Going larger than life is not as hard as some make out: it takes a bit of thought and a willingness to be patient and persist when you mess up. And you will: I keep doing it…but then you get it right and that makes it worth the effort.
What follows is a set of preliminary thoughts on ways and means and a list of what I intend to cover in a series of posts…and like all lists it will probably grow, Topsy fashion, as I think of more items and, I hope, get feedback from readers of this blog.
This is a realm you can enter either at modest cost (reversing and coupling lenses…) or with a fat wallet. The latter could involve true macro lenses such as the Zeiss luminars, Leitz Photar, a Zeiss Tessovar or a set of Olympus bellows macro lenses…if you could find them. Then there is the unique Canon MP-E 65 mm 1x-5x which is really a ‘true macro lens’ with a lengthy built in extension tube – It is a superb lens but many find it tricky to use. As with so many things macro Olympus did it first and probably more neatly with a variable auto extension tube (65-116mm) and four macro lens heads, each computed for a particular range of magnifications. Nikon, on the other hand, have always suggested mounting their wide-angles in reverse on a bellows…it works, too.
One thing I find very useful about using a DX camera body is the crop factor – as mentioned before the image is NOT magnified: the DX sensor just takes a smaller part of it. That, with a macro lens and x1.5 multiplier/converter lets you fill the viewfinder with subjects that would have needed over 2 x magnification on 35mm film (or FX). It is portable and fast in the field.
Spend time to acquire techniques and you will amaze yourself with your results and never ever be short of subjects to capture. There is a table below to suggest the technique that best applies to a particular magnification range. In the field the ‘practical limit’ is 4 – 5x lifesize (and that is pushing it) before the slightest vibration creates an earthquake and the depth of field is a fraction of a millimetre…
Future Posts: order undecided – all are written so it depends on whim and one will be posted every 10 -14 days or so.
– Reversing and coupling lenses – making your own adaptors
– Lighting - hows and whys of macro flash…do you need to spend the money?
– Back to basics – so what really is sharpness
– Supports for macro – optical benches and macroscopes
– The outdoor studio – anything from a table will do
– True macro lenses – photars, luminars and other offerings:
– The Zeiss Tessovar – an oldie but goodie
– Stacking Images – the Helicon revolution….
© Paul Harcourt Davies