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cowsharks

$1000 For Macro Photography

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cowsharks

An avid fossil collector for 15 years and quite proficient with a scanner to scan my smaller shark teeth. However, I've always wanted a camera that would allow me to take good macro photo's so I could use it for that purpose, or as a general purpose camera. There are times when I go collecting and come home with a group of teeth and want to take some pics. My 10MP Fujifilm camera sucks, especially its Macro setting - pretty worthless. I still have to hold the camera like a foot above the object and then struggle with light and flash etc. So, I've read through many of the threads here dealing with Macro photography and all the many ingenious techniques folks have come up with - amazing. However, time is of the essence and I feel like unless I just go out and buy something soon (this fall) I'll probably just continue to research the topic and never have a camera to do the job.

So, I have a budget of $1000 to spend on whatever camera gear I want. I want to be able to take pics of tiny shark teeth, down as small as 2mm, and as big as 6 inches (still hoping to find one that big). I prefer to buy something new unless I can get a really good deal on used. My thinking is I'd rather pay a little extra for new to have a warranty unless it's used and really cheap.

I'm guessing I'll need a camera, macro lens, and some sort of stand/setup to mount the camera and a remote clicker to take the pics? What would you folks recommend?

thanks,

Daryl.

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Malcolmt

An avid fossil collector for 15 years and quite proficient with a scanner to scan my smaller shark teeth. However, I've always wanted a camera that would allow me to take good macro photo's so I could use it for that purpose, or as a general purpose camera. There are times when I go collecting and come home with a group of teeth and want to take some pics. My 10MP Fujifilm camera sucks, especially its Macro setting - pretty worthless. I still have to hold the camera like a foot above the object and then struggle with light and flash etc. So, I've read through many of the threads here dealing with Macro photography and all the many ingenious techniques folks have come up with - amazing. However, time is of the essence and I feel like unless I just go out and buy something soon (this fall) I'll probably just continue to research the topic and never have a camera to do the job.

So, I have a budget of $1000 to spend on whatever camera gear I want. I want to be able to take pics of tiny shark teeth, down as small as 2mm, and as big as 6 inches (still hoping to find one that big). I prefer to buy something new unless I can get a really good deal on used. My thinking is I'd rather pay a little extra for new to have a warranty unless it's used and really cheap.

I'm guessing I'll need a camera, macro lens, and some sort of stand/setup to mount the camera and a remote clicker to take the pics? What would you folks recommend?

thanks,

Daryl.

Talk with Pleecan, I am sure he can make suggestions that will get you set up for well under $1000

I personnally use a Nikon D5100 with remote cable and a set of Macro lenses(2,4,10) on a 55-200 telephoto lens. I am currently using a tripod and a high F stop with up to 20 seconds exposure with good results. Lighting similar to pleecan I am just using a energy saver florescent bulb (daylight)in a goosneck lamp.

I am keeping my eye out for a used bellows and stand on ebay.

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pleecan

Good photography is 50% equipment and 50% skill which is proportional to time.

Buy a camera with interchangeable lens.

Buy a brand name camera.

Pixel is not every thing.... the lens that sit in front of the camera is more important.

There are special class of lens built specifically for macro application.

Think of what software you are going to use, sometimes the company will suggest certain types of camera.

For serious extreme macro... you may consider a stacking program such as Helicon Focus from Ukraine.

You want a stand be it a copy stand or tripod.

Sufficient lighting

The camera must have remote shutter release

You might even consider getting yourself a dissecting microscope with camera interface

If you are not too familiar with cameras... then buy new and buy from a reliable source

This gives you piece of mind.

Because I am familiar with optics... I buy used equipment.

I have a 3 megapixel camera that is worth $50 used that takes razor sharp images so one can spend $200 and get a super set up provided you know what to look for.

Good luck on your search.

PL

Edited by pleecan

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Indy

pleecan ...

Not a lot to add...except KUDOS

Excellent advise and summary B)

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pleecan

pleecan ...

Not a lot to add...except KUDOS

Excellent advise and summary B)

Thanks Barry. This comes from almost 30 yrs playing with optics of all kinds.

Peter

Edited by pleecan

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Dicranurus

A couple months ago I bought Nikon D3100. It is a very good camera and not so expensive, but you would also need macro lense(s).

