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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Macro Talk
Thread started 11 Nov 2017 (Saturday) 13:03
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Photographing a moth egg - advice please

 
Trik
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Dorset, England
Nov 11, 2017 13:03 |  #1

I am trying to get an shot of a moth egg about the size of a small poppy seed. I'm using the Canon 100mm macro with a Marumi Achromat 5x filter but I just cannot get the egg sharply in focus and cannot work out if the lens should be closer or further away. I've tried moving in and out but maybe just not far enough either way, so if anyone has some guidelines that I can start with, please, I would be much obliged.

Trik


http://www.trikimages.​co.uk (external link)

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MalVeauX
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Post has been edited 2 months ago by MalVeauX.
Nov 11, 2017 13:15 |  #2

Get rid of that 5x filter. Those are useless and mostly traps with numbers on them, but are horrible pieces of glass which is why they're so cheap.

Instead, use extension tubes to allow you to focus more closely and put more pixels on the subject. If you just want to increase magnification directly, use a 2.0x TC and instantly go to 2:1 at your lens's minimum focus distance. Combine the two to go farther even.

With something this small at high magnification, you will want to work from a tripod with a focus rail because minute changes will take you out of focus on something that small due to depth of field at extremely close range focusing. You may even want to explore the concept of focus stacking.

You will need LOTS of light, or long exposure. Flash/strobe would be ideal to control it.

Very best,


My Flickr (external link) :: My Astrobin (external link)

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Trik
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Post has been edited 2 months ago by Trik.
Nov 11, 2017 14:04 as a reply to MalVeauX's post |  #3

Thanks for the suggestions, MalVeaux. I do have a 2x TC Mk III, so I might try that on the 100mm. I have had some success with the Marumi filter in the past, but not with something this small. I'm using a Canon Twinlight and tried using the tripod but gave up and placed the camera and subject on a bench and nudged the subject (on a twig) and/or camera back and forth - this is probably a one-off experiment so I won't bother with a focus rail as I am unlikely to use it again. I guess I shall have to use luck and patience, but one of the problems, I think, is lack of contrast as the egg is brownish and so is the twig. I shall have another try tomorrow - fortunately the eggs need to be in the fridge until next Spring, so I do have plenty of time!

Thanks again
Trik


http://www.trikimages.​co.uk (external link)

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Temma
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Joined Sep 2009
Rocky River, Ohio
Nov 12, 2017 11:58 |  #4

MalVeauX wrote in post #18494082 (external link)
Get rid of that 5x filter. Those are useless and mostly traps with numbers on them, but are horrible pieces of glass which is why they're so cheap.

Instead, use extension tubes to allow you to focus more closely and put more pixels on the subject. If you just want to increase magnification directly, use a 2.0x TC and instantly go to 2:1 at your lens's minimum focus distance. Combine the two to go farther even.

With something this small at high magnification, you will want to work from a tripod with a focus rail because minute changes will take you out of focus on something that small due to depth of field at extremely close range focusing. You may even want to explore the concept of focus stacking.

You will need LOTS of light, or long exposure. Flash/strobe would be ideal to control it.

Very best,

For high magnifications I use:


  1. TWO sets of extension tubes
  2. a Minolta 50mm manual film lens reversed onto the tubes
  3. 2-3 manual speedlights set on low power (1/128 to 1/32), two Ikea Jansjo LED lamps, or two 300w CFLs in home made reflectors (flowerpots lined with shiny metal tape)

My [Imperfect] calculations give me 3.5x magnification.

It's an extremely simple and inexpensive (I've had the lens since 1981) setup.

I recently switched from a cheap manual rail to an automated Wemacro rail. At those magnifications, depth of field is going to be tiny, even on a tiny object.



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Trik
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Post has been last edited 2 months ago by Trik. 2 edits done in total.
Nov 12, 2017 12:21 as a reply to Temma's post |  #5

As I mentioned before, this is likely to be a on-off experiment for me, so I do not want to buy any more gear which will never be used again, but thanks for the suggestions.

Re DOF, I am using f29 to try to get maximum range, but don't know if that is the right way to go. I am going to try putting the egg on white paper to get some more contrast, but would much prefer a natural background. I shall continue to persevere and if I do get lucky [Before they hatch next year!], I'll post the result.

Trik

PS : why is the "b" in "before" being capitalised after I submit...?


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MalVeauX
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Post has been edited 2 months ago by MalVeauX.
Nov 12, 2017 12:32 |  #6

Trik wrote in post #18494724 (external link)
As I mentioned before, this is likely to be a on-off experiment for me, so I do not want to buy any more gear which will never be used again, but thanks for the suggestions.

