reversing a lens for cheap macro

Started Aug 24, 2013 | Discussions thread
Leonard Migliore
Leonard Migliore Forum Pro • Posts: 15,164
Nikon's miserable Live View

Michael Benveniste wrote:

To get this shot, I mounted the D800 with 70-300mm VR and reversed 45mm on a Beseler Copystand designed for medium format gear. I then brought a full-spectrum CFL in a reflector as close to the coin and camera as I dared. Next I "prefocused" by using the copystand adjustments until I could see the lettering in the viewfinder. I then switched to Live View, moved as far away from the rig as my MC-30 release would allow, held my breath, let Live View acquire focus and took the shot. The results, as you can see, are not exactly spectacular.

Prefocusing is necessary because the minimum and maximum focus distance of this combination differ by only about 4mm. With the 55-300mm and 35mm f/1.8, it would be even less. Working distance was probably in the 50-70mm range.

In my opinion, lens quality, vibration, and focus accuracy all contribute to the softness of this shot. Neither the 70-300mm nor the 45mm is designed for this, and the CA on the right side of the shot is probably just the tip of an iceberg of aberrations. I shot this on the second floor, and I could quite clearly see vibration in live view when I moved or breathed. Finally, it appears that live view tried to maximize the contrast of the surface scratches rather than the lettering.

What you ran into is Nikon's horrible live view. Unless the D800 does things differently from older Nikon DSLR's, what happens is that when you press the shutter in live view, the mirror comes back down (to check exposure), the shutter closes, the mirror goes back up, the shutter opens to take the picture, the shutter closes and the mirror comes back down.

Now the stuff that happens after the shutter closes has no effect but when you use live view, you get two mirror actuations and two shutter actuactions before the exposure. It's nearly impossible to get sharp high-magnification images when the camera is shaking around like that.

I have given up on Nikon for macro and use a Canon instead. Canon's silent mode does not move the mirror or shutter prior to exposure and produces excellent sharpness at high magnifications.

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Leonard Migliore

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