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05-27-2019, 10:28 AM - 4 Likes   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by K2 to K50 Quote
luftfluss, if could get pics even half as good as those, I would be in Seventh Heaven. From where I stand and what I have been able to achieve (or rather not able to achieve!!!) those shots are simply unbelievable!!

Many thanks for your time and suggestions.

Well, then, you're in luck! All my gear is relatively inexpensive. Personally, I value variety, versatility, and adaptability over ultimate image quality.

One of my most-used macro setups is the venerablePentax-F 35-70mm F3.5-4.5 lens coupled with the aforementioned Raynox DCR-150. The F 35-70 by itself is sharp, has good color and is very light and quick to focus. With the Raynox DCR-150 attached it is a good close-up lens, offering almost 1:2 magnification. It is easy to shoot with my arm fully extended, using the camera's LCD to compose the image. The advantage to this is it is less intimidating to insects than if I were standing or sitting right next to them. Also, it is easier to reach through weeds and branches to get to my subject, without causing much of a disturbance.








@Thagomizer is so right on the money when he said
QuoteQuote:
There are as many ways of doing macro as there are people shooting macro. The thing is to find the combination of tools and techniques that is going to work for you. What others have suggested here are starting points you can build on to create your own way to shoot macro that suits your subject matter, your shooting style, your way of doing things and your vision. Seeing what's possible is always helpful. Other people's work can be inspirational-and intimidating! Play, tinker and test. Learn by doing. Shoot and have fun!


05-27-2019, 11:40 AM - 1 Like   #17
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Great work Luftfluss. Your examples makes me want to try natural light only macro.
05-27-2019, 02:02 PM - 6 Likes   #18
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Some great advice & wonderful photos upthread! Not sure I have much to add, but I've been called out, so here goes... (Note that none of what is below is specifically about the D-FA 100mm WR, even though it's been my primary lens for a good while.)

QuoteOriginally posted by K2 to K50 Quote
When I see photographs like those included here, I sometimes wonder why I even bother trying!!
I think this affects most people. There are some really awesome shooters out there, and it's sometimes hard to figure out what you're contributing, if anything... I think some possible answers to that ("Why even try?") are:
  1. Because you enjoy the process as much or more than the result. In the case of nature macro, that could mean because you enjoy being out in nature, observing, discovering and learning... (There can also be health benefits here!)
  2. Because you'll eventually develop a style, and your own unique (and valuable) point of view, which will be (hopefully) reflected in your shots.
  3. Because you could get lucky and photograph something really rare and make a valuable contribution to knowledge! (Hey, you never know! And actually, I don't think there are that many people shooting insect macros, at least relative to something like birds. Given that insect populations are going through massive changes right now, having more interested observers of their reality is a genuinely good thing, IMHO.)
  4. Because you want to help people discover the beauty of nature through your shots. Here, think first of your close social network - people who wouldn't otherwise seek out the "Top Dogs" of the genre you're shooting in, but will see your shots through, for example, sharing on social networks...
QuoteQuote:
1: How many of you do these amazing shots hand-held as opposed to using a tripod - or is this a stupid question!!
I shoot everything handheld. I like the mobility and if your subjects are at all active, you'll go mad trying to use a tripod, IMHO. But this is a very personal question. Some of the most amazing macro work is done by people willing to go out incredibly early, when the coolness of the night means many insects are still sluggish. They setup tripods and motorized focus rails and shoot bazillion-shot focus stacks in early morning natural light. These people also have some amazing ability to find (often well-camouflaged) subjects!

QuoteQuote:
2: How often do you get these shots using autofocus, how often with manual focus?
For me, again, always manual focus by moving the whole camera body, using magnified liveview and peaking. Most often, the focus ring of the lens is a way to choose the magnification on the shot, something you pick before starting to shoot (or in between shots).

QuoteQuote:
3: Is a Flash often used for this photographs??
The higher the magnification, the harder it is to do without flash... I'm primarily a flash shooter.

QuoteQuote:
4: Other techniques used or not used: delay and/or mirror lockup; remote or cable shutter release?
The other technique you should be aware of if you want to get into high magnification work (ie greater than 1:1) is focus stacking. Some comments on that right here.

Some other unsolicited advice:
  • Don't try to jump in at the deep end (e.g. 3:1 twenty-shot handheld focus stacks). Start at relatively low magnification and build up experience progressively, leveraging small successes to keep your motivation up.
  • Go easy on the cropping and/or sharpening! Some people think they can crop out 4MP from a 24MP K-3 image and get a decent shot. I beg to differ. Also, over-sharpened images hurt my eyes, even though it's an extremely common sin in the macro genre, IMHO.
  • Be ethical! Don't be one of those people that passes off shots of insect corpses as ones of live subjects. Don't start gluing live creatures to places to get a good shot. And so on. More here and here.
  • Don't be afraid to break purported photographic rules. Sometimes, it's easier to do something if you don't know it can't be done.
  • Shoot a lot and be hard on yourself about nailing focus.
  • If you find there's a subgenre, a style, a particular species, or whatever else really brings you excitement and joy within the genre, then follow that! Conversely, if you get burnt out on something, don't be afraid to try something new. As others have said upthread, have fun! Follow your bliss.
QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
I think one of the best macro shooters on the Forum is Pascal ( @Doundounba ). I'd be interested for his input as his shots are amazing -- mostly insects and snowflakes.
Thank you so much! I'm not sure how to respond to such a strong statement, or if it's even warranted...! I do what I can, and like the OP, I often feel my stuff really isn't that hot.

