Questions about Macro photgraphy equipments

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by holydiver, Sep 3, 2003.

  1. holydiver

    holydiver Guest

    HI all,
    I am trying to learn some macro photography. Although I have
    read some stuff about the equipments I have some doubts .
    I hope some of you can find some time to clear them.

    1)I was thinking of buying a monopod (I already have a tripod but
    i figured a monopod would be easy to carry)
    What is the difference between a ball head and a pan & tilt head,
    one is more suited for macro work ?

    Also what are quick release plates ? The name is kind of self
    explainatory, but
    can someone elaborate.

    2) What is the difference between a reversing ring/adapter and a macro
    From what I understand, with a reversing ring i can mount a lens
    directly on the camera body, while with a macro coupler I can mount a
    two lenses
    face to face. Am i correct ?

    3) Can all of the below, be mounted on a single monopod/tripod at the
    same time ?
    A ball head, a quick release plate, a butterfly flash bracket, and a
    macro focusing rail .
    If they can what would be the correct order and what else would I need

    thanks for your answers, or if you can point me to some websites for
    further reading , that would be great too.
    holydiver, Sep 3, 2003
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  2. holydiver

    David Jones Guest

    I agree that a tripod is the first choice, but if you are after macro shots
    'in the wild' it is not always possible to set up a tripod. Then, a
    monopod,or even just a post or stick can be more useful, along with a bit of
    careful breathing! It takes practice, but with a digital camera you will not
    be wasting film.

    When I use a monopod, more often than not I simply hold the camera against
    it rather that attached to the top, This means that I can slide the camera
    up or down easily without having to take my hand away to adjust the leg. By
    the time you have fiddled with that, or other attachments, Sod's Law says
    that the fly will be on its way.

    There is a plate that is screwed into the base of your camera, and you have
    a corresponding holder that is fixed on your tripod. When you put camera on
    tripod the plate clips into a recess in the holder. to remove camera you
    press a button or push a lever on the holder and the camera is freed - quick
    Canon used to make a macrophoto coupler to do exactly this with their FD
    50mm f1.4 and f1.8 lenses. I have one hidden away in my box of bits. Not
    only did it allow you to mount the lens in reverse onto the camera but it
    also had a helical focusing ring so that the lens focusing ring could be
    kept at its infinity setting.
    A focusing rail is a very useful bit of kit for macro work on a tripod (not
    a monopod - as Joseph said). I rarely use autofocus for macro work so my
    two-way focusing rail is on my tripod most of the time. Remember, by the
    time you have a camera (+ flash ?) on a focusing rail on a ball head there
    may be stability problems once you start tilting the arrangement, Make sure
    you have a ball head that is robust enough to take the load and not slip.

    For a pre-planned shot I frequently choose to use a pan and tilt head
    because as the name suggests, it allows me to set up the arrangement in one
    plane (say vertical) and then make slight adjustments in the other plane.

    David Jones

    Garden Wildlife Diaries at
    David Jones, Sep 3, 2003
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  3. (holydiver) wrote in
    The one that does not shift, settle, twitch, or adjust in the
    slightest when you tighten it down. Generally this means a quality
    (expensive) head.

    Ball heads have one lever - loosen it, and the camera is free to
    pitch forward, back, left, right, rotate, and so on. Occasionally they have
    tension adjustments and panning bases as well. With a panning base,
    rotation can be done independently without unlocking the camera from all
    other positions. Ball heads are excellent for fast adjustments and subjects
    that might do more than move in a single plane.

    Pan/tilts have separate axes with independent locks, so you can
    adjust pitch forward or back without any side-to-side, or vice-versa. Great
    for subjects where they will only vary in one plane, such as moving left-
    to-right across the frame, or straight vertically (if you take a lot of
    pics of... window-washers, I don't know). More adjustments to be made and
    thus more time consuming, but much better when composing vertically, since
    the mounting plate almost always flops sideways, unlike ballheads which
    drop the camera post into a notch on the side. Both will move the camera
    off from the lens axis, but the ballhead will do it much further with a
    greater amount of height change as well, necessitating tripod adjustments.

    You'd be best off to try both out, and several different brands. I
    personally like ballheads better, but there are times I miss singular

    A plate that remains on the bottom of your camera, snapping into and
    out of the mount on the tripod quickly (instead of screwing in and
    unscrewing the bottom bolt every time). Very very handy, but there's
    problems. More below.

    Yes. Both are very inexpensive ways to get exceptional magnification,
    provided you have the lenses already.

    Some electronic cameras don't handle reversing rings well (Canon EOS,
    for instance), since all adjustments for the lens are disconnected. There
    are expensive options. Other lenses require something to work the aperture
    lever to put it where you want it, and metering for the shot with the
    aperture closed. This should occur after you establish focus and framing,
    because chances are you won't see a damn thing once the aperture stops

    A 50mm lens backwards on the end of a 200mm lens, mounted normally,
    provides ~4:1 magnification, so here macro couplers can be really nifty.
    Nothing else is needed except for a firm tripod - at that mag, depth-of-
    field is totally shot and the slightest twitch will throw your subject way
    out of focus. A monopod is completely out for both of these options.

