Trying out Macro

huskI was trying out a new purchase today.  I can’t currently afford a macro lens, they cost about $600 here for a really good one and I just cannot justify that kind of expenditure when I have two sets of school fees, a uniform and two sets of stationery looming on the horizon. 

So, I’ve got poor person’s macro.  A set of stackable magnifying lenses that screw onto the front of my prime lens, like a uv or polarising filter.  They increase magnification by  1, 2, and 4 times and you can use them one at a time or stack them all together for the ultimate in magnification.  The cost is between$20- $50 on average at our local version of ebay called Trade Me, for a set but it very much depends on the circumference of your prime lens.  Mine is 52mm.  Here is an example on Amazon.

I found them a little frustrating to use at first, but it was my first time out and choosing to do try them out for the first time around sunset in my back garden was possibly not the brightest thing I’ve ever done.  Especially as we seem to be having a sandfly invasion and I was getting eaten, darn that humidity!

However, I think I got a credible result. 

The main thing to remember when using these stacked close up kits, is that you will need to find the correct distance manually, too close and it blurs, too far away and it blurs.  Move your camera slowly back and forth until it all becomes clear, literally. 

Once I figured out what to do to get the crystal clear image in the view finder I was away laughing.  With practice, I think I will have a better idea of where to start and get sharper images in a relatively short time.

I found they were initially sharp on my focus point but blurred fairly close out.  I soon realised the problem was my aperture, I had it wide open for the light so I could use a faster shutter speed.  Narrowing it down a couple of stops got me a sharper overall image.  I found shooting at 60 with f3.5 was giving me the best result given the time of day.

I sharpened the image in photoshop, used autocontrast et voila.  One very credible image of a discarded cicada skin.  Notice it’s discarded and therefore completely stationary.  In order to shoot bugs that move, I’m going to need a lot more practice but for now, I am happy.

There is a fair amount of detail in the shot, the sun behind me made for a nice dark background (I was shooting under the deck towards darkness) and I even got a catch light on the eye, thanks to the relative shiny nature of the skin because it was completely devoid of the insect, I wouldn’t have got near it otherwise.

So I will be persevering with this set of lenses, to see what else I can do. 

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2 Responses to “Trying out Macro”

  1. nice tips. i find my closeup attachment frustrating at times.
    have been eyeing the 65 mm with a 5:1 magnification, but it has very little DOF, so i’ll settle for the 100mm macro. need to place an order.

  2. I need some serious cash, unfortunately I have to invest my hard earned extra money in the kids just now. I don’t know what’s more expensive, school or the holidays?

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