Playing with my camera

Today’s spider time was a bit abbreviated, because my day is jam-packed with stuff scheduled on top of stuff, so I only had a brief moment in the lab. I decided to tinker a bit with a camera lens I’ve been neglecting, the Laowa 25mm f2.8 Ultra Macro 2.5-5.0x. This is a strange little lens with a lot of potential, but I have struggled with it before. It’s just so different from my other lenses, with different properties, and I think I’ll have to invest some serious effort to master. Today was not that effort. I shot a few quick photos before I had to refocus on today’s classes.

Spiders are the ideal models for macrophotography, because the ones I have are so calm and stable. This little lady was practically immobile for the entire half hour I spent playing with lights and backgrounds and moving in close for pictures.

One thing I discovered is that the Laowa is surprisingly good at collecting light. My first photos were at f/2.8, an exposure of 1/500, and they were all washed out. I kept reducing the exposure and closing off the aperture, and still got usable photos. So it’s got that going for it. On the other hand, the depth of focus is still pretty shallow and I had to stick the lens right in the spider’s face to get it in view, and one thing I like in a lens is a forgiving working distance. Fortunately, this spider was imperturbable.

Anyway, I played for a bit. The one on the left is shot at f/16, the other two at f/2.8. I’m not straining for light in any of them, which is nice. All are at 2.5x, I’ll have to try the 5x option next and see how that goes.

I have a mostly free day tomorrow! I’ll have to practice some more, and maybe do some comparisons with the Tokina Macro 100 F2.8 D, which is currently my favorite lens for field work. I don’t think the Laowa can replace it, but might make a good choice for the lab.

Now…on to classes and grading!


  1. bjnich2 says

    When they’re sessile, you could bracket focus and process the stack. My cameras have a focus bracketing feature, but that requires an AF lens. But you can bracket manually. It’s easier to shift distance than lens focus.

  2. birgerjohansson says

    Kubrick- who was loaded with money- owned a unique optical rig that allowed him to film Barry Lyndon in candlelight, quite impossible with ordinary tech.
    Since we know (thank you Fox News) that liberal elity professors are loaded with money, it should be trivial to order purpose-built optics to get a better depth of focus (sark).
    “I have a mostly free day tomorrow”.
    OT -if you need some fun entertainment during the Easter holiday I recommend God Awful Movies
    “GAM 293 The Bells of Innocence: Chuck Norris hangs out in a town of Satan worshippers.
    GAM episodes have helped me endure the pandemic.
    Apologies for the derail.

  3. kestrel says

    She almost looks like a squid in that photo.

    Second the GAM recommendation. Makes the time pass in a very pleasant fashion when one is engaged in boring or tedious work.

  4. blf says

    @2, The Barry Lyndon camera lens where specially made by Carl Zeiss for Nasa (Ye Pfffft! of All Knowledge): “In total there were only 10 lenses made. One was kept by Carl Zeiss, six were sold to NASA, and three were sold to Kubrick.”

  5. outis says

    Macrophotography of such tiny subjects is not the easiest thing, so you have your work cut out for you. At least your subjects are courteous enough to stay put.
    I’d really like to ask, what about that posture? She’s got her legs bent and draped over her head and eyes like a knight’s helm. Is that for defense or because she’d like to close her eyes, but, you know… no eyelids?

  6. wzrd1 says

    I wonder what would come of adapting that to a proper microscope!
    Likely, parallel our mos current capabiliies, via a different approach and superior graphics.

    If you decide you don’t want to keep it, let me know. I’ll Mickey Mose something thatt’ll use it.

  7. opus says

    Have you had a chance to play with the Canon 65mm macro lens? It starts where the Tokina leaves off, at 1x, and goes to 5x. The bad news is that you’ll need a Canon body if you don’t have one. There’s nothing in the Nikon world that fits this niche, or wasn’t when I was looking.
    For static shots, egg cases etc., one of these is wonderful if you can scrape up the cash:
    It truly does work as advertised. They have an insect rig as well, but I’m not sure if it would fit your needs.

  8. says

    I use Canon. Don’t mention new lenses to me, I’m a recovering addict on a very tight budget. I’ve drooled over the Canon 65mm, but it’s over a THOUSAND (1000!)! dollars. Nope, no, get thee behind me, Satan.

    I’m definitely not going to be able to afford a rail, and it wouldn’t do me much good, anyway — a lot of what I’ll be doing this summer is with a handheld camera of spiders in odd nooks and crannies.

    I do some focus stacking already. All of those images were made by stacking 3 or 4 focal planes using a wonderfully easy mac program called, obviously enough, Focus Stacker. I do it with a handheld camera, though — I have fairly steady hands, so I just creep the camera forward while snapping photos, or I turn on the auto feature where it takes photos continuously as you hold down the button.