Friday, December 28, 2007

Update: Using a Binocular Objective lens as a magnifier

The roof prism in my small cheap Bushnell binocular got misaligned so I took apart the binoculars to fix it. It wasn't easy to put back together again so I just discarded the binocular but kept the objective lens. I read somewhere in my wanderings through the Web that the objective lens and actually any cheap magnifying lens could be held up to the camera lens to provide a cheap macro arrangement. Since my tiny Panasonic FX3 that I prefer to use over other cameras I own doesn't have filter mounting ring threads, the objective lens held up to the camera lens was a good solution for adding more macro power to the in camera macro.

I just handhold the binocular lens in contact with the cameras lens housing - see photo below. It works well probably doubling the power of the in camera macro. Of course different objective lenses would give more or less magnification. The binocular lens are also color corrected so color fringing is less of a problem than using a magnifying lens. The depth of field (DOF)seems to remain the same as with the in camera macro but the objects in the background are very nicely blurred much more so than with only the camera's macro. Definitely an improvement.

I also understand why these Bushnell binoculars were so cheap. Both objective lens are scratched. The scratches were unnoticeable when using it as a binocular and it doesn't seem to affect the photos either. I guess rather than throwing out flawed lenses they just created a bargain basement binocular.

Here's the objective lens of the binoculars and how it is hand held in front of the normal camera lens. Notice the lens has two elements or pieces of glass glued together. It also has a color corrected coating for truer colors and less color fringing.

You can see why I would prefer to use the Panasonic since it's much, much, lighter in weight, smaller, thinner and definitely more portable than the Canon especially when the lens adapter tube is attached to Canon so it can accept macro lenses.

Friday, June 15, 2007

More options for macro/micro photography

I've been too busy gardening and have neglected this blog. I hope to add more articles whenever there's a lull in the chores.

I saw a used set of the Raynox Micro Explorer set of 3 lenses from Adorama, so I bought it. It uses a clip on attachment to which the different lenses screw into. It clips onto the projecting threads normally used by the filters so you won't be able to use a filter with this setup. The lens comes in 6x, 12x and 24x powers. The lens glass elements are smaller in diameter than the filter diopter lens so the camera has to be set to the most extended telephoto setting or the vignetting will become evident. The 6x seems to give a 1:1 magnification and seems to be a good choice for most macros. The focusing is done by moving the camera back and forth. The autofocusing does not work, at least with the Canon A620 camera. This is rather a pain but works ok once you get used to the idiosyncrasy. This is a very high quality set of lenses. Much better than either of the diopter filter lens sets. They cut the cost by using smaller glass but used better coatings and compound lenses rather than a single lens. The diopter filter lens are essentially just magnifying glasses.

Using the diopter filter lens makes it possible to zoom in and out at will without the vignetting and the autofocusing works throughout the range but the resulting photos have blue fringing that the Raynox lens does not produce. I will show the results of the blue fringing at some other time.

The trouble with extreme powers is that it is almost impossible to handhold the camera, the depth of field becomes extremely shallow and it usually requires more light. Also the camera to subject distance becomes very small so if you have something live, it will probably scurry or fly away. In fact the distance is so small that lighting the subject properly becomes an issue unless you have a light box or lighted platform using dark field illumination. As it is, using the 6x Raynox lens gives a camera subject distance of about 9".

So there you have it. Three different ways to get into macro photography. Four if you use the in camera macro.

1. Macro filter diopter lens. I bought 2 sets, a Bower 4,2,1x and a Hoya 4,2,1x lens.
2. Raynox Micro Explorer set which includes the adapter and 6, 12 and 24x lens.
3. The Konica Hexanon AR 50 mm / F1.7 and reverse adapter ring.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

More equipment

I saw that the photos taken with the add on diopters no matter how many were stacked would not provide enough magnification. I read about reversing an ordinary 50mm single lens reflex camera lens by using a macro filter ring adapter. The adapter (filter) ring is has male threads on both ends so you screw one end into the existing lens or in my case the lens adapter and the other end into the filter threads on the front of the lens. When you're done it'll look weird because you see the back of the camera lens but it works. Easier to understand by looking at the photos.

