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05-26-2019, 03:29 AM   #1
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DFA100 macro WR - IQ in sample photo thread

When I see photographs like those included here, I sometimes wonder why I even bother trying!!

(See a sample of some of my "good" pics here: Photos Posted By K2 to K50 - Pentax User Photo Gallery)

My shots were mostly hand-held (just one or two on a tripod). A variety of lenses:
Pentax-M 1:4 50mm Macro
Pentax-M 1:2 85mm
Pentax-M 1:3.5 135mm
Pentax-M 1:4 200mm


Some with an extension ring (or two) between camera and lens.


All manual focus - which I know I am having trouble with. Miss the central prism focusing screen on my old 1970's K2 film camera!! Seriously considering purchasing the EA-C focusing screen from Focusingscreens.com if and when I buy the KP to see if that can improve my manual focusing accuracy.


Thing is, seriously hoping to replace my 2nd hand K50 (which I did drop once -about a 2 foot drop onto stone) with a KP, and buying a 55-300mm PLM zoom, and either the 16-85mm zoom, or the 100mm Macro.


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?

Hope I am not being presumptuous in asking for this kind of help. Most of the shots in this thread are nothing short of mind-boggling to me.


Last edited by K2 to K50; 05-26-2019 at 03:37 AM.
05-26-2019, 06:45 AM   #2
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I think manual focus and a flash are a must for very close macros. In many cases a good picture has to do with framing (try going low rather than taking pictures from a higher point of view) and the background.
05-26-2019, 09:35 AM   #3
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Sharing w EXIF info will get you more objective feedback / suggestions
05-26-2019, 10:12 AM   #4
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Just a thought, have you tried using catch-in-focus with the back button focus setting? I find that really useful for manual focus lenses.

05-26-2019, 11:43 AM   #5
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Perhaps even more so than with other types of photography, a key factor is having good natural lighting, although in some instances flash can be an asset. By good natural lighting, I don't necessarily mean bright sunlight. More often, a bright overcast is best for good, even lighting, which will enhance imaging detail without harsh shadows and with good detail in highlights.
05-26-2019, 06:21 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by mattt Quote
Sharing w EXIF info will get you more objective feedback / suggestions
Thanks for that, mattt: I notice a lot of the exif data did not come through with my posted pics. Something to do with the software I used to convert from RAW (.dng) to jpeg?? Of course, with manual lenses, the exif does not seem to include aperture setting anyway (have I got that correct?)


QuoteOriginally posted by BugsDogsAndSunsets Quote
Just a thought, have you tried using catch-in-focus with the back button focus setting? I find that really useful for manual focus lenses.
I "knew" about "catch in focus" in so far as I recalled seeing something about it in the manual while browsing through it, but had somehow tricked myself into thinking that was for af lenses, and particularly when tracking a moving subject. A re-read just now shows that it is intended for use with manual lenses, so I will experiment with that. Am I correct in thinking that after setting "Catch in focus" you are meant to continue focusing? I can imagine, esp with my 200mm I would be getting a lot of camera wobble - even on a tripod. Could you also clarify "back button focus setting"?

I bought my K50 late last year - had not touched a camera since about 1982 - so still coming to terms with the multitude of settings on a digital camera cf the K2 and ME film cameras I used back then. I do try to remember to switch shake reduction on or off depending on whether I am shooting hand-held or tripod.

I have also purchased a Pentax O-ME53 Viewfinder Loupe magnifying eyecup but it only marginally helps with manual focus. Really hoping the purchase of the EC-A central microprism focusing lens will help me with manual focus. So often I find it difficult to pinpoint when I have a subject in focus -esp with the 200mm, even with the help of the focus beep and the little focus symbol in the viewfinder.
05-26-2019, 06:50 PM - 1 Like   #7
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For close up/macro work like your examples are of, 90% of the time I use a tripod, shoot in AV or Manual mode, and use manual focus through the Live View, use a two second time (and sometimes Mirror up when I remember). Makes a huge huge difference to the IQ. And if you're camera body has focus peaking, it really makes makes Live View even more useful.


However, I do sometimes hand hold (like when chasing insects around the yard), and in those cases I put the camera in TAV mode, set the shutter speed as high as I can get it (always above 1/2000 at a minimum), set the aperture to the lens sweet spot, and let the ISO do what the ISO is going to to. I find this works well for me.
05-26-2019, 07:21 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by david94903 Quote
For close up/macro work like your examples are of, 90% of the time I use a tripod, shoot in AV or Manual mode, and use manual focus through the Live View, use a two second time (and sometimes Mirror up when I remember). Makes a huge huge difference to the IQ. And if you're camera body has focus peaking, it really makes makes Live View even more useful.


