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Author Topic: Experiences with focusing racks  (Read 6090 times)

PhilipWatkins

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Experiences with focusing racks
« on: May 03, 2013, 07:59:11 AM »

I was looking to get a focusing rack for macro photography for use with my Canon 5DII.  I've previously used a focusing rack with a Rollei rack with a 6008 and I was wondering whether anyone has any experiences (positive or negative) with any type or brand that they might care to share.


Phil
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bjanes

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Re: Experiences with focusing racks
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2013, 10:05:39 AM »

I was looking to get a focusing rack for macro photography for use with my Canon 5DII.  I've previously used a focusing rack with a Rollei rack with a 6008 and I was wondering whether anyone has any experiences (positive or negative) with any type or brand that they might care to share.


Phil

The RSS rail is quite nice, but it suffers from backlash in the focusing mechanism. If you like to focus by moving the lens to and fro until you get the best focus, this is quite irritating. I tried the unit, but returned it for a refund and bought the Kirk rail. It is not as well made, but has less backlash in its rack and pinion mechanism. The RSS is screw drive, which should be free of excessive play, but the play is not in the screw mechanism but in the lug that attaches the screw to the camera support.

Which would be better depends on the intended use. For single shots, I would prefer the Kirk but the RSS might be better for focus stacking since you can move the camera more precisely. With the Kirk, the Arca Swiss type clamp can be rotated 90 degrees is you are using a lens with a foot rather than mounted on the camera. With the RSS, you would have to buy an adapter.

Bill

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NancyP

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Re: Experiences with focusing racks
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2013, 11:52:54 AM »

OK, no experience here. But you might look into the StackShot motorized rack system. Cognisys makes it. This has a good reputation on macro technique fora.

Want "supermacro" stacking? People tend to cobble together home-made kit starting with a defunct microscope's focusing rack.

I am still trying to learn macro lighting - then I will worry about stacking. There is a lot of interesting stuff out there on the Internet.
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Ellis Vener

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Re: Experiences with focusing racks
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2013, 01:07:19 PM »

Do you have an iPhone or iPad? try  the CamRanger (http://www.camranger.com) instead. very precise remote focusing using your iPhone, iPad , or Mac (Windows and Android support is coming very soon) without touching your camera. Works well for both single frame shots and automates the focus stacking process too. Lots of other features as well like an intervalometer, ultra-long exposure settings, etc.

It's a better solution than a "one trick pony"  piece of hardware.
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Ellis Vener
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bjanes

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Re: Experiences with focusing racks
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2013, 02:40:31 PM »

Do you have an iPhone or iPad? try  the CamRanger (http://www.camranger.com) instead. very precise remote focusing using your iPhone, iPad , or Mac (Windows and Android support is coming very soon) without touching your camera. Works well for both single frame shots and automates the focus stacking process too. Lots of other features as well like an intervalometer, ultra-long exposure settings, etc.

It's a better solution than a "one trick pony"  piece of hardware.

The CamRanger is an interesting concept, but the hardware hanging off a cord rather then connected to the camera seems a bit awkward. Furthermore, with macro photography it is usually recommended to move the camera and not refocus the lens so as to avoid changes in magnification imposed by the refocusing.

Bill
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PeterAit

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Re: Experiences with focusing racks
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2013, 04:04:46 PM »

After a good deal of research I bought a Novoflex rack a couple of years ago. I have used it with a Nikon D700 and Panasonic G3. It is very high quality, has 2 sizes of tripod screw holes in 3 different locations (front, center, back), and could probably survive being run over by a tank. I bought this to do focus stacking because after asking on this forum I was convinced that you get the best result by moving the camera rather than changing the focus. It has a mm scale that makes it easy to move the camera in 1/2 mm increments.
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Ellis Vener

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Re: Experiences with focusing racks
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2013, 02:04:30 PM »

"after asking on this forum I was convinced that you get the best result by moving the camera rather than changing the focus"

I've tried both ways and for me at least I found that it depends on the subject, Being able to use both is good. I am using Helicon Focus Pro to blend with.
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Glenn NK

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Re: Experiences with focusing racks
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2013, 02:08:15 PM »


I've tried both ways and for me at least I found that it depends on the subject, Being able to use both is good.

Ellis:

Could you expand on this please?

I've been using the lens to focus at different points, but parallax shift seems to be the largest issue that causes the most problems.

Glenn
« Last Edit: May 04, 2013, 02:09:51 PM by Glenn NK »
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BartvanderWolf

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Re: Experiences with focusing racks
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2013, 02:28:31 PM »

Ellis:

Could you expand on this please?

I've been using the lens to focus at different points, but parallax shift seems to be the largest issue that causes the most problems.

