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This page is used to organise a campaign on Indiegogo to raise funds for a macro lens for Jee. Campaign team members include User:Jkadavoor, User:Colin, User:Slaunger and User:Steinsplitter.
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Lens arrived!Edit

 
Sigma 150mm F2.8 EX DG APO Macro OS HSM

Sigma 150mm received as a birthday gift from you all. Tried a few shots; will post soon. Jee 07:27, 9 May 2015 (UTC)

My first attempt in the early morning on a cloudy day. Exposure is very slow even at ISO 800. Processed in RawTherapee without any noise reduction or sharpening. Your opinion is expected. Colin, Diliff, Christian Ferrer, Crisco 1492... Jee 09:46, 9 May 2015 (UTC)

  • My first thoughts are that it seems overexposed by about 2/3 of a stop. You could have shot it at more like 1/50th of a second, but anyway, clearly the image stabilisation worked because it's not motion-blurred. :-) Secondly, it's quite noisy but the noise could easily be minimised with Lightroom (or RawTherapee? I still haven't got around to trying it, I'll download it now and compare). I had a quick attempt at darkening it slightly and removing the noise on my PC and the result is considerably better IMO (I'm happy to share it somewhere to show you - will dropbox be ok, or do you want me to upload it as an derivative on Commons?). Thirdly, I don't think you quite nailed the focus, although I'm not actually sure where the focus is. It seems sharpest on the wing just near it's 'elbow' (not sure of the technical term!). Obviously getting precise focus is tricky. I think it might be the case that you are better off being slightly further back from the subject if it means getting better DoF. This may mean you will have to crop the image slightly to maintain the same framing, so it will be a trade off - more DoF for less resolution. This may not be so bad though, because you could then (maybe) drop the aperture down to say f/9 which will make the lens slightly sharper. I don't have all the answers, these are just guesses and suggestions. Aside from the sharpness and noise issues, I would say it's a superior image to what you were able to capture with your Panasonic. With a flash, you would be able to decrease the ISO which would reduce the noise and possibly make it sharper too because although there doesn't seem to be any motion blurring, it's possible that the softness is partially because of the shutter speed. Diliff (talk) 10:40, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
    • I have to agree with Diliff on pretty much everything he said. I'll just add that you shouldn't be afraid of not filling your frame; there will always be a trade between resolution and the level of magnification and sharpness you want. Unless you're ready to start focus stacking, 1:1 may not always be practiceable. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 10:46, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Also, there is slight motion blur on the branch, and you've got my old friend, dust spots. If you get your sensor cleaned, make sure to have it done by a professional... even though it might cost a pretty penny. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 10:48, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
You know, I was absolutely plagued with dust spots on my 5D Mk 1 despite cleaning it quite regularly (yes I did it myself, and it mostly worked, but they kept coming back with a vengeance weeks later), but ever since I've upgraded to the 5D Mk 3, I've had literally none in the two or three years I've owned it. And I've switched lenses constantly. So there's something to be said for good anti-dust tech (ultrasonic shaking, anti-static coating etc). I would have thought the Sony A33 has similar tech. Anyway, for Jee's photography, a few dust spots are not an absolute killer. There are only a couple and they are easy to clone out in blurred backgrounds (and tend not to be noticeable in detail anyway). When you start getting dozens or hundreds, that's when you need to call in the professionals. ;-) Diliff (talk) 11:11, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
  • I've only had mine cleaned once so far (the number of them was getting me ticked off [30 or so], even though a lot of them were minor). Mind, I've changed lenses quite a bit, and Indonesia in the dry season isn't exactly the best place to do that. Dust everywhere. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 11:21, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Thanks Diliff and Crisco for the feedback. I uploaded two more pictures from the session which are taken from a bit more distance. This is one of the few dragonfly which allow us to approach closely. Exposure: Yes; I need to learn the trick. My old Panasonic too overexpose images in morning lights. Focus: The lens failed to autofocus in that lighting condition. So I learned how to manually focus. My Panasonic shots are 100% auto focused. :) The Sony has a feature to magnify the focus area; but difficult for me to use in handheld. So I determined the focus in normal magnifications. Please check the other two pictures too. (I love the third picture as it is a tricky catch just before it parked its wings after landing.) Jee 11:37, 9 May 2015 (UTC) Diliff, feel free to upload over my version or as a separate upload as you prefer. Jee 11:40, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
  • The second one strikes me as pretty darn good. A crop and denoise, and its QI-ville. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 11:57, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Hmm, I'm surprised that it was unable to focus at all in morning light. My camera definitely struggles in low light but it's usually just slower, rather than failing to lock on. Well I've uploaded over the top of the old image. If you don't like the edit, please feel free to revert it and we can discuss what you didn't like about it. What I've done is this:
  1. Imported the image into Lightroom
  2. Decreased the exposure by 0.66EV
  3. Applied strong chrominance noise reduction and weak luminance noise reduction then exported the file.
  4. Applied strong noise reduction (both chrominance and luminance) to the image and exported it as a separate file.
  5. Imported both images into Photoshop, opened the first image, selected the rough area of the dragonfly, gave the selection some feathering of about 20 pixels and then copied the selection.
  6. Then I pasted the selection into the second image with the stronger noise reduction. The effect is that the background receives the stronger noise reduction and the dragonfly receives weaker noise reduction. I find this is a good method of getting good noise reduction while maintaining a bit more detail in the subject. (I used a similar method on my buterfly FP). It's not perfect, but it's better than the usual ISO 800 noise, and better than applying strong noise reduction on the whole image and ending up with a subject that looks like it's made of shiny plastic. ;-) Diliff (talk) 12:03, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Diliff, now I get why the camera failed to auto-focus. I forget to change the "focus limiter switch" which has three options. :( Steinsplitter, see the "quick and dirty" picture of the lens! :) Jee 09:52, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
Ha, that could be a significant part of the problem then. Familiarisation with the equipment never ends, really. ;-) I'm still learning new ways of working and new features on my camera years later. I can see from the newer photos below that you're getting to grips with it though, the images are improving. Using chromatic noise reduction on the images is helping a lot too. Fine grained luminance noise isn't so bad. It would still be better to drop the ISO down to 200 or 400 with better lighting conditions though. Diliff (talk) 10:44, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
Diliff, did you reprocess from RAW? That would be an interesting comparison. Could you not have done the two-levels of NR in Lightroom, by using the adjustment brush to selectively apply more (or less) NR. Wrt the dust spots, many can be removed using a blower like this one. Don't blow with your mouth. That particular rocket blower has a filter to prevent it sucking up dust and blowing that on your camera. The A33 has a cleaning mode that vibrates the sensor. Try doing that with the camera pointing down. Also make sure you change lenses in a clean dust-free room/area with the camera off (as when it is on, the sensor is charged and may attract dust). With the A33, the mirror permanently covers the sensor, even when you open the camera. It isn't hermetically sealed, though, so some dust can get to the sensor. If blowing dust off the mirror (or the rear of the lens) isn't helping, then you may need to lift the mirror to blow on the sensor. Carefully press the button at the bottom of the mirror and it will swing up. Afterwards, lower the mirror by pressing that button down till it clicks. If you have big clumsy fingers then ask your wife to do this! Whatever you do, don't get a fingerprint on the mirror (which is actually soft flexible plastic and not glass) or you will need to get it professionally cleaned. The easiest way to check for dust spots is to set the aperture at f/16 or more and photograph a clean white wall or door (don't even bother focusing on the door), or an overcast sky.
Wrt focusing, the A33 only has three cross point (see here for a picture) and these should be the most able focus points if you are having difficulties. I see from the EXIF that there is information about focus points. I think this extra "maker notes" is usually removed when I save in Lightroom. But shows you have the "Lower-middle" AF point selected, which is not a cross point. And even in manual-focus mode, the camera should indicate "in focus" with a green square (though possibly only for the square you select as the focus point). So try using the centre focus point to see if you get better results. -- Colin (talk) 12:52, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Colin, I didn't process it from RAW, just the JPEG that Jee had uploaded. It would ideally be processed from RAW but I figured it would be fairly easy to improve it just from the JPEG as a demonstration of what is possible. I thought you would ask why I didn't do it in Lightroom alone. Good question. I tried that, but it didn't work well. Give it a go yourself and tell me if you get the same results. When I painted NR on the background with the adjustment brush, even if I bumped it up to 100 on the slider, it didn't really do much of a job of removing the noise. It softened the noise and made it lumpier, but it didn't remove it. Here's my results. I was surprised, but there you go. Also Jee, in addition to what Colin said about setting f/16 or more and shooting at a neutral white object, set the focus to minimum focus distance on your macro lens when doing the dust spot test, that will also sharpen the dust spots and make them more visible. Then you increase the contrast and/or bump up the black point to really see the subtle ones. It's amazing how many dust spots pop into existence when you do that. :-) Also Jee, I had a bit of a play around with RawTherapee, and although it does seem more powerful than I expected, it's very clunky and awkward. There are sooo many more sliders needed to make adjustments. I'm sure it's just like a DSLR: you need time to get used to the controls and the functionality. But Lightroom is much easier to use. As I mentioned previously, Lightroom CC is free to trial for 30 days. You could probably even be sneaky and try Lightroom 5 for 30 days first, then 'upgrade' to Lightroom CC for an additional 30 days. I'm pretty sure Adobe won't stop you from doing that. So that's 60 days to figure it out if you think it's worth purchasing. I personally think it is. RawTherapee is not bad, but it isn't as intuitive as Lightroom and it doesn't have all of the non-destructive adjustment brushes and filters that really make Lightroom so useful (except for noise reduction, it seems!). Diliff (talk) 13:19, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Lightroom isn't an option unless Jee upgrades his computer, as the current versions don't run on Vista. I can't remember whether we managed to find an older version to download. Something like Lightroom 4 would be fine and in terms of NR and exposure processing is no worse than the current version. -- Colin (talk) 15:53, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
This Ebay page looks like good value, just £17 for Lightroom 4. I have no idea if it's really legitimate though. Diliff (talk) 12:04, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
Thanks Colin. Yes; I used lower middle to keep some room above. Will check the middle one, next time. Will share the RAW files if needed. Need some time to process all subjects I captured on May 7.

