Deep depth of field for Nex?


Quest88

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May 7, 2012
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Hi, have a newbie question which I hope to get some feedback on..

I'm aware of how to control depth of field, but wondering for macro photography, is it more preferred to go for a smaller sensor size like micro4/3 instead of nex system for handheld shots? An example of a subject is a small flower (e.g. size of a 5 cent coin or smaller) with outward folding petals.

My issue is that while I can get a decent result with a macro lens, the depth of field is just too shallow and thus control is insufficient to me. Of course, if I have time to set up a shot with tripod and spot focus mode, this solves it, but handheld is often the choice especially for travel.

How do any of you solve this in the field?
(i) Use smaller aperature (higher than f/8?) and trade-off sharpness? (usually have to resort to higher iso as shutter limited by hand shake) but even then usually not enough.
(ii) Use non-macro lens to shoot from further away and crop? (assuming we are ok to trade off some detail)
(ii) Carry second camera like micro4/3.. or something like a rx100? :p
 

Last edited:
lens wise.. i think m43 has better macro lens (M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 60mm f2.8 Macro | OLYMPUS E-SYSTEM | Olympus Imaging Malaysia) than NEX system (http://store.sony.com/p/30mm-f-3.5-Macro-Lens-for-α-NEX-Cameras/en/p/SEL30M35)...unless u r ok with Manual lens.

u can check out reviews on the m43 lens..
eg Robin Wong: Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 Macro Lens Preview

Hi, have a newbie question which I hope to get some feedback on..

I'm aware of how to control depth of field, but wondering for macro photography, is it more preferred to go for a smaller sensor size like micro4/3 instead of nex system for handheld shots? An example of a subject is a small flower (e.g. size of a 5 cent coin or smaller) with outward folding petals.

My issue is that while I can get a decent result with a macro lens, the depth of field is just too shallow and thus control is insufficient to me. Of course, if I have time to set up a shot with tripod and spot focus mode, this solves it, but handheld is often the choice especially for travel.

How do any of you solve this in the field?
(i) Use smaller aperature (higher than f/8?) and trade-off sharpness? (usually have to resort to higher iso as shutter limited by hand shake) but even then usually not enough.
(ii) Use non-macro lens to shoot from further away and crop? (assuming we are ok to trade off some detail)
(ii) Carry second camera like micro4/3.. or something like a rx100? :p
 

tntrue

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Dec 20, 2008
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Not where I wanna be...
Hi, have a newbie question which I hope to get some feedback on..

I'm aware of how to control depth of field, but wondering for macro photography, is it more preferred to go for a smaller sensor size like micro4/3 instead of nex system for handheld shots? An example of a subject is a small flower (e.g. size of a 5 cent coin or smaller) with outward folding petals.

My issue is that while I can get a decent result with a macro lens, the depth of field is just too shallow and thus control is insufficient to me. Of course, if I have time to set up a shot with tripod and spot focus mode, this solves it, but handheld is often the choice especially for travel.

How do any of you solve this in the field?
(i) Use smaller aperature (higher than f/8?) and trade-off sharpness? (usually have to resort to higher iso as shutter limited by hand shake) but even then usually not enough.
(ii) Use non-macro lens to shoot from further away and crop? (assuming we are ok to trade off some detail)
(ii) Carry second camera like micro4/3.. or something like a rx100? :p
Sounds like you already have a clear understanding of the dilemma all of us close-up shooters encounter. It's just a matter of experimenting with the various options you cited in order to see which results you find most satisfying.

Another option, especially with smaller subject matter, would be to use a lens with a shorter focal length which would mean moving closer, but necessitating a commensurately slower shutter speed (compared to a longer lens) in order to get a sharp shot.

The only other thing I can think of at the moment--relevant to the small flower you mentioned--is to maneuver so that your focal plane is as close as possible to being parallel to the focal plane you're attempting to include in your image--if that suits your aesthetic considerations.

I prefer APS-C for its increased ratio of depth of field-to-frame size over a FF sensor of comparable MP's (when comparing with the same lens, of course).
 

Quest88

New Member
May 7, 2012
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Sounds like you already have a clear understanding of the dilemma all of us close-up shooters encounter. It's just a matter of experimenting with the various options you cited in order to see which results you find most satisfying.

