Macro focusing rail

Started May 31, 2010 | Discussions
cokes
Regular MemberPosts: 158
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Macro focusing rail
May 31, 2010

I'm beginning to get into macro photography. Mostly playing around right now. I looked up some macro focusing rail equipment and was surprised at how much they cost!

I checked on eBay and found some for around $24 and was wondering if anyone has any experience with it. The brand is Fotomate. I couldn't find any reviews for this equipment..

http://cgi.ebay.com/New-2-way-Macro-Focus-Rail-Slider-Canon-Nikon-Sony-/200475793929?cmd=ViewItem&pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2ead49da09

Thanks~

Leswick
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Re: Macro focusing rail
In reply to cokes, May 31, 2010

If you are really into macro....then you should look for quality rail. I hear Manfrotto and Novoflex are really good. Check what Amazon, Adorama and B&H have to offer....and do some search. They are not cheap.....but I did say quality.

Leswick

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Gary J Jensen
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Re: Macro focusing rail
In reply to Leswick, May 31, 2010

Leswick wrote:

If you are really into macro....then you should look for quality rail. I hear Manfrotto and Novoflex are really good. Check what Amazon, Adorama and B&H have to offer....and do some search. They are not cheap.....but I did say quality.

Leswick

Yes, Novoflex has a number of different models, all very well constructed. [They're offered with several different "quick release" systems.]

The Bogen/Manfrotto 3419 is less expensive, yet is very good for fine adjustments. This comes with just 1/4" and 3/8" screw mounting [changeable], but you can add a quick release mount if you desire.

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KEVZPHOTOS
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Re: Macro focusing rail
In reply to cokes, May 31, 2010

cokes wrote:

I'm beginning to get into macro photography. Mostly playing around right now. I looked up some macro focusing rail equipment and was surprised at how much they cost!

IF you are serious about macro photography...then spending a few hundred bucks on a decent rail shouldn't be an issue. A focus rail needs to be a quality precision instrument...so don't expect to get one for peanuts.

My Novoflex Castel Q system was under $400 (per unit)...double if you want the X and Y axis.

Plus, you will need a decent 'geared head' too for macro...I suggest the Manfrotto 410...which is quite cheap but good.

KEV
http://kvincentphotography.ca/macro
http://kvincentphotography.ca/designerflorals

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cokes
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Re: Macro focusing rail
In reply to KEVZPHOTOS, May 31, 2010

So I take it from the responses a focus rail isn't worth investing in unless I go for a good one. I'm just starting out photography. I've been playing with a reverse lens mount that I acquired for $15. I'm not serious about macro, but I really enjoyed working with it. I'm a student and I run on a small budget.

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KEVZPHOTOS
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Re: Macro focusing rail
In reply to cokes, May 31, 2010

cokes wrote:

So I take it from the responses a focus rail isn't worth investing in unless I go for a good one. I'm just starting out photography. I've been playing with a reverse lens mount that I acquired for $15. I'm not serious about macro, but I really enjoyed working with it. I'm a student and I run on a small budget.

Don't worry...you can still take macro shots without all the accessories...just don't expect 'optimal' results...but hey, that probably won't matter in the learning stages.

I'd suggest that you go out and buy a decent 'used' dedicated macro (1:1 ratio) lens and then see "IF" you reeally enjoy/like this approach to photography...then, later on you can always invest more $$$ into it.

KEV

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Bob Nichol
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Re: Macro focusing rail
In reply to cokes, Jun 1, 2010

I use the Velbon Super Mag Slider http://www.velbon.co.uk/newvelbon/pages/accessories2.html for my Nikon D300 and it does the job. Paid about $100 for it.
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BillCarr
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Re: Macro focusing rail
In reply to cokes, Jun 1, 2010

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1039&message=31645258&changemode=1

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1029&message=27558250&changemode=1

(FYI, the 'henryp' in those threads is Henry Posner of B&H Photo, who I believe used to be a professional photographer in a previous life.)

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JetCrocodile
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Re: Macro focusing rail
In reply to cokes, Jun 1, 2010

Hi!

Some time ago I bought macro focusing rail on ebay for about 30 USD,
works fine. Have to admit that I do not use it much.

Regards,

Sven

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Dave Martin
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Re: Macro focusing rail - adequate
In reply to cokes, Jun 1, 2010

cokes wrote:

So I take it from the responses a focus rail isn't worth investing in unless I go for a good one. I'm just starting out photography. I've been playing with a reverse lens mount that I acquired for $15. I'm not serious about macro, but I really enjoyed working with it. I'm a student and I run on a small budget.

The responses are misleading. An inexpensive focusing rail will be sufficient for most purposes.

I have a $35 4-way Chinese focusing rail that has proven to be a valuable tool for me.

The rail you indicated looks like a good bet to me. Building such things is not rocket science until very high precision and repeatability are required; neither are necessary for casual, low magnification macro work.

All you really need is a smooth, non-wiggling slide that can be locked & I'll bet the slide you showed is up to that task.

However, you might find a 4 way set of rails more functional for your work; lateral motions of the camera are just as difficult as axial ones at 1:1 magnifications.

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rsn48
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Try this macro rail - 4 way - cheap
In reply to JetCrocodile, Jun 1, 2010

This rail at Adorama is selling for roughly $180 but you can purchase this copy for $35. I know two people here on this forum who use this macro rail (its adjustable 4 way) and are happy with it.

