Maybe OT - Macro Photography and Photo Equipment Suppliers

Discussion in 'Photography' started by David Ives, Jan 22, 2008.

  1. David Ives

    David Ives Guest

    Hi, sorry if this is the wrong group to post such a question in, and if it
    is, recommendations for an alternative group would be appreciated.

    <Sorry, slightly long and rambling post I'm afraid>

    My wife has a little sideline, selling handmade lampwork glass beads and
    silver jewelery through her online store. I made the mistake of telling her
    when she first began that I had spent some years at art school studying
    photography. And so, I suddenly found myself being volunteered as the
    photographer for her projects (fact that most of my time at college was spent
    in a darkroom studying developing processing and printing technique didn't
    seem to bother her much - sigh!).

    Using a couple of Nikon Coolpix 5000s (the original 5000 that is) I set up a
    tabletop macro/lighting setup, and started taking pictures. It took me some
    months of trial and error to reach what I considered a high and consistent
    standard of quality (as high as I could get given the setup)

    A few weeks back, my wife was emailed by a gentleman asking who photographed
    her samples? "My husband" she replied.

    That gentleman owns a small chain of high-end jewelery stores throughout the
    NE. Last week he asked me If I would like to handle his photography for him?
    Of course, me being someone who hasn't learnt to say no - I replied "sure,
    more than happy to" (okay, the money helped me to decide).

    I have to admit to taking what I would consider good quality images with
    these battered old Nikons 5000, but as for really serious work, I really need
    to bite the bullet and buy myself a D-SLR with a suitable macro lens setup.

    The items I have to photograph vary in size between a single diamond up to a

    Full size images need to fill 1280 x 1024 screen

    I've been a Nikon guy all of my life (F2, F3s, EM, FM2s, 750, 5000s, 5700,
    P2s etc) but I'm more than willing to change (Bought my son a Canon 401 as a
    first camera - very impressed, never touched a Canon before). Also owned and
    used Minnox, Contax, Olympus and Pentax.

    Q1: Any recommendations on a middle range D-SLR body/macro lens combo?

    Q2: Anyone know of a good equipment seller that knows what they're talking
    about and can be trusted? (Please don't suggest Cameta Camera, they're
    horrendous people to deal with afaiac.

    Thanks, any replies appreciated.

    (e-mail invalid)
    David Ives, Jan 22, 2008
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  2. David Ives

    Paul Furman Guest

    David Ives wrote:

    At that size, the compact cameras are probably a lot easier to get good
    results with. A DSLR will be more difficult but hey, this is paying for
    itself and you sound real patient.
    The Nikon D80 has a mirror lockup delay. Not quite the same but probably
    usable for your purposes, and a nice bright viewfinder. Just about any
    macro lens will work for jewelery, something like an old manual 55mm
    with it's extension tube will even work, though it won't meter, this
    kind of work demands looking at the histogram anyways. Or a new 60mm
    although it's possible these shorter lenses will interfere with your
    B&H or Adorama online, though I wouldn't ask any dealer for advice other
    than technical "is this compatible" type questions.
    Paul Furman, Jan 22, 2008
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  3. David Ives

    tony cooper Guest

    While these companies may be dependable in shipping and pricing, I
    wouldn't ask them for advice or recommendations on equipment. Their
    answer is always to upgrade. They would sell stilts to a cripple if
    it would increase the sale.
    tony cooper, Jan 22, 2008
  4. David Ives

    krishnananda Guest

    You might want to look at the ready-made soft-box solutions for
    photographing jewelry targeted at the professional jeweler: (Kassoy is a large jeweler's
    tool and supply company in New York)

    For example: "The Gem eBox. Now Enhanced With LED Lighting to Make
    Diamonds Sparkle Performance at a Great Price. The Gem eBox puts imaging
    on your desktop at an affordable price in a convenient package. It
    measures only 15" W x 10.5" H x 7.5" D."

    As far as a camera goes, any Nikon DSLR with the 60mm Micro Nikkor lens
    should do the trick. With a small sensor you can shoot from farther away
    for the same coverage as it becomes essentially a 90mm macro lens.

    B&H is great in person; however, I don't know how informed their
    telephone folks are. Same for Adorama. If you are looking at used
    equipment, KEH in Atlanta is quite good on the phone and I have been
    buying from them for decades.

