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Macro Lighting

Discussion in 'Lighting Forum' started by ckrueger, Jul 18, 2011.

  1. ckrueger

    ckrueger Mu-43 Veteran

    304
    Jul 16, 2011
    I'm new here, so I hope I'm in the right place! Does anybody here shoot much macro on Micro Four Thirds? How do you light your macros?

    I'm a long-time Canon DSLR shooter and started converting to Four Thirds a few years ago. Now I've sold my Four Thirds gear for Micro Four Thirds (GH1 & EP1, soon an EP3), and I was hoping to swap my Canon 100/2.8 macro and MT-24EX twin macro flash for some smaller/lighter M43 gear. So far the solutions I'm seeing seem to all be poor compromises for me. My requirements are to capture stationary or slow-moving subjects (lets say ants, not dragonflies) at low ISO, shooting up to 1:1, with lighting soft enough to avoid defined shadows when I desire. Here's what I like to do:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I'll list how I've bounced around so far:

    1) I like twin macro lights, but the STF-22 seems to have all kinds of compatibility problems. It will mount on the 35/3.5 I own, but working distance seems too short to cram a giant twin flash head in at 1:2. (I'm used to six inches of working distance with my 100/2.8 on my 5D2.) It'll mate to a Panasonic 45/2.8 macro, but apparently you need to screw mount it, which means the head can't rotate. And finally I've heard talk of inaccurate metering or just general failure to work with newer bodies. Combine all that with the fact that it seems almost nobody owns one and I expect in a couple years the STF-22 will be a forgotten paperweight.

    2) I saw the Olympus MAL-1, and I like the thought of continuous lighting, but the MAL-1 precludes the use of an EVF on the EP3, and I have serious doubts it will be powerful enough to light a scene at f/8 1:2 1/250sec at any respectable ISO. And with the size of those LEDs I don't know that I'd want to use it as a primary light at lower magnifications anyway. The specular highlights on anything wet would be blinding!

    3) I thought I might buy a small video light to do the same job as the MAL-1, but after playing around with LED flashlights with 36 bulbs or more, I'm skeptical even these would be powerful enough. Has anyone used a video light for macro shooting with significant extension (1:2 or 1:1)?

    4) The Metz Mecablitz MS15 looks like a good solution except for the fact that it seems to only be able to meter with Olympus bodies; Panasonic didn't license the remote flash triggering protocol from Olympus, and that's what the Metz uses to control its power output.

    5) I've used my FL-36R with my old Lumiquest mini softbox, mounted to a six-inch piece of strap metal and a ball head. I used to do this with my Canon macro kit, but the weight made handheld shooting very awkward. It's better with my GH-1 and its flip-out LCD, but I find the lighting to be a bit too directional for my taste and it's difficult to control the angle of the lighting.

    6) I could make a rig with two of the new FL-300R's as a sort of wireless twin light, but then I'm back to the problem of a small light source; the heads are small and I don't know how that there's a solution for a softbox-like attachment.

    So, what are you all doing? What's the state of the art in M43? Has everyone thrown in the towel and gone ambient? Does nobody do macro on M43? Is there some great STF-22-like lighting rig I haven't found yet?

    Since I got my EP1 I've sold most of my heavy old Canon gear. I now only use Canon for wildlife, portraits, and macro. I'd love to cross macro off that list! Thanks for any pointers you can give!
     
    • Like Like x 5
  2. photoSmart42

    photoSmart42 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    628
    Feb 12, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    My setup below. Very cheap, and incredibly effective at diffusing light around the subject.

    5802543136_2c220ee0da_b.
    J_1040927 by photosmart42, on Flickr
     
    • Like Like x 3
  3. ckrueger

    ckrueger Mu-43 Veteran

    304
    Jul 16, 2011
    That's pretty clever! How are your recycle times on the flash with that? Does it take a full dump to light up the plate enough for really close small aperture shots? I'm curious because my FL-36R doesn't have much power and recycles pretty slowly.

