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My Christmas/Birthday Present

Posted by Robert Simonoff  
avatar My Christmas/Birthday Present
December 26, 2011 04:46AM
I received a very neat present for my birthday/Christmas this year, a Canon MP-E 65 lens. This lens, at its least magnification is a true 1:1 macro lens, meaning the subject's size and the size on the camera's sensor is in a 1:1 ratio. The lens goes up to a 5:1 ratio. I thought I would share my experiences with learning how to use this lens. I am a novice photographer and have never owned a macro lens before, so this is all new to me.

The subject I started out with (my very first shots so you can see where I am starting from) is from Sugar Grove, West Virginia, USA. It is an analcime coated vug with a calcite crystal inside. There are balls of nontronite scattered throughout the vug. When the vugs are opened, the nontronite becomes black. But before being exposed to air or light, however, the nontronite is blue - as can be seen when it is included in the calcite.

I took 3 pictures at each of different magnifications, for a total of 12 pictures. I kept the best picture at each magnification. I used a Canon EOS Rebel T1i. I used a tripod with a sliding macro mount. And for lighting, I used 3 desk lamps crowded around the micromount (LOL!!).

Here are the shots:

This picture was the lowest magnification I could take

This picture had more magnification

This picture has even more magnification

This final picture was the highest I took

I should point out that the final picture was not the highest magnification available on the lens. But it was the highest magnification I could take given the lighting conditions. As I added more magnification, the lens got closer to the specimen. That closeness and the distance through the lens that the light traveled conspired to lose enough light that the desk lamps were simply not enough. I had to keep the shutter open long enough that my focus was not as sharp as I wanted. I may need to remedy that smiling smiley

For those of you that take offense at poor photography please excuse these first attempts. I am still learning and have decided not to do any post processing of these pictures other than white balance and 20% sharpening. no cropping, no color twiddling, no clean up, nor other enhancement of any kind. I know I need to figure out much with respect to setting up the shot, lighting, editing and probably a dozen other things. Advice for improvement is welcome, but help such as this sucks and doesn't belong on mindat won't be terribly helpful.

But the real purpose of sharing these pictures is that I have not seen anything definitive in mindat about this lens. I am not really qualified to review it, but I can take some pictures and share more as I learn.

avatar Re: My Christmas/Birthday Present
December 26, 2011 04:51AM
You might want to look at the forum at the following site

They have lots of good info there on many aspects of macro photography.

avatar Re: My Christmas/Birthday Present
December 26, 2011 08:50AM

I've had the pleasure of a very similar Christmas gift, but of the Nikkon variety (the 60mm "micro" lens). I've also had the luxury of a whole afternoon to play with it today.

A truly remarkable piece of kit, but the standout conclusion for me is that I still need to improve my lighting arrangements. At the moment I have two desk lamps with moderately bright "daylight" bulbs. I'm trying to use the lens at F8 to maintain a reasonable depth of field and, like yourself, finding that the shutter speeds are getting rather slow. Fortunately I have a fairly solid tripod so that vibrations are not too severe, but I found the biggest improvement from suspending a piece of white card over the specimen at an angle to help reflect a little more light into the subject.

Its all still very much work in progress for me - I consider myself a poor photographer - but its great fun, and something I've been wanting to do for a while. Things can only improve...

Re: My Christmas/Birthday Present
December 27, 2011 08:18PM
You don't mention the f-stop that you used in these photos. You should use at least f11, and possibly as small an aperture as f22. Also, what are you using to trip the shutter? You need a remote release to prevent the kind of vibration your finger would induce. Some people lock up the mirror, but that may not be possible on your camera.
That said, these photos look pretty good, especially the last one. Are you using manual focus? I hope so, as it is more reliable for macro work.

Welcome to the world of mineral photography. There is a lot to learn about how to do it, and many different ways as you'll find out. The most important advice I can give you is understand the lighting you are using, and balance the color temperature your camera is recording against the light you are using. That will give you the most true color. Also, if you shoot RAW you can adjust color balance in your processing program. With jpg you don't have that option.

Hope this advice helps. PM me with questions as you do more.
avatar Re: My Christmas/Birthday Present
December 27, 2011 08:31PM
Thanks everyone

The details that I have on the picture are:
Camera Model: Canon EOS REBEL T1i
Exposure Time: 8/10
F Number: 10/1
ISO Speed: 100

I am not 100% sure what the metadata means by F number, but I thought I used either F11 or F16. the lens doesn't allow the camera to go further than F16.

The focus process is a learning experience as well. The lens has no auto-focus option. Instead I mounted it on a novaflex macro rail. Got the magnification I wanted then moved in/out to focus. I can't reliably use the view finder, so have to turn on the camera's display on the back panel, magnify to 5x (a feature of the camera) and focus as best I can.

