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macrophotography setup with canon 100DMacro on the EOS 100D/SL1

Tiny camera can best Canon's flagship

Keith has been looking at macro photography with the EOS 100D, in particular for photographing very small objects.

This is part of a series of articles experimenting with the 100D.

Why the 100D?

I recently purchased a Canon EOS 100D 18MP APS-C DSLR. Some might wonder at my choice, given my day to day camera is the relatively huge full frame Canon 1Ds mark 3.

One reason was to have a small backup/2nd camera when I'm on photographic jobs (I still have my old 1Ds). I might be using the 1Ds3 with a 17mm tilt/shift on a tripod for architectural shots, but the 100D with an EF-S 15-85mm matches the 24-70 I'd normally use for more general 'fill in' or detail shots, without having to disturb my main setup. Using the 100D with my EF70-200 2.8L IS gives an equivalent of 320mm if I need it. Ok, the 70D may be great, but I got the 100D really cheaply, and with a mail-in rebate ;-)

With good lenses, the 18MP of the 100D at ISO 100 is pretty close to the image quality of the 1Ds Mk3.

Canon seem to think 18MP is enough for full frame with the 1D X, but personally, I still see the 1D X as a full frame version of the 1D mark 4, rather than a true successor to the 1Ds mark 3 (some thoughts why).

Another good reason to get the 100D is that my wife (and fellow Northlight Images director) Karen has much smaller hands than I do ;-) The fact that the 100D can record video is, as yet, of academic interest only ;-)

All our UK used photographic items come from MPB

In this article, the MT-24EX flash, the MP-E65mm macro lens and TS-E90mm 2.8 tilt shift lens all came via MPB.

In the US try - B&H | Adorama

This is part of a series of articles concerned with the 100D.

Macro with a crop sensor

If all things were equal, the 21MP of the 1Ds3 would outstrip the 18MP of the 100D (or any of Canon's cameras based on this basic APS-C sensor).

However this assumes that the object you are photographing, fills the sensor with its image.

If we take a small object (such as some of the electronic components I regularly photograph for suppliers and manufacturers) then its image (with the same lens) is closer to filling the APS-C crop sensor than it is the full frame one. All that extra space round the edge is wasted in the full frame shot.

Indeed, since the full frame sensor has 2.56 (1.6x1.6) times the area of the crop sensor the 100D is equivalent to using a full frame sensor of around 46MP.

In a different area, this is why crop cameras such as the EOS 7D are good for photographing small birds with long lenses. The crop is what give the 'equivalent focal length multiplier' of 1.6 for Canon APS-C (1.5 for Nikon). Of course, it's a field of view reduction, not a focal length multiplier, but it's good enough for most estimates. I'll not go into aperture and depth of field equivalence here, but just note that a 200mm lens at f/2 gives the same thin depth of field, whatever sensor you are using.

Using tilt

The TS-E90mm is attached to the camera via three extension tubes (65mm in all) Adding such tubes to the lens allows you to focus closer. The chip I'm photographing is the small dot on a piece of cardboard in front of the lens.

The business card in the clamp is actually being used as a reflector for the two flash heads.

Note how the front of the lens is tilted downwards. This has the effect of tilting the plane of focus over, allowing me to photograph the top surface of the chip.

90mm tilt shift lens used with extension tubes for macro photography

If you're curious about focusing tilted lenses, I've an article covering the technique I use for close up work:

Not long after I'd started, I remembered that my Canon angle finder had an adaptor that would allow it to fit the 100D.

The viewfinder works well and offers a magnified view.

There is no autofocus here, so the liveview and touch screen are not a lot of help (I also don't need glasses to use the angle viewer).

using anglefinder C with 100D

The flash has an unusual inverse lens hood fitted, designed for the MP-E65 macro lens, that works well for small objects very close up to the TS-E90. Mine was from eBay, at a fraction of the price of a Canon branded one ;-)

special lens hood for mp-e65 macro lens

You can also see an adapter ring attached to the front of the lens, that allows the MT-24EX twin macro flash to attach to the front of it.

MT-24ex ftwin macro flash

Connecting the 100D via USB to my nearby computer allows me to control it remotely, via the free EOS Utility, or the software I've used some time for tethered work, DSLR Remote Pro (see my review for more info).

tethered shooting for the 100D/SL1

The pencil line is there as a focus aid when I'm using tilt. The components here are just a few millimetres long.

Switching over to the MP-E65mm macro lens, I've attached the lens 'foot' and then attached it to the micro adjustment focus rail. With my 1Ds3, it's the camera mounted to the rail.

mp-e65 lens on 100D at x1 magnification

The MP-E65 lens is quite unique in that you don't adjust its focus, just set the magnification factor, and move it or the subject back and forth to achieve focus.

I've written up some additional notes on this lens, from when I first borrowed one from Canon UK

It also extends far more more than any other lens I've got, when going from 1x to 5x magnification.

mp-e65 lens on 100D at x5 magnification

The 100D sensor measures 22.3 x 14.9mm, so at 1x magnification, that's size of your field of view at the lens focal point. At 5x, this is reduced to about 4.4mm by 3mm. That's pretty small.

It's worth noting that at this size, the fact that my camera is attached to a hefty studio stand only makes up so much for the fact that I have wooden floors in our house. Even though I'm using a tethered computer, I'm inclined to stand still and use a cable release.

The view below is of an Intel 8031 microprocessor chip, taken at around x3.

Intel 8031 microprocessor chip

A high resolution version is on my Google+ page.

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The detailed electronic component shots all turned out great, and at higher resolution than I'd normally get with the 1Ds3. The lens isn't any sharper, but you are sampling at a finer resolution.

It looks like the 100D has a place for some of this work ...at least until Canon get round to putting 40+ MP into a full frame sensor ;-)

I'll be trying a few more experiments with the 100D over the next few weeks, since I've some reviews of new lenses coming up too...

Article first published January 2014.

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