Budget macro setup help

Edan bandoot

Arachnoprince
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Well I've got about 1-2 thousand to spend on a camera setup and I'm wondering what I'll need.
List of things I know that I need:
Camera
Macro lens
Adjustable tripod
Adjustable lighting(?)

Anything else I should be getting?
And any suggestions for these or places to get them would be helpful.
 

Tarantulafeets

Arachnoknight
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For cameras, I don't know if the prices are different from where you are, but I started with the lumix g7 kit (micro 4/3 sensor) with a 14-42 and a 45-150mm for a price of $580. I also got some extension tubes to start off with and use the built in flash with a D.I.Y. paper diffuser for the light source. Worked well for the time being, but there was some chromatic aberration on the edges, so I eventually got the 7artisans 60mm macro mk II($180), a completely manual lens, that can shoot 1-1 with the sensor which is what I use now. I still use the built in flash and the homemade diffuser. It's a bit shaky, especially as my camera doesn't have much stabilization and the lens is manual, but it still has some nice results.



For me, I don't necessarily need tripod, I have one but I only use it to take some landscape or pics of the moon... I just find them clunky and hard to work with for macro. There are small, tabletop tripods available, but I prefer to shoot handheld. If you want, you can also get an attachable flash for a brighter light source.

This setup is the lowest of the low, I'm sure that there are many other setups that other members can suggest that are better than mine, but this is just what works for me.
 

Scorpiobsession

Arachnobaron
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I have canon since I shoot mostly telephoto wildlife with some landscape. Combined a 400mm lens with teleconverters and tubes works great but I lose a lot of quality through the glass and I need a lot of light and a tripod. I don't know what else to recommend but I wouldn't recommend canon additionally due to their lack of true macro lenses (1:1).
 

Edan bandoot

Arachnoprince
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Can you guys dumb it down a bit for me, I haven't used a camera since I was 10o_O
 

Tarantulafeets

Arachnoknight
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Can you guys dumb it down a bit for me, I haven't used a camera since I was 10o_O
You can start off with what lens format you want to choose, there are plenty of videos on youtube and other websites that you can research on as well.
 

viper69

ArachnoGod
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Well I've got about 1-2 thousand to spend on a camera setup and I'm wondering what I'll need.
List of things I know that I need:
Camera
Macro lens
Adjustable tripod
Adjustable lighting(?)

Anything else I should be getting?
And any suggestions for these or places to get them would be helpful.
make sure your lens has a 1:1 ratio magnification of subject, and that it’s manual focusing.
 

Malum Argenteum

Arachnoknight
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Not sure how helpful this will be, but I just got a macro setup, though I haven't had much chance to get really comfortable with it. I've taken a couple hundred photos so far, mostly not macro but just messing around.

I got a Nikon D3500 with a kit lens for $590 from Amazon, and an extra zoom telephoto (a factory refurbished unit) from Adorama, both of which are fun to use but neither lens is useful for macro. I did get a lightly used Tokina atx 100mm F/2.8 macro lens ($240).

I got a tripod, too (about $100, from Amazon) which I quickly found to be my favorite piece of equipment. Other than my coffee maker, which makes the tripod a necessity. ;) Seriously, though, I can't imagine macro without a tripod -- the depth of focus (the distance range that the lens actually focuses clearly on) is millimeters, especially in less than high light. But I'm still learning, so old pros likely have this figured out better.

I'm still using the built in flash. I got a diffuser for it (like $10, from Adorama), which helps somewhat but I'm going to get a cheap speedflash (a separate flash that simply plugs in to the camera) with a diffuser as my next purchase.

On the camera: that model is nice enough, but doesn't have an option for a remote shutter release (so you can take the photo without your hand on the camera). The next model up in the lineup does (D5600), which I wish I would have bought instead.

On the lens: it is a nice lens, but doesn't talk to the camera at all, not even to meter light (the D3500 doesn't read the aperture on this lens, but the D5600 can, I believe), so I have to shoot full manual. There's a learning curve on that, for sure.

I bought the lens used (Ebay, shipped from Japan), and that went well. I was told that buying used camera equipment is a pretty popular, and typically safe, way to go. A new Nikon macro lens comparable to the Tokina is $900, so...

If I were to do it over, I'd try to find a used Nikon D5600 and that same used Tokina macro (and the tripod and a speedflash). That would be a bit over $1k.
 

Edan bandoot

Arachnoprince
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Not sure how helpful this will be, but I just got a macro setup, though I haven't had much chance to get really comfortable with it. I've taken a couple hundred photos so far, mostly not macro but just messing around.

I got a Nikon D3500 with a kit lens for $590 from Amazon, and an extra zoom telephoto (a factory refurbished unit) from Adorama, both of which are fun to use but neither lens is useful for macro. I did get a lightly used Tokina atx 100mm F/2.8 macro lens ($240).

