Macro photographers: Gorrilapod or similar? And other accessories.

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  • Macro photographers: Gorrilapod or similar? And other accessories.
  • clodhopper
    Member

    I’m getting into a bit of macro photography, and often feel the need for some sort of support for the camera, that can be set up very quickly and not be a burden to carry around. I have a lovely old Manfrotto tripod but it’s really far to big and fiddly to set up. Small tripods tend to be flimsy and not really strong enough. I was wondering if anyone has experience of the Gorillapods, or could suggest something similar. Needs to be sturdy enough to hold a DSLR and macro lens, and not wobble about.

    As for other accessories; I was thinking about a ring flash unit for when ambient light is insufficient. Using Nikon so the iTTL system is superb. Nikon’s version is really expensive, so was wondering if there’s a less expensive 3rd party option.

    Any tips for other useful kit?

    Thanks.

    For Lighting, get creative with light sources and angles – bike lights are great for this!

    I tended to get best results with my decent Manfrotto tripod, with the centre column in the vertical arrangement. Often easier to bring the subject to the camera rather than the other way round

    clodhopper
    Member

    “For Lighting, get creative with light sources and angles – bike lights are great for this!”

    Not good for photographing living things which might get spooked by the bright lights, plus it introduces more issues for setting the white balance with ambient light.

    “Often easier to bring the subject to the camera rather than the other way round”

    Not often possible, and indeed irresponsible, when dealing with sensitive natural environments. I need to be able to get close without touching or disturbing the subjects. Big conventional tripods take a lot of setting up, and are often just not suitable.

    MrSmith
    Member

    get tripod collar for your lens, a balanced camera is less likely to move on a small tripod/cheap tripod head.

    clodhopper
    Member

    I had hoped for more responses. Disappointing. Maybe people were out riding their bikes instead.

    I see some of the new Manfrottos, Gitzos etc have centre tubes that can be used vertically, similar to the old Benbo design/idea, but I’m still loathe to lug something so large and cumbersome around with me. The Joby DSLR Zoom and Focus models look good for what I need. Any experiences of either?

    I find a DSLR specific Gorillapod to be fairly sturdy, depending of course where and how it is rested/mounted.

    Get used to lying flat out on the ground in the wet. Small beanbags are very good. What flashsetup are you using/planning?

    *Edit – strike that, sorry, you did specify. I use ambient light but would like to try some LEDs. I have used an LED torch for focusing assistance. Not seriously attempted macro but it interests me greatly. You’d possibly do well for responses on a dedicated macro forum 😉

    cranberry
    Member

    A Gorillapod can be handy, but might struggle a bit attached to a camera with a weighty macro lens. Getting a ring tripod mount for the lens might mitigate that.

    For ring flash – I looked out for a Nissin kit on Ebay – the one I got was a bargain and hadn’t been used at all. It is a quality bit of kit.

    irelanst
    Member

    I don’t often use a tripod, it’s not mobile enough for living things.

    For flash I use a speedlight attached to a home made bracket, with a home made diffuser, this;

    I think it works OK;

    clodhopper
    Member

    Stunning pics irelanst! Love the diffuser! 😀

    Main problem with insects etc is that they annoyingly tend to move. A tripod is pointless with things like bees, because you’ll never get set up in time to take a pic; it will have moved off long ago. Hence the requirement for flash; unless the subject is in bright sunlight, trying to get an aperture small enough to get the thing in focus, is damn near impossible. The DoF on my macro lens is wafer-thin at best, so apertures of f8 and smaller are necessary when shooting very close. With hand holding, it’s virtually impossible to keep still enough to ensure pinpoint focus, and focus tracking etc can just be more problematic than it’s worth. But for still(er) subjects, a tripod is very useful, but a good one is bulky and heavy. The flexibility of a Gorillapod appeals. I just don’t know how good they are in use.

    Got very excited over a very low-priced older Nikon TTL ring flash unit, then realised it won’t TTL with my camera. 🙁 Thanks for that, Nikon. Then spotted this ‘Meike’ unit on Ebay for not much, wondered if it might be worth a punt:

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/UK-Meike-MK-14EXT-Macro-TTL-ring-flash-AF-assist-lamp-For-Nikon-D750-D7100-D800-/111632284737?hash=item19fdcd7c41:g:YrgAAOSw5VFWKwfW

    I know from experience that 3rd party flash units simply aren’t as good as Nikon’s own kit, in terms of quality and actual functionality, but wondered if this might work ok.

    The flexibility of a Gorillapod appeals. I just don’t know how good they are in use.

    I nearly always shoot insects handheld. Find that the Gorillapod + remote shutter release is useful for longer-exposure/macro forest-floor stuff and landscapes whilst bike-touring or lightweight backpacking. Can be a faff as it is has an inherent ‘spring’ in it so requires letting settle for a few moments. Mine is an older, basic model though.

    For the ultimate in lightweight field macro trips I like to shoot stuff on an iPhone 5 thru a jewellers loupe. Image quality is inversely proportionate to weight carried but it has a charm all of its own! Will find some pics out

    cranberry
    Member

    Irlanst – nice pics, as someone just starting out with macro and with the same lens as you have I’m having a bit of trouble accepting the very narrow DoF and having the biggest part of the image not in focus, for example here where there are approx 2 and a bit eyes in focus:

    deadkenny
    Member

    I don’t usually go specifically macro shooting but if I take the macro lens, for portability I bodge something from whatever is around or my camera bag to rest on. Or I take a monopod which is easier to carry and collapses compact. Need to find something to steady it but often can rest against something. Then use the remote as pressing the shutter is enough to shift the camera.

    Or if the light is really good and can set it wide enough I may be able to get a fast enough shutter. DoF is very shallow though but then that’s often nice. Just take loads and some might be in focus. Tricky with wildlife though.

    irelanst
    Member

    I think you’d struggle to find a more difficult shot than that! They never stay still, reflections off the water, difficult to compose and multiple tadpoles in one shot it’s a nightmare.

    My preference is for narrow DoF shots, as long as the eyes and head are in focus, then background blur helps isolate the subject. Although I do probably overdo it. Compositionally I would probably have tried to get the line of tadpoles on a diagonal, with the left tadpole as the focal point on the ‘third point’. Not a chance of getting the others in focus though. And take lots of shots – I bin a lot where the focus is off slightly. Focus tip: focus as closely as you can then rock back and forth to get the eyes sharp.

    Back to the OP, other things I take with me are card reflectors (A4 white card) which can also be used as a wind shield, I have some fishing rod rests that have an adapter for the card that can be pushed into the ground so it can be hands free and a small piece of camping mat to sit/lay on.

    Some harmless fun with iphone and (plastic) loupe (have also forced a Swiss Army Knife magnifier into service but the loupe wins):

    Red onion knife-cut

    Cardinal beetle

    clodhopper
    Member

    Thanks all. Going to have a look for a suitable Gorrillapod in some camera shops this weekend. Will also probably get a Manfrotto ball and socket head with qr, as it will be compatible with my existing tripod qr system. Will probably also get a monopod too. As for flash; there doesn’t seem to be a low-cost option that works perfectly with Nikon’s iTTL/CLS system, which really is superb. So will probably eventually go for the R1C1 system. I’m going to try the standard off-camera flash and bracket thing first though.

    Look fwd to seeing some pics OP 🙂

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