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GoalsEdit

The goal is to raise enough funds to purchase a Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di USD Macro to go with Jee's Sony A33 camera. This will enable him to photograph the insects, spiders and plants in his rich countryside, and to upload these images to Commons to illustrate Wikipedia.

The Indiegogo fundraising site will take 4% of any funds raised, though this climbs to 9% if the target is not met. So we should set a reasonable target. In addition, the credit card or PayPal payment used for donations takes 3-5%. There is another $25 bank transfer fee and probably some currency exchange fees too (need to find this out). So the goal for the fundraiser needs to be sufficient that the lens can be purchased locally after all the fees and other costs taken. -- Colin (talk) 10:37, 14 January 2015 (UTC)

  • @Colin: @Slaunger: @Steinsplitter: @Jkadavoor: Hi all, did you consider to campaign for a set camera+lens (not precise idea but around 1700$+800$ = 2500$) instead of the only lens. I'm sure jee make good use of this set. And even if the target is not met and Indiegogo takes 9% it probably rest enough to buy the initial choice, exemple : if we met only 1000$ - 9% = 910$ that is more than enough for the lens. -- ChristianFerrer 08:42, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
    • I don't quite understand. Jee has the camera already (and a 17-50 f/2.8 lens). I don't think buying a newer camera would give as much an improvement in image-making as the other things Jee could buy with money. We should just aim for the lens this time. Indiegogo's fee of 9% is a penalty fee to discourage wildly optimistic campaigns and is rather off-putting -- add on the other fees and that makes quite a lot of every donation disappear. I'd rather aim low and be sure of only incurring the 4% fee (+ others). Perhaps the campaign will be over-funded, and we should mention what else Jee might buy with more money (Macro flash, tripod?). If the campaign is successful, then there is the option to run another one later for other things. -- Colin (talk) 08:52, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
      • Yes; I think we can look for flash, tripod, 50-200 generic lens, etc. if over funded. Jee 08:55, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
        • Ok, as you want, I suggested that because when I see the result he had with its current material, Sony A33 camera is certainly an improvment, but I'm rather sure that Jee would do well with a camera on the next segments -- ChristianFerrer 09:01, 18 February 2015 (UTC) the camera is not the photographer of course but a very good camera in the hands of a good photographer can be a good thing -- ChristianFerrer 09:10, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
          • We'd all love a D810 and full-frame lenses to go with it, and I'm sure Jee would take great photos with such kit. But the jump from one DSLR to another is fairly small compared to having the right lens for the task, good lighting, stable support, decent software, and experience using it all. It is hard, also, to ask people to donate to give someone a better camera than they could ever afford themselves. I assume if it is over-funded then it just carries on accumulating funds during the campaign period. -- Colin (talk) 11:17, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
            • I like new Sony 7r too. (:D) But it is better for us to concentrate only in a macro lens and any additional accessories for the time being. As a Panasonic user for years, I think a switching to Sony is interesting. If we collect more money, I prefer a 150/180mm than another body. The lighting is another issue. With my Raynox, I failed to get enough shutter speed even at ISO400, f/11. Hope situation will improve when I get a real macro lens. Otherwise we need to find a good lighting system. Some thoughts. Jee 11:53, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
              • ok ok, I want the best for Jee, just wanted to help, I'm moving with you of course   -- ChristianFerrer 13:18, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

PerksEdit

Indiegogo fundraisers usually offer perks to donors, with better perks for larger donations. It isn't essential, though. What perks could we offer? Commons restricts advertising/sponsorship. What about Flickr or other websites? -- Colin (talk) 10:37, 14 January 2015 (UTC)

(Copying from mail)
How about all donors will be mentioned on a dedicated page. All donating more than x$ gets mentioned in an "acknowledgement" template added to any template uploaded using the donated equipment. By default, the template will be collapsed, but if you unfold it, you see the "significant donors". The expanded template could contain a link to the donor page of all donors. It should be possible to opt-out from being mentioned. Slaunger
Yes; I intended to add a link to the supporters page from my custom template for new uploads using that lens. Since I use custom templates, it is easy for me. But I'm not sure how much I can offer without violating Common policies. :) Jee
How important are these intangible perks? It isn't like you are offering to send a signed limited edition print to hang on their wall. Will anyone give (more) because their name is mentioned in a little box on a page in a repository of images? And our non-ownership policy means you have very little control of text other than respect and convention. If only a couple of people ask to be included, then it isn't even representative. Just wondering if this is more hassle than it is worth. Colin
It is difficult to make sold offers as we've no control over the pages. Note that people start deleting userpages in Commons and in other Wikipedias as now Wikimedia supports single user page (in Meta) can be used for all WM projects.
What about the current wording at https://www.indiegogo.com/campaigns/a-macro-lens-to-record-the-biodiversity-in-kerala/edit/#/?tab=perks ? Do we need to remove it? Jee
Perhaps best to discuss this on wiki. The guide suggests 25 is the most popular perk and 100 raises the most money. What would you do for 100? Could you offer a print? Perhaps there is an international print lab that could be used? Feel free to copy this paragraph to wiki and discuss there. Colin
(end Copying from mail)

Steinsplitter, Christian Ferrer: What you think about perks? Jee 16:49, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

Difficult to offer perks. We can't ship a printed photo because shipping (international) costs a lot. And we can't make advertising here on commons. --Steinsplitter (talk) 16:52, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
  • To the extent that you will not make money with your photos and the amount we are asking is reasonable, I'm not very favorable for counterparties... -- Christian Ferrer 16:55, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
  • OK; I removed the perks. Thanks all. Hope we finished everything. Jee 17:00, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
  • As I think it is not authorized to advertise on Commons, I will send mails to wikimedien that I have the address to warn of the campaign, they are free to offer or not. And will tell them to get the message -- Christian Ferrer 17:07, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

Personalised mugs. The company seems to be in lots of countries. Just one idea. Brainstorming. You could offer a personalised mug with a butterfly of your choosing (either current image or from one you take with your new lens this year). At £5.70. How big a donation is needed to make that worthwhile? The way to look at it isn't that this is 5% of $100 but that the person might have given $50 but was encouraged by the perk to give more. Perhaps worth reviewing the other fundraisers on Indiegogo to see what sort of perks others offer -- there are plenty people wanting money for a "good cause" rather than a start-up company that can deliver commercial goods. -- Colin (talk) 19:13, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

VideoEdit

Indiegogo strongly recommend a video for the fundraiser, and also for the person (Jee) to appear in it. Jee is reluctant to speak on camera, however, and the photography subject is probably better captured by the still images he has taken than by a new video footage. What software can create video slide-show from a set of still images? We need to be able to overlay text. What about a soundtrack? -- Colin (talk) 10:37, 14 January 2015 (UTC)

It seems that Windows Movie Maker will do what we require and either comes pre-installed or is a free download. You can make a video from both still images and existing video footage. The frames can be transitioned, and have captions. There are many effects, such as the commonly-used one for stills where the frame slowly zooms in/out towards a key point. The 2012 version that runs on Win7/8 is quite different to the v6 version that came with Vista and, according to Wikipedia, they are not compatible. I could try to create a simple video for the fundraiser but need your help collecting images and working out what to say. We could say mostly the same text that will be in the main body of the campaign -- both have to be short and to the point. The images will need to be cropped for the aspect of the video and probably zoomed in a bit to focus on the best features. We need a mix of different subjects, and both close-up and some environmental shots. And a picture of Jee! They don't have to all be on Commons, though it would best easiest for most of them to be linkable here. -- Colin (talk) 14:03, 17 January 2015 (UTC)

If you upload this video yo youtube, I could convert it to webm and upload to commons --The_Photographer (talk) 19:30, 9 February 2015 (UTC)

I am not sure this video meets Commons scope policy. If I'm wrong, it would be useful to know, but I don't think a good start to the campaign would be a deletion discussion and anyone suggesting Commons is being misused for advertising and money making (other than directly for WMF). -- Colin (talk) 19:59, 9 February 2015 (UTC)
Well it could be usefull to know Jee activites. Commons is a space for WMF activites why not for users activites. We could find some scope for it. For example this --The_Photographer (talk) 23:31, 9 February 2015 (UTC)
May be in scope; but my portraits are not freely licensed, not taken by me too. So they only meet fair use or de minimis. Jee 02:30, 10 February 2015 (UTC)

Video tryEdit

Hi User:Jkadavoor, User:Colin and User:Slaunger, [1] here is an attempt of video slide-show made with Windows Movie Maker. -- ChristianFerrer 15:33, 8 February 2015 (UTC)

Thanks Christian; it looks very nice. Jee 15:52, 8 February 2015 (UTC)
The timing on the 4 or 5 last images is too fast, specially on the why donate money... image, the time for to read is a bit small. And we can also add more images at the end. I'm also not sure about my english spelling. -- ChristianFerrer 15:59, 8 February 2015 (UTC)
Thanks. Let us see what User:Colin, User:Slaunger and User:Steinsplitter say. Jee 16:04, 8 February 2015 (UTC)
Thanks Christian. I have been meaning to produce something like this, along with a narrated soundtrack to keep people's interested to the end. But various things keep distracting me. I had in mind something similar. Perhaps using the gentle "zoom in" feature while displaying some images image and especially the map. And with simpler transitions. The choice of subjects is good -- not hard given the quality to pick from! I also thought of displaying the Wikipedia pages but of the articles rather than user page (but user page is good too). Perhaps taking the screenshot of a smaller window so that the article title and lead photo are close together. There are hundreds of wikipedia pages illustrated by Jee's images, I wondered if somehow this could be shown like flicking pages through a book. Also to show some in Malayalam (Jee's native language). I think there may be two audiences. There are those on Commons who know Jee's great works and just need some facts about what exactly they are giving money for. But hopefully Indiegogo will attract new audience who don't know Jee or Commons or free licences. But everyone knows and uses Wikipedia and I hope are impressed that someone has illustrated hundreds of WP pages in dozens of languages. So that's perhaps the angle I was thinking of for video and text. I don't know you want to proceed? Refining this video? Or if I try to produce something and we bounce ideas off each other? -- Colin (talk) 16:28, 8 February 2015 (UTC)
Your comment remind me about Notafly; hope he can give us some insight. Jee 16:40, 8 February 2015 (UTC)
Colin As I started, it's easy to edit the file at the source and anyway I will be happy to give a try with yours suggestions. The next time I will join a folder with the original Windows Movie Maker file and the images, for that you or someone else can try to modify it or/and try to add a narrated soundtrack. -- ChristianFerrer 17:21, 8 February 2015 (UTC)
Are you using the 2012 version? I've got Windows 8.1 and the version that is compatible with that. Yes, it would help to work on the same source/images and we can try out ideas. -- Colin (talk) 17:44, 8 February 2015 (UTC)
I think I use the last version because I downloaded it these days for the occasion. I will just enhance images that contain text, try to add your suggestions and I will send the video and the folder soon I end. -- ChristianFerrer 18:00, 8 February 2015 (UTC)
  •   Done Colin, Here is the folder with the images, the video and the original file, to modify at will!! It is longer than the first attempt as I added more images and some contents (image uses, Malayalam page...). I try to put some rhythm play with transitions and animations, I think it's not too bad, maybe some transitions are not the best but the timing seems good. If someone have a idea for to modify the pages with text content of for to create news, just ask no problem. Separately, in addition to video, a gallery will be a good thing, with different images and with, why not, also some images that are already in the slideshow. The main page (pitch) also needs to be done well, detailed (with links) and explicit, even if some of the text is repeated in the video. -- ChristianFerrer 21:53, 8 February 2015 (UTC)
    • Thanks. Will look at it tomorrow evening. Btw, Slaunger is away this week so don't expect anything from him. -- Colin (talk) 22:13, 8 February 2015 (UTC)

The video file is looking good. I tried opening the video project. Initially I couldn't see the picture frames. Then I opened the project in a text editor and fixed the path to the image files to be relative (e.g. filePath="JeeDiapo13.jpg" rather than filePath="C:\Users\Christian\.....JeeDiapo13.jpg"). It took me a while to realise the pages with image + text were just more JPGs rather than captions I could edit in the video project. It probably isn't going to be easy for me to edit this video (and Christian is doing a good job) so I'll just offer some corrections and suggestions.

The way the video works, with a textual page followed by several photos and then another textual page followed by photos... isn't so good for narration. What I thought might work with narration is where every page had a small amount of text at the bottom, which was (more-or-less) the same as what the narrator was saying. Like subtitles. But perhaps narration isn't so useful for our international audience -- I don't know as I don't speak other languages. It may be easier to read English than to hear my Scottish voice? So maybe we'll not bother with voice.

1. Help create freely licensed photographs of small wonders from Kerala, India

Suggest adding "... India for use on Wikipedia, by scientists, and for everyone to enjoy. Doing that lets the reader know that this isn't some private project they will never see the results from -- but they will see if they read Wikipedia and of course lots of other people can benefit from high-quality insect photos.

2. Where is Kerala? Kerala is a state in the south-west region of India and have a very rich fauna and flora

Can we have a picture of Kerala here. I think Jee uploaded some countryside images to Commons or Flickr recently.
Suggest the title is changed to just Kerala. Rather than assume the reader doesn't know where it is. Then we can also give more facts:
  • Kerala is a tropical biodiversity hotspot in south-west India
  • Kerala is is home to over 8000 animal species and 14000 plant species
  • This includes 320 butterflies, 120 dragonflies and damselflies, and 400 spiders

3. Who is Jeevan Jose? [Photo]. Jeevan has taken and uploaded 1,099 images to Wikimedia Commons, all with a free licence so they can be used by anyone for any purpose. Many of the pictures are used on Wikipedia articles.

Suggest just saying over 1000 images rather than a precise number.
Can we give some Wikipedia statistics such as Over 500 of Jeevan's photographs are used on Wikipedia articles, nearly 300 in the English Wikipedia and over 70 in Malayalam Wikipedia (Jee's native language), as well as Wikipedias for over 50 other languages.
The photograph is ok but is it current? Jee sent me a recent photograph (which would require cropping). Jee can decide which photo he wants!

4. Jeevan is among the top 30 of all photographer's on Commons, with 38 Featured Picture awards. Jeevan is involved in various photographic groups (Flickr, EOL, Project Noah, India Biodiversity Portal and InsectIndia) that specialise in recording the insects, plants and other nature in his region of the world.

Suggest moving this to another slide separated by some photos. Use bullet points for the two sentences. Perhaps drop the orange highlighting with underline and just use plain text.
There is a small grammatical error -- it should say photographers with no apostrophe.

5. Why donating money here? The goal is to raise enough funds to purchase a Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Di USD Macro to go with Jee's Sony A33 camera. This will enable him to photograph the insects, spiders and plants in his rich countryside, and to upload these images to Wikimedia Commons to illustrate Wikipedia.

The title isn't grammatically very good. How about just Why donate? or Goal. Suggest abbreviating Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Di USD Macro to just Tamron 90mm Macro lens. The second sentence doesn't really add anything we haven't covered and doesn't explain to the reader why he needs a lens -- if he's taken 1000 great images already surely he has a good camera already? So I think we need to say Jee took all these great pictures with a compact camera but there are limitations to the quality and kind of photographs such a camera can make. We can say he got a Sony DSLR camera with standard zoom lens as a gift but needs a macro lens to make full use of this to take photographs of insects and other small wildlife. Ok... How to do that in one or two slides?

6. Where are used its images? I don't think this slide adds much we haven't already covered. We can drop this and use the time to show more Wikipedia pages.

7. Exemples of use of its images"' The spelling/grammar is wrong here but let's just keep it simple and use English Wikipedia as a title, showing just one WP page. Could the title also give the common-name of the butterfly as well? Could we showed a few English WP pages and then one Malayalam page? A mixture of insects?

8. I think the video should close on some text conclusion. Perhaps just show slide 1 again?

Hope these suggestions are helpful. I don't know quite how to word the text for showing why Jee is moving from a compact camera to a DSLR and needs the lens. Perhaps those reading this page can offer suggestions that we could show over one or two slides? -- Colin (talk) 22:00, 9 February 2015 (UTC)

  • Your suggestions are good, I will try to apply them and will share you the results as soon as I finished. As I have to go to my job it will take me one day or more. I was afraid that the path to the image files was not the good one... and the pages with image + text were just more JPGs because I made its with Powerpoint, more easy to manipulate but with the disadvantage that actually no video, so these images are Powerpoint screenshot. -- ChristianFerrer 06:30, 10 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Colin, New version available here -- ChristianFerrer 21:01, 10 February 2015 (UTC)
    • Excellent! -- Colin (talk) 21:33, 10 February 2015 (UTC)
    • Wonderful! Thanks Christian. Thanks Colin for your suggestions. Jee 03:25, 11 February 2015 (UTC)
    • Colin, Christian Ferrer, Jkadavoor My apologies for a delayed reply. I have been offline for the last week. It is a very nice animated sequence you have made Christian! Better than what I could have produced myself. If I try to put myself in the role of a potential sponsor seeing the video, I have two criticisms.
      • It is too long
      • The fact that it is mute makes it very 'sterile' and boring despite the nice photos.
    • Some suggestions: In between every information slide, there are about 2-3 slides of sample pictures. I think it could be cut down to just one, simply to speed it up a bit and get some more flow. Secondly, and most importantly: The missing sound! I would propose to have a soothing, dreaming, pleasant background soundtrack to amplify the visual impact of the little wonders. I tried to look for some freely licensed soundtracks, and I believe I found some candidates on Free Music Archive such as Cylinder One, which has a CC-BY license. Would it be a big hazzle to incorporate that into the slide show? On top of that there could be a narrated soundtrack explaining more or less what the text says, but not word by word and perhaps more informal. I would not mind narrating despite my 'Danglish' accent, but I am afraid I do not have access to a suitable microphone of sufficient quality. -- Slaunger (talk) 19:36, 15 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Slaunger, thanks, I will try your suggestions, give me one day. For this sound I think it will be easy to incorporate it, but when should I write the attribution and license of the song? at the beginning of the video? the end? both? Me I think I can have access to pro-quality microphone however I am afraid to not be able to speak english and I don't know anybody who is. -- ChristianFerrer 20:42, 15 February 2015 (UTC)
  •   Done Colin, Slaunger, a shorter version with the background soundtrack suggested by Slaunger (the length of the video is now the same of length the song (02:56)) is available here. I put the attributions (photos and music) at the end. -- ChristianFerrer 09:41, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
I like the new version :) --Steinsplitter (talk) 11:52, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
Thanks Christian for your hard and excellent works. A minor correction: 1. Cylinder One is CC BY-4.0; not BY-SA. 2. "photographies" seems French spelling; "photographs" may be more suitable here. 3. And you forgot to add credits for the video. :) Jee 15:31, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
Christian: YES! Thanks for your patience and excellent work!! I think it is much better now. I do not think essentials have been lost by cutting down on the fill-in pictures. It may have been possible to find a more suitable soundtrack with a scent of Kerala, but I think it is good enough and it is very elegant that you have managed to time the presentation such that it just fits with the length of the soundtrack!       Awesome!

-- Slaunger (talk) 15:52, 16 February 2015 (UTC)

  • Hi Jee, hope your mom is well. Is this correct? Photographs by Jeevan Jose, Kerala, India (CC BY-SA-4.0) Song "Cylinder One" by Chris Zabriskie (CC BY-4.0) Texts by Slaunger, Colin, Jkadavoor and Christian Ferrer (CC BY-SA-4.0) Video slide-show by Christian Ferrer (CC BY-SA-4.0). -- ChristianFerrer 16:04, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
Christian: Yes; it is fine. (I just removed the "-" between "CC" and "BY" to follow the CC standard. Jee 16:21, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
Christian: Perfect! -- Slaunger (talk) 17:34, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
+1. Thanks. Jee 17:43, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
+1 --Steinsplitter (talk) 17:58, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Thanks you're all very nice, but maybe the last slide is a bit fast...-- ChristianFerrer 21:32, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Hi all: Let me know when the video is perfectly OK so that I can upload it to Youtube and link to campaign. Also, take time to correct the wordings of title, tagline, description, etc. in the campaign draft, directly. Jee 03:06, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
  • If it's ok for the others it will be for me too, as I've not an account on Youtube, you must do it yourself, of course I will be available before or during the campaign for to make a change on the video or even for to create a second one, you have just to ask. -- ChristianFerrer 14:41, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Video updated on campaign page. Jee 15:30, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

FactsEdit

We need to establish, concisely, why donating money to this campaign is a good idea. There are two aspects to this: Jee's achievement so far, and the potential in Kerala for much more to be achieved.

About KeralaEdit

Information about biodiversity

Kerala is a tropical biodiversity hotspot in southern India. A quarter of the land is forested and over half is agricultural. Many of Jee's photos come from the area surrounding Kadavoor in the Ernakulam district.

Kerala is home to over 8,452 animal species, including

  • 6,000 insects
  • 417 spiders (source)
  • 546 birds
  • 282 fish
  • 176 reptiles
  • 145 mammals
  • 105 amphibians

There are 14,425 plant species, including

  • 4,575 flowering plants
  • 886 algae
  • 428 lichens
  • 329 ferns, horsetails and other pteridophytes
  • 226 mosses, liverworts and other bryophytes

About JeeEdit

  • Jee has taken and uploaded 1,099 images to Wikimedia Commons, all with a free licence so they can be used by anyone for any purpose.
  • 550 photographs are used on Wikipedia articles. Of these, 292 are used in the English Wikipedia and 76 in Malayalam Wikipedia (Jee's native language) as well as over 50 other languages.
  • Jee is among the top 30 of all photographer's on Commons, with 38 Featured Picture awards.
  • Jee is involved in various photographic groups that specialise in recording the insects, plants and other nature in his region of the world.

EquipmentEdit

Below is a summary of the equipment discussion we have had to-date, which led to the choice of first lens to buy.