I got a tripod, too (about $100, from Amazon) which I quickly found to be my favorite piece of equipment. Other than my coffee maker, which makes the tripod a necessity. ;) Seriously, though, I can't imagine macro without a tripod -- the depth of focus (the distance range that the lens actually focuses clearly on) is millimeters, especially in less than high light. But I'm still learning, so old pros likely have this figured out better.

I'm still using the built in flash. I got a diffuser for it (like $10, from Adorama), which helps somewhat but I'm going to get a cheap speedflash (a separate flash that simply plugs in to the camera) with a diffuser as my next purchase.

On the camera: that model is nice enough, but doesn't have an option for a remote shutter release (so you can take the photo without your hand on the camera). The next model up in the lineup does (D5600), which I wish I would have bought instead.

On the lens: it is a nice lens, but doesn't talk to the camera at all, not even to meter light (the D3500 doesn't read the aperture on this lens, but the D5600 can, I believe), so I have to shoot full manual. There's a learning curve on that, for sure.

I bought the lens used (Ebay, shipped from Japan), and that went well. I was told that buying used camera equipment is a pretty popular, and typically safe, way to go. A new Nikon macro lens comparable to the Tokina is $900, so...

If I were to do it over, I'd try to find a used Nikon D5600 and that same used Tokina macro (and the tripod and a speedflash). That would be a bit over $1k.
Macro photography is more about the lens than about the body. Not even af performance is a major factor in macro because you would get the best results with manual focus. Tho I would say more mpix is definitely welcome for macro. Also definitely look for something with a BSI CMOS sensor (backside illuminated) as they tend to gather more light and have a better high ISO performance (lower noise at higher ISO values). You'll also need a good speedlight with a diffuser.

Here's what I use for macro most of the time:

View attachment 389485

The lens is Tamron 90mm F/2.8 SP VC F 017. I also use extension tubes (29mm) to focus closer to subject if needed. Finally my speedlight of choice is Nikon SB600, SB700 or SB800.

You can find multiple samples of my macros in this thread: https://arachnoboards.com/threads/lensofthenorth-photography-thread.346909/#post-3195628
I was looking at this post from one of the other threads, how much would a good defuser and speedlight cost (used)
 

Scorpiobsession

Arachnobaron
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For lighting I use a ring light on the lens. The reason I need one is because I don't have a designated macro lens yet (I'm starting to look at them), so I'm using a telephoto lens with teleconverters and extension tubes. It works very well and if I'm shooting through glass I can just take it off and hold it wherever (it has a light on function, not just flash). What I have is the HD-130 macro led ring flash.
 

Edan bandoot

Arachnoprince
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So how can I tell which lenses fit which cameras?

And would i need a lens for taking modeling shots of myself, or would it be fine to shoot raw with the camera alone. (50mm lens?)
 
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Malum Argenteum

Arachnoknight
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So how can I tell which lenses fit which cameras?
Each manufacturer has a mount type, and some (most? all? idk) have more than one. My Nikon D3500 takes an 'F-mount' lens -- so you just look that up for your camera and then any lens you might consider.

There are some exceptions that are really hard to know up front, especially if you don't know what questions to ask -- like the D3500 accepts all F-mount lenses except it won't read the aperture settings on some non-Nikon compatible lenses. I found out that the Nikon D3XXX line has unpredictable changes made to new models (like removing features from that series so that a higher-end model group is now the one that has this feature -- kind of scammy, but that's business).

The way I went was to search online for "good macro lens for (camera model)" and then I did a specific search on each particular body/lens combination and see what people say -- if you find a lot of "I have this combination and it works great" then you're on the right track. Also, buying from somewhere that has an acceptable return policy helps, I suppose.

With my D3500, the 18-55mm kit lens (a little zoom lens, included in a camera package) is nice for a lot of non-macro shooting (not sure exactly what "modeling shots of myself "is, though) -- landscapes, photos of people. This camera model has the 'vibration reduction' feature built into the lenses, not the body, so getting "VR" lenses is a good idea (the included 18-55mm is a VR lens). Not sure how much the VR actually helps, as all my lenses have it, but people say it helps.

Hopefully more people jump in here and check my work -- I'm pretty green when it comes to photography (though back in the day I had a 35mm film camera that I learned the basics on).

PS: check if the body you buy has a memory card included. Mine didn't, so I had to order one and wait a few days to use the camera after I got it.
 

