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dkCambridgeshire

Leica T - Life size imaging at 2m subject distance

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Current project requires life size images of Reed Beetles which mate and fight on a local nature reserve's pond vegetation … the pond leaves habitat being approx 1.5m to 2m from the pond edge. Reed beetles are approx 12mm in length … not including the antennae. Last year I successully used a Nikon 1 V2 with a 70-300mm lens (810mm FF equivalent) plus auto extension tubes to record the Reed Beetles … a superb AF outfit but it ain't Leica.  I need to use Leica equipment for Leica Society image submissions … and also for Leica Forum images. Cropping from lower magnification images does not appeal e.g. using a Leica R 100mm macro lens plus tubes / extenders. Neither does hitching up e.g. a Canon FD 200mm macro lens to a Leica T or Leica SL 601 because the subject distance would still be too great for high magnification images. Supplementary close-up lenses are not an option because of the relatively long subject distance. The 1.5m to 2m subject distance (from pond edge) does not appear to be great … but bear in mind the camera cannot be safely used right at the pond edge; my manual focus lenses require a tripod support. A safe subject distance i.e., to the camera image plane is in excess of 2m. After experimenting indoors this afternoon the following apparatus will enable approx. life size images at the required 2m 'plus' subject distance  …  a 25mm length of tape measure filling the 23.6mm width of the APS-C sensor.

Lens is a highly regarded 3 element Novoflex 400mm f5.6 'NOFLEXAR T' achromat - on a standard Novoflex 'squeeze trigger' mount - which has a built-in bellows fitted with a Leica R adapter.  However, even 400mm is not long enough for 1:1 magnification at just over 2m  …  hence use of a Leitz 2x APO R extender to double the focal length to 800mm … BUT … this also requires a longer extension than that offered by the built-in bellows … hence use of additional Leica R bellows which includes a very smooth rack and pinion to enable accurate fine focus. The apparatus does look way O.T.T. … but it works fine and it's stable. The bellows R will be attached to a gimbal on a Gitzo tripod via an Arca Swiss plate .The resultant 800mm lens max aperture is f11 … thus the experiment needs good light because the Leica T's high ISO capability is rather 'average' … therefore waiting for a sunny day before using the set-up 'in the field'.     The 'squeeze trigger' Novoflex mount focus will be used for 'rough focus'  - and then 'locked' … 'fine focus' being achieved via the R bellows rack and pinion. 

Best wishes

dunk 

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 You are right this is a tough set of criteria. Another alternative would be the Nikon MF 200 macro with the DC300 2x adapter, a marvelous combination giving you the 400 mm with a set up designed for macro photography. The lens is also f4 (f8 with the DC300) so around f 16 at 1:1 f11 at 1:2. 

Yes you are at f11 at infinity but closer to f16 or f22 depending on the mag or extension. 1:1 = +2 stops, 1:2 +1 stop. Often the best way to go is set the camera on A.

Can we see the beetle?

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Yes, I'd forgotten to take into account the 'effective' aperture … i.e. f'=f(m+1) … I'll be experimenting both at full aperture and slightly stopped down … using aperture priority mode.  I have Reed Beetle images from last year but not taken with a Leica lens or camera … so not eligible for forum posting. The suggested 200mm macro lens and extender would not be long enough … hence using 2x extender with the 400mm lens. The 400mm Noflexar is a very simple 3 element achromat … it's not a telephoto lens … hence its long tube length … and it appears to be longer with the lens hood attached. 

dunk 

Edited by dkCambridgeshire

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In many years of doing macro photography, I have found that lenses designed for under 1:5 mag work the best for extreme close ups. The 200 Nikon and the TC300 are a matched pair designed for macro photography. So you may get sharper photos at a lesser mag with the set. Also remember as magnification increases depth of field decreases. Even at f16 at 1:1 mag the DOF is a sliver, why I did a lot of my macro with view cameras. Back off to 1:3 or 1:4 so and the entire beetle may be in focus. I had friends who had a multi image scanner to photograph insects, this was at RIT who has a major in scientific photography and at one time was financed by Kodak, they had all the toys. BUT the insect had to be deceased to use the scanner.

Good luck

Tom

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Tom this is a special situation … I have many macro lenses but none are suitable for this particular project. The subject is over 2m distant and required magnification is 1:1 … there is no way of reducing the subject distance … thus need to use a relatively long focal length. I've also studied photomacrography for many years. 

dunk  

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Or go all modern, use the 100-400 DG Vario-Elmar (200-800 equ.) on a Panasonic or Olympus.

You get  1.4 meter @ 800 mm.

If you use a Panasonic you can do post-focus to choose your plane of focus or do focus stacking.

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1 hour ago, jaapv said:

Or go all modern, use the 100-400 DG Vario-Elmar (200-800 equ.) on a Panasonic or Olympus.

You get  1.4 meter @ 800 mm.

If you use a Panasonic you can do post-focus to choose your plane of focus or do focus stacking.

Yes but the 100-400mm would only be an option at closest focus 1.3m where max mag. is 0.5 / 1:2 … and the Reed Beetles are over 2m distant from the edge of the pond.  When I used the Nikon 1 / 70-300mm (810mm FF equiv) I had to use a 10cm length of extension tubes and risk falling into the pond to get close enough to the subject … and still could not achieve more than 0.5 mag .  As you're likely aware Jaap, the 3 element Noflexar 400 T achromat is a highly regarded lens and likely has a lot of potential for this type of photography ... and at minimal ££cost … both my examples cost less than £50. Last year I was amazed at what could be achieved with a Novoflex 600mm achromat when photographing dragonflies via the same Novoflex mount with built-in bellows. Now I've hitched up the Leica R bellows to the Novoflex mount the 600mm could have even better c/u possibilities … but plan to use the 400mm first … because it's a better lens than the 600m. I almost decided to buy the Panasonic 100-400mm when first available … super lens but unlikely it would suit the Reed Beetle project unless I could use a raft and get within 1 meter of the floating pond leaves   … and even than could not achieve 1:1 (when required) .  I don't mind the bulk / weight of the apparatus as it's all carried on a trolley … and being just  3 lens elements in one group there is no risk of upsetting the lens elements' alignment when the trolley is pulled over rough terrain. 

dunk 

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