Stuart Ord  

Willow by Stuart Ord

May 2021 - Willow

May 2021 - Stuart Ord


About the Image(s)

Well, I’ve been a busy chap since last month, doing some buying and selling. I’ve collected a lot of Olympus kit over the last few years, and as you’ll have seen I’ve been pushing the magnification I can get with my Olly macro lens using extension tubes, my 1.4x converter, and my Raynox. But my book on Extreme Macro showed me more was possible, and I was particularly impressed by the results from the Canon MP-E lens. Alas, it can only be mounted on a Canon body. So I decided to rationalise my Olympus kit to fund a foray into Canon. Thanks eBay!

I bought a Canon 90D and a few lenses, more of which later. The key one, of course, is the MP-E. This lens is manual focus, 65mm (on APS-C, so 104mm in full frame terms) f2.8, and has continuously variable magnification ratio from 1x to 5x, all with a decent working distance. I also decided to get a ring flash. The Canon one is rather expensive when new, and after chasing a few on eBay north of 400 ($500), I gave that up. I found the cheap ones getting dubious feedback on various sites, which was off-putting. I have a couple of Nissin i40 flashes for Olympus, and they are good. So I bought a Nissin ring flash.

I’m still learning about the 90D. In normal use I find it rather poor through the viewfinder, being optical and my last 10 years have been micro 4/3 electronic viewfinders, which I think are so much better than optical. (A swap to a Canon mirrorless is on the cards “ does anyone know if the MP-E will work on a Canon MP? Otherwise it might be an M50.) But for macro, the LCD screen is much more convenient using Live View when using a tripod etc, so it’s no real problem here.

Having said that, the first image I’m offering you was taken hand held and viewed through the viewfinder. The ring flash was used in TTL mode, although a couple of test shots and flash exposure compensation adjusted were needed to get the exposure correct.

Bill has pointed out to me that on its own, “I don't know what I'm seeing”. Good point! I understand now, my memory of what I was doing gave me that understanding that other viewers don’t have. So I’ve also sent a second image, taken at about 1x magnification, which might help. Here you can see the little branch on the willow with its emerging buds. Alas the bit I concentrated on to form my entry is out of focus at the top, shown by the black box. The similar bud in the centre is in focus and easier to understand. But the top one shows a second tuft of “hair” on the reverse side from the bud, which had drawn my attention. Next time I’ll try to do better and get a “context” picture in focus!

I’m disappointed to discover that the magnification in use isn’t recorded in the EXIF data, so I’m relying on memory to say the magnification for this (main) shot was about 4x.

Canon 90D, Canon MP-E lens, Nissin ring flash, f16 (1/60 sec but very short flash), processed in Affinity from RAW.

5 comments posted

Tom Pickering   Tom Pickering
Not bad at all for a single image at 4x magnification, especially with such a shallow DOF. You've managed a lot of detail in the hairs. It would have been cool to see a stack of this to compensate for the DOF.

The thing I miss when using my Laowa Ultra Macro is a polarizing filter and it appears you have the same issue with a lot of specular highlights present. I'm playing around with under-exposing a bit to help combat that.

It is a bummer that magnification is not an EXIF field, but manual lenses don't do a lot of communication with the camera anyway. Still, it simplifies things to only have to deal with one lens without a lot of added pieces.

Someone I converse with on MeWe also has a Laowa Ultra Macro and is playing around with using it with extension tubes to get even closer. I don't know - it's difficult enough to get everything right at 5:1 - I can't imagine how difficult it would be even closer with a DSLR.   Posted: 05/04/2021 11:40:33
Stuart Ord   Stuart Ord
A polarising filter sounds like an excellent idea. The MP-E has a 58mm filter thread, and the closest polariser I have is 72mm. I found some stepping rings and nearly got there, but failed to find a 67-72mm. There must be one round here somewhere....

A hand held stack at 4x - in my dreams. Even my M1 doing internal braketing at up to 60 fps is unlikely to achieve that! (If I could have mounted the MP-E onto my Olly M1 I'd have skipped the Canon 90D body) I should have said that no buds were harmed in the taking of this photo - it was on a tree, about 5' above the ground!   Posted: 05/05/2021 02:21:40
Stuart Ord   Stuart Ord
What's MeWe?
As I'd concluded previously, if we want to go closer than 5x, then a stereo microspcope seems to be the way to go. You can get those going from 6x to 40x, decent quality ones cost under $1000, and have an option to attach a camera for photography. My [or I should say my wife's ;-)]Bresser digital microscope has no facility to take an external camera, I'm stuck with the rather crappy internal one, so after playing with it I found it a bit of a non-starter.   Posted: 05/05/2021 02:39:07

Carol Sheppard   Carol Sheppard
Very sharply focused with a pleasing composition. The use of minimal colors makes for a soothing image to view. It feels great to me as a viewer. I've been hearing a lot about the Laowa macro lens(es) lately.   Posted: 05/04/2021 21:25:57
Stuart Ord   Stuart Ord
Thanks, Carol, we aim to please!
Yes, a Laowa was an option I considered. I felt the lack of 1x to 2.5x in its range was a hindrance. They do a Canon fit version, but not an Olly version (when I could have used my Olly macro lens + extension tubes etc to fill the gap), so having to buy a different body seemed to push me towards the Canon MP-E and a Canon body instead. The MP-E is 3x the price which was a hindrance, but everyone said how brilliant it is, I figured it was the right choice. I had far more difficulty deciding which body to put it on. Many advised a 60D, and that would have been much cheaper than a 90D, but I figured I need all the help I can get, and had I found it lacking then I'd have blamed my choice of an older model......
The disappointment is that in non-macro use I find the 90D's viewfinder a real hindrance after using Olympus mirrorless for so long, but the choice available in Canon APS-C mirrorless bodies hadn't inspired me. Now I'm looking at a Canon RP and have ordered one on the Canon loan system to try out in a couple of weeks. I'll report next month!   Posted: 05/05/2021 02:32:53


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