    Hope this helps,

    krishnananda, Jan 22, 2008
  5. David Ives

    David Ives Guest

    Being able to lock the mirror isn't so much of a bonus. A bright screen
    however is, as most of the framing is done at arms length.
    HA!.....the gods hate me. I sold my old Nikkor 55mm 2.8 on ebay just a few
    months back. It never got much use, even when I was shooting 35mm.

    These days, apart from the macro work I do for my wife, most of the stuff I
    take is point and shoot holiday stuff using a pair of Nik P2's (which I'm sad
    to say aren't that good imho).
    No problem, I'm middle age, I still own a light meter ;)
    Of the few dealers I've spoken to, most seem to be pushing the 110mm. I can
    see one advantage in having a 110mm, and that is for portraiture. Seeing that
    my portrait days are long gone - and that all I want to do is macro - do you
    see any advantage of a 60mm over a 110mm or vice-versa? The lighting is a
    home made rig using four daylight temperature sources, and so lighting is
    fairly flexable.
    Thanks for the recommendations. Just looked at Adorama online, looks good.

    You're absolutely right about the questions part. Whatever happened to
    knowledgable staff eh! (Good grief, I sound like my father)

    David Ives, Jan 23, 2008
  6. David Ives

    David Ives Guest

    Sadly I have to agree 100%.

    I had such an experience in CompUSA just around Christmas. We were out buying
    a laptop. My wife was chewing the head off of the manager about his flat
    refusal to allow us to actually pick up a laptop, and so I wandered across to
    the next isle to look at the D-SLRs. With no one around, I reached out to
    pick up (what I think was) a Nik D40, when suddenly **poof ** out of nowhere
    appeared a twelve year member of the sales staff who began to tell me all
    about how what-did-what, how the magazines loved this camera, how it had a
    shutter speed of 8000 and how it had more accessories than I could ever wish
    for. After two minutes of listening to him spewing practised script - I told
    him to shut up - but he didn't - he just droned on and on and on like some
    kind of manic bot fly. In the end I just looked at him and said okay okay! Is
    this compatible with ordinary Nikkor lenses? Stunned silence. "I've no idea
    what you mean" he replied, "let me go and ask someone". He was gone ten
    minutes (by that time, my wife had just about killed the manager over his
    refusal to allow her to just pick up a laptop, even though she offered him a
    handful of credit cards, a drivers licence and the house keys as security).
    My former member of the sales team was hiding behind the Pepsi vending
    machine, just waiting for me to leave. Ninety percent of stores, whether
    on-line or high street are box-shifters and nothing more.

    Sorry for the rant - must be the coffee.

    David Ives, Jan 23, 2008
  7. David Ives

    David Ives Guest

    People seem to favor the Nikons for macro work. Any idea whether springing
    the extra cash for the D80 over the D40 is worth it, considering it'll get
    sat upon a tabletop, and remain there until it dies?

    Are these the guys?

    If so, thank you, it may be just what I'm looking for

    It does, thanks

    David Ives, Jan 23, 2008
  8. David Ives

    Paul Furman Guest

    It is useful for macro work especially extreme closeups. The delay mode
    is probably fine though. At full 1:1 magnification the 105 is big &
    heavy & subject to a lot of wobble on a tripod in my experience,
    especially angled down at funny angles.
    The new 105mm has VR (stabilization for handholding) which is not really
    useful for closeups but yes these lenses are excellent for general use
    although the autofocus tends to be slow.
    The shorter lenses are convenient for copy stands & cost less. The
    longer ones are good for chasing butterflies where you want some
    distance which most people like. And like I said, lighting might be
    easier if you stand back & get out of the way, or more difficult if you
    want to look down & need a short table or tall tripod.
    Paul Furman, Jan 23, 2008
  9. David Ives

    Paul Furman Guest

    For the 1024x768 size images you need that should be fine. Mirror lockup
    isn't essential. You also don't need autofocus for macro (only the
    newest AS-S lenses like the 105 will autofocus on a D40). The D40
    probably has better dynamic range and more manageable sized files than
    the higher megapixel count D40x too.
    I bought a bargain grade (um, one step better rating) used lens from
    them & wasn't happy but they took it back no problem. I was just trying
    to be cheap & paid the 3-way shipping for that. They do have a good
    Paul Furman, Jan 23, 2008
  10. David Ives

    Paul Furman Guest

    AF-S (internal (Silent) focus motor)
    Paul Furman, Jan 23, 2008
  11. David Ives

    David Ives Guest

    Excellent thanks, just what I needed to know. Most of the pictures are shot
    at anything between 40 degrees and 90 degrees, so that is an issue and
    something I need to consider.
    One thing I learnt early on, steal the wife's marble top kitchen table. It's
    amazing how much jarring a two hundred pound marble table dampens. That and a
    cable release.
    A lot of work is shot from above, it's the only way to get some of the chain
    jewelery to lay in its correct pose.

