Drew, I got into photography to take portraits of unconstrained live fish in my aquariums. I'm not aware of anything that will beat an SLR (film, digital, who cares?) with flash illumination in that application. Studio and lab photography are one thing, shooting mobile subjects is another entirely.
I also shoot small preserved fish, with emphasis on the bones in their fins. For this transmitted light is preferable to reflected and an SEM is pretty useless. This hasn't stopped some nut cases I know who had access to an SEM from trying, though. The shots they published weren't informative.
Do it like they do butterflies - freeze the fish first! You can always eat them afterwards (just kidding). The other day I bought my wife an amphibious 35mm because she likes to snorkel. Yeah, I know I guy who does bugs with an 8x10 ... but either dead or more often stuffed into the fridge a little while first. I've done macro with 8x10, and once enlarged, have had a few precisely-focused live bugs come to view, which I wasn't aware of when the shot was made. Wish I could find an underwater housing for
my P67, but I don't do it enough to warrant the expense, and all the gaskets for those things have to
be replaced at this point in history - probably been three decades since Pentax stopped making them.
Coming to this thread late, but I have been working on a project where I have been doing close-up photos of tattoos, looking at the interplay between the pattern of the ink and the texture of the skin. The subject is usually curved, and the total magnification to the final print is generally on the order of 10X. I have used 35mm, 6x6, and 4x5 and have gotten decent images from all 3 formats, but depending on the particular subject sometimes one system works better than others.
If my subject is relatively flat (for example, a tattoo on a back), then I tend to prefer the 4x5 where I can adjust the plane of focus to have more control over what I have in focus vs what is thrown out of focus. Otherwise, I have tended to like using one of the smaller formats where more of my total magnification is coming during the printing stage.
One of the other considerations that I have is the exposure time - since my subjects are alive, and don't remain completely still, faster shutter speeds are better, and when I am using L.F., because of more magnification to the negative, I am forced to longer exposures.
Photomacrography of spherical subjects
I'm not sure how I missed this when it was first submitted... but... there is a means whereby one can reach the objective of 1:1 (and over) magnification of half of a spherical (or non-spherical subject) and have a 'sharp' image of the whole that is observed.
Originally Posted by BetterSense
Scanning slit photomicrography where the subject passes through a narrow beam of light from (usually) at least three light sources where the beam is horizontal 'flat and narrow' (via slits between two vertical "barn doors"that control the 'height' of the light beam) and the subject is raised up through the light beam at a predetermined speed (the room 'should be 'in the dark) with the shutter open (time exposure). The results can be 'magnificent'
There should be information on 'the net'... but I'll see if I have a copy of the paper originally published in the Journal of Biological Photography... (Or may time to visit "JStor"... again).
There are holes in the sky where the rain gets in,
But they're ever so small that's why rain is thin.
Well, Firstly gain complete knowledge about subject. Then Carefully use of Camera and macro.
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