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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I am interested in taking a few close up pix of my cars. I have a Canon 550D Digital SLR. I am under the impression that a set of extension tubes works quite well. they come in two flavors.. cheap ones that will disengage the AF (auto focus) so it's the good old method of manual focus which is no big deal considering most professionals use MF anyhow. Or the other option is a slightly more expensive set of tubes that allow AF.

I could really splurge out big time and buy a proper dedicated macro lens but I really don't believe I'll be shooting cars that often to invest in such a lens.

There's a fairly new product on the market now that allows you to attach a tiny extension lens to the front of your phone. This could be a viable option for someone not using an expensive SLR camera.
The quality is extremely good. here's a link if you are interested in such a device.. my friend uses one and he works in the film industry... so can't be so bad if he endorses it.

http://photojojo.com/store/awesomeness/cell-phone-lenses/

So, back to using extension tubes to shoot macro pix.. are there any members using these tubes and if so, what do you think of them.. is it really worth purchasing the AF version ? I believe the non AF version is approx. £8 whereas an AF version are around £40.
 

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One petunia in a field of onions
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Mickman, what lens are you currently using? I use a 35-85mm zoom on my EOS DSLR and a set of Hoya 'closeup filters' for macro work. The filters come in a set of 3; a 1x, 2x and 4x. Which means that adding and and subtracting filters you can change a telephoto lens into a macro lens of required strength.

Embs
 

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Ember, I'm using a Tokina 11-16 f2.8 wide angle. / a 50mm f2.8 / L 70-200mm f2.8 / + the standard 18-55mm f5.6

I will look into a set of the Hoya closeup filters... sounds interesting. Might work well on my wide angle lens.. but then again it has a large 77mm rim. so I'm guessing filters get more pricey as the front diameter gets larger. My 70-200mm is also 77mm so maybe best i go for this size as I can then swap over from wide to my tele-photo lens.

Another option I was looking into is using a Raynox DCR-250 but I'm not sure this will clip onto the front of a 77mm lens.
 

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Ember: From what I gather the Raynox DCR-250 won`t fit a 77mm lens ring. So I guess this limits my options to either filters or extension tubes. Since I have both a wide angle and a tele-photo with 77mm lens rings I should run with the Hoya 1+2+ 4 close-up filters.

I`m also looking to trial my 50mm f1.8 (52mm lens ring) with perhaps a reversing adapter.. these look like fun
having said that though using a reversing ring can allow dust into the lens optics... not good

I`ll post some trial shots here once I receive the filters.
 

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One petunia in a field of onions
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I expect you'll be able to get a step-up ring for the 50mm thread without any issues at all and use the filter set on all 3 lenses.

I'll admit to being a little jealous of your lens selection.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
My lens collection is looking fairly healthy now. I also purchased a 2x canon extender for my 70-200mm lens from e-bay several month back but it never materialized. it was registered post too.. I am baffled what has happened to it... lost in transit from Hawaii to Australia somewhere.

One thing I am interested in doing with my camera since it has a good video frame rate. 60fps. progressive (not interlaced) so I should be able to get some nice slow motion shots. there`s a software plug-in for adobe after effects called `Twixtor` .. it allows you to theoretically take a 60 fps shot and stretch it out to 1000fps !! amazing stuff ... just search YouTube for Twixtor slow motion. I`d like to get some shots of slot cars de-railing and launching themselves of the track.