    I cannot see myself chasing butterflies thanks :)

    Just to summarise, a Nik D80 with a 60mm Nikkor?

    David Ives, Jan 23, 2008
  12. David Ives

    krishnananda Guest

    Unfortunately I don't know much about digital bodies, sorry. You don't
    need much for macro work. I used to use an old Nikkormat and a 55 micro
    as my dedicated macro setup.
    Yes, that's them.
    krishnananda, Jan 23, 2008
  13. David Ives

    Paul Furman Guest

    And a sturdy ballhead tripod head and the infrared remote release (no
    wired cable release available).

    Oh, and an 85mm tilt/shift PC Micro-Nikkor for depth of field and
    perspective correction on those angled shots :) And a Canon iDS MkII
    with a 65mm MP-E for showing the perfect 50 carat diamond's laser
    engraved certificate of authenticity in blistering clarity (with circles
    and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each
    one is to be used as evidence) :)
    Paul Furman, Jan 23, 2008
  14. David Ives

    Joel Guest

    I don't own the lens but many likes the Sigma 180mm f2.8 macro which costs
    around $550-600 (good lens). And 100mm macro seem to be the most common
    because of the size and price.
    Joel, Jan 23, 2008
  15. David Ives

    David Ives Guest

    I picked up a couple of fantastic QR heads and TT tripods from a UK company
    named Uni-Loc, they're very similar to Bembo (actually they may have been
    associated once). I have nothing but praise for their tripods and heads, and
    their customer service is just superb.
    A cheaper option is to tilt the backdrop :)
    David Ives, Jan 23, 2008
  16. David Ives

    David Ives Guest

    Its got to be digital I'm afraid. I appreciate that in order to extract a
    first class image I need something like a Pentax 6x7 with a S-M-C Macro
    Takumar 6X7 135mm f/4, shooting on E4 or E6 - but the guy wants something he
    can afford. Besides, the quality of stuff he sells isn't that good :)

    Actually, I cut my teeth on medium format, shooting landscape some 30 years
    ago (I had, or the college had a Bronica or a Mamiya, I can't remember
    which). I always wanted a Pentax 6x7 but could never afford it. Hmmm... it
    might be worth looking around ebay for one (?). Nah....better not, it'll be
    darkroom setups, enlargers etc all over again. I'm already accused of not
    spending enough quality time at home.....but still, a nice thought.

    Thank you, I'll contact them today.
    David Ives, Jan 23, 2008
  17. David Ives

    David Ives Guest

    Good lenses Sigma, I had a couple on a F3. The only complaint I had against
    them was their focusing, turning the focusing ring required some serious
    muscle (yeah I know, I'm talking about before AF :)
    David Ives, Jan 23, 2008
  18. David Ives

    Paul Furman Guest

    For something like a ring, shot from a 45 degree angle, it might be hard
    to get enough DOF and tilting the plane of focus helps. You can do focus
    stacking also to overcome this if it becomes an issue.

    Perspective correction is less likely to be an issue. Maybe for a
    mirrored object when you want a straight on view without the camera's
    reflection in the middle, but even that can be done in photoshop. I'm
    just torturing you now.

    Oh and a focus rail, bellows, ad infinitum... :)

    That's great you've got a nice tripod.
    Paul Furman, Jan 23, 2008
  19. David Ives

    David Ives Guest

    I've no idea if these will show up or not, but I just snapped these using a
    nik 5000 at 45 degrees - quick and dirty.

    Both shot at f7.2 / 0.30sec

    Whoa!! I've never ever heard of focus stacking - wow, a new expression :)
    David Ives, Jan 23, 2008
  20. David Ives

    Tully Guest

    My website (no ads, and I'm not making any money by generating traffic)
    has several pages with observations and samples re: low-budget and
    common-sense product photography, macro and lighting issues. My
    speciality is taking the knowledge gained in past freelance work, when I
    had obscene amounts of money invested in equipment, and putting that to
    work "on the cheap" (I don't like the term "quick and dirty" but that's
    how some would describe my methods) as an older amateur who can't afford
    to buy the newest and best of everything.

    Poke around if you like, email me if you want,

    Tully (D80's with mostly low-price Nikkor lenses)
    Tully, Jan 24, 2008
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