Brian's Photo Blog — Article 206
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Using the Yasuhara Nanoha 5x Ultra-Macro Lens
Sunday 25 November 2012   —   Category: Equipment
In my last article I wrote about this being the first time I have rented a lens. Today, I’ll take an in-depth look at what it’s like to take pictures with the Yasuhara Nanoha 5x ultra-macro lens.

In order to take the sharpest macro pictures, you definitely need to have your camera on a tripod. It is also important to have the camera sensor as parallel as possible to the object you are photographing. In order to achieve this in the easiest and most efficient manner, I removed the Manfrotto 322RC2 joystick head I normally use, and replaced it with a Manfrotto 410 Junior geared head, which allows very precise adjustments.

In the photos to the right you can see my set-up. This would have been impossible if the center column of my Manfrotto 190CXPRO3 carbon fiber tripod did not have the ability to be put into a horizontal position. You will notice I spread the tripod legs wide to provide a nicely-stable platform from which to shoot.

There are two cables plugged into the camera. The little black device on the floor to the left is a remote shutter release, so I didn’t have to touch the camera in order to take a picture. The little white device on the right — which came with the lens — holds two AA batteries, with a USB cable running to the lens to power the attached LED lights (as you can clearly see in the top photo).

With this lens the subject being photographed needs to be almost touching the end of the lens. Once I got the camera in a stable position on the tripod, I piled up some books until I had sufficient height to position the subject at the proper distance from the lens. The photos to the right shows my set-up for taking pictures of grains of salt scattered on a small piece of black form-core board.

The next photo shows one of the shots I took of the salt. At this magnification, the depth of field is extremely shallow. Therefore, unless the object being photographed is perfectly flat, you need to take multiple shots of the object at various focus points, then combine those pictures together with focus stacking software in order to have the entire object in focus. I’ll be writing more about focus stacking in my next article in this series.

Even using focus stacking, it still seemed like I couldn’t get a really sharp image using this lens. Sharpening filters in Photoshop can do only so much — too much sharpening results in an artificial-looking photo that still seems out of focus. After a lot of fiddling around, I was able to produce satisfactory pictures suitable for display on screens, but I don’t think they have the quality necessary to look good even on a modestly-sized 8x12-inch print.

At first I was excited about this kind of ultra-macro photography, but I quickly started to run out of subjects to take pictures of. There were many objects I COULD photograph, but at such high magnification, not very many resulted in interesting-looking images. The subjects being photographed are so enlarged that I could not even fit an entire kernel of popcorn or a match head into the frame. By the close of my first day with the lens, the four-day rental was starting to feel like a really long time!

In the end, I was very glad that I had spent only $68 (including shipping) to rent this lens rather than $500 to purchase it. Unless you have a vast stock of objects to photograph which look compelling at high magnification, it would be a waste of money to buy such a specialized tool. Now that I have tried it out and satisfied my curiosity, I’ll happily return to more traditional photography. I’m still very much looking forward to taking close-up shots with my new Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro lens.

To find more information about the Yasuhara Nanoha 5x ultra-macro lens, visit these other Web sites: This article is part two of a five-part series:
  1. My First Time Renting a Lens
  2. Using the Yasuhara Nanoha 5x Ultra-Macro Lens
  3. Focusing on Focus Stacking Software
  4. Not All Macro Focusing Rails Are Created Equal
  5. Sample Photos From Nanoha 5x Ultra-Macro Lens
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 206
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