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Close up gear

By paulbroad  
As John and I discussed, here are images of my stacking set up, yet to fully refine and I also add an external shutter release cable. For normal macro I use the camera, 105mm Sigma EX, Sigma macro flash and either a tripod or monopod. Not the focus rail unless very close indeed, in excess of 1:1. You really do need a macro lens, or fixed focal length lens on extension tubes. Zooms do not make good macro lenses and there is no such thing as a 'MACRO ZOOM' whatever the makers say.

There is a lot of money here. I bought the gear over many years, not all at once, but things like the focus rail can be bought on Ebay. This was less than £20 and is quite sturdy. You can clearly see the datum mark and calibration in mm. As well as my stacking experiments, it is ideal for critical focusing where I focus the lens manually, then finally adjust with the rail winding knob a mm or so.

The tripod is a sturdy carbon model with firm ball head. Normally shoot at ISO100, lens on manual focus, although sometimes on auto when using a monopod chasing insects, OS switched off. Flash on auto ETTL but with +1.5 to 2 stops dialled in from experience. Otherwise it always under exposes. TEST AND CALIBRATE your equipment. An hour or so pays off in the long run but note down the settings. Camera on manual, 1/200 @ f18. I do vary settings if required but the above is my starting point.

For focus stacking, manual focus, focus on nearest point. Subject must not move, nor camera other than forwards. Expose. Move forward 1mm with rack, DO NOT RE-FOCUS. expose, move another mm, expose and continue until the back of the subject. I am still learning this technique. This focus rack can also be used as a dual flash bracket. Note flash shoe at each end. Build your own macro flash set up!

We are seeing a lot of close up and macro at the moment. For fun and general viewing, great. Do as you please. For technically accurate natural history macro you almost always need a set up similar to this.


Tags: Focus Lens Flash Close Resolution Close-up and macro Sharp Rack focusrack

Voters: georgiepoolie, arnieg, m111mmh and 3 more


dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1885 England
10 Aug 2016 10:52PM
Thanks, Paul - I shall refer people to this!

Reliably close.
TanyaH Plus
18 1.3k 411 United Kingdom
26 Aug 2016 10:16AM
I'd missed this one, but ditto what John says above.

As an illustrative shot, and a teaching aid, it does it brilliantly, as does your description. Macro's not for everyone and this is a serious setup but oh my, if you're serious about macro then this is a fantastic image and description to absorb.

Reading about stuff is one thing, having someone show you is better, but the best way is to actually do it yourself. Do it; make the mistakes, learn from them, try it again and know that it's not a quick fix route to superb shots.

The kind of macro images that make you sit back in your seat and think "Bl88dy hell!" take time, dedication and skill. But it's worth all the frustration and pain when you DO get it right ...

Thanks for doing this, Paul. 'Teaching' in the true sense of the word Grin


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