If you don't wanna play with different lenses I would recommend Canon PowerShot G12. It is a very versatile camera.

Edited by Dicranurus

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cowsharks

Good photography is 50% equipment and 50% skill which is proportional to time.

Buy a camera with interchangeable lens.

Buy a brand name camera.

Pixel is not every thing.... the lens that sit in front of the camera is more important.

There are special class of lens built specifically for macro application.

Think of what software you are going to use, sometimes the company will suggest certain types of camera.

For serious extreme macro... you may consider a stacking program such as Helicon Focus from Ukraine.

You want a stand be it a copy stand or tripod.

Sufficient lighting

The camera must have remote shutter release

You might even consider getting yourself a dissecting microscope with camera interface

If you are not too familiar with cameras... then buy new and buy from a reliable source

This gives you piece of mind.

Because I am familiar with optics... I buy used equipment.

I have a 3 megapixel camera that is worth $50 used that takes razor sharp images so one can spend $200 and get a super set up provided you know what to look for.

Good luck on your search.

PL

Thank you Peter for the time to type up all that great info. I appreciate everyone's comments here and have been busy "googling" stuff after these replies. I have a couple more questions to hopefully help me narrow down my search.

1) Macro lenses, wow, they are super expensive. That being said, I noticed that 40mm lenses are "short" compared to 60mm, 85mm, and 105mm lenses. The longer the lens the more expensive, from $275 for 40mm to $875 for 105mm. Why is a longer macro lens better than a shorter one? Does the longer macro lens allow you to be further away from the object and then let you zoom in on it? My guess is that the advantage would be to allow more light to fall on the object?

2) When looking at the Macro specs it sounds like you can actually put the camera/lens up to .5 inches away from the object? Is that right? Wouldn't the camera/lens cause block the light and cause a shadow on the object?

3) Sounds like ISO is really important, especially in low light conditions. Assuming I have an adequate lighting setup, how high of an ISO setting does the camera need to have?

4) One of the camera's I looked at said it had the feature of automatically cleaning the sensor. How important is this and if a camera doesn't have this feature, does that mean you have to have it professionally cleaned?

thanks,

Daryl.

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Malcolmt

Thank you Peter for the time to type up all that great info. I appreciate everyone's comments here and have been busy "googling" stuff after these replies. I have a couple more questions to hopefully help me narrow down my search.

1) Macro lenses, wow, they are super expensive. That being said, I noticed that 40mm lenses are "short" compared to 60mm, 85mm, and 105mm lenses. The longer the lens the more expensive, from $275 for 40mm to $875 for 105mm. Why is a longer macro lens better than a shorter one? Does the longer macro lens allow you to be further away from the object and then let you zoom in on it? My guess is that the advantage would be to allow more light to fall on the object?

2) When looking at the Macro specs it sounds like you can actually put the camera/lens up to .5 inches away from the object? Is that right? Wouldn't the camera/lens cause block the light and cause a shadow on the object?

3) Sounds like ISO is really important, especially in low light conditions. Assuming I have an adequate lighting setup, how high of an ISO setting does the camera need to have?

4) One of the camera's I looked at said it had the feature of automatically cleaning the sensor. How important is this and if a camera doesn't have this feature, does that mean you have to have it professionally cleaned?

thanks,

Daryl.

You can start very inexpensively by purchasing a set of screw on macro lenses that can be had on ebay for $10 to $20. They use your existing regular lens as a base and allow you to get much closer to the subject and still focus. Here are pictures taken with a Nikon D5100 a 55-200 telephoto lens with a screw on 10+ macro lens at the end. A D3100 would take equally as good pictures it has basically identical optics to the 5100, just a few less bells and whistles . These macro lens kits are available to fit the ring for the lens protector threads on virtually any digital camera (usually you put a ceap UV filter there to protect the expensive lens from dirt and scratches).You just have to get the same size as your camera tkes a filter. You can stack these lenses giving you a large range of potential magnifications. The downside is that at some point you are getting extremely close to the specimen. The picures were taken at 3 megapixels and then shrunk to there current small size for this board. At 3 megapixels they are extremely detailed and digitally blow up well.

post-4886-0-52013800-1317130918_thumb.jpg

post-4886-0-98691800-1317131027_thumb.jpg

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trout hunter

i get GREAT macro shots with my pentax W80. its under water/ shock/ freeze friendly. It does howere SUCK under low light situations because the lense is so small and runs sideways in the body. But other than that it is a rock solid camera.