Hope this is another interesting subject. :) Jee 13:01, 9 May 2015 (UTC)

  • In my non-wildlife-expert opinion, it may be better to use one of the three cross focus spots and leave a bit of room round the subject to crop later, than to try to frame the subject perfectly in-camera. Getting the focus right is essential and probably more important than a perfect rule-of-thirds crop (or whatever one might choose). -- Colin (talk) 15:53, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Yes; but only that tight frame photo has magnification near 1:1. Others are 1:2 or 1:4 as per the magnification scale on the lens; I think. And this is a learning curve so I need experiment all options until settle on the best. :) Jee 16:02, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
  • I have to agree with Colin; better we get good focus and sharpness at 1:2 than 1:1 magnification with poor focus. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 03:09, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Hi Jee, me too I made a try on this file, revert if you don't like. Have you try ISO 100 or 200 and using the flash of the camera then you adjust the speed. Me too autofocus don't work very well with a low light. -- Christian Ferrer 15:02, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Thanks Christian. Are you talking about the built in flash of the camera? I didn't tried it. Looking for http://www.sigmaphoto.com/product/em-140-dg-macro-flash now. One dealer quote INR 37900 which is a bit high. International price is only USD 350 now. Jee 15:17, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Yes, I speak about the built in flash of the camera, I never tried to additional flash so I can not really compare. But every time I use the macro I'm more happy about the results when I activate the flash. -- Christian Ferrer 15:33, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
I don't think the built in flash will reach over the lens, so there will be a big lens-shaped shadow on the subject. ;-) He would need an external flash to be high enough (or a macro flash to be in front of the lens) to use flash properly I think. Diliff (talk) 15:38, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Christian, I think you should be able to remove the colour noise completely from the image, it still has blotches of colour in the background. It's so easy to remove with Lightroom (I assume you use it?) and colour noise reduction has basically no impact on the image quality and sharpness, unlike luminance noise which does and should be used carefully. Diliff (talk) 15:23, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Also, Jee... I think the termite image is underexposed! *ducks* I guess the background confused the camera's metering. What might help with exposure issues is to set the camera to use a spot meter. This means it will be more sensitive, but as long as the subject is centred in the frame, it should meter it more accurately. See if that helps with exposure issues. If it results in too much exposure variety, you can set it back to centre-weighted, or regular matrix metering. Depending on the subject, spot metering can go a bit wild. Diliff (talk) 15:31, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Yes; it seems light is reflecting from the white wall behind which fool the camera and me. I think I increased EV to +2; but not helped much. (It seems Sony's IQ is much different from Panasonic. I've experience in handling it in Pany using spot metering; but it is not working well in Sony. I need to get experienced. :D) Jee 15:52, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
The EXIF says you were using 'pattern' metering which I assume means regular matrix metering, and +1EV exposure compensation. Strange that it is still too dark with +1EV. Colin, did you give Jee a dud camera? :-) Kidding. Diliff (talk) 16:00, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
I can shoot against sunlight with Pany; but it is almost impossible with a33. Does I miss something or all DSLR are this way? This picture is not against sun; only a white wall far behind the subject. Jee 16:09, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
I don't know, what exactly is the reason why you can't shoot against sunlight? Metering? Flare? Focussing? I can't really answer if all DSLRs are like that if I don't know what the problem is. ;-) I suppose it depends how near it is to shining directly into the lens and what effect that has. I certainly get some washed out colours when shooting directly into the sun, and sometimes autofocus has trouble, but it isn't impossible to do it. I haven't tried macro photography into the sun too often though. Diliff (talk) 16:28, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Metering sucks even at EV++. This is with my Pany. I was laying under it pointing the camera against the mid day sun. It also has some issues; a flash or reflector may help. Does using mode M to choose shutter speed is better than AV mode with EV++ in such cases? (I tried spot metering; but then wing borders and sky over exposed.) Jee 03:01, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
Jee, have you got AEL button set to "hold" or "toggle". If the latter, could you have pressed it earlier and it got stuck under-exposed? I can't recall if the exposure locks when you half-depress the shutter button (or if there is a mode to change that). Spot-centre exposure plus pressing the AEL button with your thumb might let you expose the subject accurately and then recompose. The subject looks to be in the shade. While you consider your flash options, have you tried a reflector like this one. They are cheap and collapsible. The diffuser can also be used in very sunny conditions, though one may need an assistant to get the best from it. The SLT will give you an impression of the eventual exposure (and can display a histogram if you want) so you should be able to see if it is over or under exposed through the electronic viewfinder. Also, try using the high-speed-continuous shooting mode (provided it isn't too noisy for that subject) as you might get more "keepers" if the focusing is tricky. -- Colin (talk) 16:35, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Interesting. Ordered. Jee 03:01, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
The AEL is set to "toggle". When I press AEL, a '*' appears in display to warn. So I think everything OK in my shot. My impression is Sony's metering is a bit more sensitive compared to Pany. Hope I can be adjust with it soon. Jee 03:17, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
Thanks. Jee 03:01, 10 May 2015 (UTC)

More bugs. The diptera is underexposed even though there is no back-lit. But the metering of the very next picture is fine. So there is something wrong in my metering logic. Jee 07:15, 10 May 2015 (UTC)

  • Glad to see that you received the lens (pls upload a photo of the equipment which you bought with the donations). :-) --Steinsplitter (talk) 07:26, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
Will try with the other lens. BTW, it is File:Sigma 150mm OS at Photokina.jpg; the OS version of Fir's lens. Jee 14:08, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Actually I think the diptera is only very slightly underexposed, and that's probably because your metering is still set to 'pattern', not spot metering or centre weighted. You said that you used spot metering but I haven't seen any images that have shown that in the EXIF... The grasshopper is a bit overexposed and very blurry. The IS didn't work so well this time! Do you still need 1/30th of a second and ISO 800 even after early morning? I don't really know the lighting conditions where you take these photos and your old Panasonic camera images don't have EXIF data so I don't know what settings you were using previously. Obviously you would have been able to use a different aperture but I assume you must have been shooting at ISO 100 or 200, because ISO 400+ on a point and shoot camera would be quite noisy. Diliff (talk) 11:59, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
    • Also, it seems that there's less chrominance noise in the last two images. Did you use chromatic noise reduction on them? They still have a lot of luminance noise but that is usually more acceptable than chrominance noise. Diliff (talk) 12:01, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
      • 1. Yes; these are with NR box checked in RawTherapee. 2. The lens has two IS options; 1 for horizontal and 2 for vertical, I think. I may use 2 for vertical compositions. 3. My early shots with Pany are spot metered. I stop using it as it will overexpose many body parts of insects. But white subjects like File:Psyche Leptosia nina by kadavoor.JPG and File:Psyche Leptosia nina mating original by kadavoor.jpg are always spot metered. 4. I'm shooting in AV mode. The shutter speed 1/30 is chosen by the camera. So ISO 400 + f/8 combination also probably end up in 1/30 shutter speed. I will upload a butterfly picture soon. Jee 14:02, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
        • Why are you getting so little light? Was it cloudy yesterday too? — Crisco 1492 (talk) 15:59, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
          • I wonder too. Even with no sunlight, it seems very dark. It seems to point towards needing a macro flash even more than it might otherwise do for macro photography. Diliff (talk) 16:05, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
            • I read somewhere Sony SLT design need more light compared to Canon/Nikon. May be Colin can comment on. BTW, we have summer rains now; so cloudy sky and little lights. Unfortunately I get only one day to experiment at Kadavoor. Now at Kasaragod, where no insects. :( Jee 16:29, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
              • There is a little light lost in the permanent mirror that is reflected up to the phase detect auto focus unit. If I recall correctly, it is 1/3 of the light, which equals half a stop. But this is factored into the ISO rating of the sensor because ISO 100 on a Sony SLT must equal ISO 100 on a Nikon/Canon or even on film. The end result is the SLT cameras are a little noiser for the same ISO as a Nikon/Pentax with the same generation of Sony-based sensor. The difference at ISO 100 is not worth worrying about. At ISO 800 on an older cameras like the A33, it is more. I think we discussed above that the A77ii would probably give another stop of better noise for the same ISO and going full-frame would given another stop again. But using better raw software will also give a considerable advantage. I find also that adding a sharpening mask in Lightroom, even with the default sharpening amount, can reduce noise that is generated as part of the sharpening process that all raw converters apply. I think the best thing to consider for now is more light so that a lower ISO can be used, and better raw converter. And don't be afraid to downsize a bit -- many of the images we compare with are downsized -- and it keeps the pixelpeepers away :-). I don't know why there is so much hassle with getting the exposure right -- I don't recall this being a problem with the A33, though I wasn't doing the same kind of photography. Could the lens be a factor? Could it be faulty and stopping down too far? If you are concerned the shutter speed is going too low, then try shutter-priority. Or use aperture-priority combined with auto-ISO. If I recall correctly, auto ISO tries to keep the shutter to the 1/focal length rule or 1/60th -- it isn't adjustable like on some Nikon cameras. The ebook should give some advice. -- Colin (talk) 19:13, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
                • Thanks. I need a second attempt on a sunny day. The climate here is not very good now. Jee 08:22, 11 May 2015 (UTC)

Arbitrary break 1Edit

 
Psidium guajava at Kadavoor

From my mom's garden. After a quick shot (auto-focus; I think), I eat both of them. Can't resist the taste. Jee 16:29, 10 May 2015 (UTC)

 
Mycalesis perseus on Kadavoor

Enough lights; lens front end is touching the ground. So little chances for shakes. I think this can be better captured at ISO 200-400. :( Jee 16:56, 10 May 2015 (UTC)

 
Caelifera 8 at Kadavoor

But nature's wonderful treasures are usually hidden under shadows; not showcased in lights. This is the only reasonably sharp shot I got out of 50+ attempts. :( Jee 17:24, 10 May 2015 (UTC)

  • Yes, they are (my first funnel spider)... well, it takes practice to get used to new equipment. I spent ... what? Six months essentially screwing around? Now I get better results, but it took practice. Learning what your camera and lens combination can offer, and what you need to coax it to do, and what it flat up won't do. On a side note: why are the grasshoppers so purple? — Crisco 1492 (talk) 00:55, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
1. Yes; I need to learn step by step. 2. The camera's AWB was too yellow. This is RawTherapee's AWB which seems more reasonable. I don't know all the purple we are seeing is CA. (Your funnel spider is awesome.) Jee 01:25, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
  • I'd try and manually adjust the WB, rather than depend on AWB. It can end up pretty far off. Here it looks like your software went a bit too far purple, to the point that the greens have a bit of a purplish tinge. I don't think CA explains all of it. (As to the funnel spider; the strange thing is this guy was just prancing about, not caring that he could die any minute... it was interesting to see) — Crisco 1492 (talk) 02:08, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Yes; you're right. I re uploaded a custom WB version. (Your ant is brave!.) Jee 02:31, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Much, much better! I love it! The odonata down below is promising too. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 05:33, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
 
Ceriagrion cerinorubellum at kadavoor

And again my favorite subject, odonata. The quality is low; but what I tested in the first day is how much useful this lens for my area of interests. The result is satisfying. It has the reach to big and small subjects in macro world. It is useful as a portrait lens too for head shots (my other area of interest). I can't post the examples here due to COM:IDENT issues. Will look for the flash soon which also need to be imported for me as Sony mount is not readily available here. Jee 03:13, 11 May 2015 (UTC)

  • My experience with my macro lens is that the bokeh is quite pleasing, and very nice for portraits (and, if you've got the lighting, action shots). I took my Balinese dance series with my 100mm macro lens, and the images turned out really good. The only problem will be if you don't have the room; a 150mm lens (or 240mm effective length with crop factor) means a lot of room between the photographer and the subject. To get a full body shot, I usually need to be something like 8m away. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 05:36, 11 May 2015 (UTC) (addendum, 06:40, 11 May 2015 (UTC))
I'm a fan of tight head/face shots. :) Jee 07:10, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Yeah, you don't have to be too far away for that... but still one or two metres, if I'm not mistaken. Personally, I prefer having some space, but I agree that a tight crop can look good if done skillfully. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 07:30, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Both are good, and serve different purposes. Jee 07:34, 11 May 2015 (UTC)