    It's funny that if I did something like this, I'd be trading my big camera rig for a tiny camera rig but an enormous light panel. I'd probably still need the same big bag. :biggrin:
     
  4. apicius9

    apicius9 Mu-43 Veteran

    348
    Feb 1, 2010
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Very cool, Dragos. That might just be within my budget :)

    Stefan
     
  5. photoSmart42

    photoSmart42 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    628
    Feb 12, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    The SB-80DX with Sanyo Eneloops gives me really fast recycle times, so it's not an issue. I limit my f-stops to no higher than f/11 to avoid diffraction limit issues, and with that I end up using the flash at 1/4 power (it's really powerful) for perfect exposure at ISO 100 and 1/160 shutter. Here's a sample with that lens (plus some close-up filters):

    5819109873_d4b41383a3_b.
    J_1050108 by photosmart42, on Flickr

    When I use my enlarging lenses with the bellows at full extension, I need to crank it up to full power and sometimes I have to increase my ISO (but I never go above ISO 800 to keep noise acceptable) for really high magnifications. This is an example at about 4:1:

    5849304549_eaa6fd381d_b.
    _1050321 by photosmart42, on Flickr
     
  6. photoSmart42

    photoSmart42 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    628
    Feb 12, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    Thanks! :smile: If I bothered to spend some additional time on this rig, I'd build some sort of a snoot so I can direct all the light from the flash to the plate. With this current setup I end up losing a fair amount of light, especially when I use the bellows for high magnifications and my plate ends up farther ahead of the flash than pictured.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  7. Sammyboy

    Sammyboy m43 Pro

    Oct 26, 2010
    Steeler Country
    I get really good results using a diffuser from my Nikon SB-800 flash on an Olympus FL-36R. About 90% of the time I use TTL AUTO. No problems.

    The first photo shows an E-P2 mounted on a 65-116 extension tube with an EL Nikon 50mm /2.8 mounted in reverse. Everything is mounted on a focusing rail, and that is mounted on a micro milling table. This set-up is not used in the field as shown, but the camera, extension tube and lens can be easily removed from the focusing rail and used for field work. The flash is used off camera and focusing is done by body movement (at lower magnifications) or mounted on a tripod. When using my 80mm or 135mm macro OM Zuiko's, focusing can be done using the focus ring on the lens, but when hand holding the flash, body movement focusing is the best.

    The second photo shows the diffuser on the flash. For use in the field I do tape the diffuser to the flash just for security, it does fit snug, but there is no snap or catch to hold it on. These diffusers can be bought from Amazon for about USD 7.00, they are listed to fit Nikon SB-600 and Olympus FL-36





     
    • Like Like x 1
  8. apicius9

    apicius9 Mu-43 Veteran

    348
    Feb 1, 2010
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    So, do you have a whole service of plates with different sized holes for the different lenses you use? :)

    Sammy, do you reverse the lens to connect it with a step ring or does that have any other benefit? I have a similar set-up but I have to admit that I have not much to show, yet, not enough time :frown: I found a c-mount bellows which is nice because it is a bit smaller and works great with the small c-mount lenses - actually makes it quite portable... It came with a Schneider 80/2.8 which is really nice. And with a simple M39-c-mount adapter it takes small enlarging lenses. The only issue is that I need a small c-mount tube between bellows and camera, otherwise it would not screw on the GH2 because of the Protruding VF. Anyway, the plate looks like the best low-cost solution I have seen so far. I tried one of these blow-up diffusors, but the lenses are too long and I get shadows.

    To the OP: Sorry for rambling - not much to contribute, but I have similar questions to yours...