Jee has a Sony A33 camera with Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 standard zoom lens. This lens is very useful for a range of subjects, but not for his main hobby. Jee requires a lens suitable for photographing live insects and spiders in the field, as well as close-up details of plants such as flowers and seeds. There is some variety here as some subjects are easier to approach than others and some larger than others. A telephoto zoom (xx-300mm) would be useful for the larger insects (some butterflies) that do not permit close range photography. But such lenses generally do not focus closer than about 1.4m. A macro lens (100, 150mm) requires and allows the camera to be closer (e.g. 14cm from the front of the lens) and is generally faster and sharper than any zoom.

  • Sony make a good value 55-300mm telephoto zoom. This is a lightweight lens with focal length equivalent to 80-450mm on a full-frame camera. The 55mm starting focal length is more useful to crop cameras like the A33 than a standard 70-300, and complements the Tamron 17-50mm zoom Jee owns. It is optically very good, though all such lenses are not as sharp or fast as a macro prime. The minimum focus distance of 1.4m does not permit close-up photography, however.
  • Tamron make a well respected 70-300mm telephoto zoom. This is optically similar (perhaps slightly better) to the Sony and has a silent internal-focus. However, it is much bigger, heavier, a bit more expensive, and the 70mm starting focal length is less useful.
  • Sony make a budget 30mm macro lens that is optically excellent, but at macro (1:1) magnification the subject is merely 2.5cm from the front of the lens. This makes it unsuitable for "in the field" photography and also makes it harder to light the subject.
  • Sony and Tamron make 50mm and 60mm macro lenses, respectively. They are no cheaper than the 90mm options below and the focal length less useful.
  • Tamron make a 90mm macro lens which has been available for many years. It is good value and optically very good. The 90mm is equivalent to a 135mm on a full-frame camera.
  • Tamron recently improved their 90mm macro lens with a new model (though the old one is still sold). This has optical stabilization in Canon/Nikon mount but not for Sony (which has this in-camera). The optical formula and coatings have been improved and the focus is now silent and internal. This means the lens barrel does not extend when focusing like the old model, and the old screw-drive focus is a little bit noisier (though not slower). The lens is also weather proofed.
  • Sony's own 100mm macro is another option. But it is quite expensive and the latest Tamron lens is superior.
  • There are also 150 and 180mm macro lenses but these are generally very expensive and require the use of a tripod.

We think that the best lens to buy at present is the new Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di USD Macro. It is available at a good price in India with a 2 year warranty. Jee has a Raynox DCR-250 close-up lens which may be used in combination with this. At a later date, the Sony 55-300 telephoto zoom may be a good addition, and provide a set of lenses to suit many subjects. -- Colin (talk) 10:19, 14 January 2015 (UTC)

Additional equipmentEdit

An idea of full-frame costs:

Jee's current equipment:

Sony's prosumer crop camera:

  • Sony A77ii shop $1125. This would allow Jee to retain Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 lens.


The campaign is currently at $1635 with a take-home amount of $1520 after Indiegogo and credit-card fees. This pretty much meets the original goal + the $800 we added yesterday. So in order to encourage further donations we need to set a higher goal. If we keep with the existing plan then something like the Sony 55-300 telephoto zoom would be an option at $300 more. This would be a useful length for more distant wildlife like birds, and larger animals. it is quite lightweight too so isn't too much of a hassle to carry.

Alternatively, another $250 gives the option to buy the Sony A77ii and Tamron 90mm macro and keep the Tamron 17-50mm lens. There wouldn't be money to buy the flash, bag or tripod without even more funds. But that would be a significant upgrade in camera quality along with first-class standard lens and top quality macro. The A77ii is the camera I have and I am very happy with it. It has a good degree more dynamic range in the sensor, a larger 24MP obviously, and an excellent autofocus system that covers most of the viewfinder with loads of focus spots. As well as the SLT design that enables phase-detect autofocus even through live-view, which is very handy if holding the camera near the ground. If we can hope perhaps to raise another $250 or so then that's a serious option to consider. However, we mustn't forget that the flash may be a deal-breaker on some photos in low-light (as having to use too narrow a DoF will result in too much out of focus) and a camera bag is very useful to keep everything safe and waterproof. Jee says they don't have home insurance so keeping his valuable kit safe is a serious concern and one reason not to get too mad about really really expensive stuff and stay grounded. -- Colin (talk) 14:53, 24 February 2015 (UTC)

My best friend Kurt is using a Canon 70D; so A77ii, the Sony equivalent is enough indeed for macro works. Note that he was using a 40D for years and most of his works are with that old cam. But he has a lot of macro lens like 60mmm, 150mm, MPE65 and MT24EX flash. I think many people prefer Canon for the MPE65. I'm not a big fan of super macro. So the other macro lens and a suitable flash may enough for my works. 60mm and 100mm cost almost same. I think some people prefer 60mm to use with small subjects. I can see some people use an extension tube with 100mm to reduce the subject distance. Jee 16:15, 24 February 2015 (UTC)
  • The A77ii would be nice to have, but is an $1125 jump likely to succeed? That macro flash should be non-negotiable, and Colin makes some good arguments for the other equipment as well. (Would you be able to trade in the current body if you upgrade? In case the extra goal isn't met?) — Crisco 1492 (talk) 23:38, 24 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Well we are only on early days in the campaign that lasts a month. I've been overly pessimistic about our fundraising prospects before, though my gut feeling is we've raised most of the money we will get. I may be wrong. It is an option to buy the A77ii + 90mm macro with the existing funds, and that is very tempting (new cameras are lovely) but is a much more limited set of kit than also buying the bag, flash, tripod and perhaps telephoto zoom. And it isn't realistic to put $1800 worth of camera (A77ii + 90mm) into a cotton bag rather than a serious padded waterproof camera bag -- which are expensive -- all too likely it will be damaged or get ruined in the rain. And you are right that a macro flash sounds vital. -- Colin (talk) 08:23, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

Jee -- is that Metz flash what you are looking for or should we consider other options? To my non-expert eyes, it looks ideal. If the Yongnuo manual flash is what you are looking for (it works for all cameras including Sony) then it might be cheaper for one of us to buy and send to you, as it is very cheap in the UK. If a different kind of macro flash, then we need to search for options. Slaunger (on email) raised the issue of looking at your wider photographic support gear such as your computer. Although this does widen the scope, it is all part of the image making process and an failure in that part would be a disaster. If your old laptop running Vista is near end-of-life then that should be a priority. We already know that the current version of Lightroom will refuse to install on Vista. My belief is Lightroom is so essential it should be considered vital like a lens. If you purchase a new laptop running Windows 8.1 then Microsoft have promised a free upgrade to Windows 10 when it comes out - so that would give a good life. So right now, I think it would be good to consider how much such a laptop would cost. I assume you would prefer a laptop vs a regular computer and display, since it is more portable. -- Colin (talk) 08:23, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

Yes; Metz flash looks ideal. An upgrade from the current computer is essential; but I prefer to concentrate on one goal than ended up nothing. :) Jee 09:15, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

On flash and LightroomEdit

The wonderful thing about flash is that it largely removes the differences between camera models and advances in sensor capabilities. All modern DSLRs take fantastic images at ISO 100 given a good enough lens and appropriate choice of aperture and shutter speed. With a flash, you can choose ISO 100, set any aperture you want, and the flash is so fast it freezes any motion. You are in complete control of the light level and quality. Look at three of my flash photos: File:Sony A77 II.jpg, File:Cherry chocolate cupcakes.jpg and File:Electric steam iron.jpg, which are taken by the little Sony A33. I think is it reasonable to say that the only flaws in those photos are due to my technique and ability rather than any limitation with the camera. What could possibly be gained here from a better camera other than more MP (which doesn't increase the linear resolution by a whole lot). A newer camera does have greater dynamic range and maybe a stop or so of extra high-ISO capability, but those things matter when you can't control the light -- which you can if you have flash.

And Lightroom is such a wonderful tool for getting some magic out of a photograph. If I had to choose between losing Lightroom or going back to my A33 after upgrading to A77ii, I'd pick the A33 no contest. In fact, I'd choose the A33 over a full-frame A7r if I wasn't able to do raw processing on the latter. It is hard to demonstrate how meh some of my photographs are out-of-camera compared to what is uploaded here. My latest File:Tower Bridge view at dawn crop.jpg has been through Lightroom, Photoshop and Hugin, but the quality of light you see here (which is of course God's gift that morning) was only brought out thanks to Lightroom. I had deliberately underexposed that image to retain the highlights, but that meant some processing was necessary to present it properly. And it is remarkable how much headroom raw + Lightroom gives you for highlights compared to JPG out of camera. Lightroom's noise-reduction and selective sharpening is way ahead of what most cameras produce for their JPGs.

So I would strongly recommend both tools be added to your kit in priority over camera upgrade. -- Colin (talk) 09:09, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

I have no doubt about the importance of a flash. But LR is not practical until I upgrade my computer. :( Jee 09:19, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
(edit conflict with Jee's reply above). I agree with what you said about flashes and Lightroom (it's absolutely essential to be able to process RAW images to get the most out of a DSLR), except that with macro photography, you do need to keep in mind the need in some cases to balance natural and artificial light. I'd always prefer to use the natural light and only use the flash to flatten out the strong shadows caused by direct sunlight, rather than use the flash to light a subject exclusively. If you set the ISO too low, you might find that the flash overwhelms the natural light, particularly if you stop down the aperture for maximum DOF. That's the only thing I'd add, but in most cases I think you're right, a good ring flash system is more important for macro work than a top of the line camera. One other consideration is macro focus ability. I really don't know how good or bad the focusing is on the A33 but getting the focus exactly right is obviously key, and may tip the balance in favour of a camera with phase detection (A Canon or Nikon). Jee, do you have a reasonably powerful modern PC to process the RAW files? That may also need to be factored into the costs, if not. Diliff (talk) 09:27, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
I see you answered my question regarding the PC... Why don't you see how far the campaign gets, you might even have the funds for a PC upgrade. Would you consider a desktop PC rather than a laptop? That would be a bit cheaper, and have a bit more power for processing RAW files. Diliff (talk) 09:27, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
Diliff, I'm confused about your comment on focus. The A33 has a standard phase-detect auto focus unit like any DSLR but (unlike any standard DSLR) also has this turned on when using the flip-out LCD for live-view. This I think is a big advantage for holding the camera near the ground or at awkward angles. It is an entry-level camera like the Nikon 3200 or Canon D600 in terms of the lower number of auto focus points or cross-points or fancy algorithms when compared with a enthusiast/semi-pro camera like the Sony A77ii or Canon 7Dii. So those more advanced cameras would have better AF ability for sure, but I don't see moving to Nikon/Canon as an improvement for AF -- the SLT design is a huge advantage imo. The choice of lens also matters for AF. The latest Tamron 90mm USD macro has fast silent ultrasonic autofocus motor and is internal-focusing. So I think that is an advantage over the older and slightly cheaper 90mm that uses screw drive and where the barrel extends on focus. Diliff, what do you think of that Metz flash? It seems to get good reviews and works on any DSLR with TTL exposure. -- Colin (talk) 09:40, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
(Edit conflict) Thanks Diliff for your opinion. I never/rarely used the flash in my old Panasonic. But when started using the A33, I'm not getting reasonable shutter speed even at ISO 400 and f/11. I enjoy your fp which is a top butterfly fp of last year. I inspected the EXIF carefully and noticed the ISO 800 and f/8 combination. I assume it is in natural light to avoid any colour change. I don't think an entry level DSLR can provide good result in such an ISO. I may be wrong.
I don't have much experience with the A33 so far as I only have a Raynox 250 along with the 17-50 to experiment now. But one thing I noticed is the sound of focus and shutter which frighten my robber flies. :) I had switched off all sounds in my old Panasonic to not disturb them. Praying mantis and robber flies are very sensitive to any sound. For butterflies and dragonflies, it is not a big issue. :)
I too very pessimistic like Colin. If fund is flowing smoothly against my expectations, I've no problem to jump to a new computer and LR. A desktop is enough as I'm not carrying it while travelling. Thanks for your comment. Jee 09:48, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
Sorry Colin, I'm showing my ignorance about all things Sony DSLR then. I thought it had only contrast-detect AF. I remember now that it has SLT. The Metz flash looks good, if it's compatible with the various TTL formats then I'm sure it will do the job fine. One thing that I'm aware of is that third party lenses that have reverse-engineered the AF communication between lens and body tend to be slightly less reliable for focusing. For a while, I thought it must be camera manufacturer propaganda to try to keep people buying only their lenses, but I've noticed an inferior focus ability on my Sigma lenses. It's not normally an issue in the real world (especially as I often manually focus for my panoramas), but in low light conditions they often fail to lock on in a reasonable period of time or misfocus completely, which is pretty bizarre considering they are f/1.4 lenses, whereas my Canon 24-105mm f/4 lens has no issues focussing accurately in the same lighting. I'm not saying the same will hold true of third party macro lenses as they seem to be well regarded and I've not heard of people complaining about AF performance on Sigma and Tamron macro lenses, but it's something to consider. Perhaps this only applies to Canon DSLR bodies anyway. I know Canon has deliberately not published info on the lens-camera communication whereas perhaps Sony, knowing they were already significantly behind in lens options, did not feel the same need to protect its sales of lenses. Diliff (talk) 10:03, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
I think this is a particular problem with Sigma who refuse to licence (or the manufacturer refuses to share) the codes. Tamron is 10% owned by Sony and some of Sony/Minolta's older lenses (especially travel ultra zoom) are made by Tamron. So I think they know the codes :-). Unfortunately, Sony's own 100mm macro is an older screw-drive design (which is fast but a little noiser like the Tamron 17-50 Jee comments above) and although (like all macro lenses) is nice and sharp, it is outclassed by more modern third-party designs from Tamron and Sigma. For user-reviews and links to other reviews of Sony-compatible lenses, Dyxum is the website to look at. See Tamron 90 USD, older Tamron 90, Tamron 60. I have read that macro lenses are often slower to focus than conventional lens since they need to be very accurate at close range, and typically have a focus-limiter switch to prevent lengthy hunting in case of a mistake. -- Colin (talk) 10:31, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
Yeah, my Canon 100mm macro lens is extremely fast at focusing at regular focus distances (almost as fast as you can half-press the shutter), but is reasonably slow as it approaches 1:1 (can take up to a second to find focus). That's not what I meant above though, I meant my Sigmas are (in bad light) slow at actually finding a focus lock, hunting back and forth and then quite often locking the focus when it's clearly out of focus, which is different to merely slowing down the hunt speed for more accuracy.
Jee, regarding my butterfly FP, yes it was completely natural light. It was quite bright, but with overcast sky so there were no strong shadows, and that makes it quite easy to photograph it without a flash. Actually, I don't have a macro flash, just an old regular flash which wouldn't work for macro photography anyway. I also rarely travel with it as it is so infrequently used. But I'm not really a macro photographer. If and when I move back to Australia, I'd like to take more macro photos, but in England, interesting insects are rare (or maybe my eyes are just not open!). You're also right that you would not be able to expect such good noise levels at ISO 800 on a crop sensor body like the A33, but of course a bit of noise is better than blur. ;-) I also applied some noise reduction to the image which helped to minimise the appearance of noise. As for the sound of the shutter, I've never had much of a problem with it actually. My problem is being able to get close enough to the insects and position myself before they run away. :-) Praying mantis seem to love posing for me actually (taken on the same day as the butterfly FP). I suppose I should upload it to Commons, but the probem for me is identification. I have a lot of bugs that I've never got around to identifying and therefore haven't been keen to upload. Diliff (talk) 10:46, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
Thanks Diliff for the hint; will try to shoot at ISO 800 and check the results. Yes; approaching insects is an art need to be learned. It takes time and need regular practice. :) Mantis is a brave animal; it will not fly away even though it sense the sound and turn to the direction from where it is coming. :) For identification, you can post at Wikipedia:WikiProject Insects; they are good in identifying insects from western countries. Jee 11:10, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
Lightroom will help with noise reduction compared to the Sony JPG or Sony's own raw converter. It is at least a whole stop better imo. However, your ISO 800 will not approach Diliff's no matter what you do. I agree with Diliff that noise is better than blur -- you can always downsize to make it sharper/less noisy but you can't fix blur. According to DXO the Sony A77ii has a whole stop advantage over the older A33 and the 5D mkIII has another whole stop advantage again. So, very crudely, Diliff's ISO 800 is similar to my ISO 400 which is similar to your ISO 200. The laws of physics mean full-frame will always have around a stop extra advantage, assuming the technology is similar. I would say that on the A33 ISO 800 is pushing what one might want for FP quality without downsizing (though that is certainly an option), but I have strangely found that using high ISO in very bright light produces better results than in low light. One thing you might want to experiment with is the multi-shot-noise-reduction modes on the A33. Obviously won't work with fast moving subjects but it does merge the frames quite intelligently, even hand-held, and may give you another stop or so of noise reduction. But that mode is JPG only. And if the macro flash can be used to supply two stops of extra fill light, then you've recovered all the disadvantage of the A33 and gained the movement-stopping speed of a flashgun. -- Colin (talk) 11:45, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
The more I read about A77 II, the more I'm get impressed. Let us see how the campaign is progressing. Jee 12:22, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
In case you are feeling your little camera is weak because its high-ISO capability is outclassed by newer or bigger cameras... Look at DXO on the 7Dii, 77ii and D7100. Obviously such scores should be taken with a pinch of salt, but your little A33 has exactly the same overall score as the top-of-the-range Canon crop 7Dii. This is because, at low ISO, the old Sony sensor has more dynamic range than the latest Canon sensor. At higher ISO, the advantage is lost I'm afraid. But it shows that if you can keep to ISO 100/200 (with tripod, flash or simply a reflector) then it competes well with the big boys. If we compare the Sony A77ii with the Nikon D7100 then you see that the Sony loses 1/3 of a stop ISO due to that fixed SLT mirror, but 1/3 of a stop is very little practical difference. The Canon 7Dii has no excuse for being weaker than the Nikon and is thoroughly beaten on the other scores by both Nikon and Sony. I'm not saying the 7Dii is a bad camera, but it is currently rather expensive for what it gives. It does give you access to some lovely Canon lenses, but that only matters if you can afford them. -- Colin (talk) 12:32, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
No; I didn't meant to say A33 has inferior performance. And it is unfair to say something before I use it with a suitable lens. Jee 12:43, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
I know you didn't - i was responding to my own post above that looked like it was making the A33 seem bad. One thing I like about the e-books by Gary Friedman is that he makes the reader really pleased with their purchase and reassures them that taking great pictures is about more than the camera or lens. Too many other beginner DSLR books I've seen make one think you must have a pro DSLR or 24-70 f/2.8 huge lens or Gitzo carbon fibre tripod with a ball head that costs more than all your existing camera gear. But we all lust after shiny new stuff. It's natural. :-)
  • For denoising, I swear by the NoiseNinja Photoshop plug-in. It works really well, such that I've essentially stopped using the denoise feature in Lightroom. Might be worth looking into. You may be interested in focus stacking software eventually, but you'd need to get out of Vista first. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 13:40, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
    • The price for LR 5 in India is 9090.90 Rs, equivalent to $158 including Indiegogo overhead. -- Slaunger (talk) 22:12, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
      • That seems quite a lot. Perhaps another retailer is cheaper. How much is the "Lightroom + Photoshop" monthly rental cost? I seem to recall that was good value in India (it certainly is in the UK). But Lightroom will only install on Windows 7 or above (not Vista) and Photoshop certainly needs a reasonable PC to run. -- Colin (talk) 22:36, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
        • Colin: Yes, it is quite a lot. I do not know if it is possible to purchase cheaper in India by bypassing direct sales from Adobe (I doubt). I cannot locate the LR + PS license option on Adobe India. Maybe I am looking the wrong place. Anyway it is hard to fund something which has an monthly license fee, is it not? -- Slaunger (talk) 18:09, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
          • (To be safe: The following is a hypothetical) What about an old LR4 or LR5 licence that will no longer be used? LR6 is surely coming soon and many of us are likely to then have old LR licences incl serials that will not be used anymore for any purpose and just lie around. Of course, not everybody upgrades all the time but still there is a fair chance that some people do (I will perhaps if the rumored GPU support is really going to make a speed difference). I guess that for the described purposes a not quite most recent LR is going to be more than sufficient. --DXR (talk) 13:29, 1 March 2015 (UTC)
            • Lightroom 4 would be sufficient for the A33 camera. If it is legal to transfer a licence (and I assume it definitely isn't if you purchase an upgrade licence) then someone could offer that perhaps. Lightroom 5 didn't add a whole lot -- a bit more flexible clone/healing tool and a radial filter in addition to the gradient filter. Lightroom 6 is rumoured to offer built-in HDR and panorama. I have good hopes for the former but suspect the latter will be as weak as Photoshop's own panorama tool. If Jee upgrades to a Sony A77ii, for example, then Lightroom 5.6 is required. A bigger problem, though, is that Jee's computer is old and running Vista, which won't support Lightroom 5+. -- Colin (talk) 13:38, 1 March 2015 (UTC)
            • I'm obviously not a lawyer, but that EU court text looks like it should be possible (for full licences, upgrades are obviously not covered). As a student, upgrading never made much sense for Adobe stuff for me (they are probably happy that our kind pays at all :D) --DXR (talk) 13:53, 1 March 2015 (UTC)
              • The education discount used to be good but now is about the same as an upgrade. A few years ago I bought Lightroom+Photoshop with an educational licence and it was very reasonable compared to the full cost. Now the Lighroom+Photoshop rental is about £8 a month which I think is excellent value and don't honestly understand why so many forums are full of hatred for Adobe's pricing. It's an absolute bargain. -- Colin (talk) 14:03, 1 March 2015 (UTC)
                • Getting a bit OT, but the whole renting thing is very interesting from a business perspective: Why have a perpetuity instead of a pay-once model? A) More people can afford to rent something than buy it (probably true). Selling more means basically free money with a product that has almost no marginal costs while the overall earning over the time period per user doesn't change much. B) You get people used to 10$, then make it 12, 15 etc. Small sums that will not make people change their programs, but still earn decent cash. C) (unlikely to play a big role) Renting has better tax impact for professional vs depreciating an asset. --DXR (talk) 14:23, 1 March 2015 (UTC)
              • DXR: I am not a lawyer too, but the EU court text you refer to is most likely not that relevant for a transfer of a license to India. Nice idea though (and thanks for your donation  ). -- Slaunger (talk) 14:08, 1 March 2015 (UTC)
              • Adobe actually allows a transfer of product license. But there are certain formalities. A case number shall be asked for and a license transfer form shall be filled out, and (unsurprisingly), an educational license cannot be transferred. -- Slaunger (talk) 14:13, 1 March 2015 (UTC)
              • Thanks DXR for sharing your thoughts. Jee 14:21, 1 March 2015 (UTC)

