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  1. #1

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    Best "Affordable" Fiber Optic Illuminator for Macro / Micro

    I may be in the market for a fiber optic illuminator for use with 4x5 at magnifications between 1:5 and 5:1 and apertures from f/4 to f/32 at timed indoor exposures between 1/30 and several minutes. I'd like at least two cables and adjustable intensity. Independently adjustable intensity is even better. Is this a realistic set of requirements? I'd like to keep total cost below $100 but if that's unrealistic given the stated requirements then I could spend more. I just don't want to be too extravagant.
    Last edited by Old-N-Feeble; 09-01-2014 at 10:40 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  2. #2

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    Have you looked on eBay yet? If not, go look.

    The fiber optic illuminators I've used with low magnification photomicroscopy illuminated quite small areas. 1:5 with 4x5 film needs to have an area 20" x 25" illuminated evenly.

    Put on your thinking cap and think hard about using electronic flash units, ideally with adjustable power levels. Hint: I sometimes use a Vivitar 283 with a VP-1 power level adjusted for closeup work. Good coverage, the VP-1 gives an 8 stop range, and additional control can be obtained by adjusting flash-to-subject distance. What can be done with one flash can be done with two.

    Don't even think about flash meters, learn how to use GN arithmetic with adjustment for magnification. I'm not completely against flash meters, use one to determine my flashes true GNs but I don't need the meter in the field.

  3. #3
    Mustafa Umut Sarac's Avatar
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  4. #4

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    Good stuff so far. Thanks, Dan. Thanks, Mustafa.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fromm View Post
    Have you looked on eBay yet? If not, go look.

    The fiber optic illuminators I've used with low magnification photomicroscopy illuminated quite small areas. 1:5 with 4x5 film needs to have an area 20" x 25" illuminated evenly.

    Put on your thinking cap and think hard about using electronic flash units, ideally with adjustable power levels. Hint: I sometimes use a Vivitar 283 with a VP-1 power level adjusted for closeup work. Good coverage, the VP-1 gives an 8 stop range, and additional control can be obtained by adjusting flash-to-subject distance. What can be done with one flash can be done with two.

    Don't even think about flash meters, learn how to use GN arithmetic with adjustment for magnification. I'm not completely against flash meters, use one to determine my flashes true GNs but I don't need the meter in the field.
    Flash is a good light source for macro - the really short exposure times help reduce the effects of unwanted object/camera movement. I use a Nikon multiphot to photograph tiny insects (up to about x15 mag) with three Nikon SB910 flashguns. Their built-in slave mode is really useful.

  6. #6
    M Carter's Avatar
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    I did a lot of multi-exposure small-product shooting with extension tubes back in the film days; I used flash with snoots and for tungsten I used those LTM "pepper" fresnels, which were awesome and cheap to rent a set of 4. I'd gaff tape those snoots down to a 1/2" opening at times, and even use bits of flash grid for tiny grid spots. Novatron used to make a zoomable snoot with a tiny grid insert, still have one of those.

    I looked into fiber lighting, but at the time too pricey. I got a bunch of those "pin frogs" (florist spike things) to hold tiny black cards or tiny reflectors:
    http://www.save-on-crafts.com/ikebana.html

    Those can even do things like hold a 1" wide by 1-foot high strip of black card to cast shadows, or squares of black foamcore with holes cut for light to pass in tiny shapes. Or use stiff window screen to cut half-stops, sheets of matte acetate for tiny diffusion, etc.

    I also bought a bunch of galvanized flashing - little 3x4 pieces of sheet metal you can cut with scissors and fold into self-standing reflectors, etc. Basically I could light a tiny set as if it were a room shot, but just lots of miniaturized stuff.

    Regardless of source - fiber, flash units, or packs & heads with snoots... being able to flag, scrim and reflect can really dial in your macro shots - same concepts as shooting a big tabletop product, just teeny. I never did make a 3" high c-stand, I guess that would be the ultimate...

    This isn't incredibly macro, but lighting the glass & metal necks used a lot of the above.

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails marykay.jpg  

  7. #7
    Bosaiya's Avatar
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    Probably six or seven years ago I picked up something called a "Mike Lite 700" which I can't seem to find any mention of now. It's got two fiber optic tentacles and a knob for brightness. I don't recall the price but knowing myself it couldn't have cost much. I think it was marketed to people wanting to sell jewelry on eBay.

    Like M. Carter says above I think it's really more about what you do with the light than the light itself. I've lit macro with most kinds of lights including fire (sometimes even intentionally). Light is light - it's what you do with it that counts.



 

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