Hi Glenn,

Parallax should not be a part of the issue, all movements are in line with the optical axis. Image magnification, going from slice to slice, should be handled by the stitching application.

Cheers,
Bart
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EricWHiss

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Re: Experiences with focusing racks
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2013, 03:35:25 PM »

Moving the camera and lens is best for higher magnification work, but matters less when your subject is not in close proximity to the lens.   For larger subjects like flowers or products, a linhof macro rail is very robust and easy to operate and can be found on the used market for very little money for what they are.
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stever

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Re: Experiences with focusing racks
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2013, 11:20:05 PM »

Eric, that makes sense, i can't see how and external focus adjust program can acheive reasonably accurate 1/8 in slices at 3 in working distance (of course i can't do it manually either)

having done some stacking manually, i'm very much in favor of automating the process but would really like to understand the accuracy and repeatability of the alternatives available - and what the alternatives are.  i'd like to be able to do it in the field without tethering to a computer
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markmullen

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Re: Experiences with focusing racks
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2013, 03:05:01 PM »

I've got a Novoflex mini castel which I use as a nodal slide for stitched panoramas, I can't vouch for it for macro use as it isn't something I do but it is a very nicely made piece of kit.
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Ellis Vener

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Re: Experiences with focusing racks
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2013, 08:53:39 PM »

Eric, that makes sense, i can't see how and external focus adjust program can acheive reasonably accurate 1/8 in slices at 3 in working distance (of course i can't do it manually either)

having done some stacking manually, i'm very much in favor of automating the process but would really like to understand the accuracy and repeatability of the alternatives available - and what the alternatives are.  i'd like to be able to do it in the field without tethering to a computer

with the CamRanger the increments are not measured in mm or fractions of inches - and the actual distance seems to be irrelevant (lens focal length, reproduction scale (subject size to capture format size and also reproduction size of the finished image are factors)  but it does move the focus point incrementally from the point you set as the near focus point towards a distant point. If at the end of a sequence you find that  the stopping point is too short you simply continue the sequence from the previous sequences stopping point.
Here's a montage of three screen shots of the focusing interface setup of the CamRanger app running in iOS on an iPhone 4. Double tapping on the screen fills the screeb area with a 100% resolution view of the area in the white square. I have used it (I have no connections with the creators of the CamRanger) so I know that it works.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2013, 08:57:51 PM by Ellis Vener »
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Ellis Vener
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K.C.

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Re: Experiences with focusing racks
« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2013, 01:08:32 AM »

The RSS rail is quite nice, but it suffers from backlash in the focusing mechanism.

I wondered if they've improved them since you tried it out. I have 3 of the RRS and none of them suffer from any backlash. I bought them last year.
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EricWHiss

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Re: Experiences with focusing racks
« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2013, 11:30:44 AM »

This is the linhof rail that I have for those that are curious.  It's probably as robust a device as you can find, but probably not right for bugs and very small things.  Works well for flowers and products though and this is strong enough to hold a large camera.   The pics were from the guy I bought mine from.  This has a geared travel and 3 different camera attachment points. You can mount the body on one and secure lens with another if you have a lot of tubes or long lenses fitted.  Travel is marked in cm on the side. 
« Last Edit: May 08, 2013, 11:32:41 AM by EricWHiss »
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orchidblooms

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Re: Experiences with focusing racks
« Reply #15 on: May 08, 2013, 12:27:33 PM »

wow - quite the contraption...

thank you for posting the pix...

phil
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Ellis Vener

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Re: Experiences with focusing racks
« Reply #16 on: May 08, 2013, 03:09:45 PM »

I had not seen that Linhof geared rail before. In my mind's eye I was picturing something different but this is exceeds my expectations. Thank you for sharing.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2013, 04:18:26 PM by Ellis Vener »
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Ellis Vener
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Ellis Vener

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Re: Experiences with focusing racks
« Reply #17 on: May 10, 2013, 04:01:33 PM »

CamRanger hardware with Canon EOS 1D X and MP-E 65mm f/2.8. Does anyone now of a cable with stardard USB on one end and a mini USB connection that makes a right angle just after the mini connection?
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Ellis Vener
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SangRaal

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Re: Experiences with focusing racks
« Reply #18 on: May 16, 2013, 01:52:48 PM »

Yes try newegg StarTech 3 foot cables maybe half meter/ 18 inch they show them in mini right angle. I am interested in seeing your pics done in Helicon with the automated focus in cam ranger.
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BAB

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Re: Experiences with focusing racks
« Reply #19 on: May 19, 2013, 09:35:23 PM »

You may want to read over this it will answer some of your questions what it doesn't tell you is that the program corrects most images automatically there is really no need to kill your self trying to manually focus image stacks anymore
http://zerenesystems.com/cms/stacker/docs/troubleshooting/ringversusrail
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