And some fun before the rain started. There are too much jerky motions here that we can't see; but can sense. So we need a flash to freeze the motion. :) Down-sampled. Jee 07:28, 11 May 2015 (UTC)

  • How far did you downsample? 80%? — Crisco 1492 (talk) 07:32, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
  • 4600x3064 = 14094400 to 1200x800 = 960000. :) Jee 07:40, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Hmm... in this case, probably not an issue (what with the the motion blur and all that), but I get the feeling that (with your body and lens) you don't need to go that far. Once we deal with the shutter speed issue... — Crisco 1492 (talk) 07:46, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Earlier I used Raynox DCR250 to make this type of shots. It only focus if the distance is 4 inches. Now Sigma can focus at any distance; so need to retrain my brain. :) Jee 07:55, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
  • The white-balance on that grasshoppers was really very wrong until you fixed it. I'm puzzled how RawTherapee's AWB could get it so bad, unless that's a feature they aren't any good at. I've generally been pretty happy with Sony AWB. My friend with Nikon complains his camera's AWB is terrible, but that could just be him. It's an "artificial intelligence" feature that won't always be accurate. I don't think I've ever tried Lightroom's AWB -- if I felt the balance was wrong then I've either manually shifted it, or else used the "eye dropper" tool to select a neutral grey. The latter is a bit hit and miss -- sometimes what you thought should be neutral really was meant to be warm or cold. Another factor for colours is that the RAW data must be calibrated to produce a JPG. With Lightroom, Adobe do their own calibration to produce a "neutral, accurate" range of colours. But they also often produce options that attempt to mirror the camera manufacturer's own (e.g. Sony) called e.g. Camera Standard, Vivid, etc. RawTherapee will have its own attempt at calibration. So that can affect the starting point of what you see. If one saves RAW+JPG then one can compare the colours/tones produced by your raw software at default settings, to see if it is much different to what Sony think it should look like. However, don't assume the camera manufacturer is aiming for neutrality, though -- they are more concerned with producing pleasing results, and there is nothing wrong with that unless you are photographing products for a catalogue. The quality of the monitor/laptop-screen has a huge impact on colour accuracy also. -- Colin (talk) 07:58, 11 May 2015 (UTC)

Comment. Perhaps we need to consider archiving this page! It's getting very unwieldy. Who would have thought when the thread was started eh? There's a lot of useful advice and discussion here but perhaps it's not needed at the moment and could be moved to an archive page. Diliff (talk) 10:44, 11 May 2015 (UTC)

Done. Jee 15:50, 11 May 2015 (UTC)

Built in flash of the cameraEdit

Previously...
  • Hi Jee, me too I made a try on this file, revert if you don't like. Have you try ISO 100 or 200 and using the flash of the camera then you adjust the speed. Me too autofocus don't work very well with a low light. -- Christian Ferrer 15:02, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Thanks Christian. Are you talking about the built in flash of the camera? I didn't tried it. Looking for http://www.sigmaphoto.com/product/em-140-dg-macro-flash now. One dealer quote INR 37900 which is a bit high. International price is only USD 350 now. Jee 15:17, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Yes, I speak about the built in flash of the camera, I never tried to additional flash so I can not really compare. But every time I use the macro I'm more happy about the results when I activate the flash. -- Christian Ferrer 15:33, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
I don't think the built in flash will reach over the lens, so there will be a big lens-shaped shadow on the subject. ;-) He would need an external flash to be high enough (or a macro flash to be in front of the lens) to use flash properly I think. Diliff (talk) 15:38, 9 May 2015 (UTC)

I took this image sunday with the built in flash, there is no shadow on the subject. But maybe Jee's 150mm being longer will make a shadow. However me that allows me to avoid getting high into the ISO. Just once in the past I had a shadow but not in the main subject and cropped in the edition process. -- Christian Ferrer 19:42, 12 May 2015 (UTC)

Has to be worth a try, even if there are no bugs to photograph - find something similar to photograph. Take the hood off the lens. Also, worth experimenting with this lens photographing subjects other than bugs-in-shade to see if you are happy with the exposure. -- Colin (talk) 20:26, 12 May 2015 (UTC)

Tried on my migraine reliever; hope the result is satisfying. Jee 07:56, 13 May 2015 (UTC)

  • Better, but for something with a copyrighted logo I'd upload elsewhere. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 08:13, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Not necessarily evidence that it's free. I've nominated two for deletion. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 13:11, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Added this too and merged all. :) Jee 13:29, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
Yay! ISO 100. -- Colin (talk) 08:45, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
BTW, the dealer informed me that Sigma flash is not available with Sony mount even for import. Can I use a Canon/Nikon mount with the help of an adapter like this or this? Jee 09:12, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
Hmm. The main issue with importing from outside of India is the import duties and taxes right? Maybe we can find someone going for a holiday to India who could receive the Sony flash from a local dealer and then post the item from inside the country. Complicated, but it could work easily enough if we knew of someone. A friend of mine went to India for business just a few days ago. If I had known I could have got it delivered for you. Diliff (talk) 09:58, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
I think customs will make sure he is returning with what are in his bags when he comes. ;) Sigma has one authorised importer in India who handle the warranty and service too. BTW, if adapter works, I can try Nissin too which available in a cheaper rate. Jee 10:18, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
You really think customs would check the contents of the bags in India (not just scan them with an x-ray machine but actually itemise the contents?) I've travelled internationally many many times and not once have my bags ever been searched or compared to what I had when I came into the country. I can't speak for the customs of India but I'm sure they only do random inspections of passengers, not full searches of everyone, and they would have to inspect you on both the inward and outward journeys to be able to know if you had the same items. Also, it would only realistically be an issue if they genuinely suspected something, like if an x-ray scan of your bags showed that you had 20 lenses all brand new in boxes. Then they'd probably pull you aside and ask you some questions if that was the case, but unless India is vastly different to any other country I've visited, customs would never know. Diliff (talk) 11:52, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
I read a bit when looking at customs for sending to India. It does look like, for example, if Jee wanted to come to the UK on holiday then he should really fill in a form before he leaves declaring all the kit he is taking out the country, so that when he returns, the same kit is present. Otherwise it looks like he's bringing stuff into the country that isn't declared. It seems to be a real problem if people emigrate or work abroad and then return with stuff they've accumulated. I'm less sure what happens in reality but the official line seems quite strict. You might be more likely to be searched, perhaps, if you look Indian than if you look like an Australian tourist. Hmm. How do you fancy a trip to India, Diliff? -- Colin (talk) 13:43, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
I think a foreign tourist like Colin or Diliff will not be stopped by them; but they will scan my bag for charging duties. :) Jee 14:51, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
I'd be happy to take a trip to visit India. ;-) I'm not sure that the cost of the trip justifies the savings on duty though! Might be cheaper to send Jee to Hong Kong instead... What do you think Jee? ;-) Diliff (talk) 15:28, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
Hong Kong, Malasia, Dubai, or Indonesia. I'm ready if you can bear the expense. No plan to visit London as I can buy a new Sony A7 II for the cost of that ticket. :) Jee 15:34, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
No the Canon/Nikon flashes are not good. You wouldn't get TTL flash. And that's a lot of money to pay for a manual flash. If we are ending up with manual flash you might as well look at Yongnuo or similar, for very little money. If we want TTL and a macro flash, then the Metz or Sigma are the options we need to try to get. -- Colin (talk) 10:45, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for the info. I'll try again. Jee 10:51, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
If a built in flash is useful as Christian suggested above, what about considering a normal external flash like 32M and a diffuser like this? Jee 14:51, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
Possibly but we've discussed flash before and I thought something like the "Sigma EF-610 DG Super" offered better value as it comes in the Sony/Minolta shoe you have, is much more powerful. That Sony would require an adaptor and isn't cheap. I don't know if that diffuser would work with the flash on-camera -- it looks quite big. -- Colin (talk) 19:38, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
I'll check whether DG Super Sony mount is available here. Price is same as of Sony 32M. Jee 02:28, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
  • I read somewhere that diffusers are not ideal for macro, if I find the page again I'll explain why. For external flash there is maybe a solution to fix it directly on the lens, look at the last picture at the bottom of this page -- Christian Ferrer 20:21, 13 May 2015 (UTC)

This seems a good article. Jee 03:38, 14 May 2015 (UTC)

