Shutter Speed for Handheld Shooting

Discussion in 'Macro Photography' started by ColdEye, Aug 4, 2011.

  1. ColdEye

    ColdEye Member

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    Is it doable for somebody with shaky hands (me) to shoot macro handheld? I know I should get a tripod, but I don't have one yet. :tongue: I was trying to shoot some stuff using a 55mm and when it goes to 1:1, the shaking is noticeable in the viewfinder. I used a shutter speed of 1/500, will that do? What might be the lowest shutter speed to use without necessary blur?
     
  2. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    It depends on how close you are and how much you are shaking. Sometimes you can get away with it. Other times not. But a tripod whenever possible is the way to go. I would say that at '500 with a 55mm lens you will likely have sharp shots...but only in focus if your focusing screen is perfectly calibrated.
     
  3. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    With macro, especially extreme macros like 1:1 has challenges. Not only it is difficult to get enough light in to properly illuminate the subject and keep the shutter speed high (otherwise motion blur will ocurr), but also keeping the distance from the subject steady is hard. Please note, at this kind of distance and with reasonable aperture that will enable you to hand-hold, your DOF may be tenth of an inch or narrower. If you move forward and back even JUST a little, you can easily move outside of DOF resulting in soft image.

    I have 105mm f/2.8 macro. Handholding is a challenge.
     
  4. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    At 1:1, the shaking is magnified just as much as the subject!

    Don't forget that tripods aren't the only way to steady a camera.

    You can place the camera on a solid surface like a table and use a cable release or the self-timer.

    A "bean bag" can be a great camera support.

    Even bracing the camera against a door jamb can really help.

    A tripod is the most flexible option though.
     
  5. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Flexible tripods suck. :wink::tongue:
     
  6. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Except when your camera bag is rigid...

    :tongue:

    Ken
     
  7. Ottrdaemmerung

    Ottrdaemmerung Member

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    A good rule of thumb for regular photography is that the slowest handholding speed is around the reciprocal of the focal length. For macro it may be even faster because of the extremely shallow DOF issue tkamiya mentioned.
     
  8. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Don't forget the compensation either. 2 stops for 1:1 with a 55
     
  9. ColdEye

    ColdEye Member

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    Thanks to all. Maybe I'll fashion myself a support for my camera since almost all of the shots I have planned is in like a bird's eye view. About the compensation, the lens has a guide on what the aperture is when it is in 1:2 up to 1:1, I think it is f7.1 at 1:1. Do I need to compensate on top of that?
     
  10. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Why dick around with supports that don't stabilize the subject too? Learn to use flash. And while you're at it, learn the basics of shooting closeup. Buy a copy of Lester Lefkowitz' book The Manual of Closeup Photography and study it.
     
  11. Smudger

    Smudger Member

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    If you are really into closeup territory,the tripod is ,sadly (?) your best friend. You can take the pain out of the equation by adding a "Focusing rail" to the mix.
    In 1:1,1:2 territory,you are dealing in depth-of-fields in the millimeter range.
    Most find the placement of the tripod so fussy that they give up on it : the rail gives you micrometer adjustment in the to-and-fro,front-and back axis.
    Either that,or add a motordrive,handhold,and hope you will get a sharp frame.
     
  12. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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  13. Grif

    Grif Member

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    I also vote with the available light guys,,, all the light available that you can carry;-)

    Focusing rack, depending on subject matter, there were some plans years ago that included some electrical alligator clips on heavy copper wire with a camera mounted on one end. The agriculture folks used something like that for field photography of various smallish things with a ring flash.

    Not sure we get to talk about focus stacking on this forum. If the subject is "fixed", you might look into that for DOF control.
     
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  15. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    Flash is the common way to go with macro in any case.

    If you are outdoor, you can do without flash but you must control light somehow: white reflective panels near the lens, that stuff. Normally one would use a flash and a reflective panel, or two flashes, because they solve two problems, motion speed and lack of sufficient light for sufficient DoF. You can do handheld macro 1:1 only if you use flash light. That will allow you to shoot insects, flowers etc. without motion blur.

    If you are indoor, in a studio setup for little objects, again you probably want complete control over light. Something can be done no doubt with tripod natural light, but most will be done with flash(es). I would guess more than 90% of macro work is taken in artificial light.