Re DOF, I am using f29 to try to get maximum range, but don't know if that is the right way to go. I am going to try putting the egg on white paper to get some more contrast, but would much prefer a natural background. I shall continue to persevere and if I do get lucky [Before they hatch next year!], I'll post the result.

Trik

I use these, they maintain electronic control of aperture and are inexpensive yet do the job, and are no worse than the $100+ ones.

https://www.amazon.com ...rds=macro+extension​+tubes (external link)

If you have a TC, you can immediately increase magnification by 1.4x or 2.0x depending on what you have. And you can still use extension tubes to allow yourself to focus at a closer distance. Combine the two and you'll be able to pump magnification high. I would think with your moth eggs, you'd want something like 4~5x magnification just to get enough pixels on the subject to discern any detail other than basic shape. You have a 2.0x TC, so you already can get 2:1 magnification without anything special added, just with your lens & TC at minimum focus distance. Add extension tubes and will be able to focus even closer, which will give a higher magnification ultimately. Probably won't get 4~5x, but you can get closer to 3x.

Focus manually with live view from a static source (this is why a rail is super helpful; I use a cheap $45 Fotodiox manual rail, works fine for me).

From there, you can do a few exposures while gently moving the focal plane and performing a focus stack (I do mine by doing a median stack in Photoshop).

Very best,


My Flickr (external link) :: My Astrobin (external link)

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Temma
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Joined Sep 2009
Rocky River, Ohio
Nov 12, 2017 13:01 |  #7

Trik wrote in post #18494724 (external link)
Re DOF, I am using f29 to try to get maximum range, but don't know if that is the right way to go.

You're going to run into diffraction issues.
That's why I use an automated rail (Wemacro) to focus stack so that I don't have to use such small apertures.




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Trik
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Nov 12, 2017 13:35 as a reply to MalVeauX's post |  #8

Amazon UK have the Viltrox extension tubes, and - as you say - they are reasonably priced. Mind you, the ova is so tiny (about 1 mm) that, even at 5x with the Marumi filter, I have to crop heavily, so 3x is going to be pretty pathetic. I will give manual focus a try, but I'm usually not very good at it for some reason and never seem to get it spot on, and with such a small DOF I think I will struggle even more. Still, it should prevent the remote from re-hunting when I press it, which is happening sometimes with autofocus and very annoying.

Thanks for the further input.

Trik


http://www.trikimages.​co.uk (external link)

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Trik
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Nov 12, 2017 13:47 as a reply to Temma's post |  #9

Temma : thank you for the warning. I confess that I do not know what affect diffraction will have, as I have never used such a small aperture before. However, as I mentioned above, I have to crop very heavily, so will that help?

Trik


http://www.trikimages.​co.uk (external link)

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Archibald
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Post has been edited 2 months ago by Archibald.
Nov 12, 2017 14:06 |  #10

Trik wrote in post #18494793 (external link)
Temma : thank you for the warning. I confess that I do not know what affect diffraction will have, as I have never used such a small aperture before. However, as I mentioned above, I have to crop very heavily, so will that help?

Trik

The smaller the aperture, the more diffraction blurring you will get. It is just basic optics. All lenses are bound by the same laws of optics.

If it were not so, you could use smaller and smaller apertures to get better DOF. You could use f/128, for instance. But in practice, this strategy fails because of diffraction.

The solution is to use a wider aperture. The aperture you select will depend on how much DOF you need, whether or not you are focus stacking, your tolerance of blur, shape of the subject, and so on. When doing macro work, I aim for an EFFECTIVE aperture of around f/22 or wider. The actual (effective) aperture changes with magnification. The effective aperture is the aperture marked on the lens x (magnification +1). So if the marked aperture is f/4, and the magnification is 3x, then the effective aperture is f/16.

At these bigger apertures, DOF will be very shallow. You should consider focus stacking to get an acceptable result. Depending on your gear, you should be able to achieve the focus steps without a rail, by changing the focus of the lens in small steps.


Pentax Spotmatic F with 28/3.5, 50/1.4, 50/1.8, 135/3.5; Canon digital gear
C&C always welcome.
Picture editing OK

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Temma
Senior Member
Joined Sep 2009
Rocky River, Ohio
Post has been edited 2 months ago by Temma.
Nov 12, 2017 14:28 |  #11

Trik wrote in post #18494793 (external link)
Temma : thank you for the warning. I confess that I do not know what affect diffraction will have, as I have never used such a small aperture before. However, as I mentioned above, I have to crop very heavily, so will that help?

Lenses have an aperture at which they're sharpest. F29 is rarely the sharpest.

Diffraction produces softness in the image, which is the polar opposite of what you want.