Last edited by Doundounba; 05-27-2019 at 02:13 PM.
05-27-2019, 02:20 PM - 1 Like   #19
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Wow, that's the Post Of The Year. Pentax Forums needs a POTY award or something.

05-27-2019, 06:25 PM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by Thagomizer Quote
You've come to the right place! Asking questions is always good. It's how we learn. I've learned a lot by asking questions right here on these forums.
.......
Thagomizer - thanks for the tips, and so many links follow up.
QuoteOriginally posted by luftfluss Quote
Well, then, you're in luck! All my gear is relatively inexpensive. Personally, I value variety, versatility, and adaptability over ultimate image quality.

One of my most-used macro setups is the venerablePentax-F 35-70mm F3.5-4.5 lens coupled with the aforementioned Raynox DCR-150.
luftlusss: I have a set of Pentax extension rings circa late 1970s, and have used TCs in the past, but had not heard of gadgets like your Raynox that screw onto the lens filter threads before - will investigate that. Again, thanks


QuoteOriginally posted by Doundounba Quote
Some great advice & wonderful photos upthread! Not sure I have much to add, but I've been called out, so here goes... (Note that none of what is below is specifically about the D-FA 100mm WR, even though it's been my primary lens for a good while.)
Doundounba: thanks for the pep talk - probably needed that. Have seen some of your pics, and will now search the threads for more. Very impressive.

And re your "Be ethical! Don't be one of those people that passes off shots of insect .....": absolutely!!!




I have really hi-jacked this thread - apologies to everyone on that.

So perhaps one last question more back on thread: I said earlier that my intention (probably around the eofy sales) is to buy a KP, the 55-300mm zoom (plm version), and I was thinking also of the Pentax 16-85mm zoom, thus giving me two modern AF lenses to complement all my old legacy primes.

But am now wondering if I might be better off looking at the PENTAX-D FA 100mm f/2.8 WR Macro Lens.

In two minds about trading the flexibility of the focal range of the 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 for the faster prime macro lens??

Comments?

Last edited by K2 to K50; 05-27-2019 at 06:55 PM.
05-27-2019, 09:51 PM - 1 Like   #21
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It's difficult to compare zooms with primes, especially when one of the lenses is a specialty lens like the 100/2.8 Macro. Each of the lenses you mention has wonderful attributes that make them worthy of ownership, so I think the case can be made that you should get them all.
05-27-2019, 10:14 PM - 1 Like   #22
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Here's a link to some shots I took a few years ago with a Takumar 50mm f4 macro (the 1:2 version) when I was using a Canon 20D and no flash diffusion*. Your M 50mm f4 will give you very similar results in terms of angle and field of view, minimum focusing distance, working distance, DOF etc, with the added bonus of auto-diaphragm that the macro Tak lacks. A bit of extension will get you to 1:1.

For practicing your technique you might try less active subjects that aren't going to become alarmed at your presence at macro shooting distances.

-Houseplants don't usually run away, and there are fewer breezes indoors to boot.

-Orb web weaving spiders hanging out in their webs tend to be less frenetic than jumping spiders and funnel web weavers.

-Flying insects are definitely a challenge, and the above suggestion to look for early morning sleepers who've not yet warmed up is a good one.

-Staking out locations where insects congregate will bring subjects to you. I've had great luck around the front porch lights of the apartment where I live, though shooting at night can introduce issues of sufficient light for focusing and composition. Slightly farther afield, goldenrod blooms attract a very wide range of
insects
.

* I believe the introduction of diffusion to my flash work represented the biggest single-step improvement in the quality of my macro photos, more than the addition of any particular lens to my roster.
05-28-2019, 05:19 AM - 2 Likes   #23
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I do field macro, wading through the prairie or carefully walking through the woods etc. I have learned over the years. When I started, it was ambient or occasionally popup flash with the K10 or K5. I bought the K3II so I could use a flash while using GPS. A couple years ago I added an inexpensive Sunpak ring flash. My shots are 99.5% hand-held.
Here's how I shoot now:

K3II and FA100 f2.8 macro with Sunpak DX-8R flash.
Manual Mode:
f16, 1/180 sec, ISO 200, Center Focus, CF mode autofocus, RAW recording. No lens correction or any other in-camera slow-downs.
DX-8R in manual mode, usually 1/4 power discharge. (I have also tried the AF210 Flash in manual mode, with decent results)

There's no way I'd be able to get many of these insects using manual focus. If I'm trying to get something which the AF can't figure out, I drop to manual. It's particularly good for dragonflies. The K3II is far better than the K5 in focus confidence, accuracy and screwdrive speed. The K3II has a marked increase in cropping capacity at 24MP vs. 16MP.





