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Tiny micros; best kit to take good photos?

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Old Thursday 23rd May 2019, 17:51   #1
STS
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Tiny micros; best kit to take good photos?

I've posted on this forum because taking photos of some, tiny micro species is really pushing the boundaries.

I've been using a Panasonic bridge camera (an FZ1000 + a Raynox 250) for a couple of years and it's very challenging trying to get good images of a beast with a forewing length of, say, 4 mm. Obviously the depth of focus is razor-thin but sometimes I get lucky. In general though, the images seem somewhat lifeless.

I would like to know what other people use, before I end up splashing out tons of money on expensive kit that isn't really going to improve things. My preference is for shooting handheld. When not taking moth photos I'd like to be able to take images of insects I encounter when out and about.

I'd love to hear what is being used successfully or, indeed , how I can make the very best use of the FZ1000.

All the best,

Thomas
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Old Thursday 23rd May 2019, 18:19   #2
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There are better if you want spend a lot of money but I use the macro finction on my Olympus tough however, believe it or not, the camera on my wifes Samsung Galaxy phone, is much, much better!

Here's a shot from my camera.
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Old Friday 24th May 2019, 17:26   #3
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Thanks Andy. What size was the spider and how far away form it were you when you took the photo? I see that Olympus has just released a Tough 6, so T5s might be going for a keener price now.

Thanks for replying,

Thomas
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Old Friday 24th May 2019, 18:47   #4
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Hi Thomas,

The next step up from a superzoom such as the FZ 1000 on the weight/image quality scale is micro 4/3. For the larger insects (at least one centimeter), I find a telephoto lens works great. I currently use the Panny-Leica 100-400, which provides 1:4 mag at a close focus of just over a meter.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/357164...7692197876400/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/357164...7700222718744/

But for smaller stuff I use the 60mm Oly macro lens (120mm equivalent). You have to get close (c. 9 in. IIRC), but you can get 1:1 mag if you do. Only got it a few months ago, so am still learning the ins and outs of focusing; but it has decent DOF and I've been pleased with the results so far.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/357164...posted-public/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/357164...posted-public/

But the 100-400 isn't cheap; and using two lenses means you either have to switch lenses or carry two bodies.

Hope this helps,
Jim
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Old Friday 24th May 2019, 19:25   #5
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Thanks Andy. What size was the spider and how far away form it were you when you took the photo? I see that Olympus has just released a Tough 6, so T5s might be going for a keener price now.

Thanks for replying,

Thomas
It's a jumping Spider, probably 10mm, taken from about 10cm.

You can also buy a ring flash for the Tough.
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Old Friday 24th May 2019, 22:01   #6
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For m43, the Olympus 60mm macro lens is excellent, but you need to stay at 1:1.3 or above for autofocus. From 1:1.3 to 1:1, it is manual focus. Remember that 1:1 on a m43 sensor is half the size of 1:1 on a full frame. I find the way this lens operates with the focus limit dial and going in/out of AF depending on distance is a bit of a learning curve. I don't really like how it operates, but it does give good results once you sort it out.

Another option is to use extension tubes on a 20mm - 60mm lens on m43. That can give good close focus too, but I find the AF is less reliable. Usually I use this option on a Nikon 50mm f/1.8D lens (on a Nikon body) with about 40mm of extension to avoid packing a dedicated macro lens.

The important thing for me is lighting. I do not like flash rings on the lens, as I think the often cause ugly reflections on insects. I use an off-camera flash, like a Godox v860 that will go for over 600 shots on a single Li-Ion battery. I hold the flash in my left hand and use either a flash cord or wireless trigger. I also use a bouncer or mini-softbox to avoid harsh light and strong shadows. Doing this lets me crank up the f-stop to f/16 - f/22. On my Nikon 105mm, I often shoot at f/32 - f/45. This gives a reasonable DoF, even at 1:1.

I sometimes use a 2-handed flash rig instead of holding the flash free-hand. Or sometimes I use a small vertical handle (a 6" rubber vertical grip with a 1/4-20 screw) on the flash. In any case, this setup is very mobile. No tripod or monopods needed.

The downside of the 60mm is you need to be really close. The Nikon 105mm or 200mm or Canon 180mm give a lot more working distance, but are much heavier and more expensive.
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Old Saturday 25th May 2019, 06:18   #7
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For m43, the Olympus 60mm macro lens is excellent, but you need to stay at 1:1.3 or above for autofocus. From 1:1.3 to 1:1, it is manual focus. Remember that 1:1 on a m43 sensor is half the size of 1:1 on a full frame. I find the way this lens operates with the focus limit dial and going in/out of AF depending on distance is a bit of a learning curve. I don't really like how it operates, but it does give good results once you sort it out.

Another option is to use extension tubes on a 20mm - 60mm lens on m43. That can give good close focus too, but I find the AF is less reliable. Usually I use this option on a Nikon 50mm f/1.8D lens (on a Nikon body) with about 40mm of extension to avoid packing a dedicated macro lens.

The important thing for me is lighting. I do not like flash rings on the lens, as I think the often cause ugly reflections on insects. I use an off-camera flash, like a Godox v860 that will go for over 600 shots on a single Li-Ion battery. I hold the flash in my left hand and use either a flash cord or wireless trigger. I also use a bouncer or mini-softbox to avoid harsh light and strong shadows. Doing this lets me crank up the f-stop to f/16 - f/22. On my Nikon 105mm, I often shoot at f/32 - f/45. This gives a reasonable DoF, even at 1:1.

I sometimes use a 2-handed flash rig instead of holding the flash free-hand. Or sometimes I use a small vertical handle (a 6" rubber vertical grip with a 1/4-20 screw) on the flash. In any case, this setup is very mobile. No tripod or monopods needed.

The downside of the 60mm is you need to be really close. The Nikon 105mm or 200mm or Canon 180mm give a lot more working distance, but are much heavier and more expensive.

I know the problem well as during my walks, it's often really tough to get close enough with my small camera to get the shot I want. I'm too lazy to carry my wifes Nikon D810 with 600mm lens, it's just too much with binoculars and everything else.

Where my camera is useful though is with captive subjects that come to the moth light.
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