However, I do sometimes hand hold (like when chasing insects around the yard), and in those cases I put the camera in TAV mode, set the shutter speed as high as I can get it (always above 1/2000 at a minimum), set the aperture to the lens sweet spot, and let the ISO do what the ISO is going to to. I find this works well for me.
Thank you very much for your suggestions, David. I obviously have a lot of experimenting to with all these different suggestions - flash; no flash; tripod; 2-second delay, auto iso, set iso, be smart with aperture/depth of field, superfast shutter speed.

Ok - many of those actions will help reduce if not eliminate most sharpness probs not related to poor focus: just got to find a way of getting better at getting the focusing right.

And I really must try live view focusing/framing - someone suggested it in another thread, but still haven't tried it!!

Again, thanks everyone for your time and suggestions - much to think about and experiment with.

05-26-2019, 08:19 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by K2 to K50 Quote
I obviously have a lot of experimenting to with all these different suggestions
I think experimentation is a big part of the name of the game. It's a workflow thing, as in finding a workflow that works for you. I'm always on the search to "improve" my workflow. So I'm always interested in how other folks work, and what their workflow is, and what part of it may work for me, or doesn't work for me. Years ago I got excited about doing reverse lens macro work (aks Thomas Shahan's work). I really sucked at it, LOL! I was fun to try (lots of experimentation) but I figured out that it wasn't something I was ever going to be good at based on my expectations, so I moved on to find a different workflow.

QuoteOriginally posted by K2 to K50 Quote
I really must try live view focusing/framing
It's a must if you really want to up your game. If you're going to have a modern camera, use all the tools, and Live View and Focus Peaking are excellent tools. I only use the viewfinder for handheld work. Live View is the way to go.

You might want to check out this guy's videos Back Button Focus – Sharp Focus Photography Guide [2019] ? Dave Morrow Photography He's a landscape photographer but everything in his techniques pretty much applies to close up and macro work too. He has lots of useful free videos, PDF's and general advice.







QuoteOriginally posted by BugsDogsAndSunsets Quote
back button focus
I forgot to mention, this helps a lot too with the handheld stuff. Glad BugsDogsAndSunsets brought it up.

QuoteOriginally posted by K2 to K50 Quote
flash; no flash;
Using a flash is still a mixed bag for me in my workflow. I'm not hugely confident (or maybe I should say competent, ha!) with using the flash. Still a big area of experimentation for me.
QuoteOriginally posted by mikesbike Quote
a key factor is having good natural lighting
I tend to subscribe to this philosophy more often than to use a flash.
05-26-2019, 08:21 PM - 3 Likes   #10
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The DFA100 macro WR is probably my most used lense, or at least the one with which I have had the most success. I mainly use it for 1:1 macro or higher magnification (with a Raynox adapter) of insects. For my style, at these magnifications, a good flash is absolutely essential for critical sharpness. It is the main source of light in most of my macro work, but good natural lighting will still also contribute most of the time. I use the 540fgz on a bracket off camera, with a small softbox for diffusion. For macro, I always shoot handheld for mobility, with everything manual : exposure, flash, focus. Here is my usual starting point :

1/125 sec. (the flash freezes the subject, shutter speed is mainly to control background exposure)
F16 (in my experience, the sweet spot on the 100mm between sharpness and depth of field for 1:1 magnification and higher. I find F22 too soft and F11 lacking DOF).
200 iso
Flash in manual mode at 1/8 for 1:1, 1/4 for more than 1:1. This has to be adjusted depending on the ambient light.

The main challenge at these magnifications is the shallow DOF. I always try to take many pictures from the same angle so I can do focus stacks in post. With a cooperative subject, I have successfully made up to 10-15 pictures stacks, even handheld. Although even just a 2 pictures stack can make a huge difference. Here are three examples : the green tiger beetle is at 1:1 no stack; the "bearded fly" (Therevidae) at more than 2:1, 2 stacks; the yellow fly (Laphria) is a 6 pictures stack.





05-26-2019, 09:19 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by K2 to K50 Quote
I "knew" about "catch in focus" in so far as I recalled seeing something about it in the manual while browsing through it, but had somehow tricked myself into thinking that was for af lenses, and particularly when tracking a moving subject. A re-read just now shows that it is intended for use with manual lenses, so I will experiment with that. Am I correct in thinking that after setting "Catch in focus" you are meant to continue focusing?
It's a setting (at least on the cameras I'm familiar with) that allows you to press the shutter, but have it only fire in the instant that the picture comes into focus as you turn the focus ring or move your camera. On my K-S2, it's on custom function page 4.

Not sure what you mean exactly
QuoteOriginally posted by K2 to K50 Quote
Could you also clarify "back button focus setting"?
It means you trigger auto-focus with the "AF AE-L" button rather than a shutter half press. It's on the "Button Customization" page. This pairs really well with catch-in-focus, because you can hold down the focus button, depress the shutter when you're close, and the camera will fire when focus hits. For hand held macro or action/telephoto with manual lenses, it's really really helpful.
05-26-2019, 09:34 PM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by K2 to K50 Quote
When I see photographs like those included here, I sometimes wonder why I even bother trying!!