On tripod choicesEdit

Although the travel tripod mentioned looks quite good, I thought it might also be worth mentioning that for macro work, a tripod that has a horizontal arm would be more useful in my opinion, because it would allow for much more precise composition and focus (a set up such as this, for example). I'm not entirely convinced that a tripod is essential though, particularly when you have a good macro flash. A tripod is usually more useful when the subject is static (rare for insects!) and you have plenty of time to set up the legs exactly how you want it. Diliff (talk) 09:38, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

To be honest, some of those options (tripod, bag) were the result of a quick search as to what is available in India and to get a general idea of cost. Jee will have a feeling about whether it is useful for his kind of photography. There are some macro photographers who photograph insects sleeping in the morning and have even managed to focus-stack live sleeping insects in the wild. But perhaps that is not interesting to Jee. There are other images beyond insects, though, so perhaps Jee will want to take multi-stitched panoramas of the tea plantations at sunset!!! I haven't seen a tripod with horizontal arm that is also a travel tripod which folds up small. My own Giottos YTL 9383 has a 3D arm that is flexible like that and I see the advantages for photographing insects/flowers in the grass, etc. But it doesn't fold up that small for carrying around. But thanks Diliff, for these comments. I think this sort of discussion will be very useful, and Jee a whole month to decide what to spend with whatever gets raised in the end. -- Colin (talk) 09:47, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
I too have no idea about a tripod. My old Panasonic and now the A33 are sensor stabilized; so able to handle some shakes. Dragonflies are cool; they will cooperate with a slow shooting. Not much possibility with butterflies. For small insects and spiders on web, it also may be possible. Jee 09:58, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

On monitor choicesEdit

On browsing what is available via, e.g. Amazon India, I guess a possible monitor entry-level could be the Dell UltraSharp U2412M 24-inch LED Monitor product info, which costs $340 in India when taking into account the indiegogo overhead (to be updated). -- Slaunger (talk) 22:42, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

  • Yeah, I think 24 inches is at the moment the best 'bang for your buck' size and is well worth the purchase. It sounds like it could be a bit overwhelming for Jee at first though. New PC, monitor, new camera, new photo software, new lens, new flash, new photographic concepts (the interplay of shutter speed, aperture, depth of field and ISO is completely different with DSLRs compared to small sensor P&S cameras and takes some getting used to). But do I think having a plan for the 'big picture' is important, so this is all worth discussing now. It would be easier to simply think about the lens and the flash upgrade alone, but an upgrade of one part justifies the upgrade of another, until soon enough the complete upgrade of everything becomes justified. What a burden, eh Jee...? ;-) Diliff (talk) 22:55, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
    • I agree, Diliff. Initially, it will feel like learning to walk again as a photographer. For me just making the transition from native raw converter + GIMP to Lightroom editing this Summer required a significant investment of time and a significant change in my workflow. And I have not yet fully unleashed the power of my tools... With so many changes at once, there will be a period of not feeling productive and feeling 'incompetent'. But with practise, practise, practise, you soon reach new heights.   It is a positive 'problem' - or rather an interesting and fun challenge!-- Slaunger (talk) 23:00, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Yes; it will be a big burden considering me as a slow learner. :) I remember when I started my photography in 2009. I love books; so read the manual and experiment with what I read. When I started posting at Flickr, I got a lot of helps from groups like "What plant is that?", "ID please", etc. with expert subject opinion. Somehow I attracted to the CC BY-SA license and people like ComputerHotline uploaded them to Commons. Later I started uploading here directly and it attracts some attention. I'm sure what attracted people more are the variety of subjects than my mediocre works. :) Not very talented in post processing; most of my FPs are processed in Picasa. Now when I got the A33, I started shooting raw and use RawTherapee. It is interesting; but I have no idea about many terms used there and how to use them. My only hope is learning difficulties is the best medicine to overcome aging. :) Jee 02:39, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
  • It would be interesting to know whether a desktop PC is practical for you. Do you need the portability of a laptop so you can take it to other places you visit? Do you have enough room for a desktop PC -- they take up a lot of space that can't be folded up. Also a laptop has a built-in uninterruptable-power-supply (UPS) whereas desktop PCs will crash if the mains power is not 100% reliable -- what is it like where you live? The downside of a laptop is that (unless you buy a luxury model) the display is not generally very good or calibrated, so this will limit your ability to correctly process the dark shadows or highlights. And they often aren't as powerful for the same money. One option, assuming the graphics card in the laptop supports it, is to buy an additional monitor to use with the laptop. Clearly this takes up more room. Lightroom works very well with a two-monitor setup. -- Colin (talk) 08:44, 26 February 2015 (UTC)

In terms of "overwhelming" I agree this is a lot of kit to learn or even make use of initially. We've raised just over $2000 so far, which is far more than I expected. The campaign still has a while to run, so we need to show where any extra funds would be spent. It isn't as though we could run another campaign in six months or a year and expect the same response. I think a DSLR is a wonderfully flexible photographic tool, which is why having a standard zoom, a macro and a telephoto zoom will enable Jee to take advantage of most photographic opportunities and develop perhaps into photographing different things from before. I'm sure there must be interesting landscapes, villages, trees, large animals, people, etc, etc. Not all might be FP subjects but still worth taking and enjoying the photo challenge. The A33 is worth upgrading at some point, should funds allow, but photo making requires all sorts of components from start to finish. We've identified some missing components at the start (flash, bag, tripod) -- perhaps not all what Jee needs right now and perhaps there are other such components? But also we've identified the computer is aging and won't run the latest photo software. So I think this becomes a priority since there's no point capturing great photos if you can't process them to get the best out of them and can't even upload them to the web. But I agree that learning Lightroom is a challenge just as learning to use a 90mm macro will be a challenge. A good sort of problem to have, though. And Jee, it is your decision in the end. -- Colin (talk) 08:44, 26 February 2015 (UTC)

  • Lightroom is fairly intuitive though, with its slider system. Jee won't necessarily have to use every feature to benefit from its power. Perhaps Rawtherapee is comparable in quality. A few years ago, I used another freeware RAW processor but can't recall its name now (I was at someone else's house and neeeded something quick and dirty to process one of my photos) and was very unimpressed with the results, but Rawtherapee might be better. If funding extends to Lightroom though, it should be a no-brainer as it's the gold standard for RAW processing. Regardless of what software you use, you will have the same issues if your PC isn't powerful enough to handle the RAW files. I agree with what Colin said above about a desktop PC vs laptop, if reliable power is an issue. I hadn't thought of that. But if the issue is that Jee doesn't have enough space for a desktop PC then I agree that the best compromise is a laptop with a large monitor, or a 17" laptop with high resolution screen if space is particularly tight. As Colin said, the final choice is yours Jee. We're just brainstorming I suppose. We know from experience what works for us in terms of software and hardware, but we don't know what works for you and we don't know what your wife will think of a big desktop PC and monitor appearing in the living room. ;-) Diliff (talk) 09:35, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
The power supply is not stable here; but I can manage it with a small UPS. I think I can compare the costs and choose suitable. I've no plan to travel with it; so portability is not a criteria here. If money is limited I can choose the computer now and continue with Rawtherapee until I'm able to switch to LR.
Thanks all for exploring all possibilities. We can choose the important ones first and leave others to the TO DO list.
My wife already wondered when I opened the pack and show her the big camera, a few months ago. I can assume what she feel next month. :) Jee 10:27, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
That A33 is one of the smallest DSLRs ever made. Positively cute compared to a D810. The lens is quite chunky, though. The A77ii is a step up in size from the A33. -- Colin (talk) 10:53, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
Yes; it was a humorous comment comparing with my old compact. :) Jee 11:29, 26 February 2015 (UTC)

On macro flashEdit

The Metz Mecablitz 15 MS 1 is not technically a ring flash, but is a twin flash mounted on the end of the lens. It has full TTL automatic exposure and each unit is compatible with any DSLR through menu options (so it can be sold to anyone rather than just to a Sony/Nikon/Canon shooter). You can control the power level of each side of flash and some angle. However, it is not physically adjustable so the light will still appear to come from in front of the subject and fairly close to your camera's pupil.

Alternative twin flash options allow the two flashes to be adjustable around the lens and movable to be further away. For example Canon MT-24EX and Sony HVL-MT24AM. The latter is compatible with the A33 (it has the older Minolta hot shoe mount) and uses TTL for automatic exposure. It is also cheaper than the Canon but may be hard to find and is still rather expensive. If one goes for a cheap manual-exposure solution then there is this sort of thing which appears to put two lightweight flashes on the end of flexible arms.

This forum thread (in Chinese but Google can translate the web pages very crudely) is where Venus Optics designed and launched their 2:1 manual macro lens. There are some interesting high-magnification images there, and I'm sure somewhere in that thread is a photo of the guy's setup - I can't find it any more. I think he had two normal flash guns (like the Yongnuo manual flash) mounted on a strong pair of flexible arms and a home made diffuser. That's pretty enthusiastic kit and I wonder how transportable it is or how robust.

Some reviews postings:

One comment is that although the light is more controllable than the Metz, the twin flash heads on stalks are much harder to setup and to then move the camera in the bushes without hitting or moving things. The DIY options are likely to be even more frustrating to use. I read a lot that such macro photography requires huge patience because so often the shot does not work out for all sorts of reasons and you end up taking hundreds of shots to get a few keepers. :-(.

Some Metz reviews:

Again comments are that it is portable, not bulky, no trailing wires, TTL (unlike manual options). It certainly seems possible to create good images with this, but I accept the bulkier on-stalks solution has advantages for light but at the disadvantage of ease of use. -- Colin (talk) 13:17, 27 February 2015 (UTC)

I wonder a bit if some of the enthusiast macro setups are a bit like Diliff with his cathedral photos. He's a perfectionist. So he carries a full-frame camera, huge heavy Sigma prime lens, sturdy carbon fibre tripod, serious strong panoramic head mounted on a serious ball head. He takes 5 x dozens of pictures. Then uses several software packages to merge them and process them to produce the wonders we see. He's now so good at it it seems like routine but it is a big undertaking. Are these super macro photographers who spend hours creating home-made flash brackets actually interested in photographing the diversity of insects in their area, or just photographing common insects really really well. Not that I'm accusing Diliff of that. But are they just about taking amazing photos that make their Flickr friends go wow or win contests, or are they dedicated to capturing a good range of subjects for educational purposes. If you kit is that hard to use, there must be real temptation to not stray further than the garden. Just my uneducated thoughts. Like with so many things, one can't always have all the attributes one would like (cheap, easy to use, highest quality). -- Colin (talk) 13:37, 27 February 2015 (UTC)

Good post. "Are these super macro photographers who spend hours creating home-made flash brackets actually interested in photographing the diversity of insects in their area, or just photographing common insects really really well." - In fact, they are too professional in their area of interest. But not many of them will provide freely licensed works. So what I can wish is to find a place below it and continue contributing. We can't blame them; they invest a lot of energy and time in their work. Most of them spend whole night in forests. :) Jee 15:41, 27 February 2015 (UTC)
Yeah, that is a good point. I don't do it to win contests (Commons POTY proves that it doesn't win contests anyway!), but I do agree that I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to image quality and I know not everyone should have to feel obliged to follow. But as Jee says, I think there is plenty of room for photography below this level, striving to take good photos without obsessing over it and losing sight of the goal of simply documenting the natural world and enjoying yourself. Jee, although all this equipment will mean additional learning and carrying additional weight compared to a simple point and shoot camera, I hope you still enjoy doing what you do. :-) It would all be a waste of time if you feel overwhelmed and inclined to leave it all at home. I've heard that from many casual photographers before. They buy a DSLR, thinking they will immediately start taking professional looking photos but before long, they find the size and weight of it inconvenient and go back to using their phone to take snapshots. Not everyone is prepared to go the extra mile to take better photos. Diliff (talk) 21:17, 27 February 2015 (UTC)

User:Crisco 1492 do you have any view on flash. You say you have a Canon MR-14EX II macro ring flash. How do you think this compares to the Metz Mecablitz 15 MS 1, which is a lot cheaper, or to the twin flash systems, which are dearer and seem more complex. What do you use your macro flash for? -- Colin (talk) 19:42, 27 February 2015 (UTC)

From what I've read about the Metz Mecablitz, it isn't strictly a ring flash, it's a twin flash that looks like a ring flash, whereas the Canon equivalent is (almost) a true ring flash as it has two semi circular bulbs. I don't think it makes a big difference in the real world though. Diliff (talk) 21:24, 27 February 2015 (UTC)
Yes, but it is mounted right next to the end of the lens just like a ring, rather than on flexible stalks. And there's little option to diffuse the light whereas some of the home-made options had flash with a diffuser. I think the negative of this kind of flash is the danger of hotspots on some shiny insects. But the plus has to be that you just clip it on and fire away. And it has TTL exposure whereas a completely manual option may be really hit-and-miss. -- Colin (talk) 23:21, 27 February 2015 (UTC)
  • I haven't had much of an opportunity to test the flash in Indonesian field conditions (RL translating is keeping me quite busy), but for indoors work it was a dependable (if, the human models agreed, bright) flash. Not having used the Mecablitz, I can't really weigh in on that. For the Canon MR14EX II, we'd have to make sure that it connects to the lens first and foremost. If not, we'd have to see if an adapter is available (like I needed for my 100mm f2.8L IS USM lens). — Crisco 1492 (talk) 05:01, 28 February 2015 (UTC)
What Kurt advised is to go for a setup like this. He said he is not much satisfied with the Canon twin flash. My understanding is that we must do something to diffuse the light, whatever flash we use. His flash and natural light tips are very insightful. Jee 05:29, 28 February 2015 (UTC)

On lens and supportsEdit

This post attracted me while searching for macro photography. His tools include a 105mm macro, 200mm macro and a 300mm with TC. The 200mm and 300mm are not affordable to me; but he recommend a 70-200 or 70-300 too. I like his flash setup too. His shooting interest is much matching to mine.

Regarding tripod, I noticed this. Manfrotto 410 seems expensive; but I noticed some other heads. Sony has built in level gauge. I've no idea about tripod and head combinations; so welcome your suggestions. Jee 11:22, 2 March 2015 (UTC)


For the head, I'm sure a geared head like the 410 would be lovely. The link you give has a price much dearer than the UK where it is about £130 which is not that expensive for a good quality head. However, it is large and rather heavy (1.2kg compared to 3-400g for a ball head) with a big quick-release plate that may look odd on your A33 (I have no idea why Manfrotto make such a huge plate). You use it in two ways. First you pull out a knob and then can quickly move the camera on that axis. Do that for the other axes till you are close to where you want to be. Then rotate the knob to adjust the precise camera position. It moves very smoothly. So for extreme close-up of still objects, you can frame your subject precisely. But you need to move each axis in turn so it isn't a quick thing to use. You don't have to keep loosening and tightening some grip. Just turn.

A 3-way head is more typically used for video. It isn't geared so there isn't a knob you turn to move. Instead you release the grip, and push the lever till the camera is in place, and then tighten again. The friction control affects how stiff this is. But you still have to tighten up afterwards, which may cause the framing to shift slightly. Although Manfrotto suggest this could be used for Macro, I'm not convinced.

A good ball head typically has three controls. One small knob frees the base of the head so it can rotate 360-degrees. You then lock down. The largest knob frees the grip on the ball so you can move the camera in all angles round a central point. There is a slot on the head for you to drop it down such that the camera is in portrait mode. Other than at this slot, there is a limit in how far you can tilt the head or point it down. However, the camera is less stable in this extreme position and there isn't much freedom of movement in that slot (hence some people like to use an l-bracket to mount their camera in portrait mode on top of any head). A third knob (or sometimes a little rotating disc inside the big knob) controls how loose the head becomes when you undo the big knob. You can set this so the head never becomes really floppy but is still able to move. The disadvantage of a ball head is that as you tighten it, there is often some movement -- usually a droop. Expensive heads and larger heads have less droop. Cheap heads and small heads will simply not support the weight of your macro lens and will keep drooping, especially in portrait orientation.

If there is room round your subject, and a perfect framing is not essential, then a ball head is fine and very quick to use. It is the most popular head for still photography. The digital level in your camera will help, though for butterflies this doesn't really matter the same as for buildings. If you need to precisely frame the shot with macro precision, then a geared head should be good but much slower to use. I haven't used such a head other than playing in a shop and reading. But I think the size and weight is a significant negative.

Most travel tripods will come with a ball head that is compact. This is because in addition to collapsing the legs, you also extend the centre column a bit, and rotate the legs round 180-degree so the feet meet the head. If the head was large (such as a geared head) then you wouldn't be able to close the legs much. In that case, there is no point getting a travel tripod and you might as well go for a standard model. The more legs sections it has, the longer it takes to set up, the less stable it gets (because the lowest sections are thin) but it is smaller when folded up and might weigh a little less.

A standard tripod is often also available with a centre column that can be taken out and re-positioned horizontally or at any angle. My Giottos YTL 9383 has such a flexible column, though it is rather long when folded, so not very portable. I think some Manfrotto tripods can do this, though they might be less flexible (horizontal only). This may help you get closer to a subject. Some tripods come with additional short centre columns that let you splay the legs to an extreme angle to get very close to the ground (as normally this column gets in the way). But usually it is quite a faff to change the head over to using this short column, so I'm not sure anyone bothers. Extending the centre column makes the tripod much less stable so shouldn't be done unless absolutely necessary -- best to compare tripod heights with this column unextended. One option is therefore to keep the short centre column on the tripod at all times -- you can get close to the ground but don't have the ability to extend the height. However, the short centre column is probably not suitable for use with the horizontal angle option.

Another variation is carbon fibre vs aluminium. The former makes the tripod lighter (but not by very much) and isn't cold to touch in frosty weather. There may also be benefits in rigidity, though this varies by cost too. But a carbon fibre tripod is often twice the cost of aluminium. -- Colin (talk) 12:27, 2 March 2015 (UTC)


In terms of using a tele-converter. I would not recommend this with the Sony 55-300 or 55-300 or the Tamron 70-300 USD but am no expert here. See this advice. These are consumer lenses. They are a whole lot better than the cheap rubbish 70-300 lenses at the bottom of the range (which are often sold as kits with cameras). But they aren't in the same class as pro lenses such as the Sony 70-400 or the top Canon/Nikon pro glass. My understanding is really need a lens that is extremely sharp to begin with since the TC will reduce quality and quite fast to begin with as you lose some stops of light depending on how much you extend. So on the 55-300 you'd raise your minimum aperture such that the camera will be less good at focusing in low light, you may need a higher ISO, and the resulting sharpness might not be much different to simply enlarging the digital negative. A different story if using one on an f/4 premium lens.

