Monday, April 21, 2014

Day 63, Learning 63: Extreme Macro

For the second half of my 100 Days/100 Learnings posts, I've decided to continue at a most relaxed pace.  Life is just too crazy-full-unpredictable to break one's back over daily entries-- but I want to keep the posts coming.  And hopefully keep them informative and helpful.

Today's post is a little bit of equipment.  I don't talk about gear much on this blog (I believe that the emphasis on the quality and amount of one's equipment is more often a hindrance than a help); but I  had the good fortune to pick up a Nikon 35-70mm F/2.8 a few years ago.  This older piece of glass has exceptional sharpness and is half the price of its younger sibling, the 24-70mm f/2.8.  At the time I worried I wouldn't use it because of the rather "un-dramatic" range-- neither wide nor close-up-- but on the contrary it's become my walk-around lens.  It also has macro capability, which has come in useful.

But I'm not writing about the lens, today, but rather teleconverters.  Teleconverters come in different types or "powers", typically between 1.5x to 3x.  The number refers to the magnification.  Typically, we turn to a teleconverter in order to magnify the reach-- turning a 200mm into a 400m lens, for example.  But they can also increase one's "macro" ability, getting even closer to the subject for an extreme close-up.  The picture above was shot four inches from the subject with no cropping to the final image.

A couple of things to remember, though, before running out and purchasing one:  first, like anything you put in front of your lens, quality is important.  There's little point in magnifying softness.  Second, the magnification amount corresponds directly to the loss of light in stops.  So a 2x teleconverter will cost you two stops of light, turning your f/2.8 into a f/5.6.  And finally, some teleconverters are manual focus only; you'll pay more to keep electronic control of your lens.

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