    Probably not. Depends on what you get. They all want to use the same
    hole in the bottom of your camera, and not all of them will have holes of
    their own.

    Look at it this way: With a rail, you're not into quickie shots. So a
    QR plate isn't the greatest use. Butterfly brackets are more typically used
    to handhold the camera, since two flashes will provide enough light to keep
    your shutter speed up with a smaller aperture. You can, shopping around at
    Bogen/Manfrotto, find plenty of brackets, clamps, and arms to mount flashes
    onto the tripod itself, eliminating the need for a flash bracket on the

    For versatility and ease of use, you would have QR plates for the
    camera, rail, and flash bracket, and QR bases (mounts) for the tripod,
    rail, and bracket. You could then stack them however you needed. This is
    highly unrecommended, since it will drive you nuts, add significantly to
    the weight, and place more areas of instability within the entire support

    The QR plates I use, the low-profile versions of Bogen's big hex
    plates, have an additional mounting hole drilled into the bottom. In a
    pinch, they can be mounted onto something without a matching QR base. But
    the plates are big (and thus so is the mount), and can more easily
    interfere with other things. Using my longest lens, it can only be oriented
    one way on the tripod head, or the camera won't fit.

    Also, since their own mounting screw sits flush, they need a coin at
    least to change them (and I actually cut a slot in the foam of my camera
    bags where my tripod nickels sit). Sometimes a royal pain to remove the
    plate, since coins aren't optimally shaped for your hands when the plates
    get pretty tight. So while, overall, a QR plate seems qute fast, there are
    times when it's actually much slower than a conventional mount.

    A working example: I switch back and forth between nature/wildlife
    and wedding/portraiture. The flash bracket I use for the latter doesn't
    allow for either the QR plate I have for wildlife, or the battery
    pack/vertical grip I like to keep mounted on the camera. So this often
    requires removing the QR plate, the battery pack, swapping to a 2CR5
    battery, and mounting onto the flash bracket. Then back again to be ready
    for wildlife (which tends to be less-scheduled than weddings, somehow).
    Nobody makes equipment compatible across the whole schmeer, so I simply
    cope with it. Though I may make my own bracket soon.

    And a QR plate with a built-in macro slider? Perfect!

    - Al.
    Al Denelsbeck, Sep 4, 2003
  4. holydiver

    Don Stauffer Guest

    I'd recommend staying with tripod and NOT using a monopod for macro
    work. The distance from camera to object is critical in macro work, and
    you'd have to work so hard holding that with a monopod I think it would
    be very bothersome and distracting. With a tripod once you have set the
    distance, assuming you're not shooting a moving object, the distance
    stays fixed and you can concentrate on focus and exposure.
    Don Stauffer, Sep 4, 2003
  5. holydiver

    David Jones Guest

    Tripods are great when you are taking photographs of a static subject or you
    are focusing on a predetermined spot and waiting for the subject to
    walk/fly/swim/crawl into view - I use one to do both these things. Also,
    when you are working at extremely short distances to obtain close to or
    greater than life-size images that a tripod + focusing rail is pretty well
    essential. However, if you become too dependent on one you will lose a lot
    of opportunist shots. Using a monopod certainly does not have to be either
    bothersome or distracting. In fact when you are actively pursuing a subject
    that doesn't stay in one place very long, a tripod can be both those things
    and miss you the shot over and over again.

    I take lots of close images of insects etc that are usually on the move,
    stopping only briefly. Where they stop is rarely predictable and the moment
    is usually to brief to even consider a tripod. I far prefer to be able to
    follow them with the camera. Using a monopod or just a long stick is often
    much better for these situations.

    As I said in another post, I don't fix the camera to the monopod but rather
    hold it against the side of the shaft. I try to keep the axis of the monopod
    sloped away from me in the direction of the subject and I tend to press down
    on it rather than exert a sideways movement. This can make it stable enough
    for me to then use small hand movements to provide the focusing adjustments
    that I need. Using this method there are no distractions caused by a need to
    adjust something on the monopod and, if the insect I'm interested moves to
    another flower then I can follow quickly, concentrating on the insect and
    not on adjusting the height of the monopod, or fiddling with the ball head

    Another situation come to mind - I'm taking a photograph of a fly that has
    landed on a leaf on a tree. There is a slight breeze blowing so that the
    branch moves. How do I use a tripod quickly to capture the image without
    trying to clamp the branch and perhap scaring off the fly in the process?
    Using a monopod I can follow the movement of the leaf far more easily and
    grab a shot during any pause in the breeze. It is possible to change the
    angle of the shot without taking my hands off the camera, and moving the
    camera up or down is just a matter of losening my grip on the monopod enough
    to slide my hand along the shaft while I continue to look through the
    viewfinder. Finally, using a digital camera I will not be wasting any film.
    In fact I could use the whole card up on this one insect if it stays long
    enough, something it is less likely to do if I am moving about fiddling with
    gadgets right in front of it!

    David Jones

    Garden Wildlife diaries at
    David Jones, Sep 4, 2003
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