I’ve given up doing videos as they’re time consuming to do and nobody much looks at them so I’m doing a normal blog post instead.
My home macro “studio” (far too pretentious a word) 🙂 is so confined, or to put it another way, as the old saying goes, “you can’t swing a cat in here”. So I’ve been choosing my recent investments in macro gear with this firmly in mind. I’ve also done this strictly on a budget.
My first addition was the small light tent. I quickly discovered that the backdrops supplied with it are made of a sort of felt/lint material which attracts dust like it’s going out of fashion and shows every blemish and scuff mark, not great and especially so when I’m doing green or blue screening so I bought some very cheap non-shiny, fine grain, sheets of thin A4 coloured card and I also used an old box file to raise the “stage” up a bit. As many of you know I’m not a lover of tripods or flash in my regular work, but for this kind of work it’s essential to have a steady platform and indoor lighting options. Another very cheap addition that I bought is one of those small “helping hands” things to hold flower stems, other objects or some white card to act as a reflector and/or for setting manual white balance.
A while back I bought a small Godox TT350o flash gun which hasn’t seen much use just in case I ever needed one for family shots of the grandkids etc. and I added a Godox X1T radio flash trigger which is the unit connected directly to the camera’s hotshoe. This unit also has a pass-through hotshoe on top to which I added a cheap manual LED ring flash. This unit, seen mounted on top of the X1T, is quite versatile. It has 7 brightness settings as well as the facility to turn on the lights continuously and set their brightness as well as switching off either the left or right bank of LEDs so their light isn’t so flat. It’s also supplied with four diffusers, an opaque one, a translucent one as well as yellow and blue ones to change the colour temperature of the light source and includes adapter rings to fit most filter threads but I had to buy 46 mm to 49 mm step up ring.
So I can run just the TT350 triggered by the X1T or the LED ring flash (in flash or light mode) or both together as required. You set a common radio channel and group to both Godox units and the trigger controls the flash as a slave unit. As a personal preference I’ve been using manual focus and manual flash settings, the camera’s focus peeking and magnification features are great focusing aids. The X1T trigger sets the power for the TT350 flash gun.
As I mentioned space is very tight so I’ve just added a cheap focus rail, not generally to be used for it’s common usage but rather to allow me to quickly and easily move the camera in two additional axes, left/right and, most importantly, forward/backwards. If I had the space I’d move the tripod but, as I haven’t, this is a really handy way of achieving the same. The rail should also prove very useful for when I use non-macro lenses with my Olympus MCON-P01 macro lens attachment.
I’m waiting to take delivery of the last two bits of kit, a mains adapter for my E-M1 Mk1 and power grip which will make life a lot easier as I’m running through camera batteries very quickly and also a PC sync cable so that I can remove the X1T and the ring flash from the camera’s hotshoe mount and connect the X1T to the camera’s PC socket and thus reduce weight and, particularly, height. I’m also very pleased that I chose to buy secondhand a 30 mm macro lens and not their 60 mm model as it provides a wider angle of view which is very useful in this confined space. Their 60 mm does have focus limiting, D.O.F scale and weather-sealing but I’m not outside photographing insects or flowers etc. so it’s not important to me and it is very sharp and focuses down to a smidgen under 1 cm!.
And lastly I said that I’ve been trying to do this on a budget :
Ring Flash – £21.50
Godox X1T Radio flash trigger – £37.00
Step up ring £3.99
Light Tent and four mains powered LED lights – £44.99
DC Mains Adapter for OM-D E-M1 Mk 1 camera – £19.97
Helping Hand – £6.72
Coloured card (25 sheets each of blue and green) – £5.98
PC Synch Cable – £5.89
Focusing Rail – £22.99
Total expenditure = £170, helping to keep my sanity during lockdown, “priceless” 🙂
And on the subject of cats, a shot of my wife Valerie’s broach.
Stay safe, kind regards,