Scorpiobsession

Arachnobaron
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Not sure how much the VR actually helps, as all my lenses have it, but people say it helps.
For my canon cameras it makes a day and night difference, there have been times when I was shooting and just the smallest vibration (someone walking on the same bridge a couple hundred feet away) ruin the image (even at higher shutter speeds) just because I accidentally had VC/VR off. The exact opposite goes for on tripods, I've had unusually blurry pictures on tripods just because I forgot to turn VC/VR off.
 

Malum Argenteum

Arachnoknight
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A quick internet search tells me that on my Nikon, the on/off switch is in the camera settings. Good to know.

I'm not actually sure if my macro lens has VR. Maybe that's why my tripod seems to be so necessary. ;)
 

Edan bandoot

Arachnoprince
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so from my research i've found that a 90mm lens is for macro. But some lenses are 24-104mm and i'm not sure what that means, does that mean they are variable? Would those be good for macro?
 

TechnoGeek

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I was looking at this post from one of the other threads, how much would a good defuser and speedlight cost (used)
I paid about 175 bucks for my SB800 on eBay (used). There are cheaper options ofc, and an SB600 cost me about 50 bucks. A speedlight designed to be installed near the front element of your lens is about 50-150 depending on the maker and the features, there are plenty of good ones from neewar for about 75-100.

As for the diffusers, if you just want something that sits on the actually flash (and not one of those fancy umbrella things which are intended for portraits rather than macro) they should be dirt cheap, no more than 10- 20 bucks on eBay or Amazon. A reflector could prove very useful but it's the same, the small ones meant for macro are pretty cheap.
 

Malum Argenteum

Arachnoknight
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so from my research i've found that a 90mm lens is for macro. But some lenses are 24-104mm and i'm not sure what that means, does that mean they are variable? Would those be good for macro?
What 'macro' means (really basic explanation here) is that the lens can focus on things that are really close to it -- the minimum focusing distance. That distance on my Tokina is 11.8". There are macro lenses commonly available from about 50mm to about 110mm, but not all 50mm to 110mm lenses are macro lenses. But, the difference between a 50mm macro lens and a 110mm macro lens is that the 110mm allows you to shoot the exact same photo from father away (see next paragraph).

The focal length (e.g. 90mm as in the lens you mentioned) is the distance at which light rays converge from the film/sensor, and the longer the focal length, the more magnification the lens gives. I like the first picture in this explanation. The 24-104mm lens you mention would good for taking general 'snapshot' sort of photos or people and landscapes, as well as some things closer up (a cat's face, maybe), but not macro stuff like spider hairs.

My 18-55mm zoom has about the same minimum focus as my macro, but it has half the focal length (magnification) so is essentially twice as far away at minimum focus (I have no idea what the relative size of the image is; that's trigonometry, I think.) My 70-300mm zoom has a minimum focus distance of about 3.5 feet.

Related to both these things (minimum focus distance and focal length) is the 'reproduction ratio' -- the size of the thing you're photographing compared to the size of its image on the sensor. Macro (here's a less basic explanation than I gave above) is usually considered 1:1 -- the spider's eye is the same size in real life as it is on the sensor. My macro lens is 1:1, my little zoom is about 1:3 and my big zoom is about 1:5.

Again, someone who knows photography jump in and keep this honest; I'm working above my pay grade here. :)
 

Edan bandoot

Arachnoprince
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What 'macro' means (really basic explanation here) is that the lens can focus on things that are really close to it -- the minimum focusing distance. That distance on my Tokina is 11.8". There are macro lenses commonly available from about 50mm to about 110mm, but not all 50mm to 110mm lenses are macro lenses. But, the difference between a 50mm macro lens and a 110mm macro lens is that the 110mm allows you to shoot the exact same photo from father away (see next paragraph).

The focal length (e.g. 90mm as in the lens you mentioned) is the distance at which light rays converge from the film/sensor, and the longer the focal length, the more magnification the lens gives. I like the first picture in this explanation. The 24-104mm lens you mention would good for taking general 'snapshot' sort of photos or people and landscapes, as well as some things closer up (a cat's face, maybe), but not macro stuff like spider hairs.

My 18-55mm zoom has about the same minimum focus as my macro, but it has half the focal length (magnification) so is essentially twice as far away at minimum focus (I have no idea what the relative size of the image is; that's trigonometry, I think.) My 70-300mm zoom has a minimum focus distance of about 3.5 feet.

Related to both these things (minimum focus distance and focal length) is the 'reproduction ratio' -- the size of the thing you're photographing compared to the size of its image on the sensor. Macro (here's a less basic explanation than I gave above) is usually considered 1:1 -- the spider's eye is the same size in real life as it is on the sensor. My macro lens is 1:1, my little zoom is about 1:3 and my big zoom is about 1:5.

Again, someone who knows photography jump in and keep this honest; I'm working above my pay grade here. :)
so how do i know if a lens is 1:1? Is this something stated in the product description?
 
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