duane

22 Mar 2008 6,325 views
 
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photoblog image Damselfly

Damselfly


Macro and My Full Frame Experience - Part 4

Macro shot of a damselfly (zygoptera) taken in the Singapore Botanical Gardens. These tiny insects measure about 4cm in length, and are usually found skimming the surface of ponds. They actually start off their life as eggs which hatch into nymphs underwater.

In my previous posts, the shots I posted all played to the advantage of the Canon EOS 5D's full frame sensor. However, there are a number of situations when a cropped sensor had the upper hand. Macro shots are one of them, as the crop factor helps tiny subjects to fill up the frame.

With a full frame sensor, you do need to get closer to the subject - not an easy feat with jumpy insects! Unfortunately, the closer you get, the narrower the depth of field. To get the whole damselfly in focus in this scene, I had to stop down the lens aperture to f/16 (all you need to do is breathe and it goes out of focus!). This cuts down the light entering the lens so much that, despite it being a sunny day, ISO1000 was required to get an acceptable shutterspeed.

Having said that, it's still possible to get a decent macro shot with the full frame 5D (the lenses might even make more sense - 100mm for setup shots and 180mm for insects). However, after this photoshoot, I came away with the feeling that a cropped sensor camera is the better tool for macro photography. The advantages of reach and wider depth of field are simply hard to ignore.

Damselfly


Macro and My Full Frame Experience - Part 4

Macro shot of a damselfly (zygoptera) taken in the Singapore Botanical Gardens. These tiny insects measure about 4cm in length, and are usually found skimming the surface of ponds. They actually start off their life as eggs which hatch into nymphs underwater.

In my previous posts, the shots I posted all played to the advantage of the Canon EOS 5D's full frame sensor. However, there are a number of situations when a cropped sensor had the upper hand. Macro shots are one of them, as the crop factor helps tiny subjects to fill up the frame.

With a full frame sensor, you do need to get closer to the subject - not an easy feat with jumpy insects! Unfortunately, the closer you get, the narrower the depth of field. To get the whole damselfly in focus in this scene, I had to stop down the lens aperture to f/16 (all you need to do is breathe and it goes out of focus!). This cuts down the light entering the lens so much that, despite it being a sunny day, ISO1000 was required to get an acceptable shutterspeed.

Having said that, it's still possible to get a decent macro shot with the full frame 5D (the lenses might even make more sense - 100mm for setup shots and 180mm for insects). However, after this photoshoot, I came away with the feeling that a cropped sensor camera is the better tool for macro photography. The advantages of reach and wider depth of field are simply hard to ignore.

comments (22)

This certainly works. What fabulous colours you've captured. The background light falls at very interesting places too.
  • Roz Sears
  • Great Britain (UK)
  • 22 Mar 2008, 08:23
What a wonderful macro - well worth the thought and trouble you took to get it. (:o)
This is a magnificent macro. Well done! Thanks for your explanations.
  • tim
  • United Kindom
  • 22 Mar 2008, 08:53
wow, stunning detail and composition and thanks for the infosmile
  • David
  • Nigeria
  • 22 Mar 2008, 10:33
Haven't seen you around in a while. Or maybe I haven't been around. How's life treating you?

Sorry I can't comment much on the picture because I'm not experienced on macro stuff.
The Maven: Hi David. Good to be in contact with you again. Life's been rather hectic (even a relocation to Singapore!), and I've not done much photoshooting over the last few months. But recently, a new camera has rekindled the hobby, and I'm posting again on Shutterchance. Aiming for once a week with a high quality image.
I wish I had a macro camera too. I also made pictures of a black damselfly with my Sony H2.It was good, not awesome!

Thanx for the comment!
The Maven: Thanks for dropping by to comment. I do like your butterfly pictures. Funny thing is that the macro lens used in this shot actually belongs to Denosha (denosha.shutterchance.com). I don't own a macro lens either. sad Maybe time to start saving up for one.
Wow! Good job getting it sharp at 1/100s handheld! The background is rather messy though i must say. But excellent shot considering the conditions (sweat was rolling into my eyes) and for i think your second attempt at insect macros?
The Maven: Yep, was only my 2nd attempt at macros. Is there any reason why the 1/focal length rule isn't enough for this kind of shots?

I had some interesting backgrounds come out of this photo shoot - a number had square shaped highlights. Real strange to me. Aren't highlights supposed to become more and more round as the aperture is stopped down? Is it a macro phenomenon, or a feature of the Canon 100mm macro?
  • Louis
  • South Africa
  • 23 Mar 2008, 21:45
I have read you dissertation with interest. I also went to bloggers I know to use the cropped sensor and did a quick comparison. What you wrote here is vindicated.

There are some other factors like the capturing software that can add to the discussion.

E.g. look how well your 5D handled the ISO1000 while if I would go above ISO800 with my 400D it would go noisy and it can't produce the same quality DOF.

Some you win and some you lose.

The narrow focus field of macro's usually dictate for parallel focussed approaches, like here. Great picture.
The Maven: Hi Louis. You're right, the 5D made up for it by handling ISO1000 really well in this shot. On the flip side, your 400D's crop factor would have allowed you to capture this scene standing a few cm further back. The depth of field would have been deeper, so you wouldn't need to stop the lens as far down as f/16. This in turn would have allowed you to use a lower ISO.

You do indeed win some and lose some. On balance, I suspect the 400D would have delivered not too dissimilar results in terms of image quality. The main advantage would be capturing the scene a few cm further away - critical with these nervous insects. Makes one even wonder if the Olympus 4/3rds system would be yet a better choice for macros.
  • EGU
  • 24 Mar 2008, 03:30
Amazing shot! And the details, wonderful!
  • Consuela
  • Paramaribo, Suriname
  • 26 Mar 2008, 02:06
Nice colours. Love it !!!
  • Chantal
  • Netherlands
  • 26 Mar 2008, 10:52
awesome macro... sorry I haven't stopped by for a few days...
So beautiful! Particularly the eyes!
Beautiful image.
  • Jewlya
  • United States
  • 21 Apr 2008, 21:53
Cool stuff, Duane. What a colorful little guy.
  • Frank
  • Germany
  • 5 May 2008, 10:22
Fantastic details. Great!
  • Stan
  • 21 May 2008, 18:11
Hey! How come you've not posted anything recently?
The entire frame is beautiful, but for me,the eyes are the most stunning. Well done!
Simply gorgeous
well done duane

i was hoping stan would say more than he did, being a macro shooter
  • Diana
  • USA
  • 3 Oct 2008, 18:10
It's beautiful! (Sorry, I don't know enough about photography to give a critique, just my gut reaction)
  • Oliver
  • Germany
  • 28 Mar 2009, 22:58
Amazing colors and fantastic details. For be -- being more a landscape photographer who rarely goes into detail -- your pictures and explanations are interesting in many regards.
Quite right! It is excellent idea. It is ready to support you.

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for this photo I'm in a any and all comments icon ShMood©
camera Canon EOS 5D
exposure mode aperture priority
shutterspeed 1/100s
aperture f/16.0
sensitivity ISO1000
focal length 100.0mm
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