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Need Help with Macro Shots..

Discussion in 'Macro, Flowers, Insects, and Greenery' started by mrtac2man, Aug 7, 2005.

  1. mrtac2man


    Jun 3, 2005
    Just got my macro lens.. finding this a lot harder then normal close up photography with my other lenses.... need to know what kind of f stop is needed to get some good DOF.. can get the focus point in good focus but nothing beyond that.... also realizing its more of less a tripod mounted for good clear photos... but hard to get tripod into some places... any ideas or suggestions would be great help

    Thanks in advance
    Kit lens
    Sigma's 70-200 and 105 macro
  2. Well, I'm not the expert, and there are some really fine macro photographers on this site, but I do own the 105 micro lens.

    Macro photography does take more discipline as you have noted. Two key tools are a tripod and a flash, as you will frequently be taking shots at f/16 and smaller apertures.

    I would suggest that you set you camera on a tripod and photograph a flower at f/8, f/16, f/22, f/32 and f/45. Review each photo for DOF and acuity, as you will lose critical sharpness at smaller f-stops due to diffraction in the lens. This series should help you calibrate your brain and give you an idea of what to shoot under different conditions.

    Another tip - when you are close to the subject the lens will block the small on-board flash on the D70. Get in the habit of carrying some tin foil with you. If it is crinkled all the better. Use the tin foil to bounce the flash onto the subject, adding a diffuse light. You really need lots of light when shooting at f/22. If you want to have some fun try the gold colored foil.

    Regarding the tripod access issue you have two solutions that I know about: 1) get a macro rail to mount on your tripod head or 2) get a new tripod like the gitzo explorer that has a tripod extension that can point in many directions.
  3. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005

    First, I highly recommend using a tripod whenever possible. Even at very high apertures, the DOF on macro shots in measured in thousandths of an inch. I certainly can't hold my set-up steady enough to get decent shots without one. As to the correct aperture, that is something we all struggle with. I try to shoot at f18 or higher, and I still end up with a very shallow DOF. I often shoot at f22 or even higher.

    This tends to give very slow shutter speeds (you really need a tripod now), but this can be offset substantially by using fill flash. I went to the local botanical gardens this past week, and shot some butterflies with the Tamron 180. I used the SB-800 (you have the built-in flash which is good, but not quite as powerful), and shot at 1/250th at f22, and got very decent exposures.

    My flash set-up is relatively primitive when compared to some folks here. Martin (kramp) has a custom-built bracket that allow use of two (or more) flashes, offset from the top of the camera, and he gets outstanding results.

    I'm a real noob when it comes to macro shooting also, but I have a month or so head start on you. I pay real close attention to the set-ups and settings used by the macro experts here. It has definitely helped get me up to speed. Hope this helps you some. :wink:
  4. Rory has give you some excellent tips. If you want to spend a few bucks Really Right Stuff makes an excellent bracket to get the flash up and off the camera. It works great for macro photography. Many times I just use the little pull up white card on my SB800 and it gives me enough light without making it look too "flashy." Remember, the smaller the lens opening (f16, f22, f32) the more it increases the DOF. Conversely the more light is required to get an acceptable exposure.

    Macro photogaphy cries out for a tripod to get sharpness in your images. I use manual focus when doing macro photography and rock the focus ring back and forth to determine where the focus is. Like Rory, I too have the Nikon 105mm micro lens.
  5. This depth of field chart will give you an idea of the dof you are working with, when you start getting over f16 you will lose sharpness to diffraction like Rory says so it is a compromise.

    If shooting hand held crank down the apperture so you have a better chance of getting the focus point in the right spot. Flash is also needed for hand held to get the smaller appertures. I will go down to f32 depending on how well braced I am, Kneeling down is better than standing and sitting bracing your elbows on your knees or laying down with the elbows on the ground all work will, standing and bent over is the worst you amount of keepers will be very low.

    When using a tripod you have more presices focusing so f11-f16 becomes more practicle, flash will still be needed if the subjects are moving or there is wind.

    I find a Right Angle Finder with magnification helps greatly with focusing, the D70 viewfinder isn't good enough on its own to tell where the exact focus point is with my eyes and thick glasses.

    Being in focus is mostly an illusion in macro you try to get the eyes in creatures in focus and parallel the subject as best as you can.

    Another technique is take multiple shots and combine them later ps for an increased dof, this works but takes a lot more time in pp.

    For natural light macro Klaus L is the master, it takes very good technique and the right conditions, but the results are outstanding

  6. Tim,

    I'm no expert either, but I would echo what other have already said. I always use a tripod when at all possible. I don't have a flash setup yet so all my macro stuff is at pretty slow shutter speeds. I focus on the most important part of the image and stop down to a range of f8 - f16 depending on the effect I'm looking for. I don't usually go past f16, the 105mm Nikkor Micro starts getting a little soft from f22 and up. At least mine does. Hope this helps.
  7. mrtac2man


    Jun 3, 2005
    Thanks to all for the help....will keep shooting and getting better i am sure...love this hobby and the fun of learning..figure if i can get 1 out of 10 that are keepers right now i am doing ok.....

    Thanks again
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