    Stefan
     
  9. ckrueger

    ckrueger Mu-43 Veteran

    304
    Jul 16, 2011
    If you want a quick snoot, check out Rosco Cinefoil:

    Rosco 24"x25' Black Cinefoil Roll

    Imagine aluminum foil, but thicker and more rigid, and matte black. I have never bought or made a real snoot, but this stuff works pretty good. You can shape it however you like and it can be bent back and forth numerous times. I use it to make interesting light shapes on my studio backdrop with a flash gun. Just be careful not to cut yourself on it!

    Wow, 4:1 on M43? That's some serious magnification! I shouldn't have any power problems with my little FL-36R if you're able to shoot at 4:1. 1:1 is as far as my 35/3.5 goes, and given that 1:1 gives me 17mm coverage I doubt I'll ever go much further. I rarely shot beyond 2:1 on my 5D.

    I'm going to have to try something like a plate and play around a bit. My old Lumiquest Mini Softbox was too directional when I was playing before. I think my big problem is getting the light closer to the subject so it's not so directional. Do you just rely on the snugness of the styrofoam to keep the plate in place, Dragos?

    Sammyboy, how do you secure the flash when you shoot handheld?
     
  10. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
  11. sprinke

    sprinke Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 5, 2011
    Pasadena, CA
    Debi
    Dragos, is that paper, or styrofoam? It kind of looks like styrofoam to me.
     
  12. photoSmart42

    photoSmart42 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    628
    Feb 12, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    :smile: No, just one set. I punch holes in the plates depending on the filter/thread size for a particular lens combination.
     
  13. photoSmart42

    photoSmart42 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    628
    Feb 12, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    I normally punch a hole in the plate (offset to give me more plate coverage on top of the lens so it absorbs more flash lighting) based on the filter I use. If you look carefully in the photo I posted above, you can kinda tell that the plate is sandwiched between my Leitz achromat and the lens. For my enlarging lenses I sandwich the plate between the lens and the adapter. Basically I try to push the plate out as close to the front element as possible to give me the most lighting close to my images object (and to avoid any shadows).
     
  14. photoSmart42

    photoSmart42 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    628
    Feb 12, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    It's a foam plate. Found it easier to work with than the paper ones, and I think the diffusion qualities of the foam are also better than the paper. I bought a pack of 50 Hefty 8.875 inch plates, and have only used about 4 of them so far. They do wear out eventually from constantly pressing them against vegetation, but overall they're surprisingly sturdy.
     
  15. scottz

    scottz Mu-43 Regular

    135
    Jun 18, 2011
    Littleton, CO
    With the recent influx of new macro shooters due to the sale Olympus just ran on the 60mm f2.8 (myself included), I wanted to bring this older thread back up and see what everyone is using for light, especially the creative DIY methods.

    Sent from my DROID RAZR using Mu-43 mobile app
     
  16. scottz

    scottz Mu-43 Regular

    135
    Jun 18, 2011
    Littleton, CO
    OK, no one else has anything so I'll talk about my plan. I recently picked up a T20 flash and liked it's compact size. Not much control over it though. It has 3 settings - full power, auto at f4 and auto at f8. I just ordered a set of cheap wireless triggers from Amazon and also found a second T20 there for $20 shipped. I plan to build a flash bracket that places the flashes on their sides alongside the lens, slightly angled in. I'll come up with diffusers later if needed. I can always use a foam ring at the end of the lens barrel if nothing else.

    I will have some ability to balance between right and left by utilizing the 3 power settings on the flashes. Once I get it fabbed up I'll post some pics of the rig. I should be well under $75 for this setup.

    Sent from my DROID RAZR using Mu-43 mobile app
     
  17. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I use a longer lens (~100mm gives me more than enough working distance), and shoot all my macro with my regular studio or speedlights, just like I do product shots.
     
  18. DaveL

    DaveL Mu-43 Regular

    38
    Apr 13, 2012
    Rhode Island
    Don't know how much interest there is in this but for those shooters on a budget and who don't mind continuous lighting, this looks promising. For $30 you get two articulated arms each with hi and lo power light settings. http://www.promaster.com/products.asp?product=2010