After doing a few food shots and getting asked to do products as well I thought it was time to get into Macro photography a little more extensively. So I went down to Grand Stores (Abu Dhabi) and picked up the Fuji Macro Extension tube MCEX-16 for AED399…. Which is a pretty good deal for turning virtually any Fuji lens you have into a macro lens. There’s a smaller version (MCEX-11) which gives you less magnification but I opted for the 16 because…. Well…. I wanted MORE magnification!!!
First off I went to my backyard and tried it out with almost every lens I have. These are the flower shots you will see a little later. When I saw the images I got hooked, and wanted to shoot more macro “stuff”. So I took a trip the Dubai Butterfly Garden to shoot some dinosaurs…. Sorry… Autocorrect…. I meant butterflies. Here’s what I learned
- Magnification is greater at shorter focal lengths
- Depth of field is more pronounced with macro photography.
- A macro photo isn’t cool just because it’s macro, lighting and composition are still key
- You’re physically up close and personal with the subject…. We’re talking millimeters away, almost touching the lens.
There’s a table with a list of lenses and their equivalent magnification and working focal distance in this link: Magnification of Macro Extension Tube
I used a few lenses here:
- 50-140mm: Wasn’t loving it. A little too far and not enough magnification for my taste. Also very bulky to try to control
- 56mm: Could be my favorite to use. You’re about 2-3 cm away from the subject, and can go all the way into less than a centimeter if you want to. It’s a good range and a great lens
- 27mm: With this lens you can really fill the frame with “macroness”. You’re really up close at the point. About 1 cm and less.
- 23mm: This is fun and can produce some very a abstract results. Because the focal distance is so short, and depth of field so great, everything is one giant blur, but that cool sometimes. The subject is touching the lens most of the time
Given the positions of the flowers and the butterflies, and the angles and positions I needed to put myself in to get these shots, it was impractical to use a tripod.
Focusing was by far the the biggest challenge. It’s quite counter intuitive. The intuitive was it to point the lens at the subject, half press to get focus….then shoot. However, there’s a very finite focus range when the macro extension tube is attached. Too far or too close will leave your camera hunting for focus.
So to start, I turned my focus ring to infinity, then slowly got closer to the subject until I achieved approximate focus…. Then I started to mess with focus settings
Both single and continuous focus didn’t really do it. There’s so much swaying of the camera in your hand, and of leaves and branches in the slightest of wind while the depth of field is ever so great.
So I resorted to manual focus, with High Speed Continuos Shooting. So the trick is so set you focus ring in one place, move closer to the subject until you achieve approximate focus, compose the shot, hold down the shutter and sway in and out very slowly… that way… at least a few will be in sharp focus.
If you’ve made it this far, then I’d like to tell you that all the photos were shot in JPEG, yes JPEG… Not RAW. I get a lot of bad press because I choose to shoot JPEG sometimes but it’s okay I can handle it… I just love the way Fuji renders JPEGS, they have this buttery smooth finish to them that I just can’t replicate in with the RAW files. So… If you’re one of those people thinking “this is blasphemy”… Then in the words of Justin Beiber, you should go and love yourself.
Ps. My mama don’t like you and she likes everyone.