Posts Tagged ‘macro’
It all started with a Tamron 70-150mm f/3.8 CZ-715 Adaptall lens I got thrown in as a freebie when I bought my Nikon F-301. Although I had a vague idea of the Adaptall technology, I knew nothing about this particular lens. While doing research on the lens, I discovered that Tamron had a strong product line of the SP series Adaptall 2 lenses targeted at serious amateurs and professional photographers. One lens, in particular, piqued my interest: Tamron SP 300mm f/5.6 Adaptall 2 54B. While this model is a bit slow, it has an impressive 300mm focal length and features 1:3.3 macro capabilities. More importantly, the lens is rather inexpensive, and I’ve managed to find a unit in excellent condition at a very reasonable price on a local online auction.
Tamron also produced a 2x converter for use with Adaptall 2 lenses, and I was lucky to find one on eBay. This converter doubles the focal length, but it does so at the expense of the aperture. So the converter transforms a Tamron SP 300mm f/5.6 into a 600mm lens with the maximum aperture of f/11. Tamron lenses with the Adaptall 2 adapter for Nikon F mount are compatible with Nikon’s analog and digital SLRs. When bolted onto a Nikon DSLR with a DX sensor, the lens’ focal length equals 450mm. Add the 2x tele converter, and you get an whopping 900mm focal length.
To test the lens, I went to our local botanical garden. I started with my Nikon F-501 film SLR loaded with Fujifilm Fujicolor C200.
I also tried the lens with my trusty Nikon D90 DSLR. Using Tamron Adaptall lenses on a modern DSLR is only possible in the Manual mode. The camera can’t read aperture values either, and you have to switch to manual focusing. In other words, shooting with the Tamron SP 300mm f/5.6 Adaptall 2 lens is a full-manual affair. On the positive side, focus confirmation seemed to work just fine.
So how did the lens perform? For its age, the lens did admirably well. Sharpness is good, and the lens produces pleasing and creamy bokeh. Overall, it’s not so shabby for a twenty-something-year old lens, especially considering the price.
By the way, if you are looking for information about Tamron’s Adaptall lenses, the Adaptall-2.org website got you covered.
It has been a while since I used my favorite Nikon D90 and Raynox DCR-250 combo. The bad weather loosened its grip last week, and we finally had a few decent summer days perfect for shooting flowers and plants in the Aarhus University botanical garden. The signage in the outdoor areas of the botanical garden leaves a lot to be desired, so I couldn’t find out the name of these amazing tiny flowers.
The photo is published on Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Wikimedia Commons: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Starlets_(Macro).jpeg
So far, we’ve had three (sic!) sunny and relatively warm days this spring, and I spent two of them in our local botanical garden armed with my Nikon D90 and the lightweight budget macro combo.
Despite the unusually rough (even by Danish standards) spring, there were a handful of blooming flowers, including Saxifraga arendsii. These are not the most spectacular flowers in the botanical garden, but they are pretty in their own unassuming way.
I processed the photo in digiKam using a few techniques described in the digiKam Recipes ebook. The photo is published on Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Wikimedia Commons: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Saxifraga_Arendsii.jpeg
There is an embarrassing story that goes with this photo. Right after I took the photo, I sneezed and knocked over the camera mounted on a tripod. Of course, the lens hood of my Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8 SP Di macro lens landed directly on the delicate shell, crushing it into pieces. I’m such a klutz!
Macro lenses are expensive. This probably explains the popularity of low-cost alternatives like extension tubes and macro filters. I’ve been using Kenko extension tubes for quite a while. And while it’s a cheap way to get into the world of macro photography, it’s not the most practical one. Constantly adding and removing tubes quickly becomes a nuisance, especially if you are shooting on location. The Raynox DCR-250 macro conversion lens is not only a cheaper alternative to extension tubes, it’s also a much more practical one. It comes with a snap-on adapter which you can use to fit the Raynox DCR-250 on virtually any lens. Before I splashed out on a proper macro lens, I’ve been using DCR-250 for several years, and I can’t praise it enough.
In fact, even though I’m now the proud owner of a Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8 Di SP macro lens, I still find the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 D AF Nikkor Lens and Raynox DCR-250 combo quite handy. It’s significantly smaller and lighter than the Tamron lens, and it produces excellent results. Don’t take my word for it, and take a look at the sample photo below. This is a macro shot of my Tamron lens taken with the Nikkor 50mm/Raynox DCR-250 combo.
So whether you are getting starting with macro photography and you can’t justify buying a proper macro lens, or if you are looking for a lighter and more portable alternative, the described setup is a good solution, indeed. You might wonder why use Raynox DCR-250 with precisely the 50mm lens. For starters, this is one of the most versatile lenses out there, and it’s also one of the cheapest. Its lightweight and compact design makes the lens a perfect travel companion. In addition to that, the lens features an aperture ring, so you can adjust f-stops manually. This means that the lens is suited for use with a reverse ring macro adapter.
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The California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) is a perennial and annual plant, native to the United States, and the official state flower of California.
It can grow 5-60 cm tall, with alternately branching glaucous blue-green foliage. The leaves are ternately divided into round, lobed segments. The flowers are solitary on long stems, silky-textured, with four petals, each petal 2-6 cm long and broad; their color ranges from yellow to orange, and flowering is from February to September. The petals close at night or in cold, windy weather and open again the following morning, although they may remain closed in cloudy weather. The fruit is a slender dehiscent capsule 3-9 cm long, which splits in two to release the numerous small black or dark brown seeds. It is perennial in mild parts of its native range, and annual in colder climates; growth is best in full sun and sandy, well-drained, poor soil.
Full-size version and further info: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eschscholzia_californica_(Shallow_DOF).jpg
I love my Kenko extension tubes, and I keep them in my photo bag at all times. They are great, but somewhat cumbersome in everyday use: you have to detach the lens, add a tube, and put the lens back. This may not sound like a complicated procedure, but it takes time and there is always the risk of getting dust on the sensor.
In my search for a more convenient solution, I stumbled upon the Raynox DCR-250 Super Macro conversion lens. At first sight, it looks a bit like those cheap and useless close-up filters you can find on eBay, but it’s most definitely not. Raynox DCR-250 consists of three high-quality coated elements in two groups that provide +8 diopters magnification.
The quality of the glass seems to be top-notch (I don’t have a dedicated macro lens for comparison) and the lens produces pleasing results. DCR-250 comes with a clever snap-on adapter for lens sizes from 52mm to 67mm. Attaching Raynox DCR-250 to the lens is as easy and fast as putting a lens cap on. The price is right, too, so Raynox DCR-250 is an excellent solution for macro shooting on the cheap.
There is one thing you should keep in mind, though: the lens has a razor thin depth of field, so you must use a steady tripod to get sharp photos. While you can get away with shooting handheld with Kenko tubes, it’s virtually impossible to do that with Raynox DCR-250.
Of course, Raynox DCR-250 won’t replace a dedicated macro lens, but it’s the next-best thing you can get. It’s not expensive, it produces excellent results, and it’s extremely convenient — what’s not to like?