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pleecan

Thank you Peter for the time to type up all that great info. I appreciate everyone's comments here and have been busy "googling" stuff after these replies. I have a couple more questions to hopefully help me narrow down my search.

1) Macro lenses, wow, they are super expensive. That being said, I noticed that 40mm lenses are "short" compared to 60mm, 85mm, and 105mm lenses. The longer the lens the more expensive, from $275 for 40mm to $875 for 105mm. Why is a longer macro lens better than a shorter one? Does the longer macro lens allow you to be further away from the object and then let you zoom in on it? My guess is that the advantage would be to allow more light to fall on the object?

2) When looking at the Macro specs it sounds like you can actually put the camera/lens up to .5 inches away from the object? Is that right? Wouldn't the camera/lens cause block the light and cause a shadow on the object?

3) Sounds like ISO is really important, especially in low light conditions. Assuming I have an adequate lighting setup, how high of an ISO setting does the camera need to have?

4) One of the camera's I looked at said it had the feature of automatically cleaning the sensor. How important is this and if a camera doesn't have this feature, does that mean you have to have it professionally cleaned?

thanks,

Daryl.

Yes macro lenses can be expensive... I use 50mm Sigma Macro lens for my Sigma camera but it is available for other mounts such as Pentax, Canon , Nikon etc...

You can create a macro lens by using a bellows or extension tubes and normal lens to get close ups.

ISO set to 200 and lower and use time exposure

That is you need a sturdy stand/ mount ie heavy duty tripod

Auto lens cleaning is nice but I don't bother as you should keep the camera clean to begin with.... a lot of beginners over clean their cameras and end up scratching the optics.

PL

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JohnJ

We have had good discussions in the past that cover the spectrum of expense. HERE :pic:

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cowsharks

We have had good discussions in the past that cover the spectrum of expense. HERE :pic:

THanks John.

Sheesh, the more I read, the more confused or "blurry" I get. So much to take into account. Why can't this be simple and cheap.

Daryl.

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cowsharks

So, another item in choosing a camera is apparently a full-frame DSLR vs cropped? I'm guessing for what I want to do I don't need whichever is more expensive?

Also, what about a pentaprism vs. mirrors? I'm guessing again that I don't need the more expensive pentaprism type camera?

If you're comparing Macro lenses, what features are you comparing and looking for?

thanks,

Daryl.

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pleecan

The hottest development is mirrorless digital cameras with interchangeable lens for macrophotography that I am currently experimenting with ie Olympus EP-1, Panasonic GF-2, Sony Nex-3......

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cowsharks

The hottest development is mirrorless digital cameras with interchangeable lens for macrophotography that I am currently experimenting with ie Olympus EP-1, Panasonic GF-2, Sony Nex-3......

Neat. I was checking these three out on the dpreview.com website - cool website by the way. It allows you to compare photo's from different camera's. I was surprised to see how well some cheaper cameras compared to the more expensive ones.

Do you have a favorite of these three yet?

vr,

Daryl.

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pleecan

Neat. I was checking these three out on the dpreview.com website - cool website by the way. It allows you to compare photo's from different camera's. I was surprised to see how well some cheaper cameras compared to the more expensive ones.

Do you have a favorite of these three yet?

vr,

Daryl.

Sony Nex 3 has bigger screen and better response in low light than Olympus EP-1.... barely could see the live view image in low light... too much electrical noise thus difficult to focus.... The Sony is great... have not tried out the Panasonic (######. version) one yet... the menus are all in Japanese... should to a treat to figure out as I can't read Japanese... going by the icons to operate.... that will be in a few doys time.

My real workhorse is still the Nikon 995, 990 and 4500 which sells for sub $100 on ebay.... One of the best camera designs built with Nikkor super macro lens built in ... ideal for astrophotography and microscopy.

PL

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cowsharks

So, what is the main spec you look at on a camera to tell you how good the macro capability is? I see the Nikon Coolpix 99, 995, and 4500 Macro focus range is 2cm, but for the Nikon 4600 it is 4cm. The fact that the others have shorter focus range is better?

thanks,

Daryl.