It might be something the 90mm macro would benefit from, but your macro friends and websites will probably be able to advise there. -- Colin (talk) 12:37, 2 March 2015 (UTC)

Thanks for the detailed explanation. 12:39, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
  • I recall that when JJ Harrison first started photography seriously and was doing some macro photography (he seems to have evolved almost exclusively to bird photography now though), he was using an multiple extension tube on a 70-200mm f/4 lens with good results (this image uses 12mm + 24mm + 36mm extension tubes, which is pretty extreme). I don't think you can expect the same quality level from this set up though, and I don't know whether auto focus would be compromised by the extension tube. Certainly I can imagine that a dedicated macro lens will have superior fine tuning for close up focus, whereas a zoom telephoto would not be optimised for this use. He upgraded this set up to a Tamron 180mm f/3.5 though. It would be worth asking him what his experience was with the two lenses. My feeling is that you would be better off with a dedicated macro lens than a zoom telephoto and extension tubes. The latter is more useful if you are primarily a wildlife photographer who occasionally dabbles in macro work (as JJ does). A while ago, I was considering a Sigma 180mm f/2.8 APO Macro EX DG OS HSM lens (what a mouthful that is). It seems to be pretty close to the pinnacle of macro lenses. A good shooting distance (owing to the 180mm focal length) and optical image stabilisation. The price is somewhat prohibitive though, and I can't really justify it as I don't shoot enough macros (currently, anyway).
  • As for the tripod, I'm still really not convinced it's essential for a lot of macro photography. With a good flash set up and patience, I think the tripod may just be a hindrance. The only reason I can see a tripod being useful is if the subject is very static and you have time to manually adjust the focus in live view mode zoomed right in, so you can optimise the focus for maximum DOF instead of relying on the auto focus which usually front focuses on the first thing it finds in focus. A tripod would be great for focus stacking, for example, but I'm just not convinced it would be useful for the sort of work Jee does (field based insect photography). In addition to it not being that useful, it would be quite heavy and bulky to carry around. Jee, are you at all interested in other areas of photography? Landscapes, for example? A tripod could have some uses there. Diliff (talk) 13:30, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
Focal-length extension discussion
    • Thanks. Also worth noting is that 90mm on Jee's A33 is equivalent to 135mm focal length on full-frame. A 180mm would be 270mm equivalent, which may then require some support (and most such lenses have tripod collars). I'm sure that Sigma is lovely as would be that Nikon 200mm macro. There was a Minolta 200mm macro (which would work on Jee's camera) but they are rare now and very very expensive to buy second hand. -- Colin (talk) 13:57, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
      • The thing is, assuming 1:1 macro, the distance to subject doesn't change no matter what equivalent focal length it is, so even though the A33 with a 90mm lens is equivalent to 135mm on full frame, it will still have the same very close focus distance (10cm from the lens element according to this), whereas a 150-180mm macro lens will allow Jee to be much further away and still capture 1:1 macro - about 20-25cm according to the previous link. This is something to consider, because it make make or break some macro photography. Moving your body/camera/lens so close to bugs can scare them away. Having said that, Jee probably has a lot more experience in stalking them than I do. ;-) Diliff (talk) 14:12, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
        • Diliff, but the relative size of that image within the frame is what counts at the end of the day. 1:1 is just a technical achievement; what the photographer cares about is filling the frame as much as possible from as far away as possible. For example, at 10cm a 1:1 bee may fill the crop sensor (and so be at full resolution detail) but would only be 2/3 (say) of a full-frame sensor (so would appear smaller in the frame). So the photographer with the crop sensor could move further back and get the same sized bee JPG as the full-frame guy at 10cm. So the crop factor does allow for greater subject-distance to produce the same relative-sized image in the frame. And many subjects like butterflies would never approach 1:1 unless Jee wants to take pictures of their heads. -- Colin (talk) 14:55, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
          • I just pinged Zcebeci as s/he is much experienced here. Jee 16:16, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
  • First of all, I would like to thank you for your kind compliment regarding my experience on butterfly photography. I do not use tripods to taking of butterfly photos. For an exception, I rarely use a monopod if the weather is windy. Instead I work with my lens in VR mode level 1. Carying a tripod is very difficult in fields with special ref to stony/rocky places on high altitude mountains for hours under the sun. I recommend you to use monopods. When compared to 3pods, using a 1pod is really more practical and provides good movement possibility for shotting flying objects in a short time. Coming to focal length, as you know very well it depends on the weather, time of posing, light level as we do for Aperture setting, and moreover the habitat and behaviour of butterfly species itself. Usually I set my Sigma (150mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM Macro Lens) to full focal position. But when the speed is important I limit the focal range 0.38-0.52mm. I get good results with it in low light conditions with this setting. The approaching distances to objects vary generally 0.10 to 5 meters but the good one is taken generally at 15-30cm depending to the size of butterfly. Coming to f-stops I prefer to work in 6.3, 7.1 to 9 generally at 160-320 ISO level. I hope that I answered what the asked ones. Zcebeci (talk) 18:48, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Thanks Zcebeci for sharing your experience. Jee 03:45, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
  • I agree that the minimum distance to subject is only an issue when you really need 1:1 macro and becomes less of a problem for larger subjects where you can get further back. I'm just saying there are situations where you do want or need 1:1 (many bugs don't fill the frame even with a crop sensor) and the crop sensor affects the effective focal length but not the distance to subject. Bear in mind also that even if you only need 1:2 magnification, it doesn't mean twice as far away from the lens. You still have distance to subject issues, but yes this is lessened by the crop sensor. I prefer the background isolation of 150mm+ macro lenses, but I agree that they would be trickier to handle in terms of size and susceptibility to camera shake (partially nullified by a good ring flash though), and the depth of field is a bit narrower given the same f-stop. Diliff (talk) 16:21, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
  • I still don't understand why 1:1 or 1:2 should matter in the final result when comparing cameras. It is an academic property of the optics of no more real-world consequence than that 100mm is a nice round number when written in decimal or that 300 is a common telephoto zoom limit. Sure it tells us what size image is projected onto the focal plane at minimum focus-distance, but then what counts is the size of the sensor and size of pixels that render that image. What matters to the photographer is the size of the subject in his viewfinder. To produce an image of an insect taking e.g. half the height of the sensor (and thus final JPG), the crop sensor will allow/require greater distance-to-subject than the full-frame camera (in proportion to the crop ratio). Conversely, for the same subject-to-distance, the crop sensor camera will produce a greater magnification in the final JPG. Or put another way, the n:m magnification required for a given image, is less on a crop camera than for a full-frame camera. If you took an image at 1:1 with a 135mm lens (if one existed) and filled the frame with your subject, then Jee could take the same frame-filling image with his 90mm lens from the same distance. His n:m magnification would be less than 1:1 but that means Jee can move closer for even bigger results. -- Colin (talk) 21:10, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
  • I think you're missing my point. 1:1 isn't just academic. It means that the subject you want to photograph will be projected onto the camera sensor at the same size and it has a very important effect on how much detail you get when you photograph it. At 1:1 magnification, a 15mm wide bug will cast a 15mm wide image on the sensor, regardless of whether the sensor is full frame or crop, and therefore the detail available to the sensor is greater than if you were further away, regardless of the sensor size. If you use your crop sensor camera and you move 1.6x as far away as the minimum focus distance, the framing will be the same as 1:1 on the full frame sensor, but the 15mm wide bug will cast only a 9.3mm image on the crop sensor and less effective detail will be available. Imagine this scenario. You have a very small insect in front of you, and you want to photograph it in as much detail as is possible. To do this, 1:1 magnification is required (which obviously means the closest focus distance that the lens is capable of). You have two cameras, one is full frame and the other is a crop sensor. You use the same Tamron 90mm lens on both. Let's also assume that the pixel density is the same on both cameras, so because the full frame sensor is 1.6x the size of the crop sensor, it has 1.6x the megapixels too. If you use the full frame camera, you end up with an image of the insect and a lot of empty space around it. If you use the crop sensor camera, you end up with a photo of the insect that fills the frame slightly more than the full frame camera, but it still doesn't sufficiently fill the frame, and you still have to crop it further for compositional reasons. So for both cameras, you have to crop the image to get the tight cropped composition and you end up with the same level of detail because the pixel density is the same. The only difference between the cameras in this scenario is that the crop sensor is essentially 'pre-cropping' the empty space around the insect because some of the image that is projected through the lens ends up outside of the sensor and is lost. So in this scenario, the crop sensor camera has not given you any advantage (except that it was cheaper to buy!), nor has it given you a greater distance-to-subject. Both cameras required you to be at the closest focus distance in order to maximise the size of the bug in the photo. A crop sensor camera only starts to give you an advantage on distance-to-subject when you have a subject that is sufficiently large that at closest focusing distance cannot fit in the frame, so you are forced to move further back from it to fit it in. But even then, it doesn't really help. You could just as easily move further back with your full frame camera and crop the image and end up with essentially the same image. If you want to maximise your distance to subject and maintain the detail level, there is no substitute for a larger focal length because the crop sensor doesn't do anything other than crop the framing. It doesn't actually magnify anything. If you don't need 1:1 magnification, yes, a crop sensor progressively gives you a greater distance-to-subject for a given framing ( and with less megapixels), but at or near 1:1 magnification, the difference from between crop and full frame focus distance is minimal compared to the difference that a 150mm or 180mm lens would make in focus distance. That was the original point I was making in this thread. What you seem to be arguing, in a way, is that if you had a 10x crop sensor camera, you could take great photos of birds with your 50mm lens and you could stand way back and not frighten them and therefore you'd have a greater distance to subject than the same lens on a full frame camera. Yes, you could, but you wouldn't have a good photo, and you could get the same image by cropping a full frame sensor image down to the same framing. ;-) Diliff (talk) 03:21, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
  • "Let's also assume that the pixel density is the same on both cameras". That's the flaw. This has never been true for contemporary models. If we assume the optics can outresolve the sensor (and a good macro prime should). With the same pixel density that is like using a FF camera in crop mode. And a 24MP camera drops to 10MP and a 36MP camera drops to 15MP. Not a fair comparison. -- Colin (talk) 08:56, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
  • It's not true for contemporary models if you compare cameras of a similar price (in fact you can't, because even the cheapest full frame cameras are usually more expensive than the most expensive crop sensor cameras). But a 36 megapixel camera drops to 14 megapixels in crop format, which is exactly what Jee's current camera is. A 36 megapixel full frame camera, taking a photo of a small insect at 1:1 will give you the same detail as a 14 megapixel crop sensor camera at 1:1, and moving the crop sensor camera further back won't help if you're already not filling the frame with the subject at 1:1. Both cameras need to be at minimum focus distance to capture maximum detail. You haven't explained how I'm wrong about that. Also, now Canon has a 50 megapixel camera which in 1.6x crop is still 20 megapixels and significantly more resolution than the A33. So of course it's not a fair comparison if you're comparing contemporary models, but we never put caviats about comparing like for like cameras on the discussion, it was all about 1:1 magnification and how crop factor cameras supposedly give you free distance to subject. It's not free, it comes with a cost in detail. Maybe it's only a theoretical cost if you're comparing low resolution full frame cameras to low crop factor cameras where the sensor pixel density is the limiting factor, but it's there. In the future, crop factor cameras will hit the detail limit of lens optics faster than full frame cameras. Diliff (talk) 14:12, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
  • I think your argument was all about 1:1 and equivalent pixel density, both of which are completely academic, but mine never was and I've never ever seen anyone compare crop factors for lenses/cameras with the caveat that the discussion was on cameras with the same pixel density or cameras that had to cost the same. Of course the cameras have to have equivalent MP, because MP is yet another factor that influences detail/magnification. Does anyone compare DSLR with medium format and expect a price-equality? If we ignore the many-months-away 50MP Canon, and the D800 which for years was the only 36MP camera, the standard MP in the industry was 18-24 MP for every manufacturer whether FF or crop. Sony A77 is 24MP; Sony A99 is 24MP. Nikon D5200 is 24MP; Nikon D750 is 24Mp. Canon D550/600/650 is 18MP and 5Diii is 22MP. In fact, there isn't a DSLR with same pixel density as 24MP crop camera that has been made. The yet-to-launch 50Mp Canon in 1.6x crop mode is merely 19.6MP. All you've shown is that a brand new 36MP D810 captures more detail than a 4.5 year old 14MP A33, and your argument is that using crop-mode on a full-frame has no benefit in terms of detail or distance-to-subject (well duh). Back in the world of cameras people actually buy and compare, a crop 24MP camera with a 90mm macro lens will permit the same camera-to-subject distance for the same resulting frame-filling image as a full-frame 24MP camera with a 135 macro lens (assuming such a lens existed). The equivalent crop camera has a focal-length extension, with all the distance-to-subject benefits that goes with it. That's why some macro photographers still prefer crop cameras. -- Colin (talk) 14:48, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Not true at all, my original argument never mentioned equivalent pixel density, I only brought that into the hypothetical scenario comparing two cameras in order to fully set the conditions for the comparison (by this stage, to be fair, the argument had evolved slightly, but my original point remained, it just happened to factor in some other points that you responded with). Pixel density is relevant to how much actual detail you can get from a given sensor size/framing, but it is irrelevant to the original argument, which is this: if your subject is small enough to not fill a crop sensor camera's frame (many insects are this small) at 1:1 magnification, you will not be able to move further back than the minimum focus distance - the only way to get further back and still capture maximum detail is a macro lens with a larger focal length! If you follow the thread back, this is how it started. You said 1:1 is only a technical achievement and what matters is filling the frame. Yes, and you can't fill the frame of a small bug at 1:1, so your only choice is to be as close as possible to fill the frame as much as possible. In the case of the 90mm lens and a focus distance of 10cm, this may well scare the bug away. With a Sigma 150mm lens, you can be twice as far away. With the Canon 180mm, you can be 2.5 times as far away. It is not academic, it is completely relevant when the subject is small. The 'benefit' of being able to get further back with a crop sensor camera is only the case when the subject does not fit in the frame at 1:1. In other words, when the subject is larger than the sensor size (For a full frame sensor, this is 35mm x 24mm, for crop sensors like the Sony, it's 23.5mm x 15.6mm). Only then can you move further back from it and still fill the frame. Diliff (talk) 15:55, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Well let me repeat what started this. "Also worth noting is that 90mm on Jee's A33 is equivalent to 135mm focal length on full-frame.". For the sake of clarity, let me add the clause that everyone in the entire world assumes, "...on a full-frame with the same megapixels". For once you start adding the bizarre idea that these two cameras have to have the same pixel density, you haven't got a crop camera that has ever been made. Crop cameras of the same technological era have always had significantly higher pixel densities than full-frame cameras. That's simply one of their key features just as pocket cameras and mobile phone cameras have extremely high pixel densities. Once you bring pixel-density equivalence in, you've simply got crop-mode on a full-frame DSLR. And nobody has ever suggested that using crop-mode gives any advantages, other than being able to re-use crop lenses that would otherwise vignette. The whole "crop-sensor-camera gives a 1.5x focal-length boost" argument completely assumes we are talking same megapixels. And it applies to macro photography and distance-to-subject as much as with a telephoto zoom. Now the interesting thing about 1:1 is that Jee's A33 will out-resolve your 5DmkIII at 1:1 so he gets more detail at highest magnification. And my A77ii will outresolve any full-frame DSLR, given good enough optics, at 1:1. But if you and I want to take a picture of a small bug with 1000px of vertical detail, I can stand further back than you yet use the same 90mm lens. I don't disagree that a 150mm lens is better than 90mm on the same size sensor, lets you stand further back, etc, but also a (hypothetical) 135mm lens on a full frame camera is exactly the same as a 90mm lens on a crop camera of the same MP in terms of end-result and distance-to-subject (if we assume sufficient light that noise is not a limitation). -- Colin (talk) 19:28, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Yes, that quote of yours started the discussion but I disagreed that it was as simple as giving it a new equivalent focal length, because at 1:1, it does not behave the same way as a 135mm lens, it is only an equivalent magnification. A crop sensor camera with a 90mm lens simply crops a rectangular border around part of the lens' image projection and gives the illusion of a 135mm lens. A true 135mm lens would actually project a narrower image onto the camera, and would give you a greater distance to subject as a result (along with greater compression of the field as it is more telephoto). Stop bringing pixel density up. I already said that it wasn't relevant to the original argument regarding 1:1 magnification and focus distance, it was only relevant to a related but logically separate argument that related to actual detail levels. You say "nobody has ever suggested that using crop-mode gives any advantages" but that isn't true. You previously said "crop factor does allow for greater subject-distance to produce the same relative-sized image in the frame". That would be an advantage, surely? And I agree it is, but there is an exception - it doesn't apply to 1:1 magnification. Yes, a 14mp crop sensor camera can in theory out-resolve my 22mp full frame camera at 1:1 magnification. But that's still not the point. My argument from the start talking about distance to subject at 1:1, and how it doesn't matter whether you have a crop factor camera or full frame camera - the distance is the same. Anyway, I think we've found a common ground and we're flogging a dead horse over the details. A 150mm lens will have some significant advantages (distance to subject, subject isolation, etc) but for Jee's uses (and limited budget), it may not be the best lens to use anyway. Diliff (talk) 23:20, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
  • "crop factor" and "crop mode" are two different things. The former a benefit (unless one wants narrow DoF), the latter merely throwing away vignetted pixels. I don't really care what size the image is physically inside my camera, which is why 1:1 is academic. I care about the JPG that is produced and the subject-to-distance. In that regard, the 90/135mm equivalence is absolutely valid and give equivalent subject-to-distance for the end-result. -- Colin (talk) 23:42, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
  • OK, I didn't notice that you said crop mode in the later quote so I misinterpreted it. I still maintain 1:1 is not academic. Yes, you can get an equivalent magnification by using a crop sensor camera from a bit further away, but if your macro lens is only capable of 1:2 magnification, suddenly it's not academic - the magnification ratio really does affect how much detail you can capture. Likewise a 2:1 magnification will give you more detail (and a tiny DOF, of course). Anyway, enough said I think. Diliff (talk) 00:00, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
  • My own 2 cents (well, like half a cent if Diliff and Colin's opinions are worth 2 cents): the tripod, even a travel tripod, will only be necessary when/if you get into focus stacking. For most insects at less than 1:1, a higher F number and good positioning allows good enough DOF (though a bit of ISO noise, if you're not shooting in the full sun and have to increase the ISO) without needing a tripod. Most of my recent insect pictures have used this system (the mealybug QI being the only focus stack), with no tripod, and thus far it's worked quite well. Maybe not with the wow of a 1:1 or 2:1 image, but for a mid-level macro lens and mid-level body... — Crisco 1492 (talk) 05:47, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
Thanks all for your suggestions. So I think we can drop the tripod and utilize the money for something more useful. Jee 05:55, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Lightroom. Maybe Photoshop, but definitely Lightroom. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 05:58, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Photoshop is very expensive; costs INR 51,597.00‌. Lightroom seems affordable; costs INR 9,090.00. :) Jee 15:09, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Don't know where you get that price for Photoshop. It isn't available to buy outright any more. The best price is to rent Lightroom + Photoshop for INR 499/month ($8.07/month or $96.84/year). That keeps both products up-to-date with updates. Or buy Lightroom 6 outright and only upgrade if you buy a new camera that needs a newer edition (all current cameras are supported by Lightroom 5). For me, the addition of Photoshop is a great extra, but lots of photographers don't need what it offers and Lightroom does all they want. Buying Lightroom outright makes sense if you upgrade less often than every 18-months and will never need Photoshop. -- Colin (talk) 15:36, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
  • The link not available in the list; but I see here. The FAQ saya Photoshop LR is different from Photoshop. The rates are different for subscription too. But anyway, I don't need Photoshop full edition. Jee 15:49, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Yes, Photoshop Lightroom is Lightroom. Ignore the fact that it's got the word Photoshop before it. :-) Photoshop (without the word Lightroom!) is a very different piece of software. It is not designed specifically for photo processing, and is a powerful but much more general tool for image processing. It can do most things that Lightroom can, but not as intuitively. You probably don't need Photoshop, and certainly not if the budget is limited. Lightroom can do virtually everything that a photographer would want, and there is always GIMP for anything else. Diliff (talk) 16:09, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Yes; Photoshop is for people like Crisco 1492 and Adam who do a lot of restoration, etc. And I can test the pirated editions in India. :) Jee 16:16, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Regarding pirated versions, just consider first how you would like other people to handle the licenses on your photos. What if it was software you generated? -- Slaunger (talk) 21:32, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
  • To be honest, I really can't see Jee needing Photoshop for any of the wildlife photos he takes. It is a hugely over-complex piece of software designed really for people who do photo manipulation as their day-job (if you can't remember the key/mouse shortcuts, you miss out on lots of features). I've used it to fix up issues with my panoramas, and to do a better job of "content-aware-fill" than is possible in Lightroom, and to do some merge-to-HDR (which will be in Lightroom 6). I've done some other things and bought books to help me learn but I just don't have the time to make the most of it. But for me, the £8/month for both products is such a bargain that it makes sense. But I work in London and a pint of beer costs over £4 :-( Buying Lightroom 6 will give you a least a year of free upgrades and after that the only strong reason to upgrade is if you bought such a new camera that you need Lightroom 7 to develop the raw files. And even then, if you are desperate, you can download a free raw -> DNG converter for the new camera and still use Lightroom 6 on the DNG files -- but that's a lot of hassle. And as for pirate software, I agree with Slaunger. Not to mention the risk of installing some malware on your computer and that trashing all your photos or stealing your bank details or simply turning your computer into a spam bot. -- Colin (talk) 21:48, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Yeah, as well as what Colin said, Photoshop is much better at making fine tuned perspective correction. That's something that Lightroom is pretty bad at currently. It has a few perspective correction buttons that analyse what it assumes are vertical lines in your image and auto-corrects them, but it doesn't usually do a very good job. Or you can manually adjust some sliders, but you don't really have good control over it. Photoshop has an ingenious tool that lets you apply a quadrilateral to the image, so you can, in one reasonably quick manoeuvre, correct any tilt or perspective problem. Again, not something that Jee will need to use. As for piracy, I don't think it's a terrible idea if Jee is using it only to see whether he would get any use out of the paid version. If he continues to use it beyond a trial period and decides to buy it, there's no harm done. In any case, Adobe actually allows a 30 day free trial so he wouldn't even need to pirate anything to test it. Diliff (talk) 23:43, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
  • It was a joke; that't why I used small letters with a suffix, ":)" Jee 03:09, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
  • You tricked me there. Sorry for not correctly interpreting your smiley;)--Slaunger (talk) 05:36, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
There is also PS Elements, which costs <100$ and still provides most of the important editing features of the full PS. Why does no one mention it? I used it long time, and it is much more comfortable to use than free stuff like GIMP (which I had tried too). I agree with Crisco 1492 on Lightroom, though my experience is that the Canon's raw converter is sometimes a bit better than LR on removing CA. It is possible to get very good photos only with Canon DPP + PSE (for example, this one is one of such photos). As Canon-only user I cannot tell anything about Sony's converter. But with that said, it is certainly possible to get very good (and well processed) photos with LR + PSE. --A.Savin 01:28, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
  • To be honest, I'd forgotten all about it. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 01:33, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
I agree Elements is likely to be useful and easier to use than Gimp (there are lots of web tutorials for Adobe products compared to very little for Gimp), though $150 for Lightroom plus $100 for Photoshop Elements is $250 which is the same as 2 years 7 months of the Lightroom+Photoshop rental program at $8 a month. With the rental model you'd have received at least one major version upgrade of both products, but the disadvantage is you need to keep renting. With the one-off option, you might well be considering an upgrade after 3 years (though upgrade costs for those products is a good deal less than full price). But for some, a monthly cost is easier to manage than large occasional ones. -- Colin (talk) 09:50, 4 March 2015 (UTC)

Longer Macro lensesEdit

With sufficient funds, it becomes possible to consider macro lenses with focal length longer than 90mm. For example, 150, 180 and 200mm.

  • Tamron SP AF 180mm F3.5 Di LD IF. This is an old lens pre-dating digital SLR cameras (2003) that uses screw-drive on Sony A-mount to focus. This means focusing is neither super-fast nor silent. That is a particular problem since it has no focus limiter switch so accidentally hunting to infinity and back will take several seconds. On the Sony A77ii or A99, the camera has a software option to limit focus range, but this isn't a common feature and isn't on the A33. The reviews on Dyxum seem to suggest that those macro photographers who use manual focus anyway are happy but anyone wanting auto focus is frustrated. Working distance is good but optically it is outclassed by modern lenses. No optical stabilisation but the Sony A33 has this in-body.
  • Sigma 180mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO Macro Probably the best macro lens, with a 1:1 working distance of around 20-22cm, but very expensive.
  • Sigma 150mm EX DG OS HSM APO Macro Much cheaper than the 180mm. Working distance is 18cm compared to 14cm on the Tamron 90mm. Unusually for a lens with Sony A-mount, this (and the Sigma 180mm) have optical stabilisation. This gives you a choice of using in-body or in-lens. The advantage of the latter, on the A33, is that it will stabilise your viewfinder which helps you frame the subject and ensure it looks focused correctly. On the A77ii, the in-body-stabilisation can also stabilise the viewfinder, but not the A33. The disadvantage is that lens OS takes about a second to take effect after first half-depressing the shutter during which time it makes a slight noise. Whereas in-cameras OS is as quick as you press the button. In practice it might not make much difference, as you may learn to half-depress and follow-focus but you need to be aware of that delay. Of course, you can turn it off and use the in-body stabilisation if you prefer, or none at all if using a tripod. Optically this seems largely equal to the Tamron 90mm USD perhaps with less chromatic aberration.