mmm.. waitn, waiitng waitng... for my macro filters. Sure hope they make it ok
 

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Rich Dumas
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You don't need a macro lens to shoot your cars. Your camera should have a macro setting and you can use that with regular lenses. If you get too close to your subject you can block your own light. I have a macro ring light for one of my cameras which beats that problem. I have only used the ring light with HO cars. It is always best to use a tripod when shooting slot cars. I do not bother with the macro setting with 1/32nd cars. I have to stay outside of the minimum focusing distance for my lens and then zoom in on my subject. If much magnification is used the depth of field will be reduced, so I put the camera in aperture priority mode and close up the aperture to get a better depth of field. If you want the background to be out of focus you will have to experiment with the aperture. F/12 usually works for me. With enough depth of field the autofocus should work well. If you are going for a shallow depth of field you have to be more careful. You can always use manual focus of course, one trick with autofocus is to point the camera at a spot that you want to be in focus and push the shutter release down half way to focus on that spot, you can then change your aim to get the shot that you want before you push the shutter release all the way. Newer cameras have pixels to burn so you do not have to move in too close to your subject, you can always crop your pictures later. Lighting is very important, avoid mixed lighting or your color balance will be off. If you use a flash and you are too close to your subject a big lens might cast a shadow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for all the great replies..


RichD: Hi ya, I do have issues with shadows up close.. especially when using flash on my wide angle lens... it casts a lens rim shadow.
I find using macro mode is not so great as it really limits my options. ie. can`t adjust anything as its simply focus and shoot.. (everything reverts to an auto mode setting) I try when ever possible to run on manual settings unless I am in a situation such as shoot and run.. or action that doesn`t allow for setup time. I can of course zoom in more during post. These days cameras allow a fair bit of scaling & cropping of an image before things get too grainy... & hey, most pix are uploaded in nothing much more than 100k max.

One tip I read the other day, when taking your pix into Photoshop, always adjust your image eg. crop, adjust brightness etc.. & then & only then, add a sharpen filter once. Most professionals will do this.. it has something to the way a DSLR sensor scans leaving artifacts or something. A friend did a professional course and this was his #1 tip ... so there ya go...

Ember, a step up ring sounds like the go.. I`ll look into it.
 

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Rich Dumas
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This was shot with an 18-200 lens. I often illuminate the cars with flourescent lights that mimic daylight. I always Photoshop my pictures, if only to get them to fit the screen. I do use a picture viewing program (ACDSee) that autosizes pictures to fit the screen when I look at unedited pictures. I keep the camera contrast and sharpness settings at their default settings and tweak those if needed when I crop and resize the pictures.

 

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Hi ya RichD,

just wondering if you've ever tried a green screen as your BG (background) .. & then simply layer a background in post using P-shop or have you simply used a print pasted onto a board ?

I am looking into buying close-up filters but am still tring to work out the best option.. I see Canon also sell a special filter called a '500D' (not the camera body) it is used with lenses ranging from 70-400mm. Has anyone tried one of these ?

One more quick question... Do Hoya close up filters make alot of difference compared to a generic £12 set of closeup filters I see advertised on Fleabay.
 

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Julius Wilkko
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Hi!

I use an old DV video camera for macro shots. Panasonic NV-GS120 does excellent job. With video camera you can bring lens close to object and it easily focuses to target. Depth of field is always excellent since the sensor is very small. 3.3Mpixels is more than enough for web-publishing. I can get excellent pictures with minimum effort.

I do own digital SLR Canon 10D but feel that the Panasonic MiniDV camera does better job in all still-slotcar photography.

Cheers!

Julius
 

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HI Mickman,

I'm in a similair dilemma at the moment, I cant get close enough for detail with any of my lenses and for the life of me cant remember what I've done with all my "Macro gear"

I used to work in the photographic industry upto about 10 years ago and had pretty much anything you could imagine at my disposal. I still have a studio lighting set up but cant get close enough for detail. Ive been thinking about extension tubes, but as the best ones are quite pricey new, maybe a used Macro lense might be an alternative?

There is a world of difference between Hoya Filters and the cheapos you may have seen, the other alternative would be BW, the glass/coating is of a similair high quality, although they tend to be more expensive due to brass rather than alloy rings. Have you considered Cokin? Their close-up lenses are made of glass, (although they resin they use for the plastic filters is the same as for spectacle lenses) so with the holder and the adapter rings you could use on all the lenses Make sure its "P"series as "A" is too small diameter.

