Friday evening with my macro lens

Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here)



kenw

5th Generation Texian
Spent a few hours this evening exploring the details of the layout thru the camera lens (canon 100/2.8 macro). This is dangerous as it shows all the warts.... :(

Warts and all.... here's a couple of them.
 

UP2CSX

Fleeing from Al
Ken, the only wart I see is that you need to paint the brakewheel on that SP hicube. :) Nice shots.
 

NYW&B

Member
Nice photos, Kenw. And while not intending to be in any way critical of your efforts, I would like to use them to point out to folks the shortcomings of using a macro lens in model photography, as I see too often done.

You'll notice that except for the box car photo, all the images have a particularly limited depth-of-field, with both the foreground and background out of focus. This is dramatically apparent in the first two images and still quite apparent in the third. It is a reflection of a limitations of most marcos when used for this sort of imaging.

In general, macros are intended for shooting objects in a single plane set at 90 degrees to the camera's lens and intentionally create a sharp image of the intended subject set within a soft foreground and background, when used for extreme close-ups. This is great for photos of individual flowers, insects, etc. but a poor choice when you want to photograph a layout scene of any real depth.

Marcos are much better left to do specific close-up nature shots and avoided in model railroad photography. Modeled scenes are much better rendered when using a conventional zoom lens set at its minimum range (i.e. 18mm on an 18-55mm lens) and close to minimum focus, along with shooting at the greatest f-ratio setting (i.e. f/22 or more).

By way of example, the scene below is about 4-5 feet deep but the the shot is almost 100% in-focus. It was taken at 18mm focal length and f/32. The same scene, if shot with a macro lens, would have resulted in just the front of the locomotive being in-focus!



The moral of the story is that you should generally avoid using a macro lens when shooting scenes on your layout. On the other hand, they will do a nice job making "builder's photos" of various locos and rollingstock if they are placed parallel with the camera.

I hope you don't mind my using your nice shots to illustrate an important point.

NYW&B
 
Last edited by a moderator:

IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
Ken - those are indeed very nicely-composed photos, they certainly show a lot of the tiny details!

...
In general, macros are intended for shooting objects in a single plane set at 90 degrees to the camera's lens and intentionally create a sharp image of the intended subject set within a soft foreground and background, when used for extreme close-ups. ...
So that's what the 'macro' setting is for! I keep seeing mrr photographers refer to it all the time, but I could never find it on my Canon Digital Rebel - I thought it was just too old (2004 vintage) and that only the newer cameras like the XTi had the macro feature. Thanx for clearing up that mystery for me! I've been using the old-fashioned high f-stop, long-exposure method to get the best depth-of-field results.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

kenw

5th Generation Texian
I hope you don't mind my using your nice shots to illustrate an important point.

NYW&B
thanx but, I've been doing macro for quite a few years, and I would respectfully disagree that their use is not approriate for model use. Perhaps if all you shoot are non-detail shots, non-macro lenses will work adequately, but a macro or non-macro would both work in that image with its very large subject distance depending on of course the focal length you wish to use.

Macros are used for an extremely close minimum focus distance, this lens will focus at a 12" where a more conventional lens will not focus on anything less than a foot or so away. Also the magnification of a macro is specifically 1:1, whereas the 18-55mm is 1:3, meaning the 1:1 will give a 3x larger image at very close distances (which was my goal herein).


The same scene, if shot with a macro lens, would have resulted in just the front of the locomotive being in-focus!
....not at all, if you had set the dof correctly and had been a proper distance from the subject according to your lens' capabilities. You are limited of course by the min aperture of your lens, in my case f32.

The depth of focus is controlled by the choice of apertures AND the distances within the shot. Longer shots such as yours combined with a smaller aperture will give more dof. pinholes lenses, which i have used in the past, have an effective aperture of nearly f100 but lack a lot of sharpness.

This site will explain it better than I can:
http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html


Just so you'll know the 2nd shot at aperture priority @f32 at a distance of ~12" to the fence. The white tankcars are approximately 5"-6" behind the fence.

The 1st was @f13 and was a remnant of a series shot earlier intentionally targeting the switch stand.
 

Railphotog

Railroad Photographer
So that's what the 'macro' setting is for! I keep seeing mrr photographers refer to it all the time, but I could never find it on my Canon Digital Rebel - I thought it was just too old (2004 vintage) and that only the newer cameras like the XTi had the macro feature. Thanx for clearing up that mystery for me! I've been using the old-fashioned high f-stop, long-exposure method to get the best depth-of-field results.
There is a difference between a macro lens and a macro setting. The OP is using a specific 100mm macro lens, made for close up photography. The 18-55mm kit lenses on all of the Rebels are the same (except the one on the XSi with Image Stabilisation) and will focus pretty close on their own without a macro setting. Macro settings are usually found on longer lenses.

The 100mm focal length gets further away from the subject, which can be good when shooting flowers or insects so the camera doesn't shade the light. The 100mm is also a medium telephoto, which will give less depth of field than a 50mm macro. The longer the lens, the less depth of field.
 

quadk

Pilar Valley Railway
Holy Cow!!! That's a lot of camera terminology that is over my head!!

I think you both have some really nice pictures though!
 

kenw

5th Generation Texian
One of the best macro point-n-shoots ever was the Nikon Coolpix 9xx series, I still have my Coolpix 950. The macro was fabulous and the series is still highly sought after for adaptation to microscopes. The minimum focus distance was something on the order of 0.1" (yes, one-tenth of an inch!), altho getting light on the subject could be tricky!

The 18-55 is really a darn good lens and has a minimum focus of under 10". Just because it is a kit lens doesn't mean it isn't good.
 



ModelRailroadForums.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

RailroadBookstore.com - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section.

ModelRailroadBookstore.com - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.



Top