It is hard to get good figures for "working distance" (ie. the distance from the front of the lens to the subject) at 1:1 vs "minimum focus distance" which is the distance from the sensor to subject. Also, many macro lenses, particularly those that internally focus, change their focal length as you approach 1:1. The two best articles I've found on this is Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens Review and Macro Photography: Working Distances with the Macro 105mm F2.8, 150mm F2.8 and 180mm F2.8. The picture in the second article dramatically illustrates how the huge gains in minimum-focus-distance of telephoto macro lenses is mostly lost by the much greater length of lens. Lens hood (which is recommended for flare and lens protection) further reduces the working distance. The article also illustrates how much is gained by using a crop sensor compared to full frame (and, *cough*, supports my assertion that this is a real gain) showing that the Sigma 180 mm working distance (with hood) grows from 13cm to 20cm (a 46% gain). For more on this see Macro Photography: How Sensor Format Affects Image Depth of Field.

The Sigma 150mm is 1178g vs 550g for the Tamron 90mm. Also it takes 72mm filters which are much more expensive than 58mm (and the Raynox close-up-lens will certainly not fit onto it). In a blog on the Sigma 105 here the author notes the 180 can actually be awkward in the field due to its long working distance (and I guess weight/size) -- a distance enlarged by the crop sensor in the A33. It depends of course on what sort of thing you are shooting. But where a FF-camera user enjoys the Sigma 150, your A33 will make the 90mm effectively 135mm which is very close. You enjoy a gain in magnification and working distance for the same frame-filling result and you get that boost without the extra weight and cost. But if you are prepared to put up with the double weight and larger size and cost, the the Sigma 150mm would be a very good lens to own, and the extra working distance and increased focal length (equivalent to 225mm on FF) would probably be useful for you. -- Colin (talk) 22:18, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

Thinking some more. It is clear that at minimum-focus-distance 1:1, the benefits of greater focal length lenses are largely diminished by the much increased size of the lens and lens-hood. I don't know the figures for the tamron lens hood, but according to one review the difference between 150 and 105 mm Sigmas is a working distance of 186mm vs 142mm without hood (44mm difference), and 120mm vs 94mm with the hood (26mm difference). Thus if using the hood and photographing at 1:1, the 150mm Sigma offers only one inch better working distance than the 105mm Sigma. That's not really worth the extra cost/weight imo for photographing small insects. However, at distances beyond that where the subject would greatly exceed the frame at 1:1, for larger insects and flowers, the minimum focus distance becomes irrelevant. Instead, for the same subject size, the 150mm lens gives a much longer distance-to-subject than the 90mm lens would: perhaps 3m vs 2m which is a significant improvement. Ultimately, if you can't get close to the subject the extra reach of 150mm vs 90mm is a significant plus. And you don't really a price in optical performance like you would with a telephoto zoom (the 55-300, for example, is considerably less sharp than a macro prime). -- Colin (talk) 23:09, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

I have seen the Sigma 150mm for Canon/Nikon in India (Amazon marketplace and ebay). That seems to indicate that Sigma have some agent in India. So it should be possible to get the Sony, but probably as a special order. Worth investigating and seeing what the fund can afford if a 150mm macro is substituted. -- Colin (talk) 23:09, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

  • At first I thought you were wrong about the working distance of the Tamron 90mm as I had seen it elsewhere as somewhere between 9cm and 11cm... But then after a bit more digging, it seems that there is an old and a new Tamron 90mm which I wasn't aware of. The old 90mm f/2.8 Di does have a 9cm WD, because the front element is recessed about 4cm into the barrel. The new one looks different and doesn't have a recessed front element, and according to their promotional material, does have a 14cm WD. One other thing that you mentioned that I think might be slightly irrelevant is the lens hood. I don't think a ring flash will be compatible with a lens hood anyway. Lens hoods are largely redundant anyway these days, with modern lens coatings stopping most of the more common lens flares. I don't use a hood on any of my lenses, as I find them bulky and a bit pointless. For macro work, I can't see the hood being particularly useful unless you really have to shoot into the sun. I would personally be leaning towards the Sigma 150mm if the budget stretches that far as I think it would produce slightly more professional looking macro shots (a better separated background), but I'm sure both lenses would serve Jee well. Diliff (talk) 02:35, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
Yes; new Tamron has internal focusing compared to the old one. Sigma 180 is very expensive and not in my scope now. New Tamron and Sigma 105 or 150 for Sony needs advance orders. I found the sigma site which is an official importer. I just sent a mail; but didn't get a reply so far. Local dealers told me a price INR 75000 (USD 1203) for 150mm Nikon/Canon mount, which $104 higher than their international price. May be import duty applicable. Jee 03:21, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
One of the awkward things about macro lenses is that people use them for so many different subjects and have their own personal styles. Some may get up early and use a tripod to focus-stack a sleeping bug. Another will be dancing around a field trying to snap a butterfly. Another will be shooting still-life in his home. It makes it hard to always know if one person's advice applies to you. Most articles I've read suggest it is a very frustrating hobby with a ridiculously high ratio of snaps -> keepers (compare this to Diliff who probably consistently gets the cathedral). I agree the hood doesn't really work with on-camera, on-lens or on-bracket flash. The photographer in the links above recommended using one so I guess that's his style and I think he's a professional so it must work for him. I use a lens hood (where the lens has one -- some of my smaller lenses are a bit recessed anyway) as I do believe it helps at times with flare/contrast but mostly because I can comfortably walk around knowing there is a 2-3 inch bumper on the end of my lens. And once, this did help: my camera strap came undone while going round a museum and my camera slid from my waist to the solid stone ground. The lens hood cracked but otherwise the camera was fine. Cost: £15 for a new hood vs £350 for a new lens (and these macro lenses are even more £££). I'd be loath to give up the flash in order to get the longer length -- if you find you need that extra light, then using that and keeping the iso at a minimum (especially on your camera vs a modern full-frame) is a priority over increased focal length. I'd rather a small sharp ISO 100 well-lit image than a 50% larger noisy ISO 800 or 1600 weakly-lit image. The 150mm will give you longer reach but not as much as the 55-300 (which is equivalent to Diliff sticking a 450mm lens on his camera!) so if you sometimes have small wildlife you want to capture that is more than a couple of metres away then it may not do the job as well as a telephoto zoom. Did you come to any conclusion about what kind of flash to get? -- Colin (talk) 08:53, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
Shooting at minimum subject distance is very interesting; but only very small subjects cooperate with it, especially if they are in a good mood. :) In other cases, we need a safe distance without entering into their periphery which automatically generate a warning signal in their brain. From my experience, it is 0.5m (1.6 feet) for large butterflies and dragonflies, if we are approaching from an angle having eye contact with them. It is not applicable if we are shooting from the back; but it is my least preferred angle of view. So I too tempted for a 150mm, sacrificing the 90mm and 50-300 combo without affecting out budget.

Flash againEdit

Flash: I think an ordinary flash is enough now. This one costs exactly of the macro flash mentioned above. I'm still not sure about the intensity of light from the flash needed. My understanding is that the small flash is enough for close distance macros; but for half meter shots, we may need more powerful flash. Jee 10:19, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
Ok. Only you know what range your need to shoot your subjects. That HVL F20M is not really what you want, though. It needs a Sony ADP-AMA adapter to work with your camera. But it was really designed to be the small on-camera flash + controller for the Sony A99 camera which like many pro cameras lacks a built-in flash. It doesn't work wirelessly and doesn't work as a slave so you can't use it in combination with your on-camera flash or get it controlled by the on-camera wireless protocol. It's low-power too. Sticking this small thing on the top of your camera will produce unflattering results that I don't think will compare well to the Metz flash. If you are determined not to use a "ring" flash then you need to either consider very expensive twin flashes on stalks or else find a strong flash bracket to put any off-camera flash onto. The former are expensive and the latter often a bit home-made. Lastly you need to decide if you want automatic or can put up with manual. If you want automatic and standard-design flash then the best option may be to find an older-model third-party flash that is compatible with the older Sony/Minolta flash shoe and wireless protocol in your camera. I can have a look but you need to figure out what sort of rig this standard flash will be mounted upon. I can't see how sticking any flash on top of the camera is going to give nice-looking results -- it's the worst place for it. -- Colin (talk) 11:17, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
This small flash is used by the guy here with his 105mm. I thought that Sony is equivalent to it. :(
I prefer a Sony or Metz Mecablitz 58 AF 2 or Metz Mecablitz 50 AF 1 to use like this. :) Jee 12:04, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
That would be ok, but you need to be aware of the results you'll get like that. You'll have fairly harsh, flat lighting with shadows behind the subject. Diffusing the light over a reasonably wide area is the only way to avoid it. As I said below, a ring flash becomes less useful as a diffuser when the working distance approaches 0.5m, but it would still diffuse better than a regular hotshoe flash like the ones you mention above. Diliff (talk) 12:33, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
Are there really no high quality, TTL-metering, normal flash units that are properly compatible with the A33? OK, I get that that the F20M is an entry level, basic flash, but the F43M looks quite good and seems fully comptible, unless I'm missing something. Also, for macro photography, there are a lot of diffusing options that can make a regular flash work quite well. Jee linked to one further up the discussion. I suppose the problem may be that both a regular hot shoe flash and a ring flash becomes progressively less diffused, the further from the subject you are, and if Jee is leaning more towards longer working distances of around 0.5m then it may not be the best choice. Getting nice diffused light at that distance becomes harder and the diffuser you use needs to be larger. Alternatively a slave flash unit would work well but it isn't going to be practical if you're running around a field chasing skittish butterflies. As you say, it comes down to how Jee plans to photograph these subjects, and we can only try to think of the practical considerations of it. The one thing that I'm taking from the discussion is that it seems like Jee would prefer to keep the set up simple and portable. There are plenty of great ideas like home made diffusers, slave flashes, tripods for focus stacking etc, but my impression is that it's a step too far for Jee at the moment. He hasn't actually shot a single macro with the A33 yet and he needs to learn to walk before he can run. ;-) But at least being aware of how the camera set up can be enhanced or upgraded is important. Diliff (talk) 12:29, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
Yes; I want to keep it simple. I prefer to use more "generic" tools too. That is why I hesitate to like the twin flash. Jee 12:46, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
This is an old article by an experienced butterfly photographer. I know him in FB. he earlier used Canon 40D + Tamron 180 + EX580 and now using Canon 1DX + Tamron 180 mm + EX600 RT. Jee 13:05, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
A full list of Sony/Minolta flashes can be found here. I have the HVL-F42AM (which is designed for the A33 iISO hotshoe so I use an adapter now on my A77ii). It's a lovely flash that I got new for a bargain price (£125) but no longer available new. Sony currently seem to only have three flashes, the 20 which is very basic, the 43 which is similar to mine and the 60 which is for pro wedding photographers. But even the 43 is expensive. All three need a small adapter for the A33 but should be fully compatible. There were a number of third-party flashes produced for the old Sony/Minolta shoe, some of which are still sold: Sigma/Nissin/Metz/Jessops etc. And many of them support TTL (aka ADI for Sony) and wireless remote control via the on-camera flash. That would probably be the cheapest option for an automatic flash. If India doesn't have a good ebay/Amazon/etc choice for these then it might be possible for one of us to buy it locally and post. The second-hand market may also give us a bargain.
I do wonder if some of those home-made flash enthusiasts are shooting at minimal working distance and so their custom brackets provide side-lighting or above-lighting for their little beasties. Further away, these brackets will not appear much different to on-camera flash. As Diliff notes, the on-camera flash tends to produce hard noticeable shadows unless very well diffused. The thing about the ring flash is it can hide the shadows behind the subject (one reason very large ring flashes are used to photograph beautiful models is to create a certain shadowless look). The lack of shadows comes with a price that the lighting is straight-on so minimizes the 3D appearance one gets when there is a degree of side light. You can however control the power of left and right flash half-rings so have a little creative control. A highly reflective insect may shine a hot-spot back, though this is a risk for any bright light source. Perhaps you need an assistant to hold the lighting :-). The advantage of the Metz ring is that (a) you could use this just as a ring flash but (b) you can position it anywhere (as long as it can see the light from the on-camera-flash) and it will be wirelessly controlled with TTL. Certainly the flash doesn't need to be bought straight away. Once you take photos with your new macro lens, then you may get a better feel for the distance-to-subject you have and that may influence whether flash is even a viable option. -- Colin (talk) 13:18, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
One thing I can say; those who spend a lot of time to make better diffuse tools are super macro shooters, mostly with their 60mm or MPE 65. People like Sunny Chir uses only fill flash. I agree with you; we can start with the built in flash and wait for the results. Jee 13:29, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
The built in flash won't work with your macro -- the lens will probably shield the flash output just like you see with the Tamron 17-50 if you use the hood. This is especially true of the 150mm lens. There is some variation between sources as to whether the Metz ring flash comes with a 72mm filter (some sources say only 52/55/58mm with 62/67/72 as optional extras, and others say it comes with them all. For example, a 72 mm adaptor is another $15. Perhaps it depends on what offer is on. By "super macro shooter" I initially thought you meant "great" but I think you actually mean they take very close-up macro or 2:1 macro, which I don't think is your style (yet). Another cheap option is one of those fold-up reflector discs, which come in various sizes. A glamorous assistant is probably useful for holding that. I have seen several options of either new Sigma flashes or second-hand Sony flashes at around £100 which is a whole lot cheaper than buying a new Sony F43M and would give you a very flexible standard flash for both on-camera and wireless shooting. Read your Gary Friedman A33 e-book about the flash capabilities and you'll see what your A33 can do with a combination of built-in and off-camera flash. -- Colin (talk) 16:19, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
Sigma EF-610 DG Super seems to be a well-specified TTL flash with wireless remote capability. (note the cheaper ST model is more limited e.g. manual power settings are just high and low, which isn't very useful). This is £120 ($180) currently in UK. The Sony HVL-F42AM (my flash) is also available second hand (http://www.wexphotographic.com/buy-used-sony-hvl-f42-flashgun/p1568237 here also]) -- Colin (talk) 18:15, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
I think Colin is right, the built in flash likely doesn't have enough height above the camera body to avoid hitting the lens for macro photography. You almost certainly need some form of external flash if you want even lighting and to minimise issues with blur at slow shutter speeds - the only question is whether it's a hotshoe flash or a ring flash. Diliff (talk) 19:48, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

Draft of campaign textEdit

Title: A macro lens to capture the biodiversity in Kerala

Tagline: Help create freely licensed photographs of small wonders from Kerala, India?

Jee is a highly skilled photographer of butterflies and other kinds of insects living in the Kerala state of India. Using only a compact camera, Jee has managed to get pictures featured on Wikimedia Commons (WC), the free media repository used by all Wikimedia projects, such as Wikipedia. Actually, Jee is among the 30 most productive creators of featured pictures on WC, which is quite an achievement as only 1/4000 images hosted there get this status, and usually it requires expensive DSLRs and macro lenses to be in that league. But the limitations of his current equipment make it increasingly hard to produce top-notch freely licensed photos.

Jee has has an unused potential, which can be greatly boosted if his equipment is upgraded. Recently, Jee received a Sony A33 camera with Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 standard zoom lens as a donation from a fellow Wikimedian, but he does not own a suitable macro lens for this camera. The objective of this crowd-sourcing campaign is to sponsor a suitable macro lens for Jee, such that he can better unleash his full potential as a macro photographer of insects in the Kerala region and make these photographs available under a free license in full resolution for everyone to use.

Facts about Jee

  • Jee has taken and uploaded 1,099 images to Wikimedia Commons, all with a free licence so they can be used by anyone for any purpose.
  • 550 photographs are used on Wikipedia articles. Of these, 292 are used in the English Wikipedia and 76 in Malayalam Wikipedia (Jee's native language) as well as over 50 other languages.
  • Jee is among the top 30 of all photographer's on Commons, with 38 Featured Picture awards.
  • Jee is involved in various photographic groups that specialize in recording the insects, plants and other nature in his region of the world.

Feel free to copyedit. I feel we should get faster to the point in the introduction. --Slaunger (talk) 13:51, 18 January 2015 (UTC)

  • Jkadavoor: You are not commenting much on the thoughts here..... I think it would be helpful if you commented and gave your input as well.
  • Do you feel in any way uncomfortable with setting up the campaign?
  • What do you see as your strengths and the most important points to raise?

Hopefully, we shuld end up with a campaign, where you agree with the description and the objectives of the campaign. -- Slaunger (talk) 14:11, 18 January 2015 (UTC)

I see this is written third-person (about Jee) rather than first (from Jee). How is it best to present the campaign? There are probably pro and con to each approach. One possibility if done third-person is that the video could have one of us talking, since Jee is not so keen himself. How's your spoken English? -- Colin (talk) 20:19, 18 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks Slaunger and Colin. I was away for a few days and was unable to comment. Very glad to see the progress. I personally prefer if the introduction is in third-person than in first person.
I tried a few macro shots using the Raynox DCR 250 with the Tamron at 50mm. A dedicated macro lens and some artificial lighting system will definitely improve my works. Jee 13:22, 19 January 2015 (UTC)
The tagline has a 100 char. limit; so it need to be trimmed. I applied in the draft. Jee 03:04, 20 January 2015 (UTC)
Looking at other campaigns, the title appears in bold followed by the tagline. So we don't need to repeat what the title explains. I think we can improve the tag line. Rather than "Want to ....?" (for which the answer might easily be "no") it is stronger to just say "Help ..." as a command which must then be refused. Would it be simpler to say "free" rather than "freely licensed" -- do non-Commons folk really care about the difference? And is just "insects" a fair description when Jee has captured other animals (e.g. spiders) and plants and would be interested in a varied "flora and fauna" scope? What will people get enthusiastic about? Insects, in general, are not well loved, though most people like butterflies and dragonflies. Perhaps just brainstorming on various taglines might come up with something? We probably need to mainly interest the non-Commons reader, as the folk coming to this from FP will be more familiar with Jee's work already. -- Colin (talk) 22:04, 20 January 2015 (UTC)
Good points, Colin. A wast improvement. I tried to tighten the tagline a bit more. Instead of flora and and fauna, I have proposed to use 'small wonders' instead, because that is how I think about Jee's photos. It also emphasizes that he is primarily looking at small living organisms, hence the need for a macro lens. And I use capture instead in the title, as I find it slight more catchy. I like this iterative process! --Slaunger (talk) 22:23, 20 January 2015 (UTC)
I agree "capture" is stronger than "record" but just a small concern: might "capture" make some think of people with nets and traps capturing wildlife for a zoo or to stuff or press into books? Would "photograph the biodiversity of Kerala" work? Or something else? Does everyone know what a "macro lens" is? -- Colin (talk) 23:11, 20 January 2015 (UTC)
I like "small wonders" as I usually describe them in Flickr as "my little friends". This campaign is under "photography" category; so we can assume people will understand basic technical terms. I will be away for a few more days due to unavoidable personal preferences. Jee 02:37, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
Imho the draft looks very good for me. Maybe adding which lens exactly? And if Jee cares a lot about privacy, i think the campaign can be successful without video too :) (or a video with a lot of photos in it). --Steinsplitter (talk) 09:36, 29 January 2015 (UTC)
I think Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 or SP 90mm F/2.8 Di VC USD MACRO 1:1 are the possibilities. The Sony option is expensive and seems not to add that much value for money. Jee 10:13, 29 January 2015 (UTC)
@Colin: @Slaunger: do you have a timeline yet or how to proceed now? --Steinsplitter (talk) 13:49, 30 January 2015 (UTC)
Good idea. Thanks! Makes sense. :) --Steinsplitter (talk) 17:51, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

I've had a copyedit of the fundraising page. I think we have to realise not everyone will view the video (or remember what is on it) so there is a need to repeat some information in the body. I've added some more links too. Please review. @Colin: @Slaunger: @Steinsplitter: @Jkadavoor: @Christian Ferrer:. Thanks. -- Colin (talk) 20:25, 19 February 2015 (UTC)

  • @Colin: Well shaped and explained campaign, just a little issue : when I click on view camplain, on the right of Jee's thumbnail there is writen: translation missing: en.x_friends. What is this? -- Christian Ferrer 20:51, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
I logged in using Facebook; that's why it shows "x friends". I can't see translation missing as I'm in English. I didn't get any error when I translate the page to French using the Google Chrome. Jee 06:26, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
It is ok now the sentence is gone, and I can see you have 347 friends -- Christian Ferrer 08:52, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
  • @Colin: I think you have crafted and drafted a very good campaign text. Nice job.   Nice gallery too, @Jkadavoor:! @Christian Ferrer: is right about the translation needed. Do ot know what that means... -- Slaunger (talk) 21:16, 19 February 2015 (UTC)

Ok. All that remains is the $800 figure. Can we break this down to see where the money goes. It seems a little high, even accounting for fees, but perhaps I'm wrong... -- Colin (talk) 21:58, 19 February 2015 (UTC)

