A Melange of Tools

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by OzRay, Jan 16, 2015.

  1. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    This doesn't really fit in any other category, as far as I can tell, as it's about a bunch of tools useful for a range of photography. First off, it involves Olympus Capture, Zerene Stacker, macro lenses and tools, as well as unique general lighting tools, all combined into one example. First off, I've been wanting to try out Olympus Capture in more detail and took the opportunity today of doing a quick macro shot using Capture, as well as a purpose built vertical macro stand I'd built, a StackShot, Olympus OM 80mm f4 macro lens and an interesting Cree LED light.

    This is the macro stand (an older photo) showing the StackShot at the bottom and camera and bellows assembly at the top. I've changed things around now and the StackShot is at the top and the camera etc attaches to the StackShot:


    This is the lens:


    And this is the light that I used, it's a 5000 lumen Cree bicycle light that comes with a 10Ah weatherproof battery pack:

    View attachment 404148

    A quick and dirty example of eight shots stacked:



    Olympus Capture was a doddle to use and made this job super easy. Of course I couldn't use the StackShot in auto mode where it moves on it's own and takes shots at pre-determined intervals, as it requires the USB connection which was being used by Capture.

    What makes the camera light combination especially useful is that the colour temperature is close to daylight. The battery pack is separate from the light, so that I've been able to easily modify the mount on the light and can attach the light to the camera hot shoe and carry the entire combination with ease. This is the Cree light modified:


    The light is extremely powerful and I've used it for a couple of shots indoors at night without issue. I've ordered a small diffuser (a white balance lens cap) so that I can make the light slightly softer and avoid that spotlight effect on wider subjects. I haven't tried it as yet, but I think this light will also be very good for outdoor etc macro shots vs a flash. I'm also going to try and see how well the OM macro lens performs in this role, as it's been a somewhat neglected lens of mine (one of the few manual lenses that I still own and wish to keep).

    Once I've done some more work with the light, I'll post a follow-up and whether to fully recommend it for outdoor macro work and other stuff.
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  2. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I did a bit more today and added my two Fotga extension tubes to the Olympus Zuiko 80mm f4 macro lens assembly to see what I'd get. I found a Robber Fly on our lemon tree and decided it was as good a subject as any. Using the Moro bicycle light gave much better lighting than without and allowed all the shots to be taken at ISO 200. I had to use the high frame rate mode, as hand holding this lot and trying to keep things in focus was nuts (maybe a monopod would have helped). Anyway I got a few good results out of it, considering how small the fly was.

    Lens fully in and a full frame followed by a 100% crop:



    Lens fully out and a full frame followed by a 100% crop:



    First off, the Olympus macro lens really does seem to work well and deserves a lot more attention. Secondly, the bicycle light is really good, especially when it's predominantly overcast, as it was for these shots, the illumination was much better than using a flash and very easy to direct the light exactly where you want it. I reckon a couple of these lights and you'd have a pretty good lighting setup for macro and possibly many other situations, something I'm going to explore. In fact, four of these lights would be cheaper than one flash, especially considering that you're getting a 10Ah battery pack with each light.
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  3. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Interesting idea, I'm curious what you mean by illumination being much better than using a flash? These types of LED lamps are quite cheap from DIY type stores as well, it could be interesting to DIY a macro light with something like this.
  4. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    First off, the light fits on the camera hot shoe and is fully adjustable in any direction, far more so than any flash. It's also much lighter than say the FL-50, which is the only flash that sits high enough not to be obscured by the lens. Also, as the light is continuous, you fully see what you're going to get in the shot, shadows, highlights etc and it doesn't cause that typical dark/black background that you tend to get with flash, as it blends in a lot better with the natural light (with very close WB). I can also get 2.5 hours of continuous use from the light, which is potentially a lot more than what the flash will provide.

    Yes, you can get LED lights separately, but it then requires a lot of work to build a complete unit and I'm not convinced that it will be cheaper, or better. In one relatively inexpensive package, I have a fully waterproof light and separate battery pack, with charger. And, moreover, this light can be used for general photography, as well as video. It may not be a perfect solution, but I'm personally surprised at how effective it is in various situations. As I said, I'm going to use it next weekend more extensively and that will decide, for me, it's overall effectiveness.
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  5. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I did some more stuff today, but in fairly bright conditions with the LED light illuminating the subject. Even in full daylight, I'm finding the light useful and effective in adding extra light to the subject, especially where I'm likely to cause shadows. This is a weevil of some sorts, but no amount of searching would give me an example to help me identify exactly what it was (E-M1, Olympus Zuiko 80mm f4 Macro lens, Zuiko macro tubes and Fotga macro tubes - lots of tubes - plus monopod). Using a flash under these circumstances would really have you working, so as not to cause the background to go very dark.



    The eyes on this weevil were quite extraordinary:


    My next test is to see how much I can stop down from wide open, to increase depth of field on these rather small subjects, and whether I can still see to focus.
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  6. faithblinded

    faithblinded Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 25, 2014
    Cleveland, OH
    Thanks for posting this. I too am a bit of a nut when it comes to the macro gear. I've had an Olympus bellows since I shot 4/3, and I've always lusted after one of those stackshots for it.

    My setup now relies completely on OM gear for high magnification, and 4/3 gear for light. I have the bellows still, plus an Olympus auto extension tube(this thing rocks compared to the bellows, when it's long enough). I've yet to pick up one of the dedicated OM macro lenses for my kit yet, as the nifty 50mm 1.8 lens has always worked very well with this gear. The 20mm is high on my list, but for what it's worth, I'd sooner buy an MP-E and adapt it. I'll probably go with the 50mm 3.5 or 80mm f4 when I finally get one of the Oly OM macro lenses. One thing to love about the old OM stuff is almost all the macro lenses have 49mm threads. One step up ring lets me use my Olympus 4/3 twin flash with all the OM macro gear.
    I'll be watching, be sure to keep us updated as to your experiments.
  7. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Thanks, I've always preferred longer FL macro lenses, so that you get a better working distance, and AF is almost irrelevant for most macro, as you have to pretty much manually focus (focus with your feet). I'll be trying to do more with the StackShot and Zerene Stacker, but I'm just not getting results with ZS that make me completely satisfied. I might be doing something wrong, but I've tried every option and nothing seems to come out quite the way that I expect. I've seen some awesome results with ZS, so all I can conclude is that the problem lies with what I'm doing.
  8. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    I believe enlarging lenses can also work well if you have the adapters to mount them, I've seen a few people who use them due to the availability of APO versions with the abandonment of darkrooms.
  9. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Absolutely, then flat field of enlarging lenses make them ideal fro macro photography. I looked into this maybe five years ago and gadzooks the prices that people were asking for quality enlarging lenses, such as Schneider and others.
  10. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I've done some more modifications to the light adding a (removable) diffuser and it's allowing much better lighting, depending on the circumstances.


    Taken with E-M1 and Olympus 80mm f macro lens and numerous extension tubes:



    Taken with E-M1 and 14-35mm f2 with light bounced off ceiling:


    It's proving to be a very versatile light.
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