Sunday, March 18, 2007

Close-up Problems

I've been out shooting with a new addition to my shooting arsenal...the Canon 500D Close-up filter. When attached to the front of my 70-300 zoom, it allows for close focusing to about 19.5 inches. Boy does it bring things close up. 8v)

But the "in focus" layer is extremely thin. Hand-holding to get a sharp, in focus shot, is next to impossible, but not totally impossible. It just takes time and lots of shots. I shot 27 images of ants today, getting some rather close views. But every shot was out of focus. I need to figure out a way of steadying the camera when using that filter.

Every photographer reading this will probably laugh and say, "You need to use a tripod, you idiot." I probably should, but I ain't much for lugging a large, bulky, hard to handle tripod with me when I go shooting. There are times when one is called for, but generally by the time I set up a tripod for shooting, what I want to shoot is gone. Besides, that's what I got image stabilization for. Works great for most of my shooting, but the only way I'll be able to get the really little critters that I need to include in my photostream is by getting closer to shoot them. You see, it comes down to minimum focusing distance.

On my stabilized 70-300mm lens, the minimum focusing distance is 4.9 feet...right around 58 inches. When zoomed out to 300mm, it works well on large bugs. With the six megapixel size of my sensor, I can get a good enough image to crop to 50 percent and still have a usable set of different colored pixels. Chances are, I'll never be able to print a 50 percent crop at 16x20 inches, but who would want to see a bumble bee enlarged that big? 8v) What I do for my 800x600 web posted images works well. But it doesn't work on things smaller than a bumble bee.

I have gotten good images of Honey Bees, but they also include a large portion of the flower they were one. Cropping some of the flies I have gotten shots of also appear decent when cropped, but again include a lot of what they were on when I got the image. Because of that, I purchased the 500D close up filter. Another lens I have -- the 28-80mm lens -- close focuses a lot closer than the 70-300mm. It focuses at about 19 inches. But shooting a shot from 19 inches with an 80mm lens instead of the 300mm, means the image I shoot is a little more than 3 times smaller than one shot at 300mm.

There is another option for my style of shooting. Canon has a 28-300mm, image stabilized "L" lens. It close focuses to 28 inches throughout its zoom range. That would be the perfect lens for my style of shooting. One of these days I would like to get one. Great color, sharp images, but it is heavy...close to three pounds. Besides, it also costs $2,400.

Please send contributions to the "Get Ashrunner A New Lens Fund" through my Paypal account. 8v)

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