05-28-2019, 06:41 AM - 1 Like   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by Doundounba Quote
I'm not sure how to respond to such a strong statement, or if it's even warranted...! I do what I can, and like the OP, I often feel my stuff really isn't that hot.
Well, if you had included a few of your images you would have proven your doubts wrong

The link to Pascal's Flickr stream: Pascal Gaudette | Flickr

Go on, click it. It will be worth your time
05-28-2019, 09:27 AM - 3 Likes   #25
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One thing I haven't seen mentioned in these great posts is if you are using manual focus make sure you have your diopter setting set perfectly for your shooting eye. Even if you don't wear glasses you should adjust the diopter to maximize your chances to nail the manual focus. To set the diopter I first use live view zoom with focus peaking then switch back to the viewfinder and check the diopter setting. You might find you are slightly off on your manual focus. Of course this all needs to be done on a tripod and with a stationary target.
05-28-2019, 10:15 AM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by K2 to K50 Quote
Guys, how many of you can help me by letting me know:
1: How many of you do these amazing shots hand-held as opposed to using a tripod - or is this a stupid question!!
2: How often do you get these shots using autofocus, how often with manual focus?
3: Is a Flash often used for this photographs??

4: Other techniques used or not used: delay and/or mirror lockup; remote or cable shutter release?
1: All handheld. Butterflies don't usually hold still long enough to set up a tripod.
2: I usually get my initial focus with autofocus, then I tweek the focus my manually turning the focus ring (quickshift FTW), or by shifting my body.
3: Don't normally use flash at all.
4: No other special techniques, other than back button focus.

But my shots are not really "macro". I do use the 100 WR macro lens. WR and quickshift are two must haves for me.
05-28-2019, 08:27 PM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by TER-OR Quote
No lens correction or any other in-camera slow-downs
This is a great point, I'm glad you brought it up. I find this is particularly true when I'm shooting birds in flight, or any other moving object.

QuoteOriginally posted by TER-OR Quote
FA100 f2.8 macro
That is a great lens. I had a copy that I got new back in 1991, and it had very little diffraction at F32. Sadly it got dropped onto a concrete floor and will no longer focus. I replaced it with the current Pentax-D FA 100mm F2.8 Macro WR, which I really like but is totally useless beyond F16.

05-28-2019, 08:31 PM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by david94903 Quote
That is a great lens. I had a copy that I got new back in 1991, and it had very little diffraction at F32. Sadly it got dropped onto a concrete floor and will no longer focus. I replaced it with the current Pentax-D FA 100mm F2.8 Macro WR, which I really like but is totally useless beyond F16.

Interesting, how does that work? Does that imply that f32 on the older lens had a wider absolute aperture than the new WR? Perhaps the lens was longer?
05-28-2019, 11:59 PM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by BugsDogsAndSunsets Quote
Does that imply that f32 on the older lens had a wider absolute aperture than the new WR? Perhaps the lens was longer?
No clue. I just always took it for granted, thinking that since it was a macro lens, that F32 should be sharp for greater DOF. This was way before I understood anything about diffraction. So, just plain luck of the draw I suppose. I don't have another one to compare it too, so it could have been an anomaly of that particular lens.
05-29-2019, 01:09 AM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by arkav Quote
......
4: No other special techniques, other than back button focus.
A number of posters mentioned this "back button" focus: what little research I have done suggests to me that this is only relevant with AF lenses???


QuoteOriginally posted by Larrymc Quote
One thing I haven't seen mentioned in these great posts is if you are using manual focus make sure you have your diopter setting set perfectly for your shooting eye.
.....
Yes, Larry, I was surprised no-one had mentioned this too: perhaps everyone took that as a given.

Actually, I played around with that by:
Setting it for my left (shooting) eye while not wearing any specs, and tried that for a few days.

Then set it while wearing my distance specs and tried that for a few days.
And then set it while wearing my reading specs, and tried that for a few days.

To be honest, not sure which of those, if any, were better (in terms of trying to be sure I nailed the focus) but in the end opted for no specs to allow me to get my eye closest to the viewfinder (I have installed the Pentax 1.2 magnifier eyecup - and after doing that, reset the diopter again (while not wearing specs!!!)

But thanks for your attention!

---------- Post added 05-29-19 at 01:14 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by luftfluss Quote
It's difficult to compare zooms with primes, especially when one of the lenses is a specialty lens like the 100/2.8 Macro. Each of the lenses you mention has wonderful attributes that make them worthy of ownership, so I think the case can be made that you should get them all.
Heh. Thanks, luftfluss: can I put you down as a contributor to my lens fund??

Edit: Oh, by the way, luftfluss, loved that long-haired caterpillar shot of yours!

Last edited by K2 to K50; 05-29-2019 at 01:33 AM.
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