Showcase Tamron SP AF 180mm F3.5 LD (IF) Macro 1:1

piggsy

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Just realised I never got around to making a showcase for this guy.

Ed - this got front paged unexpectedly! This wasn't really edited with that in mind, it's just some of the nicer photos I took with the lens. There's a flickr album of more with it here:

Tamron 180mm f3.5 SP AF Di LD IF Macro

I'll try and a little editorial to some otherwise contextless pictures as I go!

These next shots are some of the flower portraits I took after growing these cosmos out - basically just as a test of how to do backgrounds. There's a whole album of them here:

flower portraits with tamron 180mm

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These next few are from one of the first 3 or so session I took with the lens when I first got it. I had it rigged to a flash bracket with two flashes (FL600r and i40) mounted on arms either side of it. This is an incredibly heavy setup (close to 3 kilos really once you tally everything) and I kind of despaired at ever being able to use it. I'm not a tripod shooter, I take the camera with me as I walk around and shoot as I go. So while these turned out OK, the pain of getting them wasn't really endearing me to the lens in any way.

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This is what happens when you try and shoot it as a conventional macro lens - you get very very directional light, the range and the inverse square law drops your flash power and this means you can't really diffuse the flash acceptably. 50-100cm, F5.6-F8, you are up against it trying to get good light.
 
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piggsy

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And the lens -



-ed

So this turned out to be the key to using it! Forget the flashes, work with it as a natural light lens, and add a thing to help hold it steady. It's not the lens you take with you very early in the morning and try and get flash shots of sleeping bugs, you go out later and take photos of animals when they're active, at a range that doesn't disturb them as much. The pistol grip is a P&C branded one but as far as I know these are all just a generic item and any of the $8 versions you see on ebay are the same thing. It handily has a loop for a peak design clip and a tripod socket on the base for a black rapid strap.

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The one thing that almost ended this len's career here. The circular screw at the left there slowly stripped the screw threads off, and was held like a latch rather than screwed in for some time. Very lucky to discover this as I took the lens off and put it down, so it flopped onto my bed, rather than as I swung it around upside down on the pistol grip minutes before. The tripod holder is a generic item Tamron make that suits their 70-200 superzoom also. Tamron Australia were pretty good about replacing it cheaply.
 
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piggsy

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These next couple are from two sets that got frontpaged, at which point I was pretty taken with the lens.

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^ as well as using it handheld with a pistol grip, the other key to using the lens is getting onto natural light focus stacking. With photoshop, this is actually quite easy. Photoshop in particular has much, much more tolerant aligning of layers than anything else, and can easily skew them as a set of intersecting focal planes with different geometry. For this shot, the flower (lemon bergamot) was swept from side to side by the wind so much that even at this range it was travelling in and out of frame.

It's stitched together out of (IIRC) 6 different exposures, with really the minimum level of plausibility as far as the focal plane goes - if you look close you notice that I really only have enough in focus in some shots to make one part of the focal plane mesh properly, and the rest pops in and out. I was lucky to be left with enough material here to make it so your eye could follow this around in a circle from the butterfly to the spider without it looking like there was a massive gap.


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This above is what you can expect from F5.6 at even reasonable macro-like ranges..... not much eh?! This shot also plays to the out of focus transitions quite well, where even bright sunlit white flowers can be tamed and not look distracting as a background, and we have a nice predictable texture coming past the front plane. There are other transitions it likes less than this of course, but if you play to its strengths it usually turns out well. I think this was the first shot I took with it that really seriously impressed me in terms of its sharpness at the focal plane and transition out of it.

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Some lesser shots here. Some others I took with the Tamron 180 for that set ran into a little shutter shock at around 1/160 - 1/200 on the E-P5, I've since learned to ditch iso200 and go up from there if I can avoid it.

The whole 2016 butterfly album is here -

2016 butterfly album

The mu-43 thread for the edited set of these pictures (some of the ones I got with the Bokina 90 of extreme closeups were pretty damn good even if I do say so myself) is here -

butterfly potion

The next ones are from a set I don't think I could've gotten with anything else - very macro kind of distances of a very nervous bee in very challenging conditions (high wind, high shutter speed subject, extreme dynamic range in the scene).

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Mu-43 thread here -

secret bee rituals

flickr album here -

secret bee rituals

This was the first set where I worked out you can actually crank the iso up to quite high levels (1000+) and still get some nice detailed shots. I was swearing a lot at it at the time and seriously considered switching out of m43 until I worked out ways to properly layer and process photos in photoshop to get around the noise issues. If I did it again I definitely wouldn't pick this set to learn to do it though, it's essentially the wedding shoot from hell. Imagine if you were out in bright australian sun trying to get the groom breakdancing under the bride's dress and you had to make red and orange look natural in every shot. Not at all a fun time in front of the computer.
 