The Sigma EF-610 DG SUPER is fully compatible (including wireless slave with TTL) with the Sony A33 -- see link and click on the "SO-ADI SONY" box in the header. Also you may find the Sony HVL-F42AM (my flash) available second hand, or some other older Sony/Minolta flashes.
The little foot you get with a flash is a plastic thing that matches the flash hotshoe on the camera but lets you place the flash on a table or other flat surface. In my Sony it has a thread in the base of it that I assume matches a tripod thread for attaching to light stands or other tripods. Your tripod collar will have a similar thread but that's two female parts so wouldn't you need to get an adaptor bold that had two threads to couple them together. I suppose it would work. What is the advantage? If mounted on top then the flash would be a few CM closer. I suppose you could mount at the side but would that be enough of an angle to create side-lighting? It might still be practically straight-on. -- Colin (talk) 07:51, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
Hmm; now I get an idea. Sigma may not be making new Sony/Minolta mount flashes. They have no new Sony mounts too. So if the products (macro or DG Super) are not in stock, they may not be available for fresh imports. Jee 08:40, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
That's a possibility. But there are plenty UK/EU shops offering it and here also for £115. Note, this is not the "ST" version, but the "SUPER" version. The ST is inferior. -- Colin (talk) 09:21, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
shetalacamera.com almost confirmed Sigma Sony mount flashes are not available for import. So the available options: 1. Sony HVL-F43M (TTL) 2. Yongnuo YN 560 III 3. Godox V850. (both fully manual) Any suggestion? Jee 15:53, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
The Sony HVL-F43M is a non-starter at 24,490 INR (about £245) it would be far cheaper to buy the Sigma EF 610 DG in Europe (£115) and pay the import duty. The Yongnuo YN 650 is a fine manual flash. I have the mark III model myself, as a second slave flash. I see that the 650 II is for sale in Sony/Minolta mount and a little cheaper. That model just lacks the proprietary (not Sony) wireless flash feature (which requires a transmitter). So that would save you buying an adapter. I think the only "advantage" to the Godox is the lithium battery. It might be good for studio strobists who worry about battery life and recharge time on full-power but is just another thing to fail eventually and leave you without a working flash. With the other one, though, budget for good quality rechargeable batteries + charger if you don't have one. Is the Godox available in India? The Yongnuo costs about £50 in the UK so you are paying a bit more at £80. However, I really wonder how useful a manual flash will be. The macro folk who set up little studios in their home will be absolutely fine with manual. But how does it work in the field where you get one shot before the bug flies away. Have you got any links where people recommend or use manual vs TTL for your kind of photography? If you need auto exposure flash then we'll need to look at importing something.-- Colin (talk) 17:41, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
1. Many customers in that amazon link stated that it is only a generic mounted flash and need adapter for old Sony cameras. 2. One of my friend here uses Godox V850 with his Canon for macro and said he is happy with it. But I agree; the rechargeable battery may worn out any time. 3. Manual means I have to use M mode and choose shutter speed too? I read somewhere that it is difficult to see the subject in darkness due to A33's full time live view. May only a problem for night shots. Am I right it can be used off camera (on tripod collar) along with the built in flash? Jee 02:54, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
The Yongnuo YN 650 III doesn't seem to come in Sony/Minolta mount, and would need an adaptor for older Sony cameras (sent you one). But that 650 II is definitely compatible with your camera. Look at the foot. There is no wheel to tighten the flash against a Canon/Nikon shoe, just a catch and a button since the Minolta design latches on with a clip and is undone with a button press (just like a bayonet-mount lens clips on and is released by a button, rather than the old screw on lenses). It is a superior design, but didn't catch on. If you plan to mount the flash on top of the camera then I'd recommend to go with the II in your mount as the adapter will add a little height (I gave you one in the box) which will slightly reduce overall stability. But if you plan to always use it as a slave, responding to the flash from the built-in flash, then it doesn't matter. And if you might attach it to some kind of flash-bracket then going for a standard shoe might be better. But still I think you need to research how people use manual flash in the field. Perhaps some become skilled enough to know how much fill-flash to add to a given scene. You'd need to either put the camera in manual or dial in some exposure adjustment to compensate for the extra light the camera doesn't know about.
The issue with the A33 and manual mode is only really a concern in the studio where one sets the exposure such that if none of your (manually set) flashes or strobes fired then the scene would be black -- in that case the A33 gives an accurate rendering of your intended exposure, which is black. It doesn't know you've set up some strobes to create all the light. On my A77ii you can tell it not to give an "exposure preview" but to just show the scene in the best. But I would think that for you, you'll just be supplying fill flash, and most of the scene will be lit by sun. I guess those macro shots where the background is completely black would be an example where the flash added all the light, and those might not be so easy to do with the A33 with manual flash vs TTL. But I didn't think that was your style of photography. -- Colin (talk) 09:33, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
  • On your link I have not been able to read if Sony HVL-F43M] (TTL) is compatible with your camera, as they are of the same mark I guess yes. As a non-expert of external flash with no experience in the matter, I will say the most controllable from the camera to simplify your life would be the best choice unless there is a real added value in the other choices. -- Christian Ferrer 16:25, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
  • The Sony flash is compatible with my camera with the optional adapter which costs INR 1000. Meanwhile I noticed that the Sigma DG Super also costs same as Sony when customs duty and shipment costs included as listed in ebay. Moreover the Sony flash is compatible with all future Sony camera whenever I upgrade. Jee 04:15, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Sony 43M price is INR 21500. Jee 06:16, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
That's £215 for the 43M + another £20 for adapter. If the Sigma DG Super is £115, can it really cost £100 to ship to you plus customs? Given that the built-in flash + lens doesn't cast a shadow on the subject, then your built in flash should provide a good amount of fill-light for your bugs. I think you should experiment with this to see if it bright enough and if the direct-lighting is too much of a problem. An on-camera extra flash is only more powerful and a couple of inches higher up, it isn't going to change the direction of light unless you take it off-camera. I'm concerned that off-camera, a manual flash can only act as a slave to the built-in flash, which will still fire. You'd need to buy radio triggers to avoid the on-camera flash. With the Sony Wireless flash, the camera flash is used as the "transmitter" but the light signal it sends is relatively low power so shouldn't factor into the exposure the same way as the more basic master-slave flash could.
Another option, if you are in no rush, is to monitor (european) ebay for older Sony or Minolta or compatible flashes. I see there is a really basic Metz flash for around £70 that is TTL but has absolutely no manual options or auto zoom, and I don't think it is wireless either so that's not much help. There are plenty good flashes for you in Europe, we just need to figure out a cheap way to get them to you! -- Colin (talk) 09:33, 15 May 2015 (UTC)

I found the ebay store for Sigma macro flash and DG Super. The rates include shipping and customs. Only limitation is US only warranty. Proceed? Jee 02:27, 15 May 2015 (UTC)

  • Sigma macro flash seems to be a good choice for macro, is it also compatible with all future Sony camera whenever you upgrade? -- Christian Ferrer 04:41, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Yes; it works with another Sony adapter. But one problem now I see is the optional Sigma 72mm flash adapter required for 150mm lens. I didn't see an option to communicate with the ebay seller. Jee 05:02, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
Even in their own site they don't have the adapter, but only the 55mm and 62mm adapters included with the flash. -- Christian Ferrer 10:56, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
  • You should try to take a few series of macro photographs (insects) using the built in flash to see exactly limitations. You had to excelents results with a compact camera so now with your new set, even without a dedicate macroflash, you should be succesful to make very good images IMO. If you do not go below 1/100s, fast is better and not too high ISO (50, 100, 200, 250) you can have great photographic moments IMO. -- Christian Ferrer 11:19, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
    • The main problem with the built in flash will be the lack of dispersed light. It will be a narrow beam of light and will create shadows behind the insect. This will also be a problem with any non-macro flash, but it can be minimised with diffusers. But yes, I agree, experiment with it first to see what you can and cannot do with the built in flash. At least then there will be a benchmark to compare a more advanced flash with. Diliff (talk) 11:38, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
      • Yes; it will end up in hotspots and harsh shadows as in my experimental shot. But I agree with you all; I can wait and experiment more. There is no need of a hurry to disperse all the funds immediately. :) Jee 14:52, 15 May 2015 (UTC)

The Nissin Di866 MKII for Sony is another option. Comes with Sony/Minolta shoe. According to this compatibility chart it is compatible with your camera, but requires a firmware upgrade for newer models (as well as the adapter). This thread says the upgrade requires the manufacturer to do it, rather than using the USB. However, I'd hope that new stock already had the upgrade. Nissin have distributor in India. The price seems quite variable, but this is a powerful and very flexible flash with all the features like wireless, ttl, hss, manual control, auto/manual zoom. The di622 lacks some useful features like HSS so possibly less good for you. Worth asking the distributor if they do it, how much, and if it already has the firmware upgrade. Worth comparing against the Sigma 610 DG Super. -- Colin (talk) 14:49, 15 May 2015 (UTC)

  • I'll contact them tomorrow. But it seems as expensive as Sony 43M. Jee 16:14, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
    • Srishti digilife confirmed that Nissin Sony mount not available. Jee 05:40, 16 May 2015 (UTC)

And Venus also in market. :) Jee 16:45, 15 May 2015 (UTC)

External FlashEdit

Hey, congratulations on a successful fundraising. Since you asked, based on my experience, the built in flash usually ends up giving very harsh lighting and shadows. For most of my macro pictures I used a simple vivitar TTL flash which cost around $50 and similar ones were available in Bangalore for around INR 5000 at that time. This flash produced good results most of the time but a diffuser was and added benefit. A home-made diffuser would be your best way forward based on your experiments with the light and the distances from the insects. You could have one for dragonflies, one for dipteras etc. This for instance was taken using a Quaker oats container cut in half, coated with aluminium foil and a bit of tissue at one end.

What I'd suggest you also get with a flash would be a flash bracket to get the flash off the camera. This will come in handy as you start to use your Raynox magnification added to your lens for more than 1:1 magnification for smaller critters. --Muhammad (talk) 09:24, 16 May 2015 (UTC)

Thanks Muhammad for sharing your experience. I'll definitely look for a flash bracket. Jee 15:23, 16 May 2015 (UTC)
Jee, one of your links above mentioned brackets and said an issue was the extra weight -- mainly due to 4-AA batteries in the flash. A sturdy bracket could be quite expensive. I assume you do this photography alone, and don't have the help of an assistant to hold flash or reflector. There are more cheap TTL flash for Canon than any other make. There are some old basic TTL flash for Sony/Minolta shoe but I'm pretty certain they won't be compatible with newer Sonys, given some of the comments I've read. Can you research some more about manual flash to see if that is at all suitable to your kind of macro photography. If it is then we have cheap Yonguno flash (though not lightweight). If not, the cost goes way up to either that Sony model or an import. That Venus flash with the twin heads looks cool and would offer flexibility for very-close subjects, but manual exposure. Maybe manual exposure is the way to go, though I guess it could come with frustrating failure-rate. -- Colin (talk) 16:22, 16 May 2015 (UTC)
Today, I saw a photographer in the church. His flash was as big as the camera. When the light becomes week in the evening, he took another one from his bag and start holding it in another hand. :)
I think a bracket like this may ideal. Small flashes like this may enough on them? (it is not a wireless flash as Colin explained earlier.) Jee 16:55, 16 May 2015 (UTC)
Yes, most wedding photographers use a large flash simply because it gives them more flexibility. It can put out a lot of light when it needs to and but the main reason I thin is that it can also recharge faster, so if you want to take a large burst in a short period of time, the capacitor doesn't run out so easily. And yes, many wedding/event photographers use a second flash on a stand which they place to the side on a table or something, to give more balanced light. Ha, while doing a Google image search for wedding photographer flash set ups, I found this rather amusing photo! Diliff (talk) 18:02, 16 May 2015 (UTC)
Poor bridegroom.   Jee 01:24, 17 May 2015 (UTC)
  • I regret not doing anything amusing like that when I got married... mind, not really in the culture here. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 01:51, 17 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Very amusing and nice light! my sister got married three week ago... -- Christian Ferrer 06:52, 17 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Have a wonderful married life for them, Christian! Jee 16:57, 17 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Thank you very much my friend. -- Christian Ferrer 20:13, 17 May 2015 (UTC)
That's useful and inspiring that he's taken some great photos with the Sony A33! I didn't notice if he said he used manual flash setting or TTL/ADI auto flash. His kit is listed here. I suggest you send him an email explaining your current kit, links to your photos/campaign, and ask him for flash advice. (or ask him to get and account and join us here :-) My biggest unknown is manual/vs TTL and if manual then our problems are easier and cheaper. And perhaps he knows better where to get some second-hand Sony flashes! -- Colin (talk) 16:54, 21 May 2015 (UTC)
Send a mail; waiting for reply. Jee 02:38, 22 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Sony F43M and AMA adapter received. Hope I can manage with it. BTW I didn't understand what is written at page 40 here. Jee 10:11, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
Got it; there is a slight "click" sound when bending down. Don't know whether it is much useful. Jee 10:51, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
I'm looking at the manual now, which reads better than the manual on mine. It looks a really good flash (shame it is so expensive, but then Canon/Nikon own-brand flashes are expensive too). At least it will be fully compatible with your camera and any upgrade. I did note a comment about the flash-TTL-exposure-compensation not working with older cameras, though. However, I thought the camera had its own flash-exposure-compensation (separate from the overall exposure compensation you might use in auto-exposure modes). So if it can be controlled by the camera, I can't see much need for controlling it on the flash, other than in some complex multi-flash setup. My understanding is that while normal exposure compensation lets you say "please expose this 0.5 stop darker than your auto-exposure thinks is best", the flash-exposure-compensation says "please exposure the flash 0.5 stop darker than you think best" while retaining the overall exposure in the scene. Worth reading Gary Friedman's book on the A33 to get the best from off-camera flash. One thing that caught me when using my flash with an adaptor: the flash doesn't work in wireless mode if it thinks it is attached to the camera, and that includes the adaptor. So I need to remove the adaptor when I take the flash off the camera (after pairing them at the start of wireless). You might have the same issue. Also I think auto zoom might only work when the flash is on-camera and pointing straight ahead (rather than bounce), which makes sense I suppose. Worth experimenting with all the features to be sure it fully works with your camera, as I see Sony's compatibility listing on the web only lists current cameras and the listings in the manual don't sometimes go very far back. The wireless flash is pretty cool. I see yours has a multi-flash mode (don't think mine does) which might make interesting effects with insect wings. If you put on your 17-50 Tamron, you should hear the flash head zoom in and out as you zoom the lens in and out. This will help confirm all the communications are working. -- Colin (talk) 15:37, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
The flash worked in wireless mode with the AMA adapter attached to the flash. In fact, it is easy to disconnect the flash including the adapter. I'll double check it tomorrow. Jee 17:17, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
Wireless flash worked 1. with AMA adapter connected to flash 2. AMA adapter removed, and 3. AMA adapter remained at camera. Jee 06:49, 30 May 2015 (UTC)

