Not All Macro Focusing Rails Are Created Equal
Wednesday 26 December 2012 — Category: Equipment
In my previous article on focus stacking, I mentioned that a macro focusing rail is an essential piece of equipment when doing high magnification photography. Not wanting to spend a lot of money on yet another photographic gadget, I took a look around Amazon.com to see if I could find a reasonably-priced model with a good customer rating.
I settled on the $115 Velbon Super Mag Macro Tripod Slider (pictured to the right). As soon as it arrived, I unpacked it and experimented with the rail movement. To my disappointment, I found that the knob used to move the rail back and forth was too stiff and hard to turn, which prevented precision adjustments. Also, there seemed to be some play in the mechanism which, again, dashed my hopes of a high-precision instrument. After just a few minutes' examination, it went back in the box to be returned to Amazon!
Once again I learned that you usually get what you pay for. And that if you’re going to do something, you should do it right the first time. I haven’t made another purchase as of yet, but I’m mulling over the possibility, perhaps next year. While there are a handful of companies that make high-precision macro focusing rails, I've heard a lot of good things about the quality photographic equipment from Really Right Stuff, located in San Luis Obispo, California, where I lived for four years, during and after college at Cal Poly.
Of course, at $345 the Really Right Stuff B150-B macro focusing rail (pictured above) does cost exactly three times as much as the Velbon, but if that’s the price I have to pay to get a piece of equipment that performs well rather than a piece of junk that won’t even do the job, then it’s well worth the extra money. Obviously, not all macro focusing rails are created equal!
I’m not ready to take the plunge yet ... I’m still thinking about it ... we shall see!
JULY 2013 UPDATE: I did end up purchasing the Really Right Stuff focusing rail, as well as some of their other equipment. You can read all the juicy details at Really Right Goodies!This article is part four of a five-part series: