SoftwarePost Image Processing- to process 'raw' images I use Nikon Capture NX and I find the ‘U’ point editing feature quite an easy tool to adjust the black, white, neutral points also to tweak the colour and lightness. Since acquiring Adobe CS6 in September 2012, I tend now to use this software to undertake the majority of the post image processing. To get the best from CS6 I purchased "The Missing Manual" by Lesa Snider, which I find quite a comprehensive guide that I regularly refer to. I also used CS6 to create a number of the graphics used on this site.Website- was first launched 2008 using Avantquest WebEasy web authoring WYSIWYG software. This present version of the site was created using Xara Web Designer Premium. The Photo Galleries/Slide-shows- in the main these have been created using JAlbum which can be downloaded for free, but to remove the promotional pop-ups or for commercial purposes you need to purchase a licence. The only exception being the slide-show on the home page which was created with Wondershare Flash Gallery software.Photographic EquipmentCamera Present – since February 2014 - DSLR 16 mega-pixel full frame sensor. Previous - April 2007 to January 2014 - DSLR 10 mega-pixel APS-C (2/3's) sensor. Whilst in the latter years rather dated in digital photography terms, it always gave very good 'natural' images. The only real criticism I had was the noise when using ISO’s of 400 & above.LensesTelephoto - 500mm f4 - April 2014 to date Macro •105mm micro lens - 2007 to date, mainly used for insect photography. Very pleased with the all-round performance of the lens particularly the image quality. •200mm micro lens - June 2014 to date Standard – 24 to 70mm zoom Lens Accessories – 1.4x tele-converter - 2014 Other lens used •28 to 300 mm telephoto zoom - May 2011, although not a macro lens it does have a minimum focus of just under two feet throughout the entire zoom range providing a bit more reach for the smaller/flighty insects. Gave reasonable image quality for close up subjects, but for anything a bit further away the results seemed a bit soft.•80 to 400 mm telephoto zoom, 2007 to March 2011 (sadly no more due a rather careless moment when it rolled off a hide shelf breaking the barrel against the bench seat. Unfortunately it wasn't insured and the estimated cost of repair exceeded the original purchase price). Mainly used for bird photography, plus points - compact and good image quality for subjects close to medium distance but performance deteriorated for the more distant subjects. On the downside focusing was rather sluggish and occasionally 'hunted', which proved a tad frustrating when trying to capture moving subjects. AccessoriesI-TTL Flash Gun - May
1.4x TeleconverterI ponderedforquitesometimewhetherornottobotherwithaconverterbecausepreviouslyIhadfoundtheresults from a third-party 1.4 converter with my 80 to 400mm zoom lens were rather disappointing to the extent it was rarely used. I felt that equally good if not better results could be achieved just by enlarging the extra 40% in either of the post image processing applications I used. However, upgrading to a full frame sensor and 500mm f4 prime telephoto lens rekindled that quest for extra reach for bird photography. And at the time the brand of my camera/lens was releasing an updated version of their 1.4x converter, mark III, boasting minimal loss of detail. Since acquiring one in September 2014 it has been a permanent fixture with the 500mm lens and I’ve been quite impressed with the image quality. My initial test of the converter was to see what difference it made to an image of the moon. I took a series of images varying the aperture setting between f8 and f22 on both a straight 500mm and 700mm equivalent. The best image for the 500mm was at f11 and with the converter attached was at f13, which seems to confirm the tip I received to step down the aperture when using a converter. And of the two images I felt that produced with the converter (700 mm equivalent) just shaded it, see fig 2.
fig 1 - full frame comparison illustrating the 1.4 magnification provided by the converter.fig 2 - comparison between 500 mm image enlarged an extra 40% against a 500 mm with a 1.4x TC attached. In my opinion the 700 mm equivalent (in the lower right) provides slightly better clarity. fig 3a - virtually full frame image of a Little Stint 4:3 crop fig 3b - same image enlarged & cropped of the Stint's headfig 3c - further enlargement showing feather details captured
Conclusion - as mentioned above the converter is now virtually a permanent fixture with the 500 mm f4 lens, which I find gives better image quality than if I just enlarged the image an extra 40% with post image processing software. I'm yet to try in poor light conditions but so far the only downside is the price.
fig 2 fig 3a fig 3b fig 3cclick on the thumbnail image to change and then hover your mouse over the main image to the left to zoom in
105mm / AF-S micro G IF-EDf2.8f321:11 ft / 310mm Internal AF-S silent wave motorvibration reduction116mm / 720g2006
200mm / AF micro IF-EDf4f321:11.6 ft / 496mmInternal EFnone193mm / 1185g1993
105mm vs 200mm Microlens comparison
With the 200mm micro lens being released back in 1993 it’s hardly surprising it lacks some of the technical advances / features of the more recent 105mm lens i.e. silent wave motor (SWM) & vibration reduction (VR). I purchased the 105mm version in 2008 to use with my first DSLR (APS-C, 2/3’s sensor) and straight away I noticed the image quality surpassed that from my zoom lens. I’m sure the pleasure / success I had with the lens contributed to my increased interest in the lives of insects, particularly butterflies and dragonflies. One of the first images was of a beetle no more than an inch long. With the naked eye the beetle appeared to have a bronze mark to the top left of it’s thorax which I thought would help with it’s identification. After thumbing through a few reference guides I couldn’t find a match. So I enlarged the image only to find the distinguishing mark was in fact a parasite, see below; hover the mouse over the image to zoom in.
The only issue I have with the 105mm lens is the lack of reach when photographing some of the smaller insects. This became even more apparent when I upgraded to a full frame DSLR. I ruled out extension tubes as a workable solution because in most instances I would be unlikely to get close enough to the subject in their natural environment. Nor did I feel that a teleconverter would obtain the level of the definition I’m hoping to achieve with the larger format sensor. So I opted for the 200mm micro lens. Of the two features the 200mm lacks from the 105mm lens, SWM & VR, it is the absence of the former I have most noticed. Having said that with a bit of practice / getting use to the EF system it doesn’t present a problem and the 200mm micro is the lens I now use to capture images of bugs in the wild.Below are a series of images (unsharpened with only the light adjusted) taken with the two lenses, from which I’m unable to detect any real difference between the image quality produced by either lens.
Conclusion •for macro photography the difference in terms of features/technical specifications, i.e. SWM and VR, wouldn’t for me be a deciding factor. For the best results a camera support such as a monopod or tripod should be used thus making VR less important and for real close-up work manually focusing can sometimes be easier with either focusing system;•Image quality - in my opinion there’s no discernible difference;•price - although now discontinued the 200mm lens still holds its price, approx. twice that of the 105mm in the UK;•what the lens is to be used for is the key factor - for insects in their natural environment I would go for the 200mm even with an APS-C sensor camera; for studio or still life I’d plumb for the 105mm which I also find quite versatile and a nice portrait lens.