Another option, especially with smaller subject matter, would be to use a lens with a shorter focal length which would mean moving closer, but necessitating a commensurately slower shutter speed (compared to a longer lens) in order to get a sharp shot.

The only other thing I can think of at the moment--relevant to the small flower you mentioned--is to maneuver so that your focal plane is as close as possible to being parallel to the focal plane you're attempting to include in your image--if that suits your aesthetic considerations.

I prefer APS-C for its increased ratio of depth of field-to-frame size over a FF sensor of comparable MP's (when comparing with the same lens, of course).
Thanks for the tips, but can you explain why a lens with a shorter focal length will help?
I'm usually very close to the subject already (minimum focus distance for the 35mm macro).

Focal plane being parallel is certainly an option but may not be the most aesthetic one. :) This is why I mentioned flower with outward folding petals (or upward rather).. normal flowers which are abit more flat can be captured easier, same as insects if you get a side view. Maybe I should post some pictures as an illustration.

Very oddly the APS-C depth of field vs FF is a reason I may stick to Nex and get more lens instead of buying a RX1. hehe
 

albertri

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Jun 6, 2010
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Quest88 said:
Thanks for the tips, but can you explain why a lens with a shorter focal length will help?
I'm usually very close to the subject already (minimum focus distance for the 35mm macro).

Focal plane being parallel is certainly an option but may not be the most aesthetic one. :) This is why I mentioned flower with outward folding petals (or upward rather).. normal flowers which are abit more flat can be captured easier, same as insects if you get a side view. Maybe I should post some pictures as an illustration.

Very oddly the APS-C depth of field vs FF is a reason I may stick to Nex and get more lens instead of buying a RX1. hehe
The use of shorter focal is to help with the shake the longer focal more prone to shake than shorter focl length lenses. That the only thing I could think off.
 

silvermoon1407

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Mar 1, 2012
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If u are so particular with the details of your macro shots, you really ought to use tripod and do focus stacking...

If u r not the patient/dedicated kind, then do cropping lor... images from NEX are very croppable.

M43 macro lenses aren't going to give u much more DOF under handheld circumstances anyway I.e no tripod and only ambient light
 

Quest88

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May 7, 2012
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The use of shorter focal is to help with the shake the longer focal more prone to shake than shorter focl length lenses. That the only thing I could think off.
Thanks.. this makes sense.

If u are so particular with the details of your macro shots, you really ought to use tripod and do focus stacking...

If u r not the patient/dedicated kind, then do cropping lor... images from NEX are very croppable.

M43 macro lenses aren't going to give u much more DOF under handheld circumstances anyway I.e no tripod and only ambient light
Thanks for the input on M43 lenses.. looks like this is not an option. How about a RX100?

I know tripod and focus stacking is the way but is often not feasible for travel. Personally I have only done this as home with still objects as in the wild there is still wind/weather to contend with.
Seeing a nice flower while on a climb up the cliff, I just want to take a quick snapshot. Previously I just use my iphone to do it and it worked quite ok actually.. too bad I changed phone.

I don't mind having lack of details, but just want more of the item in focus, that's all.
Cropping is certainly an option, but it makes it harder for me to frame the shot.
 

tntrue

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You didn't mention in your original post what focal length you're currently using. For me, a 55-60mm FL lens is generally easier to manage inside 1:2 than a 100mm or longer lens. You generally have to get closer to your subject and when you do, your DOF is just as shallow as when you use a longer lens at a commensurately greater distance. But the benefit is that--for most people--you don't need as fast a shutter speed to obtain a sharp pic as you do when using a longer lens. Of course that varies by individual.

If you're already using 35mm (who makes that FL?) then you may do better with a slightly longer lens. Sony's 30mm e-mount has around an inch of working distance at 1:1. OTOH, Tamron's 60mm has around four inches of working distance at 1:1, making it a lot easier to light the subject.

As for focal plane being parallel to the subject, a damselfly might be a good example. If you're shooting the whole critter as opposed to detail of a part of the critter, you'd probably want to get as much of the critter in focus as possible. Same for someone documenting a radial-type flower, if you can visualize that. Again, it's a matter of what suits your fancy; there ain't no rules. ;)


Thanks for the tips, but can you explain why a lens with a shorter focal length will help?
I'm usually very close to the subject already (minimum focus distance for the 35mm macro).