    I've just received today a main adapter for my big Metz. You reminded me I have yet to test it :smile:
     
  16. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Hmm. Tripod stops camera motion, can eliminate tremor's effect. Tripod doesn't stop subject motion.

    Years ago I surveyed most of the top aquarium photographers in the world, all much published, all highly respected, about their practice. Short answer, 100% used electronic flash for illumination, none used ambient darkness. Small mobile subjects, magnification around 1:1. This was in the late '70s, before digital came in and long after electronic flash was practical. One of the people I surveyed had started in the '30s with a Contax and bright daylight. He was delighted to have been able to replace the Contax with an Exakta and daylight with electronic flash. There are a few hints in this story.
     
  17. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Not forgetting that the kinds of flash units designed specifically for macro work are used at short flash to subject distances to allow maximun DOF if required.

    Ian
     
  18. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Ian, let's not get into fancy specialized overpriced equipment. I started shooting fish with a hand-me-down Metz Mecablitz 100, graduated to a variety of Minolta flashes. Started shooting flowers and such with a pair of little Honeywells, $5.00 each on clearance. The Honeywells were good for no more than around 1,000 pops, I ran through four of 'em. These days I use little Minoltas and Vivitar 283s with VP-1s, all just go on and on and on. Cheap and cheerful, that's the ticket!


    You're absolutely right, all of my flash rigs put the flashes quite close to the subject. This can make for very dark backgrounds, not always what one wants. When there is something in the background -- sometimes its pretty far away, as when shooting a tree's blossoms with the sky behind them -- and a properly-illuminated background is wanted, one needs a third flash just for the background. Yes, I have a small pile of slave triggers.
     
  19. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    No, that's with the PK ring that takes the lens to 1:1.
    For my use 1:2=2X or one full stop additional exposure. 1:1=4X or two full stops.
    If you're looking at the orange numbers on the focusing ring, those are magnification not exposure compensation. Top row is WIth the ring and lower row is without the ring.

    Another thing to realize is that at 1:1 the film will be the same distance from the optical center of the lens. ~the aperture as the subject distance from the center of the lens
    There should be a small circle with a line through it on top of the camera. this indicates the actual film plane
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 5, 2011
  20. mrred

    mrred Subscriber

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    Why use a tripod? Bring a mono-pod with a ball-head adjusted loose. You basically become a tripod (your two legs and the mono-pod) with a lot more control and 1/3 the crap to carry around. I rarely lug a tripod around anymore.


    edit: Just noticed my pic is me using a mono-pod... :smile:
     
  21. ColdEye

    ColdEye Member

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    Thanks! I'll go with the flashes first ( plus I can use them for other stuff not just macro).
     
  22. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    Keep it simple, go for a tripod!

    Jeff
     
  23. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    At 1:1 your angle of view is one-half that of infinity. Your shakes will be twice as noticeable. You will use a shutter speed twice as quick.
     
  24. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Ic, tremor is only part of the problem. Subject movement is also a killer because of motion blur (flash eliminates this) and movement of the plane of best focus, sometimes of the whole subject, between the time the decision to shoot is made and the time the shot is taken.

    Most of my flower shots on 2x3 -- usually taken with a 2x3 Graphic on focusing rail on tripod and, yes, flash lighting -- fail because the plane of best focus moves between the time I finish focusing and composing and the time I take the shot. Remember, I have to close the leaf shutter, stop down (not necessary with all of my shutters), insert the film holder, and pull the dark slide before I can shoot. Wind is a killer.

    Most of my flower shots on 24x36 -- usually taken with a Nikon SLR and flash -- come out because little time elapses between focusing and composing and shooting. Shots of fish that won't stop moving -- same gear -- often fail because I'm not quick enough/don't anticipate where the subject will be etc. well enough.

    From my perspective most of the posts in this thread have an other-worldly air. I can't help wondering how many of the posters have done much closeup work.
     
  25. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Good point.

    A human runner at 6 meters could cross the entire angle of view of a 50mm lens in about one second.

    With that same lens at 1:1, and ant traveling at 0.1 meters/second will also travel across the entire field of view in about a second, thus requiring the same shutter speed to stop the human runner.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 7, 2011
  26. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Not if you smack him with a shoe. The pic becomes more of an abstract though:tongue: