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Bargain Basement Macro
Posted By: MSL, 05-12-2012, 10:13 PM

I've debated whether to post some of these photos or not. There are some superb macro shots on the forums from eaglem, charliezap, bluestringer, rense, grzehoofr (wow! check his images out), and many many others (sorry for those not mentioned explicitly). I can't begin to compete with what they can do, and I suspect I'm not the only one who feels a bit overwhelmed.

But at the same time, I'm pretty pleased with what can be accomplished using a dirt cheap setup (neglecting the cost of the K5 of course). All these photos were shot using either a Super Takumar 135/3.5 or 55/2 lens, stuck on some random length of extension tubes. I have two sets of tubes - a cheap K-mount version and a nice vivitar m42 set. I stick an m42-K adapter into the K-mount tubes so that I can switch between macro and non-macro quickly, and so I can hook the two sets together. With the double set I have about 128 mm of extension so I can get a bit better than 1:1 on the 135mm lens. That lens is a lot easier to use than the 55, where you need to get a lot closer to the subject. Price for each lens was $30 or less including shipping, and I got both sets of tubes $30 shipped. Where flash was used it was the built-in flash, occasionally diffused using a handkerchief. Apertures run around f8-f11 for the 135, and usually closer to f16 for the 55. But I typically twist the dial to see what works, especially when flash is used. Depending on the background and metering modes, I've also found you sometimes need to overexpose the image as the metering isn't quite right.

I tried to minimize the post processing. Usually just a bit of contrast and brightness tweaking, and a little sharpening after the resizing. I only cropped in a couple of cases where I felt it helped the composition.

Feedback on any of the shots welcome.

First couple showing different lengths of extension:






This next one was taken using the double set of tubes - the aphid can't be more than about 1-2 mm long or so they seem

















Last edited by MSL; 06-28-2012 at 06:57 AM.
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05-16-2012, 08:01 AM   #16
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Nice work, Marc. Your yellow flower looks like a Yellow Wood Sorrel - is the blossom about 1/4 -1/2" or so? We have them throughout the yard in Spring. I'm also a budget macro shooter - using an M50/1.7 with a 2x TC, or the "macro" setting on a cheap Quantaray 28-90 that will give me 1:2.3, which isn't bad I'm thinking of trying an inexpensive Raynox setup - I've seen some nice results here in the forums. Keep up the good work!

05-16-2012, 08:04 AM   #17
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nice work marc... especially with that vintage glass and tubes... became fascinated with the macro world as a youngster, after watching 'the incredible shrinking man'..... keep on pluggin' away... dave m
05-16-2012, 08:31 AM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by paulh Quote
Nice work, Marc. Your yellow flower looks like a Yellow Wood Sorrel - is the blossom about 1/4 -1/2" or so?
Sounds about right, and I'll hunt more on this species and see if it is matches. They are popping up in the cracks/mortar of our front walkway and don't seem to last very long.
I started close focus shooting with a A 35-105 or A70-210 (only at 70) which both do 1:2.5. But the tubes give a lot more flexibility even if it is cumbersome to change magnification ratios by adding or removing settings. The Raynox does seem a popular option, and one I may consider some stage. Thanks for the input.
05-16-2012, 08:48 AM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by dcmsox2004 Quote
nice work marc... especially with that vintage glass and tubes... became fascinated with the macro world as a youngster, after watching 'the incredible shrinking man'..... keep on pluggin' away... dave m
Thanks. Funny thing is, I tried using the SuperTak directly on the body and had all sorts of trouble getting the focus sharp and I needed to overexpose by at least 1ev to get the photos right. So it is becoming a dedicated macro lens, at least for now.

05-16-2012, 09:06 AM   #20
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They look great! The color is superb, and the slight softness is actually refreshing in these shots. your composition is excellent too, and overall I think they are wonderful.
I love super sharp, at times, but it is not the only way to shoot......you just proved it! ....and at a cost most anyone can afford!

Regards!
05-16-2012, 09:17 AM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rupert Quote
They look great! The color is superb, and the slight softness is actually refreshing in these shots. your composition is excellent too, and overall I think they are wonderful. I love super sharp, at times, but it is not the only way to shoot......you just proved it! ....and at a cost most anyone can afford! Regards!
Thanks Rupert - I hope Otis liked them too. Every time I come back to this set, it is the two flower pics (#6+7 right before the caterpillar ones) that catch my eye and they grow on me just that little bit more.
05-16-2012, 09:23 AM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by MSL Quote
Thanks Rupert - I hope Otis liked them too. Every time I come back to this set, it is the two flower pics (#6+7 right before the caterpillar ones) that catch my eye and they grow on me just that little bit more.
Otis loved them both too....but he said not to discount that shot of the horsefly, he hates those things, but loved that shot! Me too!
Regards!
06-28-2012, 06:50 AM   #23
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Beautiful work Marc. I love all your shots. The fuzzy caterpillar is gorgeous, and the little red aphid shot is great... one day I took a dozen shots of the same kind of aphid, not one turned out... brilliant stuff.

06-28-2012, 07:03 AM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by tessfully Quote
Beautiful work Marc. I love all your shots. The fuzzy caterpillar is gorgeous, and the little red aphid shot is great... one day I took a dozen shots of the same kind of aphid, not one turned out... brilliant stuff.
Thanks tess. Nice of you to stop by and comment knowing that you aren't on the forums that much at the moment. I'm kicking myself for having been too timid on a recent *bay auction for a dedicated macro lens, so I guess I'll have to keep plugging away with tubes and old glass. The caterpillars were fun to shoot - the nest was in one spot near my house for a couple of weeks so it gave me something to go out to shoot when I could find a few minutes here and there. The aphid shot is the opposite - the flower it is sitting on tended to bloom and disappear within a day or two. While the aphids were around for longer than that, it was really hard to capture them scooting across the ground because they are so small.
06-28-2012, 07:20 AM   #25
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A good series and a credit to you showing what can be done with minimal cost. Like you I feel inspired by some of the experts on this forum. For mine I like your yellow flower the best. I have never seen an Aphid that colour before and it really puts a big amount of interest in the shot. As a general comment, don't be afraid to crop. I don't have a K-5 but from what I have seen on the forum, it has resolution to burn.

Keep 'em coming please
07-25-2012, 05:30 AM   #26
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All of these shots are beautiful but the hoverfly is the standout for me! Wonderful light and sooo sharp! Great work!
02-10-2013, 08:09 PM   #27
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Have a question about apeture settings on macro. If you used higher (f14 to f20) would you get better depth of field on bugs or other small objects. I know you do on a normal lens.
02-10-2013, 08:15 PM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcrtex Quote
Have a question about apeture settings on macro. If you used higher (f14 to f20) would you get better depth of field on bugs or other small objects. I know you do on a normal lens.
It helps - I've certainly seen a big difference when shooting objects like flowers. But your main limitation is light, so unless you have very bright conditions and a short focal length lens, you are limited in how much you can stop down. I've gone to f16 on a 55mm lens, but usually no smaller than f11 on my 135 and that is when using flash.
02-11-2013, 05:12 PM   #29
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I guess I'm used to being able to add lots of exposure time to my photos as I'm doing still lifes ( crime scenes) that are not moving. Have yet to try photoing bugs and such. Thanks for the info & wonderful photo's that are posted.
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