The Macro Show Must Go On

The Macro Show Must Go On

A circus must go on…even if the tents, elephants, and girls in spangly tights have been lost on the road. It is the mark of a consummate showman if he can make the whole three rings out of things found round the house. We’d like to tip our hat to Carl for the Olympus Macro Show on Wednesday night. He had his laptop, his powerpoint, and his own camera with him…but all the rest of the professional gear had been lost on the road with the transport company.

But fortunately the students who showed up brought a lot of their own Olympus gear with them, and Camera Electronic has a great selection of Olympus micro-4/3 cameras and lenses anyway. No-one was left out.

I’d also like to laud Carl for presenting a subject that can sometimes wander off into the rabbit hole of complexity in a way that was crystal clear. He told the optical and mechanical truth all the way and made it easy to follow. Then he crouched down with some simple set-ups and made the Olympus cameras, flashes, and accessories actually do what he said they could do. There is no better way of cementing people’s confidence in the instructor and the equipment than making it work.

I was also pleased when he mentioned that there are many ways up the macro mountain – and then added a couple of ideas I’d not encountered:

a. The Olympus TG-6 waterproof underwater camera has a deliberately designed microscope-like setting that will let you take flash pictures right up agains the housing itself – said to be the favourite of dermatologists and dentists. There is even a ring-flash attachment that concentrates the flash to a field around the lens.

b. The Mag Mod Scoop attachment we mentioned a couple of years back can be reversed on its mounting and then covered with a light blocking piece of cloth to provide a perfect close diffuser while using a camera-mounted flash.

The shot is being taken to illustrate the technique of lighting for the subject while letting the backdrop go black. The Olympus flash and camera can be coaxed into synch speeds well above the normal 1/250 second limit.

The idea of macro as an artistic exercise was also featured – Officeworks and their pencil supply came to the aid here, as well as a bottle of glucose solution.

And here’s the focus stacking mode in operation to cover the entire depth of field of several gold rings.

I was also pleased to hear that Carl thinks well of the Lume Cube for macro work, as well as such humble devices as the extension tube and even close-up filters. Like I said – many paths. It was an intensely practical workshop and one could only wonder how it would have been had the carters been able to delver the rest of the circus equipment.

Note that Olympus Micro 4/3  cameras have inherent advantages as macro cameras due to their sensor size. That they have added two dedicated macro lenses to the cabinet – a 30mm and a 60mm – shows a wise recognition of the different areas that need be covered. The macro used in wedding photography is the 30mm, by the way. More atmosphere in the picture as well as the main subject.

The only sad thing for my own desires is the fact that the automatic focus stacking capability of the Olympus cameras doesn’t quite extend to the wingspan or fuselage depth of a big Tomcat fighter plane. Now that would be awesomely useful.

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