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Thursday, July 29, 2010

What's in my bag

So what's in my camera backpack when i go on a macro outing? Well, these are the stuff i normally bring for a typical macro outing. Sometimes I included a wide zoom too.

Click on the images to go to my Flickr page to view all the notes.

A cheap but sturdy tripod. The iced black coffee (kopi-o peng) is optional.
Things i bring for a macro outing

a small/medium towel
Things i bring for a macro outing

40D, MPE65 1x-5X macro lens, MT24EX Twin Flash, Sigma 150, 5DM2 (the thumbdrive, not camera), DIY Diffuser box
Things i bring for a macro outing

Lens papar, Sandisk Ultra CF Cards, Hoya CPL, A-Better-Bounce-Card etc
Things i bring for a macro outing

A few more hidden items:

Plamp
IMG_4108 copy

A sun hat
IMG_4106 copy

A 2 in 1 reflector: gold on one side and silver the other
IMG_3776 copy

There's a raincoat in the bag. Not shown.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Macro Technqiue shooting Bee fly on hand one handed

I try not to share just a macro shot or two, but a macro photography tip as well in my blog. And I am not going to make any exception here. This macro photography tip, however, will only work if you have a short or medium focal length macro lens, such as the Canon 100mm macro lens, Canon 60mm macro lens, or the Canon MP-E65 1X-5X Macro Lens.

But first a bit of story and drama first :D

A bee fly (Bombyliidae) on hand is better than ten in the bushes. 

I found this tiny bee fly (Bombyliidae), no more than 4mm i think, on a leaf but when i tried to photograph it, the bee fly took off and started hovering around me. I put my left hand near the bee fly and lo and behold - the bee fly (Bombyliidae) it perched on my hand. Perfect. Contrary to popular beliefs, it's actually easier to shoot one-handed for as long as part of the lens is rested against the left hand. It's a brilliant slr macro photography tip / technique I learned from one of my mentors LordV.This macro technique will need quite a bit of getting used to but keep at it and you'll benefit from this simple yet wonderful macro technique tremendously.

I snapped as many shots as i could with a pink leaf on the background.

All with 40D, MPE65 1X-5X macro lens, MT24EX twin flash with DIY Concave Diffuser. Full flash: 1/200, F11, ISO100, handheld

macro photography tip Bee fly on hand........IMG_2184 copy

macro photography tip Bee fly on hand........IMG_2190 copy

macro photography tip Bee fly on hand........IMG_2186 copy

macro photography tip Bee fly on hand........IMG_2192 copy

macro photography tip Bee fly on hand........IMG_2174 copy

macro photography tip Bee fly on hand........IMG_2195 copy

The moral of the story - keep trying. If you don't try, you'll never know. The same skittish insect you saw yesterday might be super cooperative today.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

IS (Image Stabilization) of the Canon 100mm f/2.8

This is just a simple, quick and dirty review of the effectiveness of the Image Stabilization of the
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM 1:1 Macro Lens.   . If you would like to know more about its IQ (Image Quality), you can check out the official reviews on Dpreview.com: Canon EF 100mm F2.8 L IS USM Macro Review Andy Westlake, October 2009

Based on my simple tests, the IS (Image Stabilization) of the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM 1-to-1 Macro Lens is really amazing. One of the very few IS that works even at macro range. I had the chance to test out this amazing Canon 100mm f/2.8 IS L USM macro lens for a couple of weeks and i was really impressed with its amazing IS (Image Stabilisation). It is really worth getting one if you can afford it.

(1). Non Macro range. All handheld, 1/10s, F9, ISO250

Left column: IS On.
Right column: IS Off

I took 5 shots first with the IS on, then another 5 with the IS Off. I then opened them all up in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) and adjusted only the WB and Exposure/Brightness. The rest all default setting of ACR.

This was what I shot:

canon ef 100mm f/2.8L IS USM macro lens image stabilization test IMG_9770 non macro IS on

I then did a 100% crop before pasting them all into one image for easier comparison.

canon ef 100mm f/2.8L IS USM macro lens image stabilization test : non macro range IS On vs Off

You can view the full size image of the above here.

Why did I choose 1/10s? Well, Canon rates this IS system for 3 stops of assistance at 0.5x/1:2 and 2 stops of assistance at 1x/1:1, and 4 stops at non macro range.

The recommended handheld shutter speed at non macro range:

= 1 / [focal length * crop factor]
= 1/(100*1.6)
= 1/160

4 stops of advantage at non macro range ->

One stop -> 1/80
2 stops -> 1/40
3 stops -> 1/20
4 stops -> 1/10

Observation:

With IS On, 1 out of 5 was definitely sharp, even at 100%. And with a bit of raw level i.e ACR sharpening and Photoshop sharpening, i think 3 out of 5.

With IS Off, there was no keeper. 1 out of 5 could still probably be used for web posting.

