rail adjustments are more coarse, and worse, the camera and its holder tend to slide down the rail when you turn loose of the handle if it's in a slanted position like that shown. There is a lock screw, but you have to hold the camera in the precise position you want it with one hand on the adjustment screw while you tighten the lock screw. The NiSi rail also has a lock screw, but the camera position stays firmly fixed when you stop turning the rail screw.

So if I were just buying one, it would be the NiSi. I may keep the Neewer simply because the return shipping costs would eat up most of the refund.
 
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Sep 13, 2007
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After being fascinated by this thread, I was trying to figure out why I've never had an interest in using a rail. Then I finally realized that all of my macro photography is tabletop photography. In that situation, I move the subject rather than the camera to achieve the desired composition.
 
Joined
May 5, 2005
Messages
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Location
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After being fascinated by this thread, I was trying to figure out why I've never had an interest in using a rail. Then I finally realized that all of my macro photography is tabletop photography. In that situation, I move the subject rather than the camera to achieve the desired composition.

I admit that I may find it of limited usefulness.
 
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Jul 8, 2019
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SF Bay Area, California, USA
Ah, I see, the Neewer uses a "rack and pinion" adjustment mechanism and the NiSi uses a screw drive/worm gear. The screw drive inherently prevents drift, because motion cannot be transmitted backwards.
I normally do not shoot at a downward angle, so did not think of the drifting down issue.
 
Joined
May 5, 2005
Messages
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SW Virginia
Ah, I see, the Neewer uses a "rack and pinion" adjustment mechanism and the NiSi uses a screw drive/worm gear. The screw drive inherently prevents drift, because motion cannot be transmitted backwards.
I normally do not shoot at a downward angle, so did not think of the drifting down issue.

Yep, that's the difference.
 
Joined
Aug 18, 2011
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USA
I admit that I may find it of limited usefulness.
I bought a Minolta rail years ago. At the time it was regarded as one of the best bangs for the buck, and I got it used for a good price. It was well made and did what it was supposed to do, but after playing with it for a time it slowly slid into my seldom used gear collection. It's around here somewhere.
 
Joined
Jun 26, 2010
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4,696
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Redwood City, CA
For a focusing rail the Novoflex and the RRS are the best I've found and are indispensable for focus stacking (the old method). The RRS can rotate the Quick Release so I can use it with camera or lens mounted (necessary for the 200 macro with it's tripod collar). I've had both for years and they've earned their keep, albeit costly.

If all you're trying to do is make minor location adjustments, I'd just get an inexpensive rail and mount a Quick Release on it. I keep a couple around for easy adjustments.
 
Joined
Feb 12, 2006
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1,288
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England
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Leif
I’m pleased you kept the NiSi as it’s essentially the same as my Sunwayfoto rail. The only con is that there is some backlash in the screw drive, but apparently even the very expensive RRS rail has backlash. And it’s only an issue for really close up eg 1:1.
 

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