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piggsy

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Some from using it as a birding lens over the last 6 months or so...

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Rainbow Lorikeet feeding on grevillea by <PIG>, on Flickr

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Rainbow Lorikeet feeding on grevillea by <PIG>, on Flickr

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Rainbow Lorikeet feeding on grevillea by <PIG>, on Flickr

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Rainbow Lorikeet feeding on grevillea by <PIG>, on Flickr

ed - more of this set here:

rainbow lorikeets

Although that blue faced honeyeater shot is pretty great, that was a comparatively static subject - this was the set I did that convinced me you can actually use this as a birding lens. Rainbow lorikeets are very active birds and don't move in much of a predictable way, they're challenging even with flawless autofocus. But if you keep plugging away and keep the shutter speed high, with good light, you'll get stuff sharp enough to moire on the features wide open.

Also of interest: this is a macro lens deliberately designed to produce a flat field (0.116% according to photozone) with 14 elements and 11 groups. Something to bear in mind when you are told you need low element count to produce 3d looking images :p

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wagtail attack by <PIG>, on Flickr

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wagtail attack by <PIG>, on Flickr

ed - more of this set here:

wagtail attack

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wet blue faced honeyeater by <PIG>, on Flickr

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wet blue faced honeyeater by <PIG>, on Flickr

ed - more of this set here :

blue-faced honeyeater

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female fairy wren by <PIG>, on Flickr

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white egret by <PIG>, on Flickr

more of this set here:

bowies flat wetland
 
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piggsy

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Some higher iso (800 to 1600+2ev in post) focus stacks of natural light macrophotography, shot wide open.

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crab spider crabwalking by <PIG>, on Flickr

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tiny frog by <PIG>, on Flickr

ed - more of this set here:

amphibians

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natural light focus stack of large male orchard butterfly by <PIG>, on Flickr

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natural light focus stack of large male orchard butterfly by <PIG>, on Flickr

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poop spider nest by <PIG>, on Flickr

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poop spider nest by <PIG>, on Flickr

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golden dragonfly by <PIG>, on Flickr

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golden dragonfly by <PIG>, on Flickr

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jumping spider caterpillar snack by <PIG>, on Flickr

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jumping spider caterpillar snack by <PIG>, on Flickr

So the other key to using this for natural light macro, other than photoshop, is neat image -

Neat Image

it's a cool piece of software that can create a unique noise profile per image that can account for things like sensor heat, boosted colour channels in post, in-camera sensor artifacts, low profile noise from in-camera sharpening or NR, etc. And it allows you to selectively sharpen and noise reduce different frequencies of signal, rather than just having an overall slider, so you can say, selectively leave a % of high frequency noise in, under-sharpen large transitions to avoid haloing around a subject's body, etc. And working with layers lets you profile different areas of the image differently quite easily. The handiest tool for using it is photoshop's "select focus" tool, apparently adobe have a new version of this coming that selects subjects via machine learning rather than just some kind of density/contrast detection.

So anyway - being able to recover tiny details that are otherwise a fairly indistinct bit of blob at iso1600+, and make them sharp without making them noisy or overly crunchy, is pretty handy. If you had asked me if I could get a good pretty close shot of a moving jumping spider under a leaf on an overcast day at f3.5, with no flash at all, I would've said no, up til fairly recently :p
 
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Some higher iso (800 to 1600+2ev in post) focus stacks of natural light macrophotography, shot wide open.

View attachment 571488crab spider crabwalking by <PIG>, on Flickr

View attachment 571489tiny frog by <PIG>, on Flickr

View attachment 571495natural light focus stack of large male orchard butterfly by <PIG>, on Flickr

View attachment 571496natural light focus stack of large male orchard butterfly by <PIG>, on Flickr

View attachment 571490poop spider nest by <PIG>, on Flickr

View attachment 571491poop spider nest by <PIG>, on Flickr

View attachment 571497golden dragonfly by <PIG>, on Flickr

View attachment 571492golden dragonfly by <PIG>, on Flickr

View attachment 571493jumping spider caterpillar snack by <PIG>, on Flickr

View attachment 571494jumping spider caterpillar snack by <PIG>, on Flickr
Unbelievable! Fantastic ! They stayed still for long enough to allow you to do focus stack? How many shots did you use for each of these magnificent photos please?
 

piggsy

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Unbelievable! Fantastic ! They stayed still for long enough to allow you to do focus stack? How many shots did you use for each of these magnificent photos please?
Well, one advantage of natural light is that you aren't limited by your flash cycle time - so you can pretty much go as fast as your shutter (I think 1/160 at the slowest here but 1/200-320 is a lot safer) allows. You can also - subject permitting - get shots where only one part of the subject moves. If you've got that one section leg or antenna complete in any selection of frames, in a way you can isolate it from everything else with a layer or magic wand etc, you just keep that one and composite it in. Photoshop/zerene do a good job isolating local movements IF you give it just that set to work with, so any one piece of a subject that doesn't move in ways that totally screw you (rotating or rolling where you have no data for certain sections of it) can usually be saved.