The lens alone costs (maximum) only USD 640 per current exchange rates. We need to calculate fee and bank charges. Jee 02:40, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
The SnapDeal offer (sold by Imaging World) is INR 34323 (up from the 32640 when I looked at the end of December). That's about $550 (direct exchange rate). I assume it will be more if you buy from a local shop (though they claim this comes with Tamron's 2-year warranty, so isn't grey-market) and that exchange rate isn't what consumers pay. You may want to buy a protective filter for the front too. Perhaps after losing all the Indiegogo/Paypay/Exchange/Bank fees then $800 is correct. I just don't want to set it too high and get stung for the 9% charge. For example if you only raise $790 then might as well have aimed for £750 and pay a smaller fee. Somehow $800 seems like a big fat round figure and $750 seems more reasonable -- just psychology perhaps. -- Colin (talk) 09:29, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
Yes; USD 750 may be enough. Jee 09:39, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
Updated. What about 30 days? Do we need 45/60 days? I think it is better if campaign end before Palm Sunday (March 29). Jee 09:44, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
I think Indiegogo recommended just 30 days. Perhaps need to read their help again. I'm sure these things start off well and have a long tail -- not much point in making the tail longer as it only delays getting your hands on the money! -- Colin (talk) 10:06, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
I think they recommend start and end dates on non-holidays too. May be Feb 23 a good date to begin? Jee 10:16, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
I just wondered if a weekend was better. I seem to recall advice to end your ebay auction on a Sunday evening when people have free time to surf. -- Colin (talk) 11:59, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
Here (3. Establish a timeline) they advises to start on Monday/Tuesday. Somewhere I read they advised to end not in a holiday too. Jee 12:23, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
Ok. Monday it is! -- Colin (talk) 13:18, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

TimelineEdit

Timestamp What Comments
14 January 2015 Start planning   
22 February 2015 Start campaign   
25 March 2015 End campaign

Status:    Running

  • Indiegogo recommends avoiding holiday periods but as the holidays are not the same from one country to another, it's hard to choose the best time. Where are the most porentiel donors? -- ChristianFerrer 17:29, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
    • From a Western European perspective, I think the timing is good now. -- Slaunger (talk) 17:35, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
    • It is the "Half term" school holidays for much of England this week. -- Colin (talk) 19:22, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Winter holidays in France are spread into 3 zones throughout the entire month of February. -- ChristianFerrer 19:35, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
    • The campaign is reedy to start? So we need to find now a start time :-) --Steinsplitter (talk) 13:24, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
    • What about MO 23 February or MO 2 March? @Jkadavoor: @Colin: @Slaunger: @Christian Ferrer: --Steinsplitter (talk) 12:23, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
      • I was thinking about the same dates, both are good for me. -- ChristianFerrer 12:30, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
      • Yes; I think we are almost finished. Hope Colin will check the texts for any spelling and grammatical errors, today. Jee 12:41, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
      • Let's aim for this weekend then. -- Colin (talk) 12:46, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
        • We need to fix the time (in UTC) too. Jee 12:30, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Nobody is going to contribute on monday morning before leaving for work so the first few hours are not essential IMO. I think you can activate it monday morning between 08:00 and 12:00 (UTC), to what suits you according to your local bonds. -- Christian Ferrer 15:29, 21 February 2015 (UTC)

StrategyEdit

  • Notice to all who read this : Indiegogo recommends also that friends who have the intention to give money to do so within the first three days. For to motivate people who do not know Jee, it will be a bit like a momentum -- ChristianFerrer 17:41, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Do not hesitate to send a link via email to everyone you know to the campain when it will be opened. -- ChristianFerrer 17:48, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Is it possible that the amount be reached quickly and that we can largely surpass to provide a semi-professional camera to Jee, it is allowed to dream, right? -- ChristianFerrer 17:52, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Indiegogo also recommends downloading updated during the campaign based on feedback and comments. -- ChristianFerrer 18:02, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
  • When campaign start notice on VP and mailinglist. --Steinsplitter (talk) 17:18, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Number of this page have been viewed in the current month : [2] -- Christian Ferrer 18:52, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
  • As these pages are linked to the campain, we can monitor traffic:
Jee's pages Traffic statistics
Current page [3]
User:Jkadavoor/Plants [4]
User:Jkadavoor/Lepidoptera [5]
User:Jkadavoor/Odonata [6]
User:Jkadavoor/Arthropoda [7]
Jee's user page [8]

-- Christian Ferrer 19:05, 21 February 2015 (UTC)

Really nice ideaEdit

Hi. Really nice idea, thanks @all for preparing. Unlike for a similar recent campaign, I believe that the illustration of Wikimedia projects is the real goal here, not a personal barnstar collection by certain photographer. If there will be a crowdfunding campaign, I'll be glad to send something. --A.Savin 19:41, 11 February 2015 (UTC)

Thanks A.Savin, though I'm sure even those who get a kick out of winning little stars are also motivated by illustrating Wikimedia projects and providing free content -- otherwise they'd just post "all rights reserved" and cultivate a crowd of followers on Flickr or 500px. -- Colin (talk) 19:51, 11 February 2015 (UTC)
It is a pitiful that you use a scenario like this to drop an apparent friendly message with the target to try to offend me, once more. EOD, nun aber engültig?. I almost have the impression that I have to apologize for having gathered those "medals" and having let my friends initiate that crowdfunding campaign...What else do I have to do to make you happy, get a new username? leave the movement?. Why can't you just let it be? Poco2 20:43, 11 February 2015 (UTC)
Poco, ignore it. I am sorry this section is used for this and if Jee wants to delete this section then I wouldn't blame him. Poco has created more high-quality free content in more locations of more varied subjects than anyone else here and should rightly be proud of that. Both photographers make great use of their equipment for our common goal. -- Colin (talk) 20:59, 11 February 2015 (UTC)
What's that all? I just wanted to praise this initiative. No further discussion intended. If you don't like it, ignore it. --A.Savin 21:23, 11 February 2015 (UTC)
Hey A.Savin, Poco; you all are my friends. Note that Poco's campaign was not prepared by him; also it seems quickly prepared. It is quite natural that there can be some personal appraisals if prepared by third parties. But it is not a fault of Poco or the people who prepared it. So please cool down; both of you. A friendly request. ;)
I will be away for a week as my mother is not well. I will be back (hopefully) on next Thursday. Will be available only in mail since this evening 6 PM (UTC+5:30). Reply only emergency matters. (no need to delete anything if OK for others.) Jee 03:19, 12 February 2015 (UTC)

where do the millions of donations go?Edit

first; I really like if an autor gets the thinks he needs and I'm happy that the campaign is going so very well!
but my concern/question is: where do all the millions of dollars go WMF is collecting every year? First we, the autors, do the work, then WMF gets therefore the money and then we have to support each other with money to get the work done for what in the next step again WMF gets the funds?!
Maybe we, the autors, should start a 2nd donation round. - "Donate here to support the autors" - in opposite to "donate here for something what only for the smallest part is keeping the servers running".
...Sicherlich talk 21:45, 26 February 2015 (UTC) really; you should get the things you need. but IMO by simply by requesting [right, not asking. you are doing the work here] it from WMF
Thanks Sicherlich for your insighting thoughts. Some other people too raise the same concern at VP. It will be nice if WMF make some initiatives. But I don't know how much practical it is as most of us are eligible for a donation.
In my opinion, it is more thrilling to receive from the colleagues upon their freewill than from WMF or a WM chapter after putting some influence and/or playing some game. :) Jee 02:17, 27 February 2015 (UTC)
Oh, did not see that. ... In Gery there is a pool of equipments you can borow. Of course on international scale its a bit tricky. Still it should be possible to get the things done. ... and we have what; about 50 million USD. 3 Million for internet hosting. lets make it 3 more for servers (way too high, I know). there seems a lot of possibilities. at the beginning you wanted 750 USD, thats 0,0000750 million USD, so nothing; for the core work of Wikipedia, the main revenue gainer :) ...
but nice that at least it was shortly topic on village pump. Anyways I don't think WMF cares too much about it (right, I dont trust them. ... Anyways nice that it works out here and great to get more pictures from you! :)
...Sicherlich talk 07:30, 27 February 2015 (UTC)

I'm happy you reached your goal and i can understand that it might feel nicer for you to recieve the funding this way, but: supporting those who create the content over which in the end the funds for the WMF are created should be the first task of all for the WMF. As a donor I would ask myself why with those millions at the foundation further campaigns like your small one are necessary. There seems to be something wrong in the system, the WMF sucking the money out over the projects but giving nothing back to the content creators. meta:User:LilaTretikov (WMF)‎ and others in San Francisco should pay good attention to this point, because in the end it can harm their beloved fundraising (i would call it with the style of our campaigns more pressuring but anyway). --Julius1990 (talk) 10:31, 27 February 2015 (UTC)

Julius1990, I will be grateful if WMF is willing to donate. But I'm contributing here for years in my freewill. So I can't demand anything for my contributions. Otherwise no meaning in calling it free contributions.
I don't know considering people like me to prevent this type of campaign is a good tactic for them. But it is up to them to decide.
BTW, we reached the basic goal; but not all. :) Jee 11:06, 27 February 2015 (UTC)
It would be not like you get paid for your volunteer work, but supported for keeping it up and making it even better. And after all we never should forget that we with out volunteer work raise the funds that the WMF recieves, the WMF does very little f anything at all that the people actually would make give money for. And when I look at it, then I see no better way of reinvesting the raised money into the people who contributed in such a great way like you for example did so far. It would be also in the best interest of the people who give those funds, because they like what we have achieved so far. But I don't see this understanding in the foundation, unfortunately. --Julius1990 (talk) 12:24, 27 February 2015 (UTC)
Thanks; I like that point of view. Jee 12:40, 27 February 2015 (UTC)
  • The way I see it, it's a bit like the way private charities can exist in parallel with government departments in providing services. Taxes are spent broadly in the community for the benefit of everyone, whereas charities usually have a more specific focus. Diliff (talk) 17:45, 27 February 2015 (UTC)
  • As for myself, I could imagine launching similar crowdfunding campaign; but not begging any alms from the WMF. Crowdfunding is when people donate for something they find useful and worthy their donation. I donated because I find Jee's photos useful (objectively useful for Wikipedia articles and for re-usages) and I have the feeling that he 1) could not purchase it all other way, 2) will handle this money with responsibility, i.e. purchase only photo equpment (+computer+software) discussed here. So, should any people find my photos useful similar way and be willing to support me, that's perfectly OK; but that's a completely different story and the WMF has nothing in common with users and re-users. (Likewise, for Wikimania scholarships etc. I never applied, nor planning to ever do, in case someone finds it interersting.) --A.Savin 18:35, 27 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Thanks A.Savin for your strong opinion. Although I've no issues with WMF or WM India, I too think such doors are too bureaucratic and difficult to follow. Here it is very transparent and open to the opinion of fellow members here. Moreover it depends on AGF than signed declarations. I would like to see more campaigns like this here soon (including from you). Jee 07:40, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
  • I agree wrt bureaucracy and distinct lack of AGF in some proposals for grant/loan-making I have seen. [At this point, Jee books himself a nice summer holiday trip and is never heard of again :-)] There are other ways than equipment funding, though. For example, helping towards transport costs, entry costs, or helping arrange permission to shoot places that are't normally open to public. -- Colin (talk) 10:05, 2 March 2015 (UTC)

Hi, this is Ravi from Wikimedia India. We do support needs like these through a Infrastructure Scholarship Program. Please find more details regarding this in the Village pump--Ravidreams (WMIN) (talk) 07:11, 2 March 2015 (UTC)

Thanks for the response. Jee 07:40, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
Cool idea Ravidreams (WMIN). I think local chapters far better know what "they" users really need, than WMF in America does. I wish WM-RU would finally think of photographers. --A.Savin 11:57, 2 March 2015 (UTC)

Campaign startedEdit

Launched: http://igg.me/p/a-macro-lens-to-record-the-biodiversity-in-kerala/x/9583064

Short URL: http://igg.me/at/jkadavoor

Sorry for the quick launch. (I will be available only in mail for one day). Jee 07:57, 22 February 2015 (UTC)

My english is not so good, maybe someone else like to write something on the mailinglist? --Steinsplitter (talk) 11:57, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
commons-l/2015-February/007487.html --Steinsplitter (talk) 16:03, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Thanks all for your helps and supports. I was away for a few days to to some unexpected personal matters. Back now and catching up. Thanks Odder for the notification at VP and mailing list. As Colin and Slaunger commented at VP, we, the campaign team is thrilled by the enormous support we received from every part of the community so far. Thanks all for your contributions, encouraging comments, shares and tweets. We are discussing about every possibility to utilize every penny we are collecting fully inline with the campaign theme, "high quality, freely licensed, photographs of beautiful insects in Kerala, India".
@Colin, Slaunger, Christian Ferrer:, Steinsplitter: I think we can continue the discussion about how to utilize the excess found we are collecting here now. Jee 08:23, 24 February 2015 (UTC)

I'll add some more details to the equipment section above. -- Colin (talk) 14:12, 24 February 2015 (UTC)

Stretch goalsEdit

Let's try to structure our thoughts about possible stretch goals for the campaign. Behind this are indicative prices from Indian web sites and added overhead for Indiegogo and bank transfer. (I can send the underlying Excel spreadsheet to anyone interested in toying around with other configurations).

Of course it is entirely up to Jee how he finds he will best make use of the funding for improving his capability to take and publish photographs of the small wonders of Kerala. Maybe he can find a special offer for some bundle of equipment, a sale, negotiate good terms if he buys all at one place. The main purpose is to communicate to sponsors how the progressive goals can support this overall goal. -- Slaunger (talk) 16:47, 26 February 2015 (UTC)

Thanks Slaunger. My thoughts are there too many options. It may be that Jee doesn't need the tripod, for example, or that the telephoto zoom isn't high priority. Personally I'd push for Lightroom (on the new PC) to be further up the list than either of those. Will try to find better price for that. And for now, I'd be reluctant to set goals much above $3000. -- Colin (talk) 19:04, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
Hi Colin, let me try and work on the idea of leaving out the tripod and the backpack and introduce LR earlier (Jkadavoor your input here on priorities are important).
Personally, I am not concerned at having many and also quite high stretch goals. We have seen a decline of funding today, but it may be related to the fact that we have set to clear goals for further funding, alas potential donors do not understand where the campaign is heading. It may be partial coincidence. And in the unlikely event that a millionaire sees the campaign and finds it interesting it is nice to also set some high goals. We may even set a full frame goal as well. Why not. I do not see any harm can be done. We still have many days left in the campaign and ample of time to re-vitalize it. Personally I also like to give the goals some catchy names. I have seen that in other campaigns and I find that it catches my interest and makes me curious about what achievements the project gets, even if some of them are in the dreamworld, and appear at first, completely unrealistic. -- Slaunger (talk) 20:42, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
Colin, Jkadavoor, Steinsplitter OK, so I have tried to reorganize the stretch goals I initially drafted. I have left out a tripod and the backpack as it appears it is not the items most requested by Jee (correct me if I am wrong). I have introduced upgrades to the digital darkroom earlier, the financial steps are smaller, and none of them exceed $3000. There are still seven stages, but I think that is OK, two are already achieved, the third is close. I feel tempted to add further stages (why not, there is plenty of more one could do), but let us first get the input from Jee on the proposed equipment configurations. I am still in doubt if it is best with a standalone PC and monitor, or if one should go for a new laptop with a decent monitor with possible future expansion with a second monitor to better supprt the LR workflow. -- Slaunger (talk) 21:22, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
Jkadavoor: My proposed Stages 5 and 6 has almost the same price tag. If you know you would prefer one over the other, please tell, and I can eliminate one of them to simplify the options. -- Slaunger (talk) 21:36, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
I'm out of time tonight. I must do some Photo Challenge stuff I promised. Some kind of camera bag is essential I think, but the one I found was rather large. There may be cheaper options. There is no way Lightroom costs $200. Something not right there. Creative Cloud Photography Plan is $8.08 a month or $97 a year. Bought outright is $147. (Though I would wait till Lightroom 6 in March if buying outright). -- Colin (talk) 21:39, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
Colin I can confirm that the price I have used is based on the $147 if bought outright. Add to that the Indiegogo overhead you need $158 of funding. The increment I have between Stage 3 and 4, where LR is added is $2430 - $2270 = $160, which I believe is correct. I think it will be hard to argue for a funding of a monthly license fee. -- Slaunger (talk) 22:10, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
Thanks Slaunger and Colin for your hard work. I think too many options are bit difficult to follow for readers even though quite easy for me. So my suggestions. Stage 1: Macro lens, Stage 2: Flash, Stage 3: Desktop or laptop as convenient, Stage 4: tele zoom, tripod and backpack, Stage 5: New Sony A77ii. I hope I can manage an Adobe monthly subscription. The tele will be very useful as I capture a lot of dragonflies. The tripod will also useful for that lens. A bag is necessary; but hope cheap alternatives available in India. I don't think spending more money for the supporting tools neglecting camera/lens upgrade is not so good. If we fail to achieve all; it may be wise to enable the "In demand" option so that people may gift later after seeing my works. Jee 02:42, 27 February 2015 (UTC)
  • I generally agree with the stages below. When the monsoon season comes, you don't want to be stuck with a substandard bag. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 03:21, 27 February 2015 (UTC)
  • There are loads of bags for photographers. Some are just padded back-packs and awkward to remove the camera but ok for transporting your gear. Others have side-zips to make it easy to remove the camera while still wearing the back pack. Of course, if you are actively photographing then you have the camera on a strap round your neck or wrist but it is good to still make it easy to put the camera away (if it rains for example). Good quality camera bag makes are built to last and will have strong straps, zips and useful dividers. Cheap ones will rip or not be waterproof enough or the dividers will be useless and you gear rattle about inside. The best option is to buy a bag from a shop once you have your gear so you can check it fits. Or to take advice by phone from a shop that lets you return if unsuitable. That flash will be an awkward shape, for example, and you need to ensure the bag is deep enough (in whatever dimension) so you can put your camera away with your longest lens still attached (though probably with the hood reversed). I wouldn't neglect this part of your kit, nor should you need to spend a fortune. -- Colin (talk) 08:34, 27 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Agree with Colin, affirmedly. When it comes to the macro flash, mine (Canon MT-14EX Mk II) packs up into a blocky rectangular prism, in its own bag. Not too hard to pack. Hopefully what has been recommended here can do something similar. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 16:48, 27 February 2015 (UTC)

Stage 1 Go MacroEdit

  1. Sony α33, second-hand, gift
  2. Tamron 17-50 mm f/2.8, second-hand, gift
  3. Raynox DCR-250 close-up lens, Jee has already
  4. Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Di VC USD MACRO 1:1, quality macro lens
Required Indiegogo funding
$750

  Accomplished on day 1!

Stage 2 Flash DanceEdit

Add flash specialized for macro photography

  1. Sony α33, second-hand, gift
  2. Tamron 17-50 mm f/2.8, quality general purpose lens, second-hand, gift
  3. Raynox DCR-250 close-up lens, Jee has already
  4. Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Di VC USD MACRO 1:1, quality macro lens
  5. Metz Mecablitz 15 MS 1, macro flash
Required Indiegogo funding
$1250

  Accomplished on day 2

Stage 3 Go RawEdit

Jees PC is nearing its end of life and has an outdated OS. To support the entire process of publishing his works, he needs the capability to develop raw files. As a minimum this requires a replacement PC with a reasonable monitor for photo editing. Laptop is an option, but to identify a relatively inexpensive one with a decent monitor and sufficient processing power and storage is hard!

  1. Sony α33, second-hand, gift
  2. Tamron 17-50 mm f/2.8, second-hand, gift
  3. Raynox DCR-250 close-up lens, Jee has already
  4. Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Di VC USD MACRO 1:1, quality macro lens
  5. Metz Mecablitz 15 MS 1, macro flash
  6. Dell UltraSharp U2412M, 24 inch 1900x1200 backlit LED quality monitor
  7. Dell Inspiron Small Desktop 3000 Series, basic, Corei3, 4 GB DDR3 RAM, Win 8.1, 64-bits, 500 GB HDD
  8. Standard mouse and keyboard
  9. RawTherapee. An open source application for raw file development, which Jee uses already. No acquisition cost.
Required Indiegogo funding
$2270

  Only $260 missing!

Stage 4 Enter The Digital DarkroomEdit

Add Lightroom 5

  1. Sony α33, second-hand, gift
  2. Tamron 17-50 mm f/2.8, second-hand, gift
  3. Raynox DCR-250 close-up lens, Jee has already
  4. Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Di VC USD MACRO 1:1, quality macro lens
  5. Metz Mecablitz 15 MS 1, macro flash
  6. Dell UltraSharp U2412M, 24 inch 1900x1200 backlit LED quality monitor
  7. Dell Inspiron Small Desktop 3000 Series, basic, Corei3, 4 GB DDR3 RAM, Win 8.1, 64-bits, 500 GB HDD
  8. Standard mouse and keyboard
  9. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 license, The raw file digital file developer
Required Indiegogo funding
$2430

  $420 to go!

Stage 5 Conquer The Digital DarkroomEdit

Upgrade to Corei5 PC with larger HDD

  1. Sony α33, second-hand, gift
  2. Tamron 17-50 mm f/2.8, second-hand, gift
  3. Raynox DCR-250 close-up lens, Jee has already
  4. Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Di VC USD MACRO 1:1, quality macro lens
  5. Metz Mecablitz 15 MS 1, macro flash
  6. Dell UltraSharp U2412M, 24 inch 1900x1200 backlit LED quality monitor
  7. Dell Inspiron Small Desktop 3000 Series, basic, Corei5, 4 GB DDR3 RAM, Win 8.1, 64-bits, 1 TB HDD
  8. Standard mouse and keyboard
  9. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 license, The raw file digital file developer
Required Indiegogo funding
$2600

  Still $590 to go

Stage 6 Go Wild and Enter The Digital DarkroomEdit

Add tele lens, downgrade to RawTherape and downscale PC (too small difference?)