Focal plane being parallel is certainly an option but may not be the most aesthetic one. :) This is why I mentioned flower with outward folding petals (or upward rather).. normal flowers which are abit more flat can be captured easier, same as insects if you get a side view. Maybe I should post some pictures as an illustration.

Very oddly the APS-C depth of field vs FF is a reason I may stick to Nex and get more lens instead of buying a RX1. hehe
 

albertri

Senior Member
Jun 6, 2010
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You didn't mention in your original post what focal length you're currently using. For me, a 55-60mm FL lens is generally easier to manage inside 1:2 than a 100mm or longer lens. You generally have to get closer to your subject and when you do, your DOF is just as shallow as when you use a longer lens at a commensurately greater distance. But the benefit is that--for most people--you don't need as fast a shutter speed to obtain a sharp pic as you do when using a longer lens. Of course that varies by individual.

If you're already using 35mm (who makes that FL?) then you may do better with a slightly longer lens. Sony's 30mm e-mount has around an inch of working distance at 1:1. OTOH, Tamron's 60mm has around four inches of working distance at 1:1, making it a lot easier to light the subject.

As for focal plane being parallel to the subject, a damselfly might be a good example. If you're shooting the whole critter as opposed to detail of a part of the critter, you'd probably want to get as much of the critter in focus as possible. Same for someone documenting a radial-type flower, if you can visualize that. Again, it's a matter of what suits your fancy; there ain't no rules. ;)
Bro I am using a MF lens Vivitar 55/2.8 MD mount on my NEX-7 and at 1-1 I find it too close to the subject but at 1-2 it's a good 2-4 inches away making it easier for me to shoot handheld with NEX-7 24MP I just crop it and still retain a lot of details. But Macro is not easy tried it few times at the end of the day I have sore arms and shoulders hehe
 

Edlet

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Aug 19, 2007
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Hi, have a newbie question which I hope to get some feedback on..

I'm aware of how to control depth of field, but wondering for macro photography, is it more preferred to go for a smaller sensor size like micro4/3 instead of nex system for handheld shots? An example of a subject is a small flower (e.g. size of a 5 cent coin or smaller) with outward folding petals.

My issue is that while I can get a decent result with a macro lens, the depth of field is just too shallow and thus control is insufficient to me. Of course, if I have time to set up a shot with tripod and spot focus mode, this solves it, but handheld is often the choice especially for travel.

How do any of you solve this in the field?
(i) Use smaller aperature (higher than f/8?) and trade-off sharpness? (usually have to resort to higher iso as shutter limited by hand shake) but even then usually not enough.
(ii) Use non-macro lens to shoot from further away and crop? (assuming we are ok to trade off some detail)
(ii) Carry second camera like micro4/3.. or something like a rx100? :p
If you need a higher DOF for Macro, you may want to consider compact cameras.
There are some folks who use the Panasonic LX or other compacts for higher DOF for macros.
 

silvermoon1407

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Thanks.. this makes sense.

Thanks for the input on M43 lenses.. looks like this is not an option. How about a RX100?

I know tripod and focus stacking is the way but is often not feasible for travel. Personally I have only done this as home with still objects as in the wild there is still wind/weather to contend with.
Seeing a nice flower while on a climb up the cliff, I just want to take a quick snapshot. Previously I just use my iphone to do it and it worked quite ok actually.. too bad I changed phone.

I don't mind having lack of details, but just want more of the item in focus, that's all.
Cropping is certainly an option, but it makes it harder for me to frame the shot.
If macro is so important to u when it comes to travel photography (why? Sometimes a non-macro composition is better), and DOF appears to be a deal breaker for u, get a compact (a good one). Really, under good light, compacts give gd macro shots. I used to own a cheapo canon sx1## (can't remember) and it does a decent macro job.

Not too sure about the RX100. U can look up its technical specs regard mfd etc. I Wun put my money on it thou. If u already have a NEX as primary camera and still faced limitations (macro), I would suggest a powerzoom bridge camera that has a mfd of 1cm or 0cm. Not sure about other brands, but I think canon PowerShot sx### and sx## series are not bad.
 

achewlim

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Oct 20, 2008
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when we focus at very close distance(macro), the dept of field is extremely shallow, so u can either increase ur aperture or do focus stacking in your postprocess, but for shutterspeed, i dont think bumping up to extreme iso is a good idea. y dont try reflector/ring flash to compensate ur shutter??? for those who shoot insect at night, i dont think they use crazy ISO to compensate their shutter too right??

i dont shoot macro on flowers/insect very often..most of the time my macro is on still subject which can allow me to drag my shutter as long as i want..but when i do shoot macro on insect..i usually use my own DIY ring flash along with it..
 

