cheaper macro lens instead of $1000 Nikon

Started Jul 16, 2013 | Questions thread
Cliff Fujii
Cliff Fujii Veteran Member • Posts: 8,307
Re: cheaper macro lens instead of $1000 Nikon

Well here is the conundrum, I read that as you increase the magnification of a macro lens, the VR element gets less effective. On the Nikon 105mm f/2.8 Micro Nikkor, at 1:1, there is no effective VR.

I would recommend macro stacking. If you have Photoshop CS5/6 or Helicon, you can create great macro shots. There are two ways to do focus stacking:

1 - focus the lens every time you are trying to get another focus slice (Helicon does that for you).

2 - Focus on either the bottom of top of the focus stack and use a macro rail to move the lens to get each exposure in the stack.

After you are done with your stack, you can load them in Photoshop or Helicon and blend the images. I recommend method 2 because there are less issues when you move the camera on the macro rail than when you refocus every time you want another slice. The reason for this is at macro magnifications, your focal length is altered every time you refocus.

Using method 1 is a lot cheaper if you have a macro lens. Since you have a Nikon DSLR, you can have Helicon control the refocusing the get the stack images.  You will need a computer interface cable for your camera.  This is where ultra portable tablets, like the Microsoft Surface Pro get really handy.  Helicon does the exposure and sliceng automatically. You just have to do some calculations. My issue has been that Nikon doesn't accurately report the distance to subject from the film plane. I have to use a tape measure to get an approximation then I plug in the values into VWDOF to get the DOF of the slices and setup the stack procedure. Below is a screenshot of VWDOF. Please note that you have to get the CoC (Circle of Confusion) size right or you images will look out of focus. The tool is free. With a CoC of .005mm, you have a DoF of less that 1mm at the minimum focusing distance of the Nikon 105mm f/2.8 Micro Nikkor. If your subject is .5" deep you will need 16 slices to get everything into focus.

I have a device called the StackShot (automated motorized macro rail).  It just came in so I'm trying to learn how to use it.  What's great about this device is that after you plug in the values and start the process, the StackShot will automatically shoot the image and move the rail for each exposure.  That way the angle of view doesn't change and it's easier to merge the images.  You should note that you will have to crop your image wide because of the way the macro rail changes what's photographed as you move closer.  Just crop wide and everything will be OK.

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