I do not have a remote release wire, but instead I set the timer for 2 seconds. I push the button, stop moving (hold my breathe even), and wait. The camera seems to stop shaking enough after the 2 seconds. I do use mirror lockup to further reduce vibrations.

I did shoot JPG (forgot to switch to RAW), but it seems that the Camera Raw in CES 5 has a white balance option. You just select the white patch on the "white card" and synchronize it with all other pictures at once. The color balance has been a bit of a trick, and I still don't have it down. For regular photograph, I use a plastic "white card", then I can balance all pictures at once using RAW. But at higher magnification, even the white card has slightly different shades of white smiling smiley

So far, I think I need to figure out lighting. I am considering getting camera mounted flash(es), but am not sure. I would need to use either a ring light or a flash on some sort of extension arm. I even tried to make reflecting cards (index card covered with aluminium foil supported by baked clay stands). I would really love to see how people are taking macro pictures - lighting set up etc.

avatar Re: My Christmas/Birthday Present
December 27, 2011 11:47PM
Because of diffraction effects, the highest f-number will not result in the highest resolution images. It will give greater depth of field, at the expense of resolution. That's why the best images are usually obtained at a couple f-stops up from the lowest.

However, with macro lenses, this is complicated by the fact that the Effective Aperture = (Aperture Setting) + (Aperture Setting x Magnification) . So your lens set to 1X and f/2.8 will actually be operating at an effective f/5.6. If it looks dark when you are set to f/16, that's because the effective f-number is f/96!

For a review of the lens, see Canon MP 65mm review

avatar Re: My Christmas/Birthday Present
December 28, 2011 01:26AM
Yes it is a little strange. I just took a series of closeups of an Upper MI datolite with copper inclusions. At 1x magnification, the built-in light meter and brightness shown on the lcd display matched pretty closely, no matter what f stop I chose. But as I added magnification, I found I had to use a much longer exposure to see the image in order to focus it. Then bring the f stop back down to 8 which is where I was shooting this series. The display actually got black even at 2x magnification. But, this is not really an inconvenience.

avatar Re: My Christmas/Birthday Present
December 28, 2011 03:34AM
Ok, more pictures. These suite of of a datolite from the Delaware Mine, Keweenaw Co., Michigan, USA.

Full View of Datolite. The piece is 4.1 x 3.2 cm

The following pictures are a sequence where each is a closer zoom than the previous. No cropping has been done. The place being magnified is the small cresent of copper near the top.

The 1:1 setting. FOV approx 2.2 cm

The 2:1 setting. FOV approx 1 cm>
The 3:1 setting. FOV approx 5 mm

The 4:1 setting. FOV approx 3 mm
The 5:1 setting. FOV approx 1 mm

Finally, I have 2 more pictures of the small copper inclusions shown at about 9 o'clock (exactly left of center near the edge) in the original picture.

FOV approx 5 mm>
FOV approx 3 mm

Thanks for looking
avatar Re: My Christmas/Birthday Present
December 28, 2011 05:06AM
HI Rob

Great results and best wishes. Looks like you are getting off to a great start - nice pics.

Not sure ... but I think that the field of view in the last pic is more like 8mm to 10mm - only basing this on the proportion shown in the pic to the original.

Never seen one of those Copper/Datolites close up in real life - very nice.

Re: My Christmas/Birthday Present
December 28, 2011 06:02AM
Nice photo's Bob !
avatar Re: My Christmas/Birthday Present
December 28, 2011 06:20AM
The Canon T1i has what is referred to as silent mode. It is not documented in any of the literature. If you shoot tethered to a computer and use the the software to control the camera you can put the camera in live view mode. With this camera a a number of other Canon cameras this locks up the mirror as well as the mechanical shutter. When you trigger the camera the picture is take without any mirror or shutter vibration. It was this feature that convinced me to get a T2i recently. I use mine on a bellows with microscope objectives for micro mineral photography.

avatar Re: My Christmas/Birthday Present
December 28, 2011 08:24AM
Hi guys - interesting comments and to the bearers of new Camera's - welcome to a wonderful and at times very frustrating world of mineral photography.

I basically run two lens sizes on my Nikon, 50mm for full specimens, good depth of field and I can get nice contrasts; and a 105m macro for closer work. (i also use the 105 macro for other stuff - flowers and insects and is just perfect for portraits - what it was designed for). To get depth of field I am using stacking software, slowly getting better but a few tricks to learn yet. (both lens cost more than the body of the camera)

I learnt very quickly as explained by a few others, high F stops dont help, more depth but poor resolution - so i keep between around F8

Mal, the importance of lighting can not be discounted, I tried a lot of options with desk type lamps etc but until I raided Steve Sorrell and obtained his larger light box I didnt start to get the outcomes I was looking for but I still get a number that are a little too dark. The light box has up to 8 halogen lights on flexi arms, this allows me to vary the lighting to get the right options of light and contrast. Too much light applied poorly can make a specimen too flat.