TripodEdit

I have an eye on this. I think it is better than the ball headeded version. The tripod may not be useful in chasing bugs; but hope very useful in capturing plants? Jee 10:16, 28 May 2015 (UTC)

Diliff and I discussed tripods with User:Code and he went for that tripod with the ball head. The 3-way head is for video work, not still photography. (Though for landscape photography, some use a 3-way geared head like this one -- which allows very precise adjustments to be made). If the ball head tripod kit comes with the 498RC2 head, then that's what Code bought and seems to have good reviews for the head. However, that 055 tripod is really for studio photographers I think and the whole tripod+head weighs 3.1KG which is ridiculous. Another think it lacks is the 3D tripod centre column like my aluminium tripod has. The 055 Pro has a horizontal centre column mode, but this isn't nearly so flexible. With the 3D column, I can rotate the column in nearly any angle, including upside down, which I have used when taking pictures of flowers (not uploaded any, though). It is really nice to be able to position the camera to point at much any angle, including very near the ground, and the LCD display on the A33 lets you see the picture nicely without having to lie on the ground. The particularly Giottos YTL model I went for is pretty tall, possibly too tall, so a shorter model might be better. Do you know if they are available in India?
Going for carbon fibre is not worth it for you I think. The weight saving is small and you don't have to worry about going out in freezing weather (where the aluminium gets uncomfortable to hold). Better to spend the money on the head. Does your macro lens have a tripod collar? That should help balance the weight better. I'll have a look to see what alternative tripod/heads might work. -- Colin (talk) 15:59, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
Here's the shorter 9353 model, and manufacturer's page. The shorter tripod is available at £79 in the UK (without a head) and is 1.55kg so with a head should be less than 2kg. -- Colin (talk) 16:23, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
Thanks; I saw that discussion. The ball head version is more available here. Jee 17:13, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
I'm still very happy with my choice. Yes, it weights a lot but I don't mind carrying it all around in Berlin. But I have to admit that I didn't have much time to use it, yet. --Code (talk) 19:47, 28 May 2015 (UTC)

Check out the Vanguard-Alta-Pro-263AB-100. This model has been around a good while and has lots of good reviews. It has a multi-angle centre column too. It is a little heavier than my Giottos so the combined weight with head is 2.44kg rather than 2kg. However Vanguard have an Indian website which is promising in terms of availability and warranty support. The 264AB-100 model has 4 section legs rather than three, so folds up shorter but takes longer to unfold. If you don't mind the difference in folded length, I'd just go for the 3 section model, which is slightly lighter and probably more stable. The head looks ok but I notice it doesn't have a tension adjustment for the ball -- this is a third knob (or a tiny adjustment disc inside a knob) that lets you change how loose the head gets when you unscrew the knob. It can be quite useful to stop the head going really floppy, making it easier to do small changes in angle.

I see you can buy the tripod alone which then lets you choose another head. For example, if you can get hold of the newer and more substantial TBH-250 head, then this has several advantages. First it has three knobs (360 turn, ball-release, and friction control) whereas the 100 heads (either SBH or TBH range) don't have the friction control (you need to use the 360-degree viewer on their website to see the third knob). It has twice the weight-bearing capacity at 20kg rather than 10kg. Of course, your lens doesn't weight anything like that, but it means this head is much less likely to sag when you tighten it and will cope better with vertical angles. And lastly the TBH range uses a standard Arca Swiss plate rather than a proprietary mount. This could be very important if you plan in future to buy an accessory such as a macro rail. So I suggest you contact Vanguard India to find a dealer who could offer the 263AT legs plus the TBH-250 head. -- Colin (talk) 17:29, 28 May 2015 (UTC)

Thanks; will check with dealers. Jee 02:52, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
I think this is the new model? Jee 05:00, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
Looking at the specs and this review it seems the Abeo Pro is a new model but doesn't replace the Alta Pro. It is much heavier (and probably sturdier) and more expensive. There are Pro photographers who don't mind carrying around really heavy tripods, considering plenty of the rest of their gear is really heavy too. But increasingly also Pro photographers switching to smaller DLSRs and lighter tripods. I see the Abeo Pro comes with the newer TBH ballhead (the SBH range isn't even mentioned on Vanguard's website as a separate head to buy, so is probably being replaced by TBH) however the kit you linked has the basic TBH 100 head that doesn't have tension/friction control. I strongly recommend getting the better TBH 250 version as I think it worth spending a little more on the head. The head is where all the action is, and so really needs to be a good one. So my suggestion is Alta Pro 263 legs and TBH-250 head at 17,880 INR. Here's a review of the carbon-fibre 4-section Alta pro (different head, and the aluminium has flip locks rather than twist). -- Colin (talk) 10:21, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
Abeo Pro 284 ATB with TBH-250 for 20.4K; so ordered. Does an additional quick release plate required or not? Jee 12:45, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
Why did you go for the Abeo Pro rather than the Alta Pro? The TBH-250 will come with a plate that is 5.8cm long. I'd wait till you get it before deciding if a different plate is more suitable for either your camera or lens. One advantage of the Arca Swiss system is the variety of plates you can buy quite cheaply (though you can also spend huge amounts of money). For example, on the A33 the rear screen hinge can be a problem if the plate sticks out at all from the small base of the camera. So I bought a smaller plate that didn't stick out. On the other hand, your Sigma 150 tripod mount is quite long. I see that Really Right Stuff recommend their 8.3cm long plate for that. You don't want to buy Really Right Stuff because their equipment is overpriced for rich Americans. However, I see Kiwifotos recommend their 100mm plate. And I see from this interesting review that that plate is good for mounting a flash bracket. The reviewer recommends getting a plate at least one inch (2.5 cm) longer than the foot of your lens mount. I think this could be worth investigating some more so see if you can use the tripod mount on your lens, plus one of these plates, to mount a bracket for your flash. This is outside my knowledge, so perhaps posting to some macro forums might help. -- Colin (talk) 14:25, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
I didn't get a price for Alta Pro without the default head. This review is a bit negative too. I think the new model will be better compared to the 2009 design. Jee 14:46, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
If you mean the comment about the screws securing the head, I think that reviewer is talking nonsense. Other tripods use that technique also, to make the head a bit more secure, but you need to be careful not to over-tighten those little screws. I didn't find any other reviews that were bad. So I assume you ordered from someone other than the FlipKart website you linked, since they certainly do the Alta Pro without a head (see link above). Well the Abeo Pro does seem to have some fancy features of its own and you are probably right that it should have some better features, but it is heavier. I'm sure it will be a good quality piece of kit. While you wait for it, see what you can find out about lens plates and flash brackets for using with your Sigma. It is these sort of accessory options that make the Arca Swiss quick-release plate design such a handy standard. Do you know when you will get the tripod? And when is your next field trip? -- Colin (talk) 16:26, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
Yes; I ordered from the local dealer who communicated with Vanguard India. The Flipkart price is much high for the Abeo Pro. Unfortunately I didn't get a price for Alta Pro with TBH-250 and I don't know exact reason. It will reach to me at the end of next week.
Regarding QR plates, I asked the dealer and he asked VG India too. The reply was "we have extra QS; let us know if you need". So not sure whether one is part of the kit or not. If not, these are the options: [1], [2], [3] and [4] from VG. This is the only one I see with flash bracket mount options.
I wish to go home when Monsoon starts and all ponds and streams filled with water. :) It will start on June first week. It is the best season for odonata. Jee 02:31, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
You shouldn't have to buy a plate from Vanguard as it is a standard clamp so any "arca swiss" plate should fit. Indeed, you didn't need to buy an Vanguard head to go with your tripod, but I'm sure it will be a good one. The spec for the head definitely says it comes with a plate and I can't see why not since it is only a cheap part -- by "extra" I'm sure they just mean "in addition to the one you get". Some people have several cameras or want to fit a plate on their camera and their lens and their macro rail, etc, etc. Some of those other plates you linked are for different Vanguard heads with proprietary clamps. Looking on ebay might be better than Amazon India for plates. If you search for "arca swiss plate". For example 150 and 115 plates. Also, 100 which appears to be the model for your Sigma. I don't really know how the flash bracket fits with these plates. Perhaps KiwiFoto can advise? Worth finding out what brackets these are and how much they cost. You don't need to buy this plate right now -- your 60mm plate will probably do for now. The custom lens plates are designed to be just the right length and with little raised edges so they can't twist if not tightened (though be careful not to overtighten). This review of your lens mentions that the foot only has one screw so might rotate if you used a plate without raised edges. This will mainly be a problem if you rotate your ballhead to the side so your lens is off-balance. I see the Kirk lens-mount macro flash bracket is quite expensive and rather fancy. Hmm, there must be a cheaper Chinese model? -- Colin (talk) 10:24, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
Thanks; better I wait till the tripod arrives. BTW, I failed to find any good flash bracket. These types of brackets seem not very useful for macro works. Jee 13:20, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
Tripod received; going home to make some experiments. ;) Jee 10:32, 11 June 2015 (UTC)

Flash testsEdit

 
Lyriothemis acigastra male at Kadavoor
 
Lyriothemis acigastra female at Kadavoor

Got a very rare dragonfly in the very first trip to Kadavoor! These two photos are using internal flash as the battery in my hand exhausted at the end of very first day. Need to buy heavy duty batteries or rechargeable ones. More photos tomorrow. Jee 17:35, 17 June 2015 (UTC)

Rechargeable ones will certainly save money in the long run as the flash is quite hungry for power. I recommend buying the modern kind of Ni-MH "ready to use" (or similar names) battery that retains its charge much better when not being used. The older cheaper kind can disappoint you if you go to use your flash after not using it for a couple of months. Also, having an intelligent charger is better than the basic kind since it will make the batteries last longer by controlling the current during the charge cycle. And finally, one that can charge individually rather than in pairs is really handy (I have several devices that use one or three batteries and these are a pain to charge if you have to find a matching pair). See this charger and these batteries for example. -- Colin (talk) 18:40, 17 June 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for the info. Jee 03:08, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
More photos at Category:Lyriothemis acigastra. Jee 04:23, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
Hi Jee, just had a look at the photos in the category. Some of them are very good, although some seem to have processing problems. This one, for example, seems to have shadows that are too bright and the contrast is too low. This could be because RawTherapee is a bit more complicated to work with, but it would be difficult to get the contrast so low in Lightroom by accident... Or perhaps the contrast on your monitor is too strong and it looks normal to you. Other than that, the images are good. What do you mean by the 'battery in your hand'? Do you mean you're using the external flash hand-held? Diliff (talk) 10:11, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
Thanks Diliff for the comment. Regarding processing: This is the only picture I brightened a bit. All others are without any change from my side other than ticking NR. I will share you the RAW of the two pictures displayed here. I alredy shared them to Christian and Colin. I've some doubt about the lights as the Raw previews in camera's LCD and in Picasa look very dark. I've not much experience in shooting RAW; so don't know whether it is usual. (The lighting on those days are very little. There was no rain and sun; but cloudy. So the whole day look like 5pm evening.) Flash batteries: The flash is powered by 4 AA batteries. I bough 8 light duty batteries while going home; but they exhausted very quickly. I need to either buy good heavy duty batteries or rechargeable ones as Colin advised. Jee 11:39, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
 
