Equipment Resources

I was asked about where some of the equipment shown can be found. In addition to the traditional photography retailers listed below, a manufacturer that makes some specialized macro photography gear is Kirk Enterprises. Their focusing rail comes with an Arca Swiss adapter already attached, which probably doubles the cost of the focusing rail, but as anyone with Arca Swiss or Really Right Stuff plates know, their stuff isn’t cheap.

Kirk Enterprises focus rail with Arca Swiss Adapter $269
Really Right Stuff focus rail with RRS Adapter $345

Rest assured you can find generic focusing rails w/o quick release adapters for anywhere from $60 on up. Manfrotto make a very good one that I use for about $89.

Also on a local level, if you want to try out a macro lens before you jump in and buy one, West Photo in Minneapolis rents the Canon 100mm Macro for $20 a day, the Nikon 60mm Micro for $15 a day, and the Nikon 105mm Micro for $20 a day. The also rent a set of extension tubes for $10 a day.

Traditional Photo Retailers – local and mail order (with macro photography being a specialized niche the local retailers may not stock a lot of macro equipment and may have to order it in.)

National Camera Exchange

West Photo’s Rental List

B & H Photo

Adorama Camera



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Testing your set-up

In order to test your lens or set-up to find out just what magnification you are shooting at you need to know two things. First you need to know the size of your subject and second you need to know the size of your sensor. Since my camera has a full-frame sensor I know that it is 24mm x 36mm. Next I need to know the size of my subject. For test purposes, there is no better subject to shoot that a ruler or scale marked in millimeters. If I shoot the ruler with my 180mm macro lens focused as close as possible the resulting frame will show a 36mm segment of the ruler. Since we already know that magnification is the subject size on your sensor/subject size, in this example it would be 36mm:36mm or 1:1 maginification. Now lets experiment with adding a teleconvertor to my lens.

With a 2x teleconvertor attached and the lens set to its closest focus point I get about 17mm of the rulers scale in my photo. This gives me a magnification of 36mm:17mm or basically a 2:1 or 2x magnification. In fact a teleconvertor will always magnify the magnification of the lens or set-up that it is paired with.


Here is a test shot with my 180mm macro lens with a 25mm extension tube attached. With this set-up I get approximately 31mm in the frame so I know this set up can get to 36:31 or about 1.16x magnification.



For this shot I attached all three extension tubes that I have which are (2) 25mm tubes and (1) 12mm tube for a total extension of 62mm. This captures 24mm in my frame, so that results in a 36:24 or 1.5x magnification.



Using this test method I attached my 50mm lens in a reversed position as described in reversing a lens. This shows about 37mm of the ruler, or basically a 1:1 or 1x magnification.



No matter what your set-up is this is a good way to test it and find out just what magnification you are getting with your lens.

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