Saturday, July 26, 2014

A MEGA macro lens

Be warned, I have a new lens and things might get weird on here from time to time. Above, the superb Canon MP-E 65 mm f/2.8 macro lens. This is truly one of the most bizarre lenses out there, and it probably isn't for the faint of heart. I went back and forth on getting one of these for the last year, finally bit the bullet, and received mine yesterday. Using it is like shooting images through a microscope. It'll zoom to five times life size, allowing for photography of the tiniest objects imaginable. There is no focus ring - one must just move the camera to and fro until the target comes into focus. Good flash gear is a must. So little light gets through its small opening that the photographer typically must pre-light the scene just to find the subject.

But I knew about all of these quirks going into this, and was prepared. I was down at Wahkeena Nature Preserve in Fairfield County last night, and got ample opportunity to test out the MP-E 65. A few of the inaugural photos follow.

A clutch of Hickory Horned Devil eggs. These tiny moth eggs will spawn what will become our largest caterpillar, a beast the size of a small hotdog when fully grown. But at the egg stage, things are VERY small. An egg might be a millimeter or so in length. The whitish eggs are young; the dark egg on the right is dark because it is filled by a young caterpillar about to burst to freedom. The translucent egg on the left is just a shell - a cat has already chewed its way out.

A very young Hickory Horned Devil, probably hours from the egg. It was just a few millimeters in length, and not really identifiable for what it is with the naked eye. Note that its ornate barbed spikes are well developed - these are formed within the egg.

Thanks to Robyn Wright Strauss at Wahkeena for allowing me to shoot images of her caterpillar livestock.

For comparison with the MP-E 65 shots, this is a close-up, also made last night, of a Bad-wing moth, Dyspteris abortivaria. This image was shot with my Canon 100 mm macro lens, a superb piece of hardware but not nearly as capable at drilling down into the weeds as the MP-E. With the latter lens, I could frame-fill one of this moth's olive-green eyes. On the flip side, the mega-macro lens could never show this much of the moth, even when zoomed all of the way out.

I'll look forward to delving deeper into the Lilliputian world with my new lens.


Auralee said...

Clearly you're going to take the photography on this blog to new heights! I mean, lows! Note to self, look for things that don't move for a while. Pretty cool, Jim!

Sue said...

This will certainly open up a new world. Looking forward to seeing it!

zippiknits...sometimes said...

I have macro lens envy now. Darn! But I know that you will be taking such great shots with this that it will be a blessing for wannabee's like me.

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to your upcoming images. I hope you post your experiments as well or finished products. (Or, do you have a Flickr page for the less than finished shots?)

Do you use some kind of focusing rack or rail between your camera and your tripod since you have to move the camera to focus? (No focus ring.)

Ken Andrews
Maple Heights, Ohio

Jack and Brenda said...

You sure are making some great photographs with the new lens! I'm jealous, but need to save up for a wide angle at this time.

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