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pleecan

So, what is the main spec you look at on a camera to tell you how good the macro capability is? I see the Nikon Coolpix 99, 995, and 4500 Macro focus range is 2cm, but for the Nikon 4600 it is 4cm. The fact that the others have shorter focus range is better?

thanks,

Daryl.

I simply know that the 990, 995, 4500 (optically they are the same camera with minor differance) works great for macro application... own over a dozen of these cameras... very well built and when new was over $1000.

PL

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cowsharks

I simply know that the 990, 995, 4500 (optically they are the same camera with minor differance) works great for macro application... own over a dozen of these cameras... very well built and when new was over $1000.

PL

Well, I'm about to be the proud owner of one of these three camera's. I'll let you know which one and will post back with some pics once I figure out how to use it. It's amazing to think that when these were new they cost $1000. But then again, I remember the first VCR I bought for my mother-in-law was $700 back in the late 80's.

The reason for getting one of these camera's is mostly because they are rated so high for their macro abilities, and they are inexpensive. I figure, I might as well learn on something like this, hopefully hone my skills a bit and gain a better understanding of the techniques employed.

My only concern with these older cameras is whether the software will work on my Windows 7 computers. I guess I can always import the pictures using the card reader instead of the USB cable if that doesn't work.

thanks,

Daryl.

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Malcolmt

I have a 995 that I bought new when they first came out and have no issues with it on Vista Ultimate or XP. Some people find the shape (configuration) of the 995 to not be to their likeing, because it does not look like your traditional point and shoout camera.

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pleecan

Well, I'm about to be the proud owner of one of these three camera's. I'll let you know which one and will post back with some pics once I figure out how to use it. It's amazing to think that when these were new they cost $1000. But then again, I remember the first VCR I bought for my mother-in-law was $700 back in the late 80's.

The reason for getting one of these camera's is mostly because they are rated so high for their macro abilities, and they are inexpensive. I figure, I might as well learn on something like this, hopefully hone my skills a bit and gain a better understanding of the techniques employed.

My only concern with these older cameras is whether the software will work on my Windows 7 computers. I guess I can always import the pictures using the card reader instead of the USB cable if that doesn't work.

thanks,

Daryl.

I still use my Nikon 995 and most of the pics that I posted about 1/2 are taken on Nikon 995 ... the 990 came out first with 4 AA batteries, then 995 with nicad or Li ion battery then 4500 most advance design then they stop making them yet they are still one of the top camera designs ever built for marco applications.... remember these are $1000 camera class extremely well built and biggest bang for the buck... if it dies... just throw it out... have fun!

Peter

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cowsharks

Peter, do you have, use, or recommend the Nikon Macro Cool Light SL-1? If so, any idea where I can buy it? I tried eBay and a bunch of other places but no one seems to carry it anymore. I'm looking forward to my "new" Nikon 4500.

thanks,

Daryl.

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pleecan

Peter, do you have, use, or recommend the Nikon Macro Cool Light SL-1? If so, any idea where I can buy it? I tried eBay and a bunch of other places but no one seems to carry it anymore. I'm looking forward to my "new" Nikon 4500.

thanks,

Daryl.

Hi Daryl: The Nikon 4500 is a superb camera at the height of Macro development before Nikon stopped building them. I currently own several units so I do have a lifetime supply of these cameras to play with. I am not familiar with Nikon Macro Cool Light SL-1... if lighting is all that you are after... simply use a desk lamp with CFL cool white bulb and you are set. Have fun with your new camera : )

PL

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cowsharks

Peter, I noticed on the web that there was a firmware update (1.3) for the CP4500 back in 2003. It resolves some issues when using the remote control device. Did you download and isntall this firmware update?

Do you use the Nikon MC-EU1 remote? I've read that it has a lot of issues.

thanks,

Daryl.

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pleecan

Peter, I noticed on the web that there was a firmware update (1.3) for the CP4500 back in 2003. It resolves some issues when using the remote control device. Did you download and isntall this firmware update?

Do you use the Nikon MC-EU1 remote? I've read that it has a lot of issues.

thanks,

Daryl.

Hi Daryl:

If the camera is working okay and takes pictures... then I would leave it alone.... Most updates for firm ware generally no issues but a small percentage will bomb and corrupt ending with a useless piece of junk... so firm updates have a small risk factor involved.... the remote works fine I also have the cheaper clone remote .. that works well also... Good luck on the new equipment. Have fun.

PL

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