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Old May 1st, 2008, 04:16 PM   #1
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Lens question

Hello everyone!

I have been wondering how National Geographic gets such good close up pictures of insects for instance... Is it a Macro lens they use? Here is a picture to give an idea of what I'm talking about...
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Old May 1st, 2008, 04:44 PM   #2
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Yes macro lenses, sometimes pretty special rigs with bellows and focus rails. BUT the main thing with a lot of these shots will be that they shoot them under controlled conditions, often with plenty of lights, and often in a studio set. Sometimes the insects or reptiles or whatever may not even be in the same country that they are from, so you may get ants from Brasil filmed in a studio in New York or a zoo somewhere! Sorry if this dispels some of the mystique!
But, yes, from a lens point of view a macro like the micro Nikkors, the Tamron 90mm macro, and some specialist cine macros like Leica wireform conversions from Van Diemen.
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Old May 1st, 2008, 05:21 PM   #3
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Hi Terry,

Have a look at the image I posted in this url.

http://www.artpapa.com/forums/showth...=14985&page=31
http://www.artpapa.com/forums/showth...=14985&page=35
http://www.artpapa.com/forums/showth...=14985&page=32
http://www.artpapa.com/forums/showth...=14985&page=33

That was using my nikon d40 and vr 18-200 lens with a 58mm standard still lens reverse mount shot.

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Leigh
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Old May 1st, 2008, 05:25 PM   #4
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Nice work Leigh!
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Old May 1st, 2008, 05:30 PM   #5
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Hi Steve,

Thanks ;-)

Leigh
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Old May 1st, 2008, 08:05 PM   #6
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Leigh, I have to say you are just ridiculious when it comes to insect photos, and I mean that in a good way. All your photos are just absolutely breath taking. I'm supprized you don't work for National Geographic...which you might and I don't know it :)
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Old May 1st, 2008, 08:16 PM   #7
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Hi Terry,

Thanks for the comments.

I was surprised that I don't have lots of feedback about my photos I posted here and in www.artpapa.com and I thought that these photos might not fit people's taste.

After hearing what you said, I think that I should continue my insect's shot. ;-)

Regards
Leigh
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Old May 2nd, 2008, 12:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry Lee View Post
Hello everyone!

I have been wondering how National Geographic gets such good close up pictures of insects for instance... Is it a Macro lens they use? Here is a picture to give an idea of what I'm talking about...
I think to know for sure what they use, if it is on-site or in a studio, you'd need to contact the photographer. Normally somewhere near the image will be the photographer's name - then you could run that through Google and narrow it down, get an email address and ask. :-)

I just want to pipe in and say that you don't need a macro lens to get good images, you can use a zoom lens - reversed lens - and/or extension tubes to get close focusing on all your lenses. For now, I actually use extension tubes, but plan on also getting a macro lens this year or next ($950!).

Here is guy that is tops in the field (as far as I'm concerned) and he doesn't do his shots in a studio. He does these on-site where the bugs are at.
http://www.lordv.smugmug.com/
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Old May 2nd, 2008, 12:16 PM   #9
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Lisa, if you're talking about stills photography, then I agree. I thought these Nat Geo shots were from a TV show, but maybe I'm wrong. Certainly for TV work there tends to be a lot of set work, for the main reason that you can't use flash. Without flash it's generally impossible to get enough light to give sufficient depth of field to keep things in focus. In the 70s the pioneers from Oxford Scientific Films invented cool lights to stop their subjects being "cooked"! OSF were one of the main players in prime time TV shows like Life on Earth.
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Old May 2nd, 2008, 04:58 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Steve Phillipps View Post
Lisa, if you're talking about stills photography, then I agree. I thought these Nat Geo shots were from a TV show, but maybe I'm wrong. Certainly for TV work there tends to be a lot of set work, for the main reason that you can't use flash. Without flash it's generally impossible to get enough light to give sufficient depth of field to keep things in focus. In the 70s the pioneers from Oxford Scientific Films invented cool lights to stop their subjects being "cooked"! OSF were one of the main players in prime time TV shows like Life on Earth.
Steve

I had assumed we were talking stills here because it is in the stills category..I could be wrong.

There are definitely times where flash can't be used and i don't know how exactly they'd get crisp photos of a moving subject in "the wild" without light.

Of course there is always focus stacking if you are quick enough to get multiple exposures of a moving insect.
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Old May 8th, 2008, 09:45 AM   #11
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Well I am a complete newb when it comes to still photography. Right now I'm working with a Canon XT with an 18-55mm and a 75-300mm ultra telephoto lens. out of all the photos I took, I have one I am proud of. However, there isn't as much detail as I would like. I posted the photo below..



Lisa, you mention zoom lens - reversed lens - and/or extension tubes. Other than the zoom lens that I currently own, I'm not sure what reversed lens or extension tubes are...
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Old May 8th, 2008, 03:34 PM   #12
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Extension tubes are just metal tubes that attach to the camera and the lens attaches to the other end. As you move the lens further away from the camera it focusses closer. A reversing ring allows you to attach the lens backwards, also allows closer focus depending on the focal length of the lens.
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Old May 8th, 2008, 04:01 PM   #13
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I had an interesting experience recently. I like to manipulate the images I capture on film or video, like a kid mixing fountain drinks in a cup. Once I was trying to get Fast Nikkor lenses to fit (via an adapter) onto an Pentax M42 screw mount on a Russian super 16mm camera (K3). I took a series 7 filter holder and mounted it to the front of the Nikkor MF lens and then I went to an old timer optometrist ( who loves to mess with lenses and images as much as I do ) and asked him to cut me +5 +4 +3 and -1 -2 -3 lenses to fit the holder. Now I WANTED was a standard field of view, but what I GOT was almost like a set of micro lenses instead. It's been awhile so I'm not sure which Pentax mount/Nikkor lens /series 7 lens combination would result in the micro effect your looking for, but I know it worked and worked well. Cost me about $150 to do it.
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Old May 18th, 2008, 07:55 AM   #14
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Macro Gear

To get those super closeups most shooters will use a 1:1 macro lens like the Nikon 105VR with something called an extenstion tube. The thing with macro photography though is the closer you move to your subject, the shallower your DoF, so you need to use a really stop down aperture and you'll need a tripod or a massive amount of light. Otherwise you'll get like a bee's left eye in focus and the rest of the subject will be completely out of the circle of confusion.
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Old May 18th, 2008, 09:32 PM   #15
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Unfortunately, if you stop down too far in search of DOF, you start getting difraction effects that soften the whole image.

I used to do a lot of close up 5 x 7 photography using a process lens with a max aperture of f 11 (Min of f 90 as I recall). As you got to f 64 and higher, you'd get more DOF, but it began to get mushy.

And getting enough light was always a bear. The only good news was that the stuff I was photographing wasn't moving so I could use long exposures

But reciprociy failure would set in at long exposure times - ie there was minimal advantage to a 100 minute exposure compared to a 10 minute exposure. If not an actual disadvantage. And shadows tend to move as the sun moves during a long exposure.

I guess nothing is perfect.
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