Quest88

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May 7, 2012
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You didn't mention in your original post what focal length you're currently using. For me, a 55-60mm FL lens is generally easier to manage inside 1:2 than a 100mm or longer lens. You generally have to get closer to your subject and when you do, your DOF is just as shallow as when you use a longer lens at a commensurately greater distance. But the benefit is that--for most people--you don't need as fast a shutter speed to obtain a sharp pic as you do when using a longer lens. Of course that varies by individual.

If you're already using 35mm (who makes that FL?) then you may do better with a slightly longer lens. Sony's 30mm e-mount has around an inch of working distance at 1:1. OTOH, Tamron's 60mm has around four inches of working distance at 1:1, making it a lot easier to light the subject.

As for focal plane being parallel to the subject, a damselfly might be a good example. If you're shooting the whole critter as opposed to detail of a part of the critter, you'd probably want to get as much of the critter in focus as possible. Same for someone documenting a radial-type flower, if you can visualize that. Again, it's a matter of what suits your fancy; there ain't no rules. ;)
Sorry, I think mine is the 30mm and not 35.. it's the normal e-mount lenses.
I've not tried using non-native lenses so far as yet, but given what you said.. I think I have to. For macro pictures, we have to manually focus anyway. AF doesn't work well in most instances.

60mm sounds better of course, but I haven't gone to the adapter route yet.

Bro I am using a MF lens Vivitar 55/2.8 MD mount on my NEX-7 and at 1-1 I find it too close to the subject but at 1-2 it's a good 2-4 inches away making it easier for me to shoot handheld with NEX-7 24MP I just crop it and still retain a lot of details. But Macro is not easy tried it few times at the end of the day I have sore arms and shoulders hehe
Can we set 1-1 or 1-2 within lens like the Vivitar? Sounds very convenient.
Sorry, really newbie come to this. :)
 

Velectron

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Can we set 1-1 or 1-2 within lens like the Vivitar? Sounds very convenient.
Sorry, really newbie come to this. :)
For some manual macro lenses, the reproduction ration is dependent on how far your turn the focusing ring. What happens is that the rear lens element get shifted further away from the sensor as you turn the focusing ring towards the minimum focusing distance, similar to adding extension tubes between lens and camera body. Therefore there is a whole range of reproduction ratios you can have, from something like 1:10 all the way to 1:1.
 

tntrue

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Sorry, I think mine is the 30mm and not 35.. it's the normal e-mount lenses.
I've not tried using non-native lenses so far as yet, but given what you said.. I think I have to. For macro pictures, we have to manually focus anyway. AF doesn't work well in most instances.

60mm sounds better of course, but I haven't gone to the adapter route yet.



Can we set 1-1 or 1-2 within lens like the Vivitar? Sounds very convenient.
Sorry, really newbie come to this. :)
Quite a few "macro" lenses have the reproduction scale either engraved or printed on the barrel. Once you learn what fits in a frame and have an idea of how you want to compose, it's a big help to have this scale. For me, it's easier to focus by setting the scale and moving to the subject rather than by adjusting the focus ring. I use the ring only when proximity or angle relative to the subject makes it necessary.
 

albertri

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Jun 6, 2010
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Quite a few "macro" lenses have the reproduction scale either engraved or printed on the barrel. Once you learn what fits in a frame and have an idea of how you want to compose, it's a big help to have this scale. For me, it's easier to focus by setting the scale and moving to the subject rather than by adjusting the focus ring. I use the ring only when proximity or angle relative to the subject makes it necessary.
My Vivitar 55/2.8 Macro has the scale printed it helps me a lot :) not used any new and AF macro lenses yet....
 

tsammyc

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Apr 7, 2010
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This is a good macro solution for the NEX, but heavy and expensive. Sigma 150mm with LA-EA2. Generally prefer my OMD with 60mm

 

Atarandas

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Aug 19, 2008
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This is a good macro solution for the NEX, but heavy and expensive. Sigma 150mm with LA-EA2. Generally prefer my OMD with 60mm

Can also mt tamron 90mm f2.8 or Sony 100mm macro too.