Asystasia dalzelliana and a bee at Kadavoor

This Asystasia dalzelliana is with a diffuser fitted in front of external flash. Jee 11:54, 18 June 2015 (UTC)

  • It looks good, although very noisy for ISO 100. Did you also have to increase the brightness of this (as with some of the others) to get it looking like this? Diliff (talk) 12:33, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
    • I've got the raw for the two above and may get a chance tonight to look at it to see how Lightroom handles it. -- Colin (talk) 12:51, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
      • Jee gave me the RAW files too, I processed the middle one (this one) simply by pushing the exposure up 2.7EV (no other adjustments made), and it looked a bit nicer than the one Jee uploaded with better contrast and colour, which makes me think that LR is better at processing RAW than RawTherapee. But then I think we already knew that. I've been discussing with him on email why he's getting so much underexposure with his flash though. I'm still unsure really. It's hard to know whether the flash is malfunctioning, the flash settings are not correct, or it isn't physically projecting light to the subject properly. Could be any of those, and probably other possibilities too. He also gave me two examples where he had used the external flash and diffuser. The first was taken with a 1/160th of a second shutter speed and grossly underexposed by the look of it, and then pushed to the correct brightness which resulted in a lot of noise. The EXIF data says the flash was fired. The second, taken just 2 minutes later on what looks like the same plant, was not underexposed, but had a shutter speed of 1/4th which resulted in blur. EXIF data says the flash did not fire, although Jee said he used the flash. I don't know what has gone on here. He was using aperture priority in both shots, but two similar shots resulted in very different shutter speeds. I'm wondering if using the flash is automatically locking his shutter speed to 1/160th of a second? All shots that I've checked the EXIF data of show 1/160th of a second when the flash fires. Is this how TTL flash metering works with Sony? I really don't know enough about flash photography, particularly of other camera brands, to make sense of it. Maybe you can explain it better Colin.
      • Looking at two shots (here and here), both of which had the flash firing and identical exposure settings, I can see that one exposed reasonably well (the first) and the other exposed terribly (the second). My guess is that either the flash didn't fire properly in the second, or simply didn't reach the subject. In the second, the background is just as bright as the foreground, which strongly suggests to me that it never received any flash light, which should have dissipated quickly over a short distance. As I said to Jee, it's going to take a methodical experimental approach to figure out what's going on here because I can make educated guesses about what's happening, but I can't see his technique, I can't see how the flash fires, etc. Diliff (talk) 13:39, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
      • Not clear if this discussion refers to on-camera flash or off camera. Also, 1/160 is the max flash sync speed on the A33, so it is likely to choose that in aperture priority mode. -- Colin (talk) 15:52, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
        • "He also gave me two examples where he had used the external flash and diffuser". That's according to Jee at least (it doesn't say in the EXIF whether it was on-camera or external so I can only take his word for it).
        • I don't entirely understand why it would select 1/160s though if it was going to grossly underexpose it at that shutter speed. I can understand that it wouldn't select a faster shutter speed (because it couldn't), but a faster shutter speed could only be beneficial if it was overexposed at 1/160th of a second. What it actually needs is a slower shutter speed or a brighter burst from the flash, but it didn't seem to do either of those. Diliff (talk) 16:50, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
          • Is the external flash on the camera or wireless? If wireless, it is possible the camera attempted to use the flash but somehow failed to communicate. The off-camera flash sensor has to be able to see the on-camera flash for the wireless communication to work (or at least, see reflected light from the flash) -- it isn't radio waves. The result would be an exposure where the camera did its bit but was let down as the external flash didn't fire. Were the camera and flash successfully paired? Some experiments at home would ensure everything was working as it should. If everything is talking correctly I can't see how we could get underexposure at close distances. -- Colin (talk) 21:01, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
    • Sorry for the late comments; here strong rain affecting my Internet. All photos taken on June 14 are with internal flash without any diffuser. Most photos taken on June 13 are with external flash on the camera shoe with additional diffuser. So far I uploaded only three pictures taken on June 13. This is in the morning when the battery are in good condition. Here I think flash didn't fire as battery are dead; but camera expect a flash and choose fast shutter speed. Here I assume I switched off the flash seeing the low battery warning. So camera chose a slow shutter speed as it knew flash is off. I'll try to upload more pictures today from June 13. But it seems not much good shots on that day.
    • I also wonder why camera chooses 1/160 always even in different light conditions. It may be due to the 1/focal length rule. I may try in ISO 200 to see what shutter speed camera chooses. Now the camera is in my home and I'm in Kasaragod. :(
    • RawTherapee: I didn't brighten any pictures except this single photo. It seems RawTherapee is auto correcting the exposure for me. The only thing I'm doing is applying NR; so it is more an amateur processing. It may not be problem of the tool; it is my ignorance in processing. :)
    • In camera flash: Although those dragonflies are under exposed; I'm sure flash fired. See the annoying reflections on the wings. And I remember the camera asked me to "allow it to cool as temperature is high" after a dozens of shots using internal flash. Jee 03:52, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Concerning the built in flash, on the Nikon, the slow speed possible is 1/250. Concerning this file I uploaded a try in the file history, but my try is not well edited and certainly too much overprocessed IMO. -- Christian Ferrer 18:19, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
    • Christian, I'm sure 1/250 is the fastest speed for your camera. It is all about synchronising the shutter being fully open (rather than a moving slit) with the flash. Some cameras are 1/160 and some 1/250. Rarely faster. But if you need a faster shutter speed, you enable the HSS (high speed sync) mode on the flash. This causes the flash to emit a series of very short pulses as the shutter slit traverses from top to bottom of the frame. The disadvantage of HSS is that it isn't as powerful, but the advantage is you can use much faster shutter speeds. You don't need HSS if the scene is mostly lit by flash. It matters most if you are using flash along with bright conditions. -- Colin (talk) 21:01, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Thanks Colin. Jee, both RAW file you send me are underexposed, I think that with your camera you can check the histogram of the photo you just take. Histograms must not be sticking at left (underexposed nor at right (overexposed). The image are rather good and quality of the details is promising, my first try of editing is bad, but I will look more carefully this week end. With only more exposition and noise reduction the result on my PC is rather promising. Have you the possibility to increase the power of the flash? because more power+diffuser could maybe work well. Also you can increase a bit the ISO, 100 is ideal but you can increase up 200 or even 320 ISO. -- Christian Ferrer 04:49, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Thanks Christian. I think I can use ISO 200 and flash EV +1/3 if diffuser is used. Need more try and learn shots to find the ideal combination. Jee 05:20, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
  • ISO 200 can help and shouldn't be significantly noiser but I'd be very surprised if a powerful external flash like Jee has bought would have any problems lighting the subject at close range. However, if TTL (ADI) is working, you shouldn't have to set the flash compensation. Jee, are the underexposed pictures taken with (a) on camera flash only (b) external flash mounted on the camera or (c) external flash controlled wirelessly? -- Colin (talk) 07:27, 19 June 2015 (UTC)

These three photos are with external flash attached on shoe. They are 99% under exposed. So it seems external flash on shoe can't expose subject very close to the lens. I need to experiment like this. :) Jee 09:42, 19 June 2015 (UTC)

  • Yes, I think you're right, the external flash won't be able to reach the subject close to the lens and that may be why you're having trouble. This is why a macro flash would have been better IMO. There are many ways of rigging a regular flash to make it work with macro photography but they're all complicated. :-) Have you ever tried using the external flash off the shoe, as a wireless slave? Does it work? I don't think it could be practical to use without a mount though. It could be possible to attach it to a tripod with a flexible arm (or maybe something like this could work if the flash wasn't too heavy). Diliff (talk) 10:10, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
  • That flexible arm may very useful if they can carry the flash unit well. Mnafrotto bracket is not available here so far; but can expect soon. My flash will work in wireless mode; but landholding is difficult. I think I can tie it on the tripod collar of the lens. :) Jee 10:39, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
A cord like this may be useful to connect the flash. Wireless mode will work with full TTL/ADI but a cable is likely to be more reliable if you are mounting very close. Need to engineer a length of aluminium bar that attaches to your tripod collar and has a tripod bolt on the other end (which you can then screw your flash onto using the supplied foot). Looking at those home-made flash mounts makes me nervous as your flash is expensive and will break into little pieces if dropped onto the hard floor. I don't think those flexible arms will take the weight of your flash + batteries. -- Colin (talk) 10:48, 19 June 2015 (UTC)

Computer and processing toolsEdit

  • Thanks Christian. It seems your edit bring back a lot of hidden details. I don't know when I learn all such tricks! Jee 12:39, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
  • It looks like mostly a bit more brightness and contrast. RAW processing gives you a lot of options but yes it takes time to learn. I don't want to always compare RawTherapee to Lightroom but I do think that Lightroom can enhance an image a bit easier. RawTherapee may be able to match Lightroom (I'm not sure but I assume it can), but because it has many more sliders, it may require more work and more practice to become good at it. The difference in the way you and Christian processed it may also have something to do with your monitor, because your images typically are low in contrast and a bit hazy looking - the blacks are not very black and the highlights are not very sharp. Perhaps you are not seeing the images the same way that we are. Have you made any progress with researching what laptop you will get? Along with Lightroom, a good screen is probably crucial for getting the most out of RAW processing. Diliff (talk) 12:47, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
  • I moved laptop and new camera to the end of my wishlist. :) Almost all other items in the list are purchased now; so it is time to think about a laptop now. These are some options. Now HP is only mentioning "full HD"; so not very clear to me what actual resolution is. Jee 13:09, 19 June 2015 (UTC)

I am not knowledgeable about the flash tech details you are discussing. I would just like to say that it is nice to follow this iterative process of gradually tuning the gear and getting the right gear. It is a long and tedious process, but keep on going on the steep learning curve, Jee. The results are getting better and better! -- Slaunger (talk) 15:10, 19 June 2015 (UTC)