  1. Sony α33, second-hand, gift
  2. Tamron 17-50 mm f/2.8, second-hand, gift
  3. Raynox DCR-250 close-up lens, Jee has already
  4. Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Di VC USD MACRO 1:1, quality macro lens
  5. Metz Mecablitz 15 MS 1, macro flash
  6. Dell UltraSharp U2412M, 24 inch 1900x1200 backlit LED quality monitor
  7. Dell Inspiron Small Desktop 3000 Series, basic, Corei3, 4 GB DDR3 RAM, Win 8.1, 64-bits, 500 GB HDD
  8. Standard mouse and keyboard
  9. RawTherapee. An open source application for raw file development, which Jee uses already. No acquisition cost.
  10. Sony DT 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6, zoom lens for wild life photography
Required Indiegogo funding
$2620

  Still $610 to go

Stage 7 Go Wild and Conquer The Digital DarkroomEdit

Upgrade PC to Corei5 and add LR

  1. Sony α33, second-hand, gift
  2. Tamron 17-50 mm f/2.8, second-hand, gift
  3. Raynox DCR-250 close-up lens, Jee has already
  4. Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Di VC USD MACRO 1:1, quality macro lens
  5. Metz Mecablitz 15 MS 1, macro flash
  6. Dell UltraSharp U2412M, 24 inch 1900x1200 backlit LED quality monitor
  7. Dell Inspiron Small Desktop 3000 Series, basic, Corei5, 4 GB DDR3 RAM, Win 8.1, 64-bits, 1 TB HDD
  8. Standard mouse and keyboard
  9. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 license, The raw file digital file developer
  10. Sony DT 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6, zoom lens for wild life photography
Required Indiegogo funding
$2950

  Still $940 to go

Campaign closed!Edit

Glad to let you know that we have accomplished the first four stages and much more now and the campaign just closed!

My eyes filled with tears of gratitude and no idea what to tell now.

Thanks again for making this campaign such a great success!

With deep gratitude, Jee 08:00, 25 March 2015 (UTC)

  • Congrats, Jee! — Crisco 1492 (talk) 08:59, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Indeed, congratulations. :-) Have you had a chance to think further about your equipment priorities? What is your list of intended purchases? Diliff (talk) 11:10, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
    • Thanks Crisco and Diliff. Yes; considering the amount we collected, I'm trying to change the priorities.
1. A high end APC or low end FF camera. This is also due to the limited support of accessories for Sony cameras in India. List include new Nikon D7200, Canon 7D II, 6D and Nikon 610/750.
2. A 100mm macro lens.
3. Bag
4. Laptop and LR if possible. (difficult)
Wish to drop flash and zoom lens. Any suggestion, please. Jee 11:31, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
Not sure that 90/100mm lens with FF camera is the best combination for your purpose. -- Colin (talk) 12:01, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
I agree, I think you would definitely need a 150mm lens if you go full frame (and the 150mm lens is still useful for the reasons discussed in depth above even with a crop sensor camera). You don't want a flash? I really think that could be a mistake. A flash is quite important for getting even lighting, and if you shoot in strong sunlight, it's almost guaranteed that you will have blown unsightly highlights or deep shadows, which a good flash would minimise. The flash is not absolutely essential of course if you only shoot in shaded woodlands, in which case perhaps it isn't so important. I don't really know the typical locations you shoot in. Although I'm not a Nikon owner, I must say that the latest Nikon sensors are so much better than Canon that I would find it hard to recommend a Canon camera. The Nikon D750 is an excellent camera, but like Colin said above, there are advantages to a crop sensor camera beyond the cheaper cost. Because crop sensor cameras tend to have similar megapixels in a smaller sensor, you do get an effective magnification of the subject for free. There are plenty of other advantages of a full frame sensor such as better high ISO performance but this apply less to macro photography than to other subjects, especially if you have a flash unit because this allows you to drop the ISO down and reduces noise. My pick would be the Nikon D610 with a Sigma 150mm OS lens and a ring flash unit (but if you really don't want it, I suppose it's not essential). I assume you would sell or donate the Sony camera then? Diliff (talk) 12:15, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
Canon announced a price drops for their 32 lens including the 100mm, today. Exact price not yet revealed. But 7D II is overpriced and 6D is a bit old. Both cost INR 1,06,000. Nikon has so many options. INR 80,000 for D7200, 95,000 for D610 and 1,11,000 for D750. Lens price need to be verified. Jee 12:55, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
The Nikon ring flash is very flexible. It is a combination of two SB-R200 Wireless Speedlights and an adapter which we can buy individually. Jee 13:07, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
I am reading some reviews on D610. Looks good with two possible limitations so far. The 1/4000s top shutter speed - could that be a problem in bright light for some photography? And it is a FF camera with the D7000 DX autofocus module. This means the autofocus area is very small and central (and focus-recompose certainly isn't an option for moving butterflies). Some reviews suggest this may be a sticking point for some wildlife photography. See DpReview PhotographyLife and Sony A77ii focus guide. It does seem that in general FF cameras have relatively smaller focus areas than crop (though tend to have better AF modules), but the D610 is particularly limited here by making use of a presumably cheaper and older crop module. It has fewer cross points too compared to the Canon/Sony advanced-crop cameras, which also both have impressively large array of focus points. It does have 100% viewfinder and a large viewfinder compared to most crop cameras, though the Sony is also 100% and large since it is electronic rather than optical. Comparing 7Dii, A77ii and D610 the sensor on the D610 is a clear winner. The Canon is the weakest. The D7200 hasn't been reviewed by DXO yet, but the D7100 scores similarly to the Sony + 1/3 stop of ISO. Certainly the D610 has a clear advantage of more light on a bigger sensor meaning 3x the iso score of the Sony/Canon crop cameras (which is about 1.5 stops extra). But it isn't cheap, using up a lot of your budget, and you will have no standard zoom for it. Where are you seeing D610 for 95,000 (Amazon is 111,500) -- Colin (talk) 13:18, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
We've a local dealer whose pricing is much lower. 750 610 But special pricing; may vary. Jee 15:20, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
If there's only a 10-15% difference between the D610 and D750, then maybe it's worth getting the D750 for its better autofocus and perhaps the flip-out screen could sometimes be useful if you are photographing an insect at an awkward angle. I would still try to use the optical viewfinder where possible though because the AF will be much better than in the live view mode. IMO, stay away from the D7200 though. You will save a bit of money but the camera is not as good. Now that you have a nice large budget, it is worth getting the best equipment that your budget will allow. And since you seem to be leaning more towards fewer items instead of lots of gadgets, it might fit into the budget. I think it will depend largely on what you do with the Sony camera. If you can sell it and get a good price, you could put perhaps an additional USD$500 towards the 150mm lens, which I believe should come in at around USD$1000. So the D750 and Sigma 150mm OS lens will bring you to $2700. I found what looks like a good flash, the Nissin MF18 which is fully compatible with Nikon's TTL system and slightly cheaper than the Metz one we were looking at previously. I believe it retails for around $400 but I'm not sure how easily available it is in India. You could always import it from another Asian dealer perhaps, like DigitalRev. So that takes you to $3100. So really, what's left to consider is how much you could get for the Sony camera, and then how much you would need for a good laptop and Lightroom subscription. If you can make it all fit within budget, I think you'd have a top shelf macro photography set up. Diliff (talk) 17:21, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
DXR's comments below make a valid point. Perhaps the D7200 should be considered then. It would save almost USD$500, which would make a significant impact on the budget. Diliff (talk) 17:46, 25 March 2015 (UTC)

As a Nikon full frame shooter I really do not get why anybody focusing on macros would want to have a FF camera for that purpose. Anything will give a lower pixel density than a D7X00 (x>0) or the Sonys using the same sensor, and please do not neglect the DoF issues that full frame cameras bring. What you gain in ISO performance, you'll lose by having to stop down for the same DoF. Good non-macro lenses (they usually cover full frame anyways) are quite expensive (sometimes more than a really good entry-level camera), leaving aside the rather mediocre 24-85. Until you seriously consider shooting many other subjects like landscapes or action in dubious light, a FF camera is not necessary nor offering huge benefits. --DXR (talk) 17:33, 25 March 2015 (UTC)

  • Good points, I agree with you but the macro lens has to be pretty good for it to out-resolve the crop sensor, otherwise the FF sensor has a slight advantage in its ability to resolve detail, but I think the Sigma 150mm macro lens is very sharp so it's probably not a factor. From what I understand, the D610/D750 do have an objectively better sensor than the D7200, not just high ISO performance but colour depth and dynamic range which is unaffected by the DOF advantage of crop sensors. Again, this may not be a significant factor for macro work though, particularly with the flash. Diliff (talk) 17:46, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
The crop also gives considerable distance-to-subject (for same frame-filling result) advantages. The D750 flip out live-view screen will absolutely not have good enough auto-focus to capture butterflies, it's simply no advantage. Fine if Jee wants to photograph mushrooms with manual focus, but not moving wildlife. I think if lighting is enough that base (100/200) iso can be used, the crop cameras give significant advantage to the butterfly/insect photography Jee does, as well as significant price advantage. If however, Jee can't get good light then the better iso performance (400/800) on full frame becomes an advantage. I mean, at base iso, even the old Sony A33 is as good as pretty much any Canon :-). I suspect the second-hand value of the Sony A33+Tamron will not help with the sums and, if sold, should be considered a bonus to use on something else. But I am very concerned the budget will be used up with expensive camera and expensive lens at a single 100/150 focal length meaning it is only useful for a very limited range of subjects. There's no standard zoom in this option and no telephoto zoom in this option, and Jee's PC does not get upgraded to run Lightroom. As I've said, I'd rather than the A33 + Lightroom and a reliable computer than a D610 and nothing else. Part of the point of a DSLR is to have a range of lenses/accessories + professional raw-processing image software and we may use up the whole budget for FF DSLR + 150 macro lens - no computer, no flash, no Lightroom, no standard zoom, no telephoto zoom, no filters, no remote control, no camera bag, .... So what happens when Jee's computer dies? Does he fill his memory card up for two years while saving up to buy a new computer? I'm still investigating if the Sigma 150 for Sony can be imported to India and what other options there are. Dealing with a far-east import-dealer is another option. As is getting a relative/friend from Europe/US to take the camera back to India. -- Colin (talk) 18:17, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
Yes, I think you and DXR are right that a crop sensor camera is better than full frame, on reflection. But I don't think you need be so concerned (yet) about the budget. The D7200 and 150mm lens will be about $2300. This leaves $600 plus whatever he could get for the Sony camera (my guess is around $500 but possibly more) for a laptop, flash and Lightroom subscription. I think it would be pretty easy to purchase these for ~$1100. You are right that there isn't much left in the budget for a standard zoom but was that ever a necessity? I don't think I've ever seen Jee upload a photo of a landscape, for example (but I could be wrong). A standard zoom certainly widens the scope for photography but would it actually be useful for him? Again, it's a question that only he can answer but based on all the discussion we've had above over the last month or so, I can't see a need for it if the prime focus (no pun intended) of his photography is insects. Diliff (talk) 18:43, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
If it is true it is so difficult to get accessories/lenses etc for a Sony camera, I would go for a Nikon camera due to its better sensors. If it was me, I would forget about FF, but go for D7X00, and more specifically, I would probably go for the D7100, which has an excellent sensor and a very good build quality. Now that the D7200 has been introduced (which I perceive as a minor upgrade), it is likely that the D7100 can be found for a good price. That leaves more in the budget for supporting the entire capture/edit/upload photo process. The only problem I see with the 7X00 (and I guess most Nikons) is the use of live view for macro, you'd have to use the viewfinder. -- Slaunger (talk) 19:07, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
Well imho the LV AF of recent Nikons is acceptable enough (and afaik I am the only one in this discussion who has extensively used Nikons). We are not going to shoot Cheetahs here and I guess macro lenses are pretty sluggish anyway, so the harm done by a not quite perfect LV focusing is probably not huge.--DXR (talk) 19:23, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
I've never heard anyone report that LV for Canon/Nikon with a traditional DSLR lens is suitable for anything other than static subjects. My boss shoots Nikon and was so frustrated by the ineptness of LV that he thought his camera was faulty. Surely a butterfly fluttering about at relatively close focus distance, where the chances of accidentally misfocusing on the background/bushes is high, is just about the worst test of an AF? We are talking about FPC pixel peepers here, not the 1024x768 Flickr crowd, so the focus being off by 0.5mm is probably a killer ;-). -- Colin (talk) 19:54, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
Hmm, the question is: is the normal AF even quick enough for that job? I use a 70-200 which is probably among the fastest focusing lenses that are around, but if it has to travel (focus distance), it still is too slow, especially for erratic subjects. Macro lenses travel a ridiculously long way when they get to 1:1, so can you realistically expect tracking a weirdly moving insect with any AF at close distance? Basically this is a question of Jee's shooting style, because from a tripod to a reasonably steady motive, LVAF is very good and accurate. Then again, geese are the smallest subject I ever shoot, so what do I know :-) --DXR (talk) 20:02, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
BTW: I'm not saying buy Nikon (I only really wouldn't buy a Canon, and that is because the sensors simply are bad), so perhaps a good Sony like yours (Colin's that is) is not a bad idea either. I would just like to mention the AF challenges in general.
The issue isn't tracking a moving butterfly (IMO), it's about focusing reliably when you, the photographer are moving. This is my experience anyway. The butterfly might be twitching a bit and moving its wings as it sits on a flower, but it is mostly staying still (capturing a flying butterfly is almost impossible). However, the more significant movement is your body and your arms which can bring the butterfly in and out of focus quite significantly as your balance sways. Continuous phase detection autofocus (usually) does a decent job of compensating for this and keeps the focus point in focus , but I am pretty sure that contrast detection autofocus (which is what the camera uses in live view mode) would be unable to keep up as well. However, what I've had some success with in the past is finding an approxiate focus on the insect, setting the camera on manual focus and then trying to find as stable a position as possible while edging the camera in the necessary direction to get a precise focus on the subject. This could work quite well in live view but only if the Nikon has focus peaking with contrast detection like Canon has with Magic Lantern (and I believe Sony has implemented in its live view mode also). From what I understand, Nikon hasn't implemented that in any of their cameras yet? Diliff (talk) 20:24, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
For the record, I just did a test with my 5D Mk iii using the live view focusing and my Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro lens. It actually won't continuous autofocus in live view at all (I didn't even know, I just never use it). What I found was that if the focus was substantially out, it would hunt for at least 1 second, then spend another 1 second fine tuning the focus (with a stuttering action). If I asked it to refocus without moving the focus at all, it would still take about one second to fine tune the focus again even though it was basically already focus locked to begin with. This is pretty useless. I can't speak for how the Nikon handles it but I would have thought it would be somewhat similar. Switching to phase detection (regular viewfinder autofocus), it's almost instantaneous except when the focus is way out beforehand. I don't know too much about the autofocus algorithms used, but phase detection AF knows whether it's near or far-focused and usually hunts in the right direction. Contrast detect seems to always hunt towards near focus, bumps against minimum focus distance and THEN starts hunting back towards infinity, regardless of where the subject actually is. Unless Nikon has some much smarter algorithms, I would imagine it'd have the same deficiencies as Canon. Diliff (talk) 21:58, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
See Sony A77ii focus guide for an idea of the range of focus abilities it has -- and they are identical for both live-view and viewfinder since it is always phase-detect. And since the camera sees with the full resolution of the sensor (rather than some AF module + exposure module) then it can do exposure and subject identification (face, eye, butterflies) and tracking using a high resolution image rather than 30 blobs. From what I've read, the Canon 7Dii is very good AF with the viewfinder and probably does beat the Sony A77ii (thought it should do at that price) but once you drop down to live-view then the Sony has no competition. Even the best mirrorless cameras like A6000 struggle in low light. I'm surprised to see that continuous focus just doesn't work in live view on the Canon, and that's another nail. The manual focus + rocking the camera is certainly a valid technique, but I sure wouldn't want that to be my only means of focus after spending $3000! -- Colin (talk) 22:29, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
Right, and if indeed contrast detection AF cannot determine whether the subject is behind or in front of the focus, then by definition it would have a lot of trouble with continuous autofocus, since its only option is to hunt slowly and with staggered steps. It simply couldn't have the necessary smoothness or intelligence to follow a subject as it moves out of the focal plane. I suspect only with a very intelligent algorithm in the realms of futuristic AI that not only looks for contrast, but analyses a scene and knows that the subject is moving toward the camera based on visual cues and therefore needs to bring the focus closer to track it. I can't imagine it could do that with contrast detection alone, certainly not in the next 5 years anyway. So I think it's fair to say that live view AF is not an option except on split mirror cameras like the Sonys with phase detection AF. I wasn't suggesting that MF and rocking the camera would be the only means of focus, it would just be an alternative means of focus to use with live view. The primary means of focus would of course be phase detection AF through the viewfinder. However, without the option of focus peaking on the Nikon cameras, it's a moot point really, and only really an option on Canon or Sony cameras. Diliff (talk) 23:25, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
Thanks all for so many comments while I'm sleeping.
I agree with Colin; it may be difficult to fine a market for old Sony A33 as they are selling new A58 for INR 33990 even though with a kit lens. So it is better I keep it for landscape works and family snaps.
I don't want to consider Sony for a new purchase due to the lack of accessories. I can easily find a used lens or flash for Nikon and Canon if needed. After reading DXR's and Slaunger's comments I re-checked D7100. Nikon has a double combo offer now which includes a 50mm or 35mm prime. D7100 has a USD200 discount not; not introduced in India so far. Hope it will be available when they start selling D7200. A good review of D7100.
Canon 7D II is expensive. I don't know Canon 7D (old model) is worth to consider which almost costs as of Canon 70D.
It seems there is no difference in quality for macros from APC and FF if we can keep ISO low. But it is not practical for natural light handheld shots. I wish ISO800 as in Diliff's butterfly FP. :)
As an ex owner of Nikon D600, I consult Christian Ferrer. He din't shoot much macros and it's not his area of expertise. But he managed a good result here in natural lights.
I know 150m is tempting; but prefer to go for a 100mm first irrespective of whether the camera is FF or APC. For higher reach, I prefer a 300 old or tempting new which are only in my dream now. ;)
Zooms: Honestly I don't know how to use zoom lens. I always use 27mm, 100mm (3x) and 456mm (18x) in my old Panasonic. I either use 17mm or 50mm with the Sony. :) Jee 03:43, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
I contacted shetalacamera.com who Sigma gave as their dealer in India. They gave me a price of 83,000 INR ($1,329) for the 150mm in Sony mount, though it is possible they didn't give me as good a price as a local would be quoted, and your local dealer sounds like he has good prices (is that dealer an authorised-reseller with 2-year manufacturer-warranty, or does he import grey-market goods and only offer his own shorter warranty?). Shetalacamera have a regular month-end shipment but if it isn't on that then it takes about 3 weeks. So it is possible to get Sony A-mount Sigma lenses and accessories. This ebay auction has the Sony A77ii for 74,950 INR ($1200). My own impression is that the A77ii is a better camera than the D7100 for your purpose. Does your local dealer offer the A77ii at a good price? I know the accessory think is an issue, but I think it is a solvable one.
Look at DPReview for the D7100 live view. It has huge problems. The review confirms the autofocus is essentially only usable for landscape and product photography. There is no focus peeking but even worse is that the camera sets the aperture at the start of LV and further changes are not reflected unless you leave and re-engage LV. But worse still is that that means you are trying to focus with all the DoF of f/8 or f/11 rather than the narrow DoF of f/2.8, which basically means you can't focus manually at all. They say "So if you want to shoot a scene at F8 for example, you're best off opening the aperture as wide as you can before entering live view, focussing at that aperture, then exiting live view and setting F8, and activating live view again to get the shot. "' that's just a killer for me: not only is LV useless for autofocus of moving subjects/cameraman but also useless for manual focus unless you have five minutes to spare to take your shot! In contrast, the Sony will have the lens wide-open for LV and Viewfinder (there is a DoF preview button, of course) and very flexible focus peaking that makes manual focus a delight. And also superfast auto focus. And focus-peaking can be combined with auto focus so you can literally see what the camera has sharply focussed on (in addition to the green dot) and with many lenses can then manually override that if required. And when you press the shutter button, it's ready to take the next picture straight away (not several seconds later), there's not even a delay due to moving that mirror out of the way. Hold the button down for up to 12 frames per second if you want :-)
Also, if you are reconsidering 100mm macro then that re-opens the options to include Sigma 105mm and Tamron 90mm USD both of which are much cheaper. If some of your butterflies are distant enough to be similar to photographing birds then you really also want a telephoto zoom. I think you'd have the budget to buy the Sony A77ii, 90/105mm macro, 55-300 mm telephoto zoom, and keep your 17-50mm standard zoom. Which would let you shoot close-up butterflies, distant butterflies, landscapes, family and friends, etc, etc all with a very modern and "enthusiast" level camera with a great sensor. -- Colin (talk) 08:55, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
It is a bit surprising why shetala camera didn't reply to me. Both sites are managed by them. Their price seems very high; may be they will import it for us after the order. Both 105 and 150mm Sigma lens has a price drop recently in international market. One difficulty is if a product is very available, we can bargain fore a reasonable price. Otherwise we need to accept what they demand. If they are available, I think the local dealer can quote a better price for me. Jee 09:51, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

