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Thread: focusing rail for canon mpe 65mm macro

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    Cool focusing rail for canon mpe 65mm macro

    Hello everybody ,

    I am learning to shoot macro with this lens and do find that I really need a focusing rail to micro adjust the focal plane. I have looked up on ebay and there's way too many of them.I would really appreciate if anybody could suggest a good focusing rail. Thank you in advance.

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    are you shooting in natural light? Are you planning on stacking images? What are you going to be shooting?

    If you plan on shooting insects that usually move alot, you will find focusing rails useless as the insect will move to quickly usually (sometimes stationary).
    If you shoot with a flash you do not usually need a tripod due to the flash freezing motion. Shooting hand held is not very difficult after a little bit of practice
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    I suggest your criteria be:


    • Solid (meaning they will be a little heavy)
    • Metal (I like brass) Rack and Pinion gears
    • Locking knob
    • Good sized knobs
    • Two way travel
    • Distance scale on matt or semi gloss black so a Chinagraph Pencil can adhere
    • Good clearance from top rack to camera mount


    I picked this pair up several years ago – about $150.00, not the most expensive and they are a ‘no names’ brand – but very solid and no play in the travel when they are locked:


    I’d suggest you look at what you buy and test the rails out, mounted on your tripod rig with the camera and lens.

    I would not be keen to buy this item sight unseen and not tested – YMMV.

    Here is a shot showing the clearance:


    WW

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    I agree with Fabian, it depends what you want to shoot with macro. I generally just use a tripod or monopod (monopod offers stability but easy to move in need). As you have selected yourself as a beginner, I think getting the entire art of macro photography down is probably more important than investing in a rail at this stage. Yes a rail is going to be of benefit, sometimes, but that should not really kick in until you are intermediate and beyond.
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    And adding to Ricks and Fabians advice, whilst not detracting from what William W has offered in anyway, the MPE 65 is not the easiest Canon Macro lens to start out with. The Aper's in the Marco forum that have and use this lens will back up that statement.
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    Thanks everyone for the feedback. I shoot mpe 65mm with canon mr14ex. And yes its a steep learning curve for me. I also have 100mmL IS macro which I use for fast moving insects. I am planning to capture better eye and hairy details of the insect using this mpe65mm. And it is so frustrating as the distance my subject is only about 10cm at 1X magnification to focus and goes down to 6mm at 3, 4x magnification perhaps. Hence the idea of this focusing rail as not to make a drastic move and scare off the insects.

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    Thanks William for the suggestion. That focusing rail looks good and stable. I might just get one from ebay

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    Quote Originally Posted by fabian628 View Post
    are you shooting in natural light? Are you planning on stacking images? What are you going to be shooting?

    If you plan on shooting insects that usually move alot, you will find focusing rails useless as the insect will move to quickly usually (sometimes stationary).
    If you shoot with a flash you do not usually need a tripod due to the flash freezing motion. Shooting hand held is not very difficult after a little bit of practice
    I am not familiar with stacking image at all...might be the next thing i should learn. do you reckon i don't need the focusing rail if i use flash? I was just wondering can we really shoot this lens hand held??hmm...

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    Ausphotography Site Sponsor/Advertiser OzzieTraveller's Avatar
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    G'day alex

    I have a simple <$20 focussing rail that does me very nicely. It is a simple 2-way job [back & forth] rather than the 4-way one shown above

    Here's a link to the mob I got mine from ~ maybe it will help

    http://www.dinodirect.com/se-focus%2...rency-AUD.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by aalex View Post
    Thanks everyone for the feedback. I shoot mpe 65mm with canon mr14ex. And yes its a steep learning curve for me. I also have 100mmL IS macro which I use for fast moving insects. I am planning to capture better eye and hairy details of the insect using this mpe65mm. And it is so frustrating as the distance my subject is only about 10cm at 1X magnification to focus and goes down to 6mm at 3, 4x magnification perhaps. Hence the idea of this focusing rail as not to make a drastic move and scare off the insects.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Thanks William for the suggestion. That focusing rail looks good and stable. I might just get one from ebay

    - - - Updated - - -



    I am not familiar with stacking image at all...might be the next thing i should learn. do you reckon i don't need the focusing rail if i use flash? I was just wondering can we really shoot this lens hand held??hmm...
    you wont need a focusing rail and tripod if you are shooting flash, the flash will freeze camera shake.

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    The same rail in William W's post is available at a shop in Leichhardt called Photo Shop Studio (on Parramatta Rd), for about $50.00

    I bought one off them, and have used it a couple of times, and it seems to work well and is very stable with no movement.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fabian628 View Post
    you wont need a focusing rail and tripod if you are shooting flash, the flash will freeze camera shake.
    I'm not sure if I totally agree, yes the flash lets you freeze camera shake, but focusing @ 4 and 5X can be really tough hand holding, focus rails really helped me nail the focus.
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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dulvariprestige View Post
    I'm not sure if I totally agree, yes the flash lets you freeze camera shake, but focusing @ 4 and 5X can be really tough hand holding, focus rails really helped me nail the focus.
    Agree, any slight forward backward movement is going to put the focus out.

    I still think aalex, as a beginner, needs to concentrate on general macro photography first, without looking at focus stacking etc, these are more advanced techniques than most beginners should be looking at. Beginners should be looking at focus, getting the camera settings right, and basic PP, anything else is more intermediate level stuff.

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    I agree with Rick. Starting off with the 65mm MP-E is very ambitious. I started off with the 100mm macro, then put tubes on it, then put a TC 1.4x on it before buying the MP-E. Even now, I don't get decent results with anything 3x or more. I'm sure I will eventually, but it sort of gives an indication of the learning curve.

    But you have it now, and it is an amazing lens. I think you should keep it at 1x and mount it to a tripod. Head around and take macro of stationary objects and experience the difficulties first hand. It will demonstrate the benefits of focus stacking or using a flash while hand holding. Then you will be able to make a better decision about which is for you.

    I've done focus stacking a few times - I think it's my bottle neck right now, but still learning how to navigate the scene that includes a moving object. That's my next hurdle!

    Good luck

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    http://steveaxford.smugmug.com/ Steve Axford's Avatar
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    I have the MP-E and by far the easiest way to use it (though no ways are easy with this lens) is with the twin macro flash (or ring flash). You use it hand held, brace the camera with your hand and move it until it crosses the focus and snap. It will take some practice, but when it works it is magic. The other way, but harder, is with a focus rail and tripod. Both the rail and the tripod need to be of very good quality as tiny movements will change the focus (dof is 0.1mm or less when used at high magnification).
    By the way, if you want to take insects on leaves, twigs etc, flash is the only way as the leaves will move unless you live in a place with zero wind. Even then your movement will disturb the air and move the leaves. I take fungus with it and I now usually use a focus rail, focus stacking and natural light because I love the look of the result, but it took a lot of practice and I would not attempt this with a subject that moves even slightly. I have to wait for very still air even with fungus.
    Last edited by Steve Axford; 25-10-2012 at 9:31am.

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    Thanks for the tips and information guys. I have tried hand held with ring flash. It was quite difficult, perhaps success rate (usable & acceptable photos) so far was 1/10. I will keep practising. Have ordered a cheapo focusing rail through ebay

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