Using your 70-200 should give you sufficient distance from the car to avoid you casting shadows, It will also give a narrower field of view so its easier to isolate the distracting details from the background. Shadows from the built in flash are hard to avoid, better to use another light source and set the white balance accordingly.

I'm assuming that, as you have a bag full of lenses, you must have a tripod, if not shame on you, so us it to hold the camera and if you dont have a remote, set the self timer ho help avoid camera shake.

The great thing about digital is the instant results, which means if you get the exposure/composition/focus wrong you can correct it within minutes instead of waiting an hour for the film to develop. when you find settings that give you the result make notes so that you can repeat it time and again.

Simon
 

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One petunia in a field of onions
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SplitRim, thanks for the reminder on the Cokin system. I've got a huge amount of Cokin filters, but hadn't thought of them since I retired my film cameras almost 20 years ago.

Embs
 

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Rich Dumas
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I have never tried using a green screen and then Photoshopping in the background, I use Elements which I think lacks that feature. If I am too lazy to drag out the diorama that I often pose my cars on (I don't have a 1/32nd track) I just prop up a picture in the background. If you are too lazy to make note of your camara settings they will all be there embedded in the metadata that gets saved with each shot. If you right click on the file and go to Properties, then Details you can view the metadata. Sometimes you have to fuss around a bit to get the lighting effect that you want, for example night time shots. If you leave your camera on full automatic it can make even a dimly lit scene look like broad daylight. If you go to manual settings you have to juggle things to get the effect of darkness and still be able to see the car. If you need to do a similar shot in the future checking the metadata can save some time.
 

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Julius Wilkko
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Here is a sample of videocamera macro-shot. No fiddling with lenses or filters. Just set to macro mode and shoot.



Of course photography makes nice second hobby and you can spend much time finding suitable macro combination for your SLR..... but regular (video) camera with small sensor will beat many times more expensive SLRs hands down with ease of use and results. I feel that also colour and lighting management works better with video camera.

At the picture below a poster has been used as a backdrop.

 

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One petunia in a field of onions
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QUOTE (RichD @ 7 Aug 2011, 02:28) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I have never tried using a green screen and then Photoshopping in the background, I use Elements which I think lacks that feature.
Anything that has a magic wand selection tool and the ability to add in layers can be used to replace a 'green screen' with a real background. It's basically easy to do. Very easy to do badly Takes some patience and skill to do well.

Embs
 

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Rich Dumas
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I have never had much luck with the magic wand, I have usually had to crop out unwanted stuff bit by bit to get something that I can drop into a composite picture. In this picture the lifgthouse and fence were from one pictures and the cars were from another picture. I wanted the background to be visible through the car's windows.

 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Regarding Photoshop,

The magic wand can be real hard to master... I find playing with the tolerance setting is vital & once you have done your first selection & are resonably happy with the selected area, hold shift while selecting more area or to subtract an area hold Alt. note: you can also hold Alt & drag around an area you wish to subtract for your initial selection...

Once you are happy with your general selection... you should try increasing the total area by 2 pixels by going into SELECT > MODIFY > EXPAND.

another alternative is to start your initial selection with the Magic Wand.. & then switch tools to the Quick Selection Tool.. (use shift & Alt to add or subtract )

Try it you might be surprised how much easier it is to use.
 

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An even easier method to select an area,

1.) duplicate your layer.

2.) Image > adjustments > threshold (change the value to something smaller like 64,( if it is not enough... ctrl+z to undo last action) & change the threshold until you get something you are happy with.

3.) Now use magic wand on the high contrast layer.... you will get a definite area selected... & then simply change layers and your selection is still selected.

Here`s an axample I was playing wiht a few weeks back.. not perfect but it gives a good impression of what i was trying to achieve in regards to backgrounds.

 
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