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Which DSLR for insect macros

Discussion in 'Photography Forums' started by Ikki, Aug 15, 2005.

  1. Ikki

    Ikki
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    I have come in this afternoon with lots of insect photos that looked in focus on the screen of my compact. Unfortunately most were out of focus by a greater or lesser degree. The camera autofocus just can't cope with tiny objects and manual focus depends on the lcd screen (all of today's seemed to be in focus when taken). This focusing problem seems to rule out every compact & prosumer camera. I have been thinking of getting a dslr with a proper macro lens for this photography for a while and today is the final straw although the camera is superb everywhere else.

    I'm not new to SLR's having had film SLR's since the 1970's so I know what they can do, but my question from those of you familiar with the current crop of DSLR's is which body will be the best for hand held natural light shots of insects (and it can be pretty dull at times here in the UK). I can read the specs but they are no substitute for actual use. Factors such as start up, shot to shot time, autofocus on small objects & it's speed, viewfinder quality in respect to focussing (do they still do split screens?), high iso noise, antishake?.

    The candidates to chose from are: Pentax *istDL (the DS now apparently discontinued), Oly E300, Nikon D50, KM Dynax 5D, Canon EOS 350D.

    Your views will be gratefully accepted :)

    Here is an example, it's Tachina grossa, the largest fly in Europe at more than 2cm (and probably the ugliest). As usual, it looked in focus on the lcd screen and that was one of the better ones:

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Johndm

    Johndm
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    No contest......Canon.... :D

    They have the best range of lenses by far..... :smashin:

    Hard hats on................here we go again..................... :rotfl: :rotfl:
     
  3. Zone

    Zone
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    Ikki have you applied any sharpening to the shot? Most if not all shots from digital camera's benefit from it.
    It also looks quite a dull (in an underexposed) way as well, which if it was overcast would also cause your autofocus problems.
     

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  4. kenlynch

    kenlynch
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    It's more about the lens than the camera with DSLRs. Canon have a great macro lens with the 100mm, but Sigma also have some great macro lenses too, and these are available for Canon, Nikon, Minolta, Pentax and Sigma's own DSLR.
     
  5. Ikki

    Ikki
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    Zone, I deliberately left any post camera processing sharpening off. Even with it, the image is still not sharp and it was a dull day. I have played around with it a bit in PE3 but it still doesn't satisfy, especially around the head area:

    [​IMG]

    The reason why I was asking about the body is that the various camera makers and lens makers all seem to do a good macro lens in about the 100mm (35mm equiv) area. It therefore seems more important to look for a body that can focus quickly and accurately on small moving objects.
     
  6. mjw123

    mjw123
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    What compact did you use Ikki ?
     
  7. Mark Grant

    Mark Grant
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  8. Ikki

    Ikki
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    MJW123, it's a Pentax Optio 750z.

    There are more of my insect photos here:

    my photos

    You wll see the same focus problem, it's a bit hit and miss. :(
     
  9. kenlynch

    kenlynch
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    I have the 350D, very nice camera and I don't regret upgrading to it from my Fuji s602z. The battery life is fantastic, especially as I have the vertical grip, which also improves the camera's handling. It powers up in no time, so you've less chance of missing a crucial shot. The viewfinder is bright and easy to use for manual focus, even without a split ring. There could be more info in the viewfinder, but I find the 350D's cons are small when compared to its pros.

    Hand held macro will probably still be a bit hit and miss due to small depth of field, your subject or yourself only has to move a few millimetres to lose focus - this is due to the nature of macro photography not a fault of the camera.
     
  10. seany

    seany
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    AF also has a lot to do with the lens not just the camera. I have 20D, i'm very happy with it, the lenses to look at have already been spoken off. The 100mm macro has a good working distance which is good for insects that you might otherwise disturb.

    You'll want a macro flash as suggested at some point if you really want to get in to it.
     
  11. paulc1

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    I also upgraded from the fuji s602z, but found the super macro function of the s602 very hard to beat, it can focus down to 1cm...and would be alot cheaper to buy than a good macro lens for a canon or nikon body, so check todays equivalent to the fuji s602 before ruling out all prosumer compacts, if its just macros that your after.
     
  12. ASH1

    ASH1
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    Also if you really want to get into macro, you'll need a decent tripod and a cable release.
     
  13. Ikki

    Ikki
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    ASH1, I can see why the tripod & cable release are good for macro, but for frequently moving subjects like insects, I would'nt think that they would be very practical. Would the antishake on the new KM Dynax 5D be useful for handheld macro in this respect?

    Paulc1, my current camera has a really good supermacro, but the problem with all the compact/prosumers (for my eyes at least) is focussing on an LCD screen or evf. I would happily go for something like the new Fuji 9500 if I could resolve this problem.
     
  14. kenlynch

    kenlynch
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    Macro is not about focusing distance, in fact for photographing insects you don't actually want to get too close as you can end up blocking out light or scaring the subject away. Macro is about getting an image on the sensor that is the same size or bigger than the subject, for example, the fly in the image is about 2cm so it would fill the frame of the 350D using a 1:1 macro lens, depending on the macro lens you use you get that magnification from either a few feet or a few inches.

    The main things I didn't like about my Fuji were battery life (I used to carry around two spare sets of batteries) and shutter lag, I did get some good photos but I just feel that I get the shot more of the time and don't have to worry about the battery with my 350D.
     
  15. ASH1

    ASH1
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  16. Ikki

    Ikki
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    Half the fun is getting images of these creatures in the wild without disturbing them (the thrill of the hunt :) ). I would look at chilling them as a bit of a cheat, besides my freezer is a bit big to lug into the wilds.
     
  17. mr jones

    mr jones
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    i agree, half the fun for me is snapping rock 'n' roll types in there natural environment, i.e by the bar
     
  18. ASH1

    ASH1
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    Yeah I can just see you now with your freezer on your back and ten miles of extension cable running behind you. :D

    I agree it would seem like cheating to freeze them a little, but then where back into what's considered cheating and what's not. Is post processing cheating, I would say it's not but others might feel it is. Just thought I'd pass on some info that was given to me.

    As for your earlier post when you mentioned to Zone, "I deliberately left any post camera processing sharpening off. Even with it, the image is still not sharp". That's partly down to having the camera hand held IMO.
     

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