(Edit conflict with Colin - I haven't had a chance to read his reply but after typing all this, I couldn't be bothered to rewrite it anyway! ;-) ). I'm a bit confused by your reply here. Well, I just think that if you're not able to sell the A33, it doesn't really make sense to buy a new camera. Why would you want two cameras with different lens systems when you could have one good camera that is useful for all situations? Even if you only get $350 (which I would expect because the Tamron 17-50 mm f/2.8 is worth almost $250 alone), that could easily purchase a cheap zoom lens for the Nikon, and then you'd have one camera capable of shooting a variety of situations instead of two cameras each with their own purpose. Also, I don't really understand what Sony accessories you would need that are difficult to find in India? Is it the macro lens with a Sony mount or is something else? And I don't understand why you would prefer 100mm instead of 150mm macro. You said in previous discussions that the extra focus distance would be useful to avoid scaring the insects away. Yes, a 300mm lens might be useful but it isn't even close to being within your budget as you say (except perhaps second-hand - I see it on Ebay for $400 + $30 shipping + import costs), and also, the MFD of 1.48 metres / maximum magnification of 0.27x would make it impractical for all but the largest insects (perhaps large butterflies and tame birds). You would have a huge gap between 100mm (minimum focus distance a bit too close) and 300mm (minimum focus distance a bit too far away). A 150mm lens would be a better lens IMO, and would also give you twice as much magnification as the 300mm because the 0.27x magnification gives the equivalent of an 80mm lens at 1x magnification. The only benefit of the 300mm lens would be the greater distance to subject but it would also be much less flexible. You'd need a much faster shutter speed to keep it from blurring, and you would also not have image stabilisation which the Sigma 150mm lens has. So with those two things, you'd need a shutter speed up to 5 stops faster (IS gives 4 stops, plus 150mm to 300mm means another stop is needed due to the focal length) to use the 300mm. Finally, I don't understand why you have trouble using the zoom lens. :-) I guess I'm stating the obvious, but zoom lens lets you use any focal length in the range, you are not restricted to either end of focal length range. It's normal to use the extremes though, which is why I actually rarely use a zoom lens nowadays. A good photographer will (when possible) move his position to find the best composition with a given focal length, whereas beginner/poor photographers tend to stand wherever they happen to be and zoom the lens on their subject regardless of the composition. Diliff (talk) 09:19, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
1. It may be possible to find a hobbyist for A33 who knows the value of a f/2.8 lens. I only said it is difficult. 2. Sony has a good market for compact cameras in India; but much behind in DSLR market. By accessories; I mainly mean the availability of second hand items that I may procure in future if money and time allows. There are a lot of people throw away items for new. 90% of wedding photographers use Canon or Nikon. So we have always an constant availability of used items. 3. Sorry; if my comment about focal length is contradicting to my early comment. I read a lot about macro photography in between. I read experience of people who use all 60, 100, and 150mm lens. All have their own uses and advantages. A spider enthusiast may prefer MPE 65. A ladybug fan needs 60mm. 100mm is good for small butterflies and damselflies. 150mm is best for dragonflies and big Swallowtail butterflies. So I need all. :D But as a starter it is better to choose the medium range first. 4. I just mentioned the 300mm as a second lens for future (!) instead of a 50-300 zoom. It is from my experience from my Panasonic 27-486mm that I only used the extreme end for big butterflies. It is much like Charlesjsharp's style. I know there may not be much improvement of quality than from my existing Panasonic pictures in this case. One thing I noted about macro photography is that there is no shortcut for approaching subjects. If we can't maintain a macro range to the subject, then the macro lens is just an ordinary tele lens. I'm getting older day by day. I'm not sure whether I can produce better photos with better tools than the ones I produced earlier with my Panasonic. But I managed to approach almost one inch close to a mating pair recently. (4 inch from the sensor; but only one inch from fron end due to the long length of Tamron 17-50 lens.) For such cases, I don't need an expensive 150/180mm. A mere 60mm will serve the purpose. But for this, I hope a 100/150mm may help to provide isolation from the background. If not, only a 300mm tele can. Here it is at 486mm in my Panasonic. Further, I don't think it is not possible to provide more than 1:4 magnification while showing a big swallowtail or brush footed butterfly. Jee 10:35, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
This seems a good post. Jee 11:24, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
I see your point(s). 1. I still think that although it could be difficult to sell the A33 and lens, it still has an inherent value and India is still a big market. Perhaps you would not be able to get the true value of it though. Regardless of whether you stay with the A33, switch to Canon or get a newer Sony model (in which case, you could keep the 17-50mm), I don't really think it makes much sense to keep two cameras. One camera would be so much simpler, all your lenses would be compatible and you would become more familiar with its controls and settings. 2. This is also a good point, although I think this is changing. Sony's market share in the rest of the world is currently not much better, but their products are starting to convert people and I think this will continue to take market share from Canon and Nikon. Still, I think you are right, the second-hand market is much more limited. The question is whether you really would continue to buy other lenses and accessories. If you got the right camera and lens(es) now, you may not need to. 3. I don't really understand why you would need different macro focal lengths for the insects you mentioned. What is different about a 60mm lens that makes it better for ladybugs? A 60mm lens can provide slightly more DoF than a 100mm or 150mm lens for a given aperture, but usually with inferior background-foreground separation (so you'd have a noisier background). I wouldn't expect that a ladybug would need more DoF than a butterfly though. I think it's probably more correct that you could get away with a 60mm lens for ladybugs because they are less likely to fly away with a lens in their face, but that doesn't mean a 60mm lens is inherently better for the job. I think the same would apply to the 100mm lens when compared to a 150mm lens - there would be situations where you wouldn't necessarily need a 150mm lens but there'd be few inherent advantages to a shorter focal length either. I'm not suggesting you absolutely must have a 150mm lens but I think it would be the most flexible lens because I honestly can't see why it wouldn't be just as good for ladybugs and small butterflies as the 60mm and 100mm lenses. Just my opinion anyway. 4. Yes, I can see that Charlesjsharp uses the 400mm focal length for many of his butterfly images. The thing is, I don't think he executes the shots particularly well. Many of them are cropped considerably and are not of good image quality, and I suspect that is because of the magnification limitation of the 100-400mm lens. He was not able to get close enough to fill the frame with them, so he has cropped them afterwards and lost resolution in the process. You would not have that problem with a macro lens. As long as you didn't scare the insect away (a big IF, I know), a macro lens such as the 150mm would allow you to get as close as you need to fill the frame with the insect. You have been able to use the telephoto end of your P&S camera for macro work, but I don't think SLR lenses are as flexible due to their inherent MFD limitations. I think you have hit upon an important point though: it is possible that without great technique and patience, you will not be able to improve on your existing photography (which is already excellent). Macro work with a DSLR is not easy, the depth of field is much more limited and you are forced to stop down the aperture which then forces you to resort to higher ISOs and be very careful to ensure the camera is stable. This is not a trivial problem to overcome. :-) I have a similar limitation with my interiors, I need to use a very narrow aperture which results in exposures up to 15-20 seconds in dark rooms. Whereas a P&S camera might be capable of taking a somewhat acceptable photo hand-held, a DSLR needs a tripod. Anyway, I digress. The example image you gave is very nice, although the aperture you used means that the DoF is extremely thin and the focus was on the near-side legs rather than the body. There's also a strange blotchiness to the texture of the wing. I know it's not completely in focus so it could be the bokeh, but it looks a lot like strong noise reduction to me. Colin, you have more experience with the camera and lens than me. Have you seen that before? Anyway Jee, as for the second image that you took with your old camera, I think a 150mm macro lens would be capable of similar background isolation as that, but somehow the camera settings have been removed from the EXIF data so I can't see what aperture you used and it obviously depends largely on how much space there is behind the subject. As I said though, I honestly believe a 300mm telephoto lens would have too many disadvantages over a 150mm macro lens. If you do decide to get a 300mm lens later on, sure, go ahead but I don't think it will significantly be used for macro work, I think it would be mostly for birds. I'm sorry, I don't want to tell you how to do your photography, I just have a feeling that although you are a more experienced macro photographer than I am, you have less experience with a DSLR and DSLR lenses and it could mean that you may end up with less than ideal tools for the photography that you want to do. Diliff (talk) 11:52, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Incidentally, I note with pleasure that the 'choosing a macro lens' page that you linked to vindicates the points that I was making a few weeks ago in the discussion with Colin about 1:1 magnification and how a crop sensor camera doesn't really offer an advantage over full frame at 1:1. I quote: "There is a prevalent idea that small sensor produce ‘magnified’ images compared with full frame sensors. It is based on sloppy interpretation of the facts and the physics... When a lens is described as giving a ‘life-size’ image, or 1:1 scale of reproduction or even x1 magnification they are equivalent and refer to the degree of enlargement on the sensor – it’s the same for a full-frame semsor, an APS-C or any other sensor with the same lens used on a camera of different formats. The difference is that smaller sensors cover a reduced portion of the image field…they just take a bit of it at the centre". ;-) I note also that the author personally uses and recommends the Sigma 150mm lens, and doesn't suggest there are any negatives to using that focal length: "However, my personal preference lies towards the telephoto macro both for the way it isolates subjects against a soft background and also that they allow me to be far enough away from the subject to avoid disturbing it.". Diliff (talk) 11:59, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Actually, no, he like you is arguing about the wrong thing. His "thought experiment" doesn't actually reflect how photographers take photos. He's arguing about magnification of the image hitting the sensor, and in all three cases from identical distances, that magnification is the same. He says they "just take a bit of it at the centre", which is like the (in this case) pointless "crop mode" option in a FF camera, he's ignoring the increased pixel density. I'm talking about two photographers with 24MP sensors producing a correctly framed image that produces a similar size JPG on a screen. The crop guy can stand further back. Or, if the FF guy can't even fill the frame at closest-focus-distance, then the crop guy will create a higher-resolution more-frame-filling image at the same minimum distance. Other than higher-iso performance due to the each sensor capturing more photons, I can see no advantage to FF for macro, insect or bird photography -- but the higher ISO performance is important. If one can light a scene with daylight or flash such that your on low ISO, then there really is no advantage to FF. The thing about these endless arguments people have about "FF equivalence", etc, is that very often there are several viewpoints in which to frame the question, and people are sloppy about what exactly they mean by "magnification", say. -- Colin (talk) 12:28, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
As you move away from 1:1 magnification, you are absolutely right, the benefits of a crop sensor camera start to take effect and yes if you assume greater pixel density of a crop sensor, then yes that is an advantage too. At 1:1, if you have filled the frame with a full frame camera, then it stands to reason that the crop sensor camera will not have the entire subject in view - the edges of the subject will be cropped out. So with the crop sensor camera, you'd have to move further back to get the subject back in the frame. Incidentally, another point in favour of full frame for macro work just occurred to me: You could get a very similar result as a crop sensor camera with an extension tube. The crop sensor camera essentially bins the outside image circle of the lens because it projects outside of the sensor area. An extension tube does exactly the same thing by shifting the projected image further away from the sensor, at the expense of the ability to focus at infinity (not important for macro photography). Therefore, with a macro lens and extension tube, you could have all of the advantages of the crop sensor (ability to be further back, greater magnification) without any drawbacks that I can think of (although the high ISO performance of the FF sensor would be nullified by the light dropoff). Modern extension tubes have the electronic contacts so there's no loss of autofocus. Any loss of image quality inherent from effectively magnifying the centre of the image would be the same for full frame or crop sensor (assuming an equal magnification). Worth thinking about anyway. Diliff (talk) 13:10, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
(Edit conflict) Regarding point 3, I am not sure whether I'm right. But I noticed many people struggled to overcome the minimum focusing distance using extension tubes, while shooting small subjects. And the more close you are; the more the details you can capture. The longer macro lens give more pleasing background but on the expense of less details due to the increase of subject details. It is my experience with my Panasonic too. Here more pleasing bg with less subject details; here busy bg with more details. First is at one meter subject distance; second at less than one feet. 4. Yes; you may right. It is better to go for a 150/180mm macro than a tele lens considering both are of same price too. That blogger uses 150mm and praises 105mm :) The problem of this picture is more of the Raynox DCR 250 used. It has hairline DOF and difficult to use handheld. Combined with a DSLR, it is more difficult to use without flash. Jee 12:33, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
I don't think you're right that the closer you are, the more details you can capture. The comparison you make with your own experience with the Panasonic isn't fair because it uses a wide range telephoto point and shoot lens. The reason why telephoto zooms tend to have inferior image quality compared to primes is that they have to optically magnify an image and there are drawbacks to doing so, just as putting a 1.3x or 2x extender attached to a DSLR lens will have an effect on image quality. It's a similar idea to upsampling an image. If you have an extremely sharp image to begin with, you could increase it from 1000x1000 to 2000x2000 and it might still be acceptable at that resolution. However, if you have an average sharpness 1000x1000 image and upsample it 2000x2000, you will have an image with awful image quality. Likewise, you can use a 1.3x or 2x extender on an very sharp prime lens and you may get 'free' magnification if the lens and extender's ability to resolve detail is greater than the camera. But if you put the extender on an already poor lens, you will get nothing but magnified softness. The same thing happens to an extent with telephoto zoom lenses. The ability to magnify the image at extreme focal lengths is limited by the optical quality of the lens itself. Your Panasonic camera, like most superzooms, does not have a fantastic lens. It's acceptable for most uses but you cannot expect great image quality at full magnification. Long story short, you can't compare your results with your superzoom point and shoot to a lens that is designed to be extremely sharp at a single focal length. The Sigma 150mm would most likely out-resolve almost any DSLR on the market today (with the possible exceptions of the top end Canon and Nikon cameras pushing towards 50 megapixels). Having greater magnification, it requires more glass to shift the light around which is why it costs and weighs more than a 100mm lens but there would be no advantage in sharpness in the 100mm compared to the 150mm. Diliff (talk) 13:10, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for the detailed reply. So I'll consider 150mm too. Crisco's sharing of experience is also worth to consider as we two share same geographical atmospheres (lights, rain, animal behavior, etc.). Jee 15:39, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Though I've no doubt that you're much better at getting them to come to you. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 15:53, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Jee is the butterfly-whisperer. ;-) Diliff (talk) 16:01, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Yup; I've almost five years of experience in chasing them with my Pany. But as Diliff said, DSLR is a different breed; I need to cope up with it's shallow DOF, noisy (too much sound produces to keep the critters away) behaviour, etc. :) It seems many FFs have a silent mode? Jee 16:04, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
  • FFs have a silent mode because they are more noisy than crop sensor cameras to begin with - there's more of a need. But actually, I've never had much of a problem with the shutter noise and insects. The much bigger problem for meis actually getting close enough to them to take the photo in the first place. They always seem to flitter away the moment I get myself into position to shoot them! Diliff (talk) 16:09, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
The SLT (and other mirrorless) cameras don't have a big mirror flapping around to create a lot of noise, but they do traditionally make more shutter movement (as would any DSLR in live-view) since it needs to close the shutter before then opening it for the exposure, closing to end the exposure and then opening again for live-view. And the shutter is physically bigger than in a compact camera. The A77ii has "electronic first curtain" that does away with the first two stages, halving the noise, as do some other advanced-level DSLR. I'm not aware of any DSLR with fully electronic shutter and on one mirrorless I saw that had this, there were reports the resulting image was noisier than without -- but that will definitely come eventually. The noise of the focus motor is another factor, and lenses with ultrasonic motors can be very quiet indeed (which will be all the modern macro lenses you look at). Diliff, perhaps it's your aftershave? :-) -- Colin (talk) 16:23, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
  • (Edit conflict) Diliff: For small butterflies, the truth is exact opposite. If we able to approach them closely and they detect our presence, they will continue what they are doing until we move back. Here this Tiny Grass Blue (smallest blue in Asia) is enjoying decayed flower pulp. It was actually restless, swing side-wise like a bout in the waves. It continued the process for fifteen minutes until I left. This behaviour is to cheat the predators. :)
BTW, I like some results with Sigma 180mm. So 150mm certainly worthful. Jee 16:35, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
  • My own personal experiences, for what they're worth: Jee, if you're going for butterflies, 150mm is going to make it a heck of a lot easier. I've barely gotten any, no matter how still I sit, or how slowly I move. 100mm is great for critters like grasshoppers, which don't startle all that easily, but a bit of extra reach would be nice for the flutterers. (But I love my 100mm for portrait photography... don't use anything else now... even had a portrait published in the Bali Post). — Crisco 1492 (talk) 12:20, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for the point. I'll re research on this topic again. :) Jee 12:41, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

Choosing the ideal macro focal length. Nice photos too. -- Colin (talk) 11:45, 20 April 2015 (UTC)

Interesting. And he says all photos in natural light. Isn't it wise to postpone the flash for a while and experiment with the results? Jee 14:01, 20 April 2015 (UTC)
The photos on his blog are downsized to around screen resolution 2MP rather than 14MP and he seems more concerned with nice bokeh and effect than documentary details. He also has a modern full-frame camera. So he enjoys better ISO performance and less pixel-peeping scrutiny than you would :-(. There is no rush of course. Wouldn't do any harm to check that the Sigma ring flash is available for import and what price. Some of his photos may be taken at night / with longer exposures. Which brings us back to considering a tripod if your subject really is stationary or asleep. I would love to see some artistic nature photos at Commons (even if downsized) as it would make a change from the standard "spotter guide to XXX" lead photographs that we principally feature. -- Colin (talk) 14:57, 20 April 2015 (UTC)
I don't think there's any information in that article that wasn't already discussed at length already, although it is a well written guide. The one slightly misleading point which many articles have is the 'suggested uses' of the different focal lengths. They seem to imply that a larger focal length wouldn't necessarily be as good as the shorter focal lengths for those uses. I disagree with that. A longer focal length macro lens, while it obviously has some inherent downsides, will still be more than capable of shooting subjects in the shorter focal length sections, whereas the opposite is not necessarily the case. Regarding the flash, yes I suppose so. You seem to be strongly in favour of not using a flash, and it's not our place to enforce certain decisions. ;-) But I do think that you will be more limited without a flash. You will likely have more shots with blown highlights (or deep shadows) and more noise as you will have to increase ISO to maintain a given shutter speed. You will still be able to take good photos in the same way that you did previously without a flash, but wasn't the point of the campaign to increase the quality of your photography? A new camera and lens is only part of the puzzle. Another important aspect of good macro photography is control of light. Just my opinion anyway. Diliff (talk) 15:07, 20 April 2015 (UTC)
Yes; his categorization about the use of different focal length is a bit funny. It seems he afraid snakes and spiders. ;) In fact, a spider in a web is easy to approach. Jumping spiders are also brave and will not run away by seeing us. He may be right about dargon and damselflies. Anyway my Sigma 150mm is on it's way; so we can forget about the focal length discussion now.
Metz flash is not available now in India due to service issues. So the only choice now is Sigma EM-140 DG Macro Flash for Sony mount. I'm waiting for any possibility for the price for the import.
I hope a macro flash and a laptop will cost 80K INR. The current price of Sony A77 II is also 80K. So one possibility for me chose either one of them. Meanwhile I hope Sony may cut down the price as they did in international market. Nikon D7200 is now available for 70K in India. One advantage of A77 II is I can use higher ISO than A33. Any thoughts? Jee 15:29, 20 April 2015 (UTC)
Well my thought is still the same - that it's cheaper to use a flash to get lower ISO noise than to buy a new camera. ;-) I think that a good powerful laptop with Lightroom will probably be more useful than the new camera. So if your 150mm lens is now on its way then I assume you have decided on the Sony lens mount, which means that Nikon cameras are no longer a possibility either? Diliff (talk) 15:46, 20 April 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for your thoughts. Yes; Sony mount is the only option now. :) Jee 15:57, 20 April 2015 (UTC)
I suggest you do try to see if the new lens + available light is adequate and produces good results you are happy with. The issues you might have with the little A33 are:
  • The focus module is basic even for current entry-level cameras. Three cross points and 15 total points vs 15 cross points and 79 total focus points spread over a wider area. This may be less important if you always use the centre point to focus (and then crop for an alternative composition). The A33 has a choice of single focus, continuous focus, and an auto mode that guesses which might be appropriate (as well as manual) but the A77ii has lots more focus choices (see link I gave above somewhere). It can also track moving subjects (though I'd be very surprised if it can track a fast moving insect!)
  • The A77ii (like many enthusiast/pro DSLR) has micro-focus adjust which lets you tweak the camera for each lens you own in case there is any discrepancy between its focus calibration and the camera. This happens with all DSLR and even for own-brand lenses, and with macro work some degree of front-focus or back-focus may well be a problem. You will only discover when you get your lens whether it is calibrated to be a good fit for your particular camera. You can test it focusing at f/2.8, upload to computer, and see if the focus is accurate or not. If you are happy with it then there's no need to worry about this. But if it consistently front-focuses, say, then you may be disappointed and there isn't much you can do as it is likely that both camera and lens are "within tolerance". This is where the micro-focus adjust might make a difference.
  • The A77ii will give you around an extra stop of ISO and much better dynamic range, as well as lots more MP with which to get the best out of your photos. If you want, I'm sure David or I could process your RAW files in the latest Lightroom to give you an idea of what advantage that may give.
  • Just like your laptop, the A33 is old (though well looked after) so it's remaining lifespan is less. The A77ii is weatherproof (to some degree), sturdier, newer, with components like the shutter designed to last longer than an entry-level camera.
  • Plus all the other things a new model offers.
That said, a computer + pro software is a vital part of the system and I think Lightroom is essential. There is no rush to buy the next thing. So you could see how you get on with the lens before deciding the next step. -- Colin (talk) 17:40, 20 April 2015 (UTC)
Thanks. Yes; I hope it is wise to take time to learn the pros and cons of existing tools first before making further moves. As Diliff told earlier, moving from a compact to a DSLR is a bit tough, and I need time to cope up with it. Glad to find User:Kreuzschnabel is using RawTherapee to process his files. Jee 02:26, 21 April 2015 (UTC)

IndiegogoEdit

The final sum raised was an amazing $3,150. This is 4.2x the original campaign goal. The credit card / PayPal fees (3%) and Indiegogo fee (4%) reduces this to $2,904.50. There may also be costs wrt currency conversion. That may look like an expensive way to raise funds. But consider first that realistically, there's no way this sum would have been raised if Jee had simply emailed 20 of his friends and asked them to transfer money directly to his bank account. A professional-looking website complete with video, nice photos and easy ways to donate certainly helped. The card/PayPal fees are the cost of transferring money in a safe and secure manner that protects all parties. And the 4% Indiegogo fee is small when one considers how expensive it is for charities to raise funds. For example, The Red Cross spends about one third of its money simply on its volunteer fundraising campaigns and charity-shop business, with only two-thirds remaining for charitable work. (Charities that outsource fundraising will appear to have lower costs, and charities that receive huge donations in someone's will (legacy) have lower costs still). So from this experience I would recommend Indiegogo provided you set a realistic campaign goal (as the fees for failing to reach that goal are 9%). -- Colin (talk) 12:01, 25 March 2015 (UTC)

Yes; it is very useful. The only negative side is it will not attract any stranger to our campaign. Jee 12:57, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
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