Here's a link to the budget Asian knock off of the Adorama, personally I suspect the Adorama and this one are the same (Adorama being many hundred of percents more), this one, $35:

http://cgi.ebay.ca/4-way-Macro-Shot-Focusing-Rail-Slider-for-SLR-DSLR-DC_W0QQitemZ250619241015QQcmdZViewItemQQptZDigital_Camera_Accessories?hash=item3a5a122237

Here's a review of the Adorama rail - same one:

http://www.adorama.com/Reviews/pwr/product-reviews/Tripods/Misc-Camera-Supports/Adorama/p/MCFRS-Adorama-Macro-Focusing-Rail-Set-4-Way-Fine-Control-Camera-Focusing-Rail-to-Aid-in-Tripod-Mounted-Macro-Photography.html

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David Heinrich
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Re: Try this macro rail - 4 way - cheap
In reply to rsn48, Jun 14, 2010

I have used the adorama knockoff macro focusing rail. It gets the job done, but that's about it. It was not a pleasure to work with, I never quite felt my Olympus E3 was completely safe on it. Oh yea, one of the rails came loose from the other and fell off...I ended up having to use Locktite to secure it. I ended up selling it.

The rails I'm now thinking about:

Manfrotto 3419 / 454 micrometric
UN Two Way Precision Macro Focusing Rail for Copy Stand
Minolta or Vivitar focusing rail
Velbon Super Magnesium Slider

Linhof Macro/Stereo Focusing Slide #003834

The Linhof is uber-heavy duty, good for up to 4x5 easily.

and I am looking at the Fotomate. It looks less gimmicky than the Adorama or Adorama knockoff. I also like the 2 screws for securing the camera and possibly the lens or macro bellows.

The Manfrotto is also very heavy duty, because it uses the worm-thread design (I think it supports 17 lbs, 7.5 kg). However, I've read that it may be very difficult when working > 1:1.

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photoion
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Re: Try this macro rail - 4 way - cheap
In reply to David Heinrich, Sep 13, 2011

I bought one of this for my courses; this 4 way focusing rail is not bad at all for this price.

I run photography courses in London and I bought it for my courses, for people to learn macro photography and practice with it. This gadget works really well, I was reluctant at the beginning and but i really liked it; it has a smooth movement, the adjustments knobs are quite handy and it can be split in two which is good considering you might not need both rails, Overall, a solid, well built piece of kit. It can also be used with the camera grip mounted. I recommend for those who want a budget macro tool.

Ion Paciu
Photoion Photography

http://www.photoion.co.uk
http://www.londondigitalphotographycourses.co.uk
http://www.peopleididntknow.co.uk

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Mfenwy
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Re: Macro focusing rail
In reply to cokes, 8 months ago

Like you - I am trying macro on a budget. I am trying an old prime lens reversed onto my basic lens and a reverse lens mount. I have recently purchased a Fotomate 4 way slide rail from Amazon at less than the $24 mentioned.

True - it is not up to the standard of a $400 - and you wouldn't expect it to be - but it is much better than moving the tripod or subject. The revesred lens gives me a 2:1 magnification and depth of field will be very small so a focusing rail is very useful.

I subscribe to the 'Ugly hedgehog' photographic forum and often see questions similar to yours and similar replies recommending spending hundreds of dollars because someone else has. I get the impression - especially from the Americans - that they have thousands of dollars spare to splash on their hobby but do not understand that not everyone is so lucky or willing to throw money at something.

My recommendation would be to go for the cheap one to start. If you do not get very interested in macro photography - then there has been little outlay. If you really get serious about macro - then you will have gained a good idea of what you really require.

The Adorama 'knockoff' is probably a better option than the Fotomate as it has a much better gear rack and so should be smoother to operate.

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D Cox
Senior MemberPosts: 8,360
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Re: Macro focusing rail
In reply to cokes, 8 months ago

cokes wrote:

So I take it from the responses a focus rail isn't worth investing in unless I go for a good one. I'm just starting out photography. I've been playing with a reverse lens mount that I acquired for $15. I'm not serious about macro, but I really enjoyed working with it. I'm a student and I run on a small budget.

An alternative to a separate rail is a bellows with its own focussing rail, such as the Nikon PB-4. Have a look on eBay.

Olympus made a similar bellows but I gather there are some nylon pads in this design which are now cracking. They could probably be replaced if one has access to a 3D printer.

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hdr
hdr
Senior MemberPosts: 1,755Gear list
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Re: Macro focusing rail
In reply to cokes, 8 months ago

cokes wrote:

So I take it from the responses a focus rail isn't worth investing in unless I go for a good one. I'm just starting out photography. I've been playing with a reverse lens mount that I acquired for $15. I'm not serious about macro, but I really enjoyed working with it. I'm a student and I run on a small budget.

Me too... I'm not that seriously  into macro stuff, so I'm quite happy with my iShoot brand focusing rail...

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Super16mman
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Re: Macro focusing rail
In reply to cokes, 8 months ago

Check out this macro rail: http://www.fotodioxpro.com/fotodiox-macro-focusing-rail.html

It's pretty solid. I used it to make this macro video: http://vimeo.com/88918978

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