Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Macro To My World

Question: What could a 10X macro camera lens do for me?

(And another good question: How much money would I be willing to risk to find out?)

Here's how close my Canon EOS Rebel T2i  is able to shoot on its macro (close up) setting (the little flower icon) using just the 18-55 mm lens that came with the camera.

The closest I can get to anything to take a picture on that setting is 0.25m/0.8 ft.
That means I have to stay eight inches away in order to obtain a clear focus and have the camera take the picture.

By screwing the little 10X macro lens in front of the camera's regular lens I am then able shoot a picture from only 2 inches away.
The drawback is that being that close up changes the depth of field capacity; in other words, the amount of the scene that is in focus gets pretty small.
Hence the sharp focus pin, and slightly blurry sewing machine bobbin.

Of course I could (and usually do...) just crop the picture to make it into a close up.
That's what I did with the first picture to make this picture.
The whole picture stays clearer that way.

(I used to be able to get into pollen level close with my old Sony Point and Shoot camera.  It really bummed me out that my DSLR Canon couldn't keep up with the little camera in a macro shoot.)

But wait!
There's more to it!

Fabric photographed using a regular shooting setting on my DSLR Canon.

Fabric photographed using the on-camera macro setting.

Fabric photographed using the 10X macro lens added on.

Which allows (from the previous picture), cropping down to a single woven square.
This degree of detail is the result of having the 10X macro power added to my camera!

Plus there are some pretty cool "artist" effects that can be created using the lens.
The focused middle with the blurred edges is pretty neat.

(A similar effect can be made by using the portrait setting on a camera, or some cameras have a blurred background/focused foreground setting. 

Incidentally, a landscape setting (usually the icon is a couple of mountains) focuses both the foreground and the background and takes a wider shot.

Just a bit of added camera trivia that I picked up along the way.

Any way....I was noodling around on a camera tutoring web page and happened to be reading people's answers to which camera lens they couldn't live without.
I started looking at lens, and lens prices, and then decided to see what  kind of prices were to be had for lenses acquired on ebay.

I stumbled on a lens dealer out of Hong Kong who was selling a 10X macro for Canon cameras for a grand total of $16 with free shipping to boot.

Sixteen bucks.

What the hey....how bad could I strike out at that price?

I read the seller's ratings and comments by customers; everyone seemed totally satisfied.
Two clicks later and I was the proud winner of a 10X macro lens.
An email arrived with congratulations and the advice to be patient since the lens was being shipped all the way from Hong Kong.  

I should be prepared to wait for at least three weeks.

So while I waited the world spun, elements of my life changed, snow fell and then melted.
I spent time shooting lots and lots of distance shots down in the red rock country.
I can't think of a single shot where I might have had a need for a macro lens.

On Monday I noticed that my crocus were blooming outside.

I started hoping the lens would arrive soon.

I did some reading about photographing flowers...

Then today, just when I was wishing for some good news in my life, a small package plastered with  beautiful bird stamps arrived, all the way from Hong Kong.

I wasted little time giving the lens a work out.  These are my first pictures using the lens! 

(See? I thought  right away about my blogging buddies and took fabric and bobbin pictures to illustrate what was happening with me, my camera and my new lens.)

One of the "artistic" elements that can happen with the lens is sometimes getting a circular frame around the subject of the picture.  I think that is kind of fun sometimes, but I can always crop the dark circle out if I want.
Or I can learn to use the lens better.  Skill will come with a little patience and practice I hope...this isn't just point and shoot kind of work. 

The camera won't shoot unless the range is right and it is difficult for me to figure out two inches except by physically moving the camera around.

The size of the focal point is tied into the f stop and the ISO and timer usage.
I haven't even begun to mess around with those technical details. 
I just have been on my knees poking my camera two inches away from flowers and trying to figure out how to hold my hands as steady as possible as I click.
(I can really see my slightest hand tremble while I am focusing.  My mini tripod or a bean bag camera rest will come in handy when I really get up and running with this new lens.)

For now I am just very happy with the blurry background effects and how close I can crop into  my shots.

And considering the future of Japanese imports, I am both a bit taken aback and thankful that I got a lens made in Japan before all the horrors that have befallen the country.

I doubt any of us will ever see "Made in Japan" again without feeling a bit sobered.

(Bernie worked on the San Onofrey Nuclear Power plant in Southern California while it was being constructed.  I am peppering him with questions about what is happening in Japan and he is proving to be a well of information on the topic of nuclear disasters. It just seem impossible that so much can be happening in that country.)

(The paper work arrived with the lens, a carrying bag and a lens wipe. I used the paper work for my first picture, it demonstrates how the depth of field can be quite small when using a manual focus.  The paper work explained what options can be utilized to get various effects.)

(If you are interested in getting a lens like this or perhaps other lenses for other cameras, the ebay website is HERE.)


Lovella ♥ said...

Wow Jill. ..I will have to pull out my macro again and give it another go. I am so tuckered out right now I don't even have the gumption to get up and see what my macro lens is.
I sure do wish I could pop by and take some close up crocus pictures with you though.

Vicki said...

That's really neat, Jill. I am so envious of your nifty new camera. One day I'll have one, but with my short attention span, I'm not sure I'll be willing to study up on fully utilizing the camera and all of its settings. I'm more of a hands-on learner; guess I'll have to make a trip or two to attend a one-on-one instruction series with you as teacher! :)

ellen b. said...

I am very impressed with your skills with the camera Jill. I'm going to have to do some experimenting outside the world of AUTO :o)

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

You wasted no time in getting to know your new lens! Lovely macros. It sounds like a very good deal. Would I actually use it...is the question? I'm still trying to fine tune the macro on my good camera.

Marg said...

Isn't it interesting how much fun we can have with such a SIMPLE TOY?
Anyways...like you, all that photography stuff takes time..and I'm slowly learning about that F8 stuff..it will come..and we just need to be patient in taking those photos and understanding what's happening.
When I need quick fix, I'm glad I can always turn to my Snap and Shoot!

Ocean Soul said...

Congratulations Jill! Sheesh, every macro lens that I want for my NIKON comes with an application for a second mortgage! LOL. You did great artsy fartsy pics...totally loving it!