============================
(2). 1:2 magnification (0.5x) macro range. All handheld, 1/50s, F5, ISO400

Left column: IS On.
Right column: IS Off

I took 5 shots first with the IS on, then another 5 with the IS Off. I then opened them all up in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) and adjusted only the WB and Exposure/Brightness. The rest all default setting of ACR.

The images i took looked like this before cropping:

canon ef 100mm f/2.8L IS USM macro lens image stabilization test IMG_9790.half life size IS On copy

I then did a 100% crop before pasting them all into one image for easier comparison.

canon ef 100mm f/2.8L IS USM macro lens image stabilization test : half life size IS Test

You have to view the original, full size image here to see the differences.

Why did I choose 1/50s? Well, Canon rates this IS system for 3 stops of assistance at 0.5x/1:2 and 2 stops of assistance at 1x/1:1, and 4 stops at non macro range.

The recommended handheld shutter speed :

= 1 / [focal length * crop factor]
= 1/(100*1.6) but this is for non macro range only.

For macro at 0.5x, it should be:

(m = magnification = 0.5)

= 1/ [focal length * crop factor * (1+ m)^2]
= 1 / [100*1.6* 1.5^2]
= 1/360

One stop -> 1/180
2 stops -> 1/90
3 stops -> 1/45

The nearest you'll get on the modern SLR is 1/50. A bit of safety margin there i.e slightly higher shutter speed.

Observation

It's hard to put a number here. Both the left column and the right column look okay esp at web size. But if you zoom in to 100%, you'll see noticeable lack of sharpness on the right column (IS Off).

Check out the pointed top ends of the words C and A, and also the texture on the red words. Surprisingly, it's easier to see the differences at 66.67%. At this zoom level, I'd pass all the images on the left column (IS On), and fail all those on the right column (IS Off).

But I'm interested in knowing your opinions :)

===================================================

I didn't do any IS test at 1:1. At this close range, I'll most likely be doing full flash photography rather than natural light shots.

Now a few sample shots from this amazing Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens:

Natural light/fill flash shots:


Mostly shot in Av mode. I first decided what aperture i wanted, then raised the ISO till I could get a decent shutter speed for handheld, typically 1/30 or slightly higher.

IMG_0143 copyIMG_9966 copyIMG_0226 copy
IMG_0216 copyIMG_0121 copyIMG_0126 copy
IMG_1735 copyIMG_1463 copyIMG_1378 copy

Now a few full flash shots:

All with the 100mm f/2.8 IS, 40D, and 580EXII with this DIY Snoot Diffuser. Typical setting: 1/200, F11, ISO100-200, handheld.

IMG_0969 (2) copyIMG_0840 copyIMG_1016 copy
Two shield bug nymph............IMG_0610 copyA shield bug nymph............IMG_0629 copyA green shield bug nymph............IMG_1053 copy
Toad-ally cute:D.......IMG_0934 copyIMG_1180 (2) copyIMG_0977 copy

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Insects in cool Blue

Insects are really cool even as they are, but when they come in blue, they are just awesome. Blue is just cool. My favorite color too :). Here are some cool blue insects I have come across. Gotta love them! I also believe these cool insects are why most people take up slr macro photography! If you need more reasons to start liking and photographing insects, hear it from Sir David Attenborough in his ending speech in the fantastic DVD series: Life In The Undergrowth.. Invertebrates don't need us human. It's we that need them.

Most of the images were shot with a Canon 40D, Canon MPE65 1x - 5x macro lens, and MT24EX Twin Flash with DIY Diffuser.. Typical setting: 1/200, F11, ISO100, handheld.

An amazing blue and spiny soldier fly. I was really amazed and excited when I saw it last Saturday! I found it at the same forest where i found the blue robber fly. Hmm..think I'll be going back there to look for more "blue" bugs :D

Soldier fly, Clitellaria bilineata
Blue spiny soldier fly diptera............IMG_2145 copy

Blue spiny soldier fly diptera.....IMG_2151 copy

Blue spiny soldier fly diptera.......IMG_2160 copy

Blue robber fly, subfamily Laphriinae. Might be an Orthogonis sp.

An amazing blue robber fly...........IMG_0291 copy

Slightly "blue" ant :)
A blue / bluish ant...IMG_8513 copy

Not sure if this counts as blue..

A beautiful centipede.........IMG_1231 copy

Another type of blue soldier fly, Cibotogaster sp. (male)
a blue soldier fly IMG_4931 copy

A blue tiger beetle
blue tiger beetle with Red socks....IMG_0944 copy

A somewhat blue damselfly
blue damselfly IMG_7559 copy

Lastly, a blue jumping spider
blue jumping spider salticidae IMG_7684 copy

Signal fly, Platystomatidae, a species of Loxonevra near decora Fabricius.
IMG_9583 copy

Blue bee, Thyreus sp.
blue thyreus sp beeIMG_9640 copy

If these cool and exotic blue insects still can't convince you to take up slr macro photography, then I don't know what will :P

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