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LauraB 

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I would like to try and get some really close up pictures of my bees, without getting too close though! I've been looking at Macro lenses but they are very expensive for what I intend to use if for and wondered if there was an alternative to getting a bespoke macro lens, or recommendations for a macro lens if you think thats the route I should be taking. Must fit a Sony A200.

Thanks
 

tidymeup 

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You could try reversing a lens that you currently have and this will work as a macro lens. Although not always the perfect solution as you don't want the back of the lens dirty.

Plus you will have to do all of your settings manually.

I have used this before and achieved some really good results.
 

oliver90owner 

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Don't these only allow you to focus more clearly at closer quarters?

Sounds to me that the reasoning here is wrong as the macro allows you get that much closer?! What you need is a telephoto so you can take photos from further afield?

BUT with a telephoto you will lose a stop or two or even more, so depth of field and subject light collection will be reduced, needing longer exposure. A compromise whatever you do but a macro is best from very close distance I would have thought.

Just need to get a bit braver or cover up adequately before venturing too close. A tripod and remote trip might help for the less brave!

Regards, RAB
 

LauraB 

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The good Sony lenses allow you still to have a longer focal length but still with a good zoom capability. Might buy some of the cheap expansion tubes and see if that makes the bit of difference i'm after.
 
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A close-up lens fits onto the front of an SLR and will allow you to focus at about half the distance it could without the lens. Not sure if you can get them for the Sony but they are not expensive.

For taking pictures at the sort of magnification where a whole bee fills the screen you really do need a macro lens for best quality but extension tubes will also take pictures this close and you can use them with telephoto lenses.

For really close work you will also have to spend money on the right sort of lighting, a ring flash is good but v. expensive. A couple of smaller flash guns mounted on the front of the lens would be cheaper.
 

Mike a 

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This is from a Lumix 8meg compact camera



If you want stunning pictures like



You will need to spend a fair amount.
 

harveyzone 

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The cheapest option get yourself a set of extension tubes. Cheap ones will be manual focus only, but that is OK for macro. They will be as good as the lens you put on them. There is no glass in them so the image quality will be the same with cheap ones as expensive ones, but the build quality will not be as good, and they will not allow autofocus etc. There are loads on E-Bay etc This would be my suggestion if you are on a budget.

Depending upon your budget you could look out for a cheap Tamron 90mm macro or a sigma 105mm macro. My Tamron was about £150 (2nd hand), but they are goiing for around £200+. Jessops has them new at £250 at the moment which is a real bargain. You wont get much better, other than the Minolta/Sony 100mm macro for at a lot more cash.

You could buy some magnifying lenses (filters) but they do vary considerably in quality good ones are good, but bad ones - well, you can enlarge and crop and get better results! Buy a known brand that has had good reviews. You need to match the filter size for the lens that you are using, or buy larger and use a step down ring.

Or you could try reversing a lens, but I always found that fiddly, and you need to jam open the aperture, or use it fully stopped down.

Tom.
 

pbh4 

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I took this picture using a Canon EOS 1000D with some cheap extension tubes (from ebay) and a Canon fixed focal length 50 mm lens. To get a decent depth of focus it was necessary to stop down to f22 and use a flash for illumination. In order to focus, the front of the lens had to be roughly 5 cm from the bee. Unfortunately if the flash is mounted on the hot-shoe the lens shadows the flash light so I had to use a cable extension and manually hold the flash round at the side to avoid shadows. It was a bit hit and miss but the TTL metering worked and sorted out the exposure (make sure you get the right cable!) The bees did not seem to mind the flash - perhaps a good thing as I was only 5 cm away!

Though my extension tubes do support automatic focussing, I found it easier to use fixed focus and simply move the camera back and forth until it looked right. I think, however, that it is important to get the automatic extension tubes for another reason - they also support the aperture correctly so that it is only closed during the shot and you can actually see something at f22.

The fancy super-zoom lenses do not work so well with extension tubes as fixed focus lenses. The super-zoom lenses have non spherical optics designed to work fairly well as a compromise over the whole zoom range but they (mine at least) gave all sorts of strange aberrations with extension tubes.

I am still experimenting with this macro arrangement and I have found that the lighting can be improved by using a white reflector (a tissue or sheet of paper will do) on the other side of the lens opposite the flash. The problem is, you need three arms. Perhaps if I were a bee ...

Paul
 

psafloyd 

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You could try reversing a lens that you currently have and this will work as a macro lens. Although not always the perfect solution as you don't want the back of the lens dirty.

Plus you will have to do all of your settings manually.

I have used this before and achieved some really good results.
Unless we are talking really, really close, a simple zoom will satisfy most of your requirements. Have you tried taking any pics with your A200 (don't know the model as I am a Canon man) already? What were the results?

The best thing you could do is invest in a tripod, as that would allow you to get the camera nice and close, but steady, too. You could then even fire it off remotely, or on the timer.
 

LauraB 

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I've tried taking some pics but wasn't suited up so didn't get overly close, but i'll try and implement some of all your good suggestions if the weather stays as sunny as it is at the moment ... i'll just get my xmas list off to a start!
 
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