"Extreme-Macro" Photography

There are folks out there, that instead of using an infinity corrected objective on a microscope, use a 200 mm focal length lens, which is optically similar to what happens inside an infinity corrected microscope (it is called a tube lens), on their regular camera. Finite objectives don't use another lens, but do need a way to get the finite conjugate right (like 210 mm, or 160 mm), blocking out stray light - typically this is done with a focusing bellows arrangement.

You can read more about this technique on the photomacrography.net site, here. One of the masters of the craft is Johan, in the UK, who's excellent site is extreme-macro.co.uk.

My first real attempt with my Nikon D3300 DSLR, with a 2x Mitutoyo M Plan Apo (clone, by Edmund Optics) objective on a 55-200 mm zoom lens, at 200 mm, was of a Japanese Brown Beetle's head.

Japanese Brown Beetle head with 2x M Plan Apo on Nikon D3300 DSLR

You can go much higher than 2x, but it takes some effort to keep things stable and do proper focus stacking, most likely.

The same subject was photographed with what is called a "combo lens", where multiple lenses are used together, but not an actual objective. Here I use the Nikon lens with a 39 mm threaded old Soviet fixed focus lens (58 mm f/2 - the original Helios 44) attached to the front.

Nikon 55-200 mm telephoto + Soviet 58 mm f/2 fixed focus lens as a combo lens Nikon 55-200 mm telephoto + Soviet 58 mm f/2 Helios 44 fixed focus lens as a combo lens single photo of the Japanese Brown Beetle

Since I hadn't been working on the interference 'scope yet, I decided to use the granite base, vertical stage and 5-axis stage for extreme macro photography. I used the arm sticking out to mount the camera via an interface plate on top of the arm with a 3 inch hole in it and a tilted box beam, which cancels out the 10 tilt of the top of the arm. It simply holds the camera by the 1/4-20 mount on the bottom of the camera. There are slots for vertical adjustment and slots in the box beam for front/back adjustment. Left/right pointing can be modified slightly with the positioning with the 1/4-20 tensioning it.

The vertical stage has a coarse thread giving only 20 turns per inch, which is 0.05" per turn (1.27 mm/rev). A direct drive stepper motor with 200 steps/rev yeilds 6.35 microns per step, if I were to hook one up.

The photos below are with a Nikon D3300 with Nikkor 55-200 mm zoom lens and an Edmund Optics 2x Plan Apo Long Working-Distance microscope objective. I have also used it with a 20x Mitutoyo LWD objective and the Helios 44 combo lens.

Extreme macro vertical rig with granite base and six degrees of freedom with the stages Extreme macro vertical rig with granite base and six degrees of freedom with the stages Extreme macro vertical rig with granite base and six degrees of freedom with the stages Extreme macro vertical rig with granite base and six degrees of freedom with the stages Extreme macro vertical rig with granite base and six degrees of freedom with the stages

On to some examples! Using the vertical macro rig described above, the following images were made as described below. These are all reduced in size from the original 24 MP images (or larger in the case of stitching). I can put up higher-resolution images if people are interested.

Here is a 21 image stack, using Zerene Stacker of moss with the Edmund 2x.

moss with 2x Edmund Optics Plan Apo LWD objective, 21 image focus stack with Zerene Stacker

Also stacked with Zerene (12 through focus) is an M2 x 4 mm bolt with the Edmund 2x.

2mm x 4mm screw with 2x Edmund Optics Plan Apo LWD objective, 12 image focus stack with Zerene Stacker

Stacked with ImageStacker (7 through focus) is your standard table salt and pepper with the Edmund 2x.

Salt and pepper with 2x Edmund Optics Plan Apo LWD objective, 7 image focus stack with Image Stacker

A Zerene stack (11 through focus) is of the pattern in a silk shirt, but this time with the 20x Mitutoyo Plan Apo LWD objective.

Detail of silk shirt weave with 20x Mitutoyo Plan Apo LWD objective, 11 image focus stack with Zerene Stacker

Here I did no focus stacking, but it is stitched in Microsoft ICE, combining 9 images.

' Microsoft ICE stiched from 9 images of US dime with 2x Edmund Optics Plan Apo LWD objective

With the Helios 44 combo lens, I looked at the salt and pepper again, here stacking (3 through focus) with Image Stacker. The magnification depends on the focal length of the lenses, so the zoom lens functions as normal, providing variable magnification.

Salt and pepper with Helios 44 and Nikkor 55-200 combo lens, 3 image focus stack with Image Stacker

Also with the Helios 44 combo lens, I both did focus stacking with Zerene, and stitched the three sets of output stacks in Microsoft ICE, creating a 53 megapixel composite image from ~80 source images. (In stereo.)

LEGO Stormtrooper figure with Helios 44 and Nikkor 55-200 combo lens, ~80 images in three Zerene stacked groups, then stitched in Microsoft ICE

Using a reversed 105 mm focal length medium format lens for the Pentax 67, I obtained the following stack of 37 images of a fly. (In stereo.)

Fly with reversed Pentax 67 105 mm f/2.4 lens at f/8 Zerene Stacker DMap stack of 37 images

And using a reversed 165 mm focal length medium format lens for the Pentax 67, I obtained the following stack of 97 images of a palo verde blossom. (In stereo.)

Fly with reversed Pentax 67 165 mm f/2.8 lens at f/4 Zerene Stacker PMax stack of 97 images

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