The closeups of the orchard butterfly in this set were done like that with the closer shot involving 5 different composites of different pieces into one shot. The total for that one was I think something like 10 or 15 shots at f3.5, which doesn't add up to much DOF for all the work involved aligning and stacking. But still better than trying to salvage macro from what would have been deep into extended ISO trying to get it in one. Most of the others were about 3-5 shots. There's a video guide to how to do this here -


the only real difficulty I've run into with it is that zerene doesn't really handle alpha-blank bits of a subject, so if you've got bits of the subject at the shot edges and auto-aligning them gives you certain shots with blank space, you need to fix that somehow before it gets sent over.
 
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piggsy

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piggsy

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little friarbird observes spider by PIG, on Flickr

ed - more of this set here:

friarbirds

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currawong stripping casuarina by PIG, on Flickr

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spangled drongo portrait by PIG, on Flickr

ed - more of this set here -

spangled drongo

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grey fantail portrait by PIG, on Flickr

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Australian Brush-turkey by PIG, on Flickr

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olive backed oriole by PIG, on Flickr

ed - more of this set here:

olive-backed oriole

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butcherbird face by PIG, on Flickr

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fairy wren on vine by PIG, on Flickr

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Brown honey eater by PIG, on Flickr

ed - more of this set here -

brown honey eater

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wood duck at dawn by PIG, on Flickr

Still ridiculously far behind (I got properly sick, like, medically negligent not to have been sent to hospital immediately sick, don't recommend it at all, go get tests done if you think you are pissing too much at night, it could be an actual Thing) on photos but some I remember having / not having posted here before.
 
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Still ridiculously far behind (I got properly sick, like, medically negligent not to have been sent to hospital immediately sick, don't recommend it at all, go get tests done if you think you are pissing too much at night, it could be an actual Thing) on photos but some I remember
Hope you are better mate! Looking forward to more posts!
 
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piggsy

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Hope you are better mate! Looking forward to more posts!
Just about over it now - another couple weeks of antibiotics. But, holy crap, I was apparently about as infected as you can be without actually being in septic shock and the first dr I saw just sent me out with a script for antibiotics and didn't really follow up on the tests. The different medical practice I went to a couple weeks later freaked out when they saw the tests when they came back and called me at home and on my mobile to come in urgently - since I wasn't horribly sick by that point, I assumed this meant some truly evil shit had been found, but it was just that they'd misread the date on my results and thought the first lot were the followup tests they did.

Anyway so - pissing at night more than once every so often: this can be an infection with zero other symptoms or pain of any kind that can go from being an occasional annoyance to potentially lethal in the space of about 24-48 hours, and if that's something you do, go and see a doctor.
 

piggsy

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Haha talkin' about my piss on the front page.

Some other recent birds:


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one eyed blue faced honeyeater hunting leaf curling spiders by PIG, on Flickr

ed - more of this set here:

spider hunters

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australian brush turkey by PIG, on Flickr

ed - more of this set here:

bird of the year

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scaly-breasted lorikeet by PIG, on Flickr

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blue faced honeyeater on bottlebrush by PIG, on Flickr

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pale headed rosella takeoff by PIG, on Flickr

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zorro pale headed rosella by PIG, on Flickr

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pale headed rosella munching seeds on a rusty iron bar by PIG, on Flickr

ed - more of this set here:

pale headed rosellas

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scaly breasted lorikeet on bottlebrush by PIG, on Flickr

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scaly breasted lorikeet on bottlebrush by PIG, on Flickr

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scaly breasted lorikeet on bottlebrush by PIG, on Flickr

ed - more of this set here:

scaly breasted lorikeets
 
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piggsy

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Some other recent bugs:

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blue triangle butterfly by PIG, on Flickr

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blue triangle butterfly on blue tongue by PIG, on Flickr

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blue triangle butterfly backlit on vine by PIG, on Flickr

ed - more of this set here -

blue triangle butterfly


Some others from a recent photo trip that aren't really done yet but are sorta shareable. I have a fantastic set from some trips I made earlier to the mt coot-tha botanic gardens where I got loads of shots of mating dragonflies and damselflies (so many that literally half the shots I had focussed on one pair have another 1 or 2 pairs also mating, including some in flight) but the stacking of that stuff is going to take a while.

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