I bought a excellent condition Konica Hexanon AR 50 F1.7 lens on Ebay for less than $20 shipping included. This lens is purported to be one of the sharpest lenses ever made and can be had for a pittance.

The macro reverse ring adapter was purchased online at The Filter Connection. The shipping was fast and the ordering easy. Highly recommended. I bought a 52mm x 55mm ring to fit the 52mm lens adapter and the 55mm filter ring on the front of the Konica Hexanon AR 50 F1.7 lens.

Here are some photos of the stacking order, ring and lens and what it looks like all combined.

And here's a photo of a dead ladybug taken with this set up. I need to work on the focus and take into consideration the extremely small depth of field (DOF). This was taken with existing light in a fairly dark room so hopefully when there's more light outside the camera will stop down the aperature giving slightly more DOF. I also didn't realize there was vignetting but that can be cropped so I just have to take that into account when composing a photo. With this set up it seems I have about 20x power. I'm guessing but I think I'm pretty close. So now to go out and start photographing.

Click on any photo to enlarge.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Problem with in camera close focus.

Here are a couple of photos showing the problem of lighting the subject when the camera is so close (1cm) to the subject. The first photo is just using available light and the second with reflected light from the firing of the flash. The flash did not light the coins directly as the camera was so close to the subject that the flash was off to the side, actually top left. Notice too the quick drop off in focus. The depth of focus is very shallow making the use of a tripod a necessity although these shots were taken handheld by bracing the camera and hands on the tiles.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Added another diopter set Hoya +1, +2, +4

I saw a bargain on Ebay for a Hoya diopter set for under $10 so I bought it. Stacked with the Bower set it will give me a total of +14 diopter. About +8 equals approximately 2.5x power so with all the lenses stacked I should have about 4x power.

Here's a the Hoya compared with the Bower.

And a side view. The Hoya stack it a bit taller but they are interchangeable. In taking quick test shots I can't say I can see any difference in the quality of picture either set of lenses will take.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Inaugural Post - Current Equipment

I wanted to do some macro and eventually micro photography cheaply using a digital point and shoot camera. I want to stick with a point and shoot even if a digital SLR is more suitable to take good pictures of tiny things. My objection to the DSLR is that it is much more bulky and heavy especially with an add on lens.

So my present equipment it a Canon Powershot A620 7 megapixel camera bought used from Ebay. It can focus an incredibly close distance of 1 cm which is 3/8" away from the subject. But I found that this close focus ability was often negated by the lens barrel bumping into the subject or objects around the subject.

I did some web surfing and found that there are several ways to improve the macro capability and shoot a longer distance away from the subject. Also good if the subject is alive and easily spooked to run or fly away.

There are add on close up filter lenses usually of +1, +2, +3 diopters. I don't know what this translates in power but I think this is like the magnifier reading glasses which use the same + designation for the strength of the glasses.

To attach the close up lens I also had to buy a cheap lens adapter to attach the lens to the camera. On a DSLR you can attach the close up lens directly to the normal taking lens.

I bought a cheap set of close up lens made by Bower from Cameta Cameras. The lens set is made in China and is a set of +1,+2 and +4 which can be stacked by screwing into each other giving a +7 power which seems to be equal to the magnification of the Canon macro when focused at 1 cm.

So here are preliminary quickly taken comparison photos of the stacked +7 Bower lens vs the Canon in camera macro at 1cm. The first photo is with the in camera macro at 1cm. The second photo with the Bower +7 diopter lens. The photos aren't very good because I was rushed but you can see that the Bower lens set does give the orchid more depth of focus so more of the flower is in focus while the in camera macro gives a very small plane of focus.

The rest of the photos are of the camera and lenses.

And a whimsical photo of a dead fly badly lit and focused.

Still not close enough but a start.