And suspend a weight on the bottom of the tripod, surprising how much this helps in cleaning up a little of the annoying shakes.

I will never get to the level of a number of the contributors to MINDAT but hey that not what I do this is just really nice to get a representation of a few of my collection.

avatar Re: My Christmas/Birthday Present
December 28, 2011 11:55AM
THANKS everyone!

Keith, at its widest, the piece is 3.2 cm, it is narrower here - the fuill view picture is canted compared to the others by about 45 degrees counter clockwise. I will remeasure, but I did so twice and am guessing that it is close to 3mm +/- 1 mm. Maybe I will take a series of shots of a rules since I am both trying to provide information about the camera as well as learn.

Douglas, you are right and I had forgotten about that mode. I played with it a long time ago and had some trouble with it on our microscope. I guess I had better try it again! Thanks for the reminder!!!!

Andrew can you tell us more about this light box? Maybe a picture too? I think I want to start working on my lighting issues. What are people's thoughts? Ring mounted flash? Dual front mounted flashes? Based on reviews I have seen both work well - the ring light casts no shadow, however. I suspect that could be a problem here. Thoughts?

I also need to work on my set up. It is getting crowded in the area where I need to adjust the mineral's position. I am also worried a little about all the hest the lamps are generating. I can imagine the min tack softening and the piece falling over smiling smiley

avatar Re: My Christmas/Birthday Present
December 29, 2011 02:33AM

The EOS Rebel T1i has an APS-C sensor with dimensions of 22.3mmX14.9mm. The horizontal FOVs should then be.

22.3mm/1 = 22.3mm --- For 1X setting
22.3mm/2 = 11.2mm --- For 2X setting
22.3mm/3 = 7.43mm --- For 3X setting
22.3mm/4 = 5.58mm --- For 4X setting
22.3mm/5 = 4.46mm --- For 5X setting

This agrees for the 1X and 2X images. The others are off a bit, for some unknown reason. So, I printed out the 1X and the 5X image and measured the distance between the same two dots on each image. At 1X the dots were 11mm apart and at 5X the dots were 55mm apart. The difference in size between the 1X and 5X images is 55mm/11mm = 5. So, the range of the lens checks out and is a factor of 5 to 1. That leads me to believe that the 5X setting cannot yield a 1mm FOV and that the above tabulation is correct.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/30/2011 01:35AM by Mineralogical Research Company.
avatar Re: My Christmas/Birthday Present
December 29, 2011 02:35AM

I got so interested in the numbers that I failed to mention, that is a very nice Xmas present!

avatar Re: My Christmas/Birthday Present
December 29, 2011 03:11AM
Ok I took 5 pictures of a ruler's metric scale.

1x = 22+ mm
2x = 11+ mm
3x = 7+ mm
4x = 5.5 mm
5x = 4.2 mm (I really can't call it 4.5, but what's 3/10 of a mm)

So, I guess I was wrong with my measurements of the datolite, sorry everyone! Thanks for the cross check Gene! Why, if the sensor is 23.3mmX14.9mm would 1x lose a mm and become a 22.3 FOV? The ruler says 22 or so, therefore I can't disagree, just puzzled.

I will fix the FOVs in the picture, but not the message above (else future readers will get confused about this discussion)

Thanks Again!!!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/29/2011 03:16AM by Jessica and Robert Simonoff.
avatar Re: My Christmas/Birthday Present
December 29, 2011 03:29AM

My fingers didn't type what my head was saying. The 23.3mm, in the first line of my post, should say 22.3mm, like in the calculations. It has been corrected. There is nothing like an error, when trying to correct an error, to further confuse. smiling smiley

I think that you are going to have a lot of fun with that lens!

avatar Re: My Christmas/Birthday Present
December 29, 2011 03:36AM
Mindat needs a like button smiling smiley
avatar Re: My Christmas/Birthday Present
December 29, 2011 06:46AM
Hi Bob

You should get a copy of Scovill's photography book from The Min Record or Min Research Co - it will give you a great deal of camera hints, irrespective of the camera being used.

And remember at least with digital you can take hundreds of pics until you get it right without costing an arm or a leg if you were using film.

Happy snapping


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/29/2011 06:47AM by Keith Compton.
avatar Re: My Christmas/Birthday Present
December 29, 2011 07:04AM
Hi Rob,

The light box i was speaking about is as follows. Constructed from light metal box frame and white acrylic side sheeting. The bottom/back is one sheet on a curve from the top edge to the bottom front edge. This give a graduated white to grey background and I use a piece of black cardboard for a dark background. The lights are run of a singe big transformer where I can turn on as many or as few lights. I am not sure where Steve got it from but I think the light box is a commercial product...

Photo Setup

cheers Andrew

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/29/2011 07:06AM by Andrew Tuma.


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