(See a sample of some of my "good" pics here: Photos Posted By K2 to K50 - Pentax User Photo Gallery)

My shots were mostly hand-held (just one or two on a tripod). A variety of lenses:
Pentax-M 1:4 50mm Macro
Pentax-M 1:2 85mm
Pentax-M 1:3.5 135mm
Pentax-M 1:4 200mm


Some with an extension ring (or two) between camera and lens.


All manual focus - which I know I am having trouble with. Miss the central prism focusing screen on my old 1970's K2 film camera!! Seriously considering purchasing the EA-C focusing screen from Focusingscreens.com if and when I buy the KP to see if that can improve my manual focusing accuracy.
Keep in mind that when you buy a modern lens, you will have the benefit of auto-aperture, so even if you focus manually, you will be looking though a brighter viewfinder because the lens will be wide open until you actually press the shutter button. Of course if your extension tubes don't support the A function, you're back to completely manual (and dim viewfinder) again.


QuoteQuote:
Thing is, seriously hoping to replace my 2nd hand K50 (which I did drop once -about a 2 foot drop onto stone) with a KP, and buying a 55-300mm PLM zoom, and either the 16-85mm zoom, or the 100mm Macro.


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?

Hope I am not being presumptuous in asking for this kind of help. Most of the shots in this thread are nothing short of mind-boggling to me.
1. I'm nearly always shooting hand-held. I try to sit or kneel whenever possible while shooting.
2. Both. Depends on the lens I'm using and the situatation.
3. Almost never (by me).
4. Sometimes I use Live View. Usually I take multiple snaps, moving slightly between each one because it can be hard to ascertain if the focus point is where you want it to be.


Lately I've been shooting with theTamron Adaptall-2 SP 90mm f/2.5 with the Raynox DCR-150 Macro Lens or Pentax Helicoid Extension Tube K attached to it.


I don't know if my photos are up to the quality and composition you are looking for, but here are a few recent ones...








Last edited by luftfluss; 05-27-2019 at 08:31 AM. Reason: clarification
05-26-2019, 10:13 PM - 4 Likes   #13
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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.

My own shooting style for macro is handheld exclusively. I'm a bug chaser. I need the freedom of movement and mobility that hand-held shooting allows. Do I miss a lot? Sure do, but when everything comes together, I'm really happy. Are there others getting better shots than me? There sure are, but my own results have improved a lot since I started, in no small measure from seeing what others have done and how they've done it, often right here on the Pentax Forums.

AF? No. The dedicated macro lenses I use most frequently are the Sigma 70mm f2.8 EX DG and the Sigma 50mm F2.8 EX DG. Both are AF but I use them in manual focus when shooting macro. Along with these macro lenses, I've done a fair amount of shooting with reversed lenses, both directly on the body, on a body with extension, and reversed onto a longer lens. This type of shooting is trickier as DOF gets thinner, you lose auto diaphragm and gain a darker viewfinder. They are also only MF, too. In exchange, you get higher magnification, which I like because I'm often shooting insects that are quite small, or "portraits" of larger ones. I'm shooting single shots instead of focus stacking, too.

Flash? Yes. I'm usually using the built in flash on my cameras (K-S2 and KP) with a potato chip tin extender/diffuser to bring the light out to the subject, otherwise I'd be working in the shadow of my lens. The flash is usually set to manual, as a lot of my lens combinations would not work with PTTL auto exposure. I play with fllash power output for exposure. Sometimes I'll use a more powerful auxilliary flash (also set to manua)l and, as with my use of the built in flash, adjust flash power settings until I get the right illumination.

I usually shoot in live view with focus peaking, sometimes with magnified live view. The K-S2 is actually better than the KP in this regard, as the peaking indication of the KP cuts out in some circumstances when you press the shutter release. I'm not sure why it was designed to do this, but it does. Sometimes the fully articulated screen of the K-S2 (which is also found on the K-70) offers more flexibility with shooting angle than the tilt up/tilt down screen of the KP.

Extension tubes will have the biggest impact on shorter focal length lenses. 50mm of extension on a conventional 50mm lens gives you 1:1 macro capability. You can probably get 1:1 with your M 50mm f4 macro with 25mm of extension, as its focus mount has extension built into it. Beware though, that too much extension on too short a lens can result in the focus point ending up being inside the lens!

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!

Some threads where you can see what others are doing (and ask them how they do it) include:

The Macro Flower Club

Show me your insects

Spiders

"Macro" lens club

Macro by any means necessary club

The Raynox Macro Club

And some links to other resources that I have found extremely helpful;

CHEAP MACRO -- Buying or exploiting a lens for ultraclose work

http://extreme-macro.co.uk

Hope this helps.
05-27-2019, 12:12 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by luftfluss Quote


I don't know if my photos are up to the quality and composition you are looking for, but here are a few recent ones...

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.
05-27-2019, 02:38 AM   #15
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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.
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