Cropping won't make a soft image sharp. It'll just give you a bigger soft image.

If this is something you're planning to pursue, you'll eventually either be using:

  • extension tubes
  • a bellows
  • a reversed prime lens (50mm and shorter works best)
  • an enlarger lens (reversed or otherwise)
  • a microscope objective


As I said, I'm getting around 3.5x with the 50mm manual reversed onto two sets of extension tubes. This kind of arrangement REQUIRES a focusing rail (manual or automated) since you cannot focus using the focus ring on the lens. You HAVE to move the camera forward and backward.

If I were photographing things that small, I'd be looking at microscope objectives. Don't be fooled into believing that you need a $1,000+ Mitsutoyo objective. The people at Wemacro will sell you a whole kit to allow you to use a microscope objective (including the objective) for somewhere around $100 USD. If you pick the pieces up individually on eBay and Amazon, you should come in under $100, not counting a rail of some sort. Amscope objectives get pretty good reviews for non-professional macrophotography.

That takes us back to depth of field. The odds of you having everything in sharp focus are pretty much nil, so that means focus stacking. You CAN do focus stacking with a cheap Chinese manual rail. I know I've done it. Would I like to do that with a moth egg shot through a microscope objective? I'd rather rather let the bolt on my M-1 rifle slam shut on my thumb... ten times in a row.

It's a question of how serious you are with this.

I did this in stages as my finances permitted.

In rough order:

  1. Canon 350D
  2. reverse ring
  3. cheap manual extension tubes
  4. cheap manual rail
  5. extension tubes with contacts
  6. coupler rings to mount reversed 50mm manual onto kit lens or 70-300mm zoom
  7. Tokina 100mm macro lens.
  8. Canon t4i to replace the 350D (needed live view)
  9. DSLR Controller software to do focus stacking via the auto focus Tokina 100mm macro
  10. Android tablet to run DSLR Controller
  11. Wemacro automated rail


Here are a couple of invaluable resources if you're serious about macrophotography:
http://extreme-macro.co.uk (external link)
http://www.photomacrog​raphy.net (external link)



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Temma
Senior Member
Joined Sep 2009
Rocky River, Ohio
Nov 12, 2017 14:41 |  #12

Archibald wrote in post #18494809 (external link)
The smaller the aperture, the more diffraction blurring you will get. It is just basic optics. All lenses are bound by the same laws of optics.

If it were not so, you could use smaller and smaller apertures to get better DOF. You could use f/128, for instance. But in practice, this strategy fails because of diffraction.

The solution is to use a wider aperture. The aperture you select will depend on how much DOF you need, whether or not you are focus stacking, your tolerance of blur, shape of the subject, and so on. When doing macro work, I aim for an EFFECTIVE aperture of around f/22 or wider. The actual (effective) aperture changes with magnification. The effective aperture is the aperture marked on the lens x (magnification +1). So if the marked aperture is f/4, and the magnification is 3x, then the effective aperture is f/16.

At these bigger apertures, DOF will be very shallow. You should consider focus stacking to get an acceptable result. Depending on your gear, you should be able to achieve the focus steps without a rail, by changing the focus of the lens in small steps.

Given the size of his subject, I'm not sure stacking without a rail is going to be more than an exercise in frustration. I don't think I'd like to do it with a manual rail. With a Wemacro and a camera with live view, it'd be a piece of cake.




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Archibald
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Calgary
Nov 12, 2017 16:16 |  #13

Temma wrote in post #18494833 (external link)
Given the size of his subject, I'm not sure stacking without a rail is going to be more than an exercise in frustration. I don't think I'd like to do it with a manual rail. With a Wemacro and a camera with live view, it'd be a piece of cake.

It's always easier with the right equipment.


Pentax Spotmatic F with 28/3.5, 50/1.4, 50/1.8, 135/3.5; Canon digital gear
C&C always welcome.
Picture editing OK

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Temma
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Joined Sep 2009
Rocky River, Ohio
Nov 12, 2017 16:42 |  #14

Archibald wrote in post #18494879 (external link)
It's always easier with the right equipment.

Of course you can learn a lot even before you have it.

When I started, I didn't even have the camera properly mounted so that I could get a decent picture.




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Temma
Senior Member
Joined Sep 2009
Rocky River, Ohio
Nov 12, 2017 17:02 |  #15

Here's a stack of 385 images of an old video card.

Lighting was two Ikea Jansjo lamps with ping pong ball diffusers.

AV, f5.6, ISO 100.

Step size on the Wemacro was 150u.

Zerene produced some artifacts, but it's still not bad.

This would have been excruciating using either lens focusing or a manual rail.


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Photographing a moth egg - advice please
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