Yes Slaunger, more experiments (trial and error) and discussions with colleagues... it is interesting! :) Jee 15:29, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Agree with Slaugner. These are looking very good. — Chris Woodrich (talk) 16:05, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Definitely the results are much better than my old works. And glad to see we can recover a lot of data from under exposed or over exposed RAW files. I'm able to produce hundreds of good images in a single day which is giveing me a lot of confidence. And the photograph of Lyriothemis acigastra is an additional bonus; it is the third citation of this cute dragonfly in Kerala. Jee 16:26, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Jee, indeed a good monitor is very important, and when you have it, it is very important to calibrate it, I was surprised the first time I calibrated my monitor to see the difference. To choose a color space like sRGB when editing the image also affects its appearance for you and for others who are watching at the image. As all people have not calibrate monitors, the perceptions change (contrast, luminosity, saturation...), that may also affect the editing process. So a good and calibrated monitor is very important. About editing of the image above, despite the underexposure and some burns due to flash the RAW file is pretty good. The way I did here is a bit (very) complicated (3 software used), and there is certainly more simple. I don't make that for all images, I like to experience. For the second RAW file you send me, I will do exactly the same thing and at every step I will upload a sample of the file being processed and will explain what I did on the file talk page. Of course you have not the softwares that I use and you will not be able to do the same, it does not matter it's just to make you see. There are much more simple way to achieve satisfactory results, but I will be happy to show how I bring back a lot of hidden details. Let me a few days. :)-- Christian Ferrer 17:53, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
    • I suspect that buying the tools to calibrate a monitor will be too much money for such small reward (I have such a tool). The LCD on a laptop is a dismal affair generally, with most only managing a modest portion of sRGB never mind the full amount, and many having colour/tonal issues when viewed off-centre. I believe Slaunger recommended a Dell monitor earlier, that could be used as a second monitor and would provide the necessary quality. The best of Dell's monitor (e.g. Ultrasharp range) generally come calibrated so that's a huge help. In terms of brightness, one simple test is to look at the grey scale in DP Review and try to make as much of that scale visible. Ideally, you will see every step. -- Colin (talk) 19:33, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
      • Speaking of which one of my monitors at work, an old Samsumg SyncMaster finally reached it end-of-life two days ago, and I asked out IT department for a replacement. I expected to get some random low quallity monitor good enough for ordinary office work, but to my surprise I got a Dell Ultrasharp U2412M (1920x1200), which has gotten very good reviews and not so expensive. I did send them some warm thought, it is really nice to work at. I think about as much value for money as you can get (around INR 19,865 via Amazon). It is a four year old model, but it is still good. I do not know how much of your funds you have left, but is worth of consideration. -- Slaunger (talk) 20:02, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
        • Yeah, monitors really haven't moved forward much in the last 10 years. I'm using a 10 year old monitor and it's still pretty close to the best money can buy. It's a Dell 3007WFP 30" 2560x1600 res monitor.There are slight improvements here and there (LED backlighting, wider colour gamut etc) but the fundamental panel hasn't changed. I think we're probably just around the corner from some big improvements in resolution though. We've been stuck with the same resolution for a long time mainly because Windows didn't scale properly, so you'd only end up with tiny text if you had high resolution on a small display. Now that Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 will have better support for scaling, I think we'll start to see real development like we've seen in phone and tablet displays that do scale properly. I agree with you though, if money can stretch to an external monitor, it's worth considering. But I got the impression that Jee wanted to keep it as small and portable as possible. As soon as you get a monitor, you need a proper desk. And then you might as well have just got a desktop PC and saved a bit of money instead. Diliff (talk) 23:43, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Thanks all. Yes; dell monitors and an assembled desktop is another option and may better option than laptop for serious editing. Anyway, I need some time. ;) Jee 02:30, 20 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Jee I started File talk:Lyriothemis acigastra female at Kadavoor.jpg, I started but I have not finished, I will finish this afternoon or tomorrow, in any case soon. -- Christian Ferrer 10:06, 20 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Jee   Done I did the same kind of edition as on the previous file. Hope you like the result. If no, you can revert, each edition is an experience and I will not be disappointed at all if you do not like the result. If you have a question I am available. -- Christian Ferrer 12:42, 20 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Thanks Christian. I'll ask questions when start post-processing professionally. :) Jee 12:57, 20 June 2015 (UTC)
Hi Jee, the way I took seems very complicated, however with your curent software I'm sure you can do thing like in phase 1, witch is very acceptable IMO. -- Christian Ferrer 05:15, 21 June 2015 (UTC)
Thanks Christian. I'll try using the info you posted on the file talk. I saw similar parameters in RawTherapee too. Jee 06:45, 21 June 2015 (UTC)
  • I upload a try for this file, but I was not able to upload a good version at full size, it is a downsampled version. I'ts your image, you will chose if you want to keep it or not :) -- Christian Ferrer 19:18, 28 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Yes; it was very noisy at ISO 800. Hope new works using internal flash are better? Jee 01:21, 29 June 2015 (UTC)
Not convinced the new is better, it is not very sharp, maybe a focus issue...-- Christian Ferrer 11:23, 29 June 2015 (UTC)
You're right. They are declined at QIC. :( Jee 13:15, 29 June 2015 (UTC)

File:Tanaecia lepidea in Kadavoor.jpgEdit

I upload a try on this file, I give you my opinion on your edition (open the both versions in two separate windows and compare!):

  • Too much noise like-artifacts in the background thus maybe a bit overprocessed I think. Have you sharpened it? if yes I guess RAW therapy have selective tools, you can edit (for exemple "sharpening") only a part of the image (main subject) to avoid to make some noise on the background.
  • The bright area on your version is too bright (not overexposed), easely fixable with a decrease of the highlights.

Your version is not very far for mine. My version is less bright, a bit more contrast and colors (vibrance). After to have brightened the RAW file, (and play with shados and over levels) I put noise reduction in all the image to make the background acceptable from my point of view. And only after that I sharpened with a selective tool (paintbrush) the subject in focus (butterfly and leave). In this exemple by looking carefully you can see some noise around the spider, I guess he did the opposite of me : he did sharpening in all the image and after that noise reduction on the background but not enough carefully or maybe he did like me but again not enough carefully as some noise is visible around the spider. But I agree it is a good image even with this little defect. -- Christian Ferrer 19:52, 5 July 2015 (UTC)

  • Thanks Christian. I like the highlight reduction on the white parts of hind-wing. A bit more sharper than my version too. Jee 02:04, 6 July 2015 (UTC)

Night macrographyEdit

 
Leptogastrinae at Kadavoor

I think I need to buy a flashlight and macrography in night like Kurt. More wonderful things happen in night! (Poor quality with internal flash at 7pm.) Jee 06:49, 19 June 2015 (UTC)

Details and subject distanceEdit

I've a discussion with Diliff earlier and I argued that I can grab more details in close subject distance. But Diliff stated that there is no such limitation if lens and camera are good. He doubted it may be the limitation of my compact camera and built in zoom lens. Here in this example I experienced same phenomena. The first two shots are from one meter distance as this damselfly is not very cooperative. But I got a chance when she accidentally came and perched near to me while I'm potographing another subject. I tilt the camera and take a shot. The subject was too big to fit in my frame. I stretched backward and take fourth shot increasing a bit more subject distance. I think the details I grabbed is inversely proportional to the subject distance. (The DOF decreases when subject is closer too. But I think it is quite usual.) Jee 10:10, 23 June 2015 (UTC)

