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.
Once you find a way to support your camera I would add that using a cable shutter release is advisable.
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.
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 :)
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.
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.
Originally Posted by Dan Fromm
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.
Originally Posted by ColdEye
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
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... :)
Thanks! I'll go with the flashes first ( plus I can use them for other stuff not just macro).