I don't quite understand. These were taken with your 150mm lens so the detail recorded will indeed increase the closer you are. With a zoom lens, there may be some argument between getting physically closer or zooming in with the lens, and this depends on the optical strengths and weaknesses of the lens mainly. According to DoF calculator the DoF with your lens/camera at 1m subject distance is about 2cm but at 2m subject distance is 8cm and at 3m subject distance is 18cm. Interestingly, if you used a 300mm lens, you'd get (very very nearly) the same DoF at 2m/4m/6m subject distance. This article explains a bit more about how DoF changes in character with focal length. Although you gain DoF with distance (for the same focal length), if you end up cropping or enlarging, then some of that effect is lost. I haven't seen any calculations comparing the DoF at 2m vs 4m if you then downsize the 2m image by 50% to match the subject size at 4m. Would you see a difference in DoF? I'd say that you want to fill the frame as much as you can. Don't be afraid to take some close-ups rather than always full-body shots. It would be nice to see some behaviour close-up in addition to the (useful) full-length identification photo. -- Colin (talk) 11:11, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
I like closeups; but first I need to "solve" the flash issue in closeups. Regarding detail vs. distance, Diliff may also misunderstand my concern. Let us see what he says. DOF: Yes; DOF is very limited and difficult to focus entire subject in close distance. See the tail end here. The subject was not that much inclined as we feel there. Fine alignment of the subject with sensor is also difficult in close distance. But small DOF gives a 3D feel and the photo is more impressive that flat all sharp image. The use of such pictures in an encyclopedia is questionable; but we can have both types of pictures. :) Jee 11:31, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
Hope here I captured the coolness of this silent killer. She is repairing/cleaning her fatal grip. Jee 16:03, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
I don't really understand either. I think you might have misunderstood me Jee. With the same lens, of course you would get more detail if you are closer to the subject. What I think I was arguing (if I remember correctly) is that you can get the same detail with a 150mm macro lens compared to the 100mm lens you were considering buying. You were, I think, arguing in favour of the 100mm macro lens on the basis that you would get more detail if you were closer to the subject. I argued that it wouldn't be the case, you would get the same level of detail if you had the same composition (ie with the subject filling the frame, for example). There would be slight differences in the depth of field and the way the background is separated though. You could get a slightly wider DOF with the 100mm lens but less background separation (more background noise). Diliff (talk) 18:05, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
Got it now. My argument was that for more approachable subject (like that robber fly in night), a 60/100mm may can use more closely and grab more details sacrificing some DOF on the subject and a more distracting BG too due to wider FOV. With a 150mm I need more distance; but get a more pleasing BG. Not a big matter as far as I'm not in "super macro" photography. Mostly my subjects are difficult to approach and 150mm is more suitable for it. (Technically a 60/100mm in a closer subject distance and 150mm in a far distance producing exact same frame should be identical in fine details, DOF, and BG? I don't know. My thought was the results will be slightly different. I thought a 60/100mm grab more details in fine focus point benefiting from closer subject distance and 150mm will produce pleasing BG benefiting from small FOV. DOF on subject may identical. But it seems I was wrong.) Jee 02:50, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
The article I linked to said the DoF on changing focal length (while going closer to achieve same subject size in viewfinder) would have negligible effect on DoF. However it changes it character. The ultra-wide angle has twice as much DoF in front than behind, while the super telephoto has this evenly balanced. But that difference would also be small when comparing 60/100/150. They also said the telephoto magnifies the background more, which helps with subject isolation -- the blobs of light are bigger so less busy. However, on playing with their calculator, there is another effect. While the 20mm lens has essentially the same ~40cm DoF at 1m as a 400mm lens at 20m, if you back-focus the 20mm lens at 1.25m then the DoF grows significantly to 66cm (50% more) while keeping the 1m subject in focus (just). But if you backfocus the 400mm telephoto by +0.25m (to 20.25m distance) then the 20.0m subject is no longer in focus and the DoF is the same ~40cm. So the wide-angle's DoF grows rapidly at close distances with any linear increase in subject distance, which permits a little back focusing and also much greater use of hyperfocal distance. The 20mm lens achieves a hyperfocal distance of 6m (everything from 2.73 to infinity is acceptably sharp). The 400mm telephoto achieves a hyperfocal distance of 2km but the closest sharp subject is then 1km away! -- Colin (talk) 07:37, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
Did you see Venus Laowa 15mm f/4 (VenusLens). It's a 1:1 macro but only if the subject is practically touching the lens. It's also a shift lens so can be used to take architectural shots without vertical perspective distortions (though you'd need to correct the barrel distortion to satisfy FP!). Some interesting lenses coming out of that company. -- Colin (talk) 07:37, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
It doesn't surprise me that the sample photos from that lens are all artificially lit. You'd have significant problems with the lens/hood/camera/photographer casting a shadow on the subject with that lens and working distance! The photos do look good though. I've taken similar shots with my 14mm Samyang though, it too has a pretty close focus distance. There doesn't seem to be a published magnification ratio for the Samyang, but it's minimum working distance is just 28cm, whereas the Venus lens is apparently 47cm, so I'd have to assume they're quite similar. Diliff (talk) 08:00, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
Interesting. But I don't like "distorted shapes"; so anything below 50mm (in 35mm eqv.) is not good for me. Nikon have two expensive lens, targeted for product photography. I saw one user's review that they can be used without bothering about whether subject is parallel to the sensor! But not for casual handheld shots. (It seems Nikon and Canon are worried by the release of Sony A7R II? Lot of offers are seeing here from them nowadays like flash free with 5D III.) Jee 08:17, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
The Nikon PE lenses have tilt as well as shift capabilities. The tilt lets you have the plane of focus different to the plane of the sensor, which some use to create an extensive area in focus for landscape shots, or oppositely, to reduce the area in focus (creating a model village effect). And yes, I think you'd need a tripod in order do fiddle with the tilt and shift mechanisms, as well as focus, adjust aperture, press shutter! The A7Rii is remarkable. Did you see this article and this info-graphic? The rumour websites continue to report that Sony has not abandoned A-mount and intend to produce more SLT cameras. There is hope for a A99ii in September. Since the A77ii is quite new and high-end, its replacement-cycle is long and would naturally be at least a year or two away. And by then, it is anyone's guess what products are priority. I'm fairly sure Sony has given up on entry-level A-mount, since this is a low-profit-margin area dominated by the bigger brands. The A6000 and RX-100 are their consumer focus now. It is promising that the A7Rii appears to focus and stabilise A-mount lenses at good speed, but probably not nearly as fast or clever as my A77ii can do natively. But perhaps by A7Riii, it will be equivalent. I'm looking forward to reviews of the A7Rii when focusing Sony/Canon lenses. Especially the difficult area of long telephoto, because FE mount lenses don't have any such lenses yet. Still, A7ii is a very expensive camera, and the FE lenses are expensive also. -- Colin (talk) 13:14, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
Yes; a new A mount camera is enough for people having only A mount lens. It seems A7R II is more tempting to people having old legendary lenses and Canon/Nikon lenses as it is rumoured that A7R II can stabilize and auto-focus those lenses even with cheap adapters. As somebody commented in the link you provided, "The problem with Sony cameras is lacking of supports from third parties and hard to find accessories that fit Sony cameras." Yesterday I saw an ad., Nissin Di466 TTL Flash for INR 6200 for Nikon and Canon; but no Sony mount. :( Jee 15:16, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
Nikon and Canon still greatly outnumber other brands both in consumer and professional markets. The third party company only cares to make the most profit for least work, rather than trying to fill all parts of the market. I would hope the flash situation will change if the E-mount becomes more successful. Spare a thought for Pentax, Panasonic, Olympus, Fuji and Samsung users, then, who have very little third-party support, if any. And if you are a professional photographer, then you need professional service facilities -- an area Sony provide only to a limited extent in a limit number of countries. I reckon the A7 series is a game changer for Sony, though. I still think their SLT is a great technology, but failed to change Sony's DSLR fortunes. Btw, do you find yourself using the viewfinder or rear screen or both? -- Colin (talk) 19:02, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
I prefer to use the EVF whenever I can keep my body as close as with the camera and align properly. I'm able to use the "focus zoom" now and I hope it improved my fine focusing compared to early shots. I'm comfortable with manual focus now; have confident to use am MF only lens. There are a lot of scales on the lens that give you information like subject distance in inches and in meters, magnification ratio when I turn the focus ring. The only drawback is I can't see the entire subject in "focus zoom" mode; so aligning subject with sensor is difficult.
But there are situations when LCD is more useful, especially if the subject is in ground level and I have to muddy my cloths to get a view on EVF. If the subject is frightful, I will keep myself at a distance and stretch my arms to the subject. The subject usually tolerate the camera's presence; but not of me. In such cases, LCD is useful. Another example is where the subject is perched in a height. Here he is "patrolling" for mates, perching up above my head on the Malay apple tree in my courtyard. (Note that he is not still there; making frequent small flights to chase anything in his vision and returning to same or nearby seat.) I took a stool and climbed on it; but still he is out of my reach. So I tilt the LCD and raised the hand up above my head. I'm able to focus on his eyes, but failed to align the wings. :)
"Aligning subject to sensor" is an art, very important in macro photography. It is very tough, especially in handheld works. Yes; I've room for a lot of improvements. :)
Finally this is a great hobby and time pass to watch and learn about their behaviors. They have all the moods like us, including fights for mates, jealousy, ... Hope Chris to enjoying this a lot, nowadays. :) Jee 03:37, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
Some very nice shots there, Jee. Sadly I haven't had much time to follow the butterflies. Between my translating work, digitization project, and wife being due any day now, I've only left the house to teach. — Chris Woodrich (talk) 07:02, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
Great new about your wife. Take care of your family, profession and Ph. D. too. Jee 07:22, 25 June 2015 (UTC)

Flash tests IIEdit

It seems ADI fails in close subject distance. But it seems TTL works. I processed one file. Hope more, soon. (I found one mistake in my processing. Switched off "auto level" adjustments in this case.) Does noise and over exposed parts are in acceptable range? Jee 07:13, 15 July 2015 (UTC)

  • The first is fine (I like the f/16), on the both others noise is ok but flash reflections are a bit disturbing (too powerful flash?), or maybe it's the choice of f/16 that lets less light. -- Christian Ferrer 12:09, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Yes; the flash is strong. I think I used a JJC difuser in later photos. I used -0.33 EV to as pictures look too bright in LCD. But now I think (while processing some more files) that the LCD is not correct. It seems there is no need for a -EV setting. Processing more files, now. Jee 12:33, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  • I must say that all your latest photos at f/16 are better than the f/11 ones IMO. You should clone out some dustspots on this one (see note). -- Christian Ferrer 11:52, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
  • And I congratulate you for the growing quality of your pictures and your editing work...-- Christian Ferrer 11:55, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Thanks Christian. I re-read the notes here and try to apply some in RawTherapee. I think I learn how to correct contrast, blcakness, etc. :) This seems the best picture I processed so far? Jee 12:17, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
yes it is good, also you can clone out (do you know how to do that?) some flash reflections, I added notes. Do you you use a diffuser because I find the background on this one and on some over a bit dark? -- Christian Ferrer 17:48, 17 July 2015 (UTC) ah and also on the last one, to win some details on the bright areas on the wing, you can decrease a bit the highlights. -- Christian Ferrer 17:50, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
1.I think cloning feature is not available in RawTherapee. (It may not be in LR too?). I'll try in Gimp or something, later, after processing all images one by one. 2. I used the JJC diffuser between lens and subject. 3. Can I lower the highlights for whole image or I need to select the white parts? Partial selection may not be possible in RawTherapee. Jee 02:11, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
I should download RawTherapee or read some things about it, to see what are the possibilities. No you can lower highlights for the whole image if you want. One advice when you adjust a level, highlights or something else, is to go to the extremes of the levels (- and +) then it's more easy to see what kind of result you want to have. Explanations : if initially the highlights are at 0, you have the choice to go to + or to - (if you want more details in the bright areas, generally you must go to - ); In first you must go at the lowest level possible to see and understand the result you on the image and what is affected. As the highlights affect also overall appearance of the image, you must find the right balance, a too big drop and the clear colors will lose of intensity and will become like blown however you can decrease a bit the highlights without affecting too much these colors and the overall appearance of the image and winning some details in the bright areas. As a sharpshooter that points above the target and descent when breathing on the target and shoot just when the target is aligned, you must decrease too much and then adjust the seeting. -- Christian Ferrer 06:16, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Look at the 3 thumbnails just above.... (f/16 - f/11 - f/11), we can see how f/16 affect the light on the background. -- Christian Ferrer 06:22, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
    Wow, yes; f/16 and ISO 100 (I turned back to ISO 100 in later shots) result dark bg. Jee 07:13, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
    But flash is disturbing in f/11 + ISO 200. I need to find the balance, may be f/14 + ISO 100/200? Jee 07:54, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
Yes, maybe f/16 + ISO 400 remains reasonable too. -- Christian Ferrer 13:07, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
By looking at the thumbnails in the file history, my version seems a bit brighter but especially the colors seem much more boosted, maybe too much? -- Christian Ferrer 13:50, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
Like the composition. Color seems a bit saturated. Difficult to say actual colours as he is juvenile. The matured will look like this. :) Jee 14:59, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
I uploaded a less satured version, I'm very surprise by the difference of saturation between the jpg on my PC before the upload and the result after the upload, what happens!?! -- Christian Ferrer 16:24, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
Always too satured? I can decrease more if you want. -- Christian Ferrer 16:28, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
Looks fine to me now. Enjoy this panoramic crop. :) Jee 16:32, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
  • I captured this sleeping butterfly in the early morning when there was almost not any lights. I think the results are good. This is another shot from a bit more distance. If black bg is not a bog issues, I think I can stick with f/16. ISO can be increased to 200 or 400 if required. Any thoughts? Jee 03:56, 19 July 2015 (UTC)
  • That's remind me Archaeodontosaurus who never go below f/20 and sometimes more. Watching the standarts in the FP galleries, it seems that most of the featured images of arthropods have not a too much dark background. -- Christian Ferrer 06:33, 19 July 2015 (UTC)
  • It seems pictures relying only on flash have dark bg. (1, 2, 3, 4) But I agree fpc has a know hate to such a dark background. Jee 06:57, 19 July 2015 (UTC)
It is very fast moving; so I failed to get a classic eye level shot. :) Jee 01:26, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
Regarding this, maybe a diffuser and a longer exposure time, would have product a good effect. -- Christian Ferrer 19:49, 19 July 2015 (UTC)
  • I found some interesting tips here. More here and here. Jee 10:44, 23 July 2015 (UTC)
    • Yes, that's useful advice. His example of using slow shutter speed (like 1/60) causing a double-exposure is interesting (though his third page does have examples of lower shutter speed that look fine -- I guess it shows up more if the subject or camera move at all). If you want to go faster than 1/160 (e.g. 1/250) you will need to use HSS but you'll also need a larger aperture for the extra light to avoid the background being dark. -- Colin (talk) 11:03, 23 July 2015 (UTC)
      • 1/160 may be enough. I need find the ideal ISO-aperture combination. I think I can try up to ISO 400. For butterflies, f/8 may enough. But for 3D insects like dragonflies, I prefer f/11 - f/16. And for reducing the power of flash, I think, I need to use mode M of the camera and flash. Jee 11:58, 23 July 2015 (UTC)
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