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Tamron 90mm Macro

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vneilknobbe
 
Posts: 121

Tamron 90mm Macro

Post Sat Jul 13, 2013 9:04 am


Is anyone out there using, or has used, the Tamron 90mm 2.8 Macro lens?

I have used it a bit and am not satisfied with the results at all.

An example of what I am getting can be found at http://www.pbase.com/vneilknobbe/mums.

To me the images are not as sharp as I would have expected them to be once I get really up close either using Auto or Manual focus. (To be honest I can understand not getting good images with Manual focus because I know from experience that I really have trouble going manual.)

I suppose my question is two fold:

1) Do I just need more experience with the lense to get results like some of the macro works I see here on PBase?

2) Did I waste my money with this lense and should have gotten a better (read more expensive) lense to go with my 5D MkII?

Thanks for any and all opinions.

sthuman
 
Posts: 97

Re: Tamron 90mm Macro

Post Sat Jul 13, 2013 3:03 pm


I don't have that lens or camera, but in viewing your photos two things pop out at me concerning sharpness. The first is defraction. At f/22 you were well past the point where defraction limits the sharpness. With that camera you will start to see the effects of defraction around f/9 or 10. By f/14 you should have no trouble seeing the loss of detail.

The other thing I see is a slow shutter speed. No matter how still the air is its likely there is some movement at that slow of a shutter speed. That slow of a shutter also would show any camera movement from the mirror flipping or pressing the shutter button. I don't know if you used mirror up mode and a remote shutter release, but assuming you did its still possible some camera movement could have an effect. But again, more likely subject movement could play into it.

Now you can see a couple of the difficulties of macro photography. You're damned if you stop down too far, and damned if you don't because you then have less DOF. Most great macro stuff would also use flash instead of a slow shutter speed. It helps make sure there is less chance of subject movement. But then flash also presents its own set of difficulties. Shadows and in-natural looking light. Rings or multiple flashes can deal with that. Focus stacking can deal with shallow DOF. Great macro isn't as easy as one would think.

As far as that lens goes, this isn't a great test of it. I think it should be very good, but you have to deal with the problems first and then see how sharp it is.

vneilknobbe
 
Posts: 121

Re: Tamron 90mm Macro

Post Sat Jul 13, 2013 9:50 pm


Hi Steve

Many thanks for the input.

Just after posting I did think that I was pushing too much using f22 and did some more shooting this time at f2.8. (The result can be found at http://www.pbase.com/vneilknobbe/image/151298788.)

By working at f2.8 I was able to take images at 1/100 but to me the images are still not sharp. To me it looks like bits and pieces of the image are in focus, the bits of the petal in the lower right corner and some bits of the petal on the left side of the image for example, yet that is not where I was focusing in on. (If anyone is interested I can upload a full size file to my server that they can download and view if they wish as I know it is difficult to see on the small images I have on site here.)

Mirror lockup, which leads to my problem of manual focus abilities, was used for about half of my attempts and always use a remote release for the shutter. All images are taken indoors.

With these images I am not using flash rather a bunch (5) of lights instead as I found the colouring of the flowers was off with the flashes firing.

Again thank you for your time and comments and I will keep working at nutting this out.

sthuman
 
Posts: 97

Re: Tamron 90mm Macro

Post Sat Jul 13, 2013 11:27 pm


The areas in focus all seem to be the same distance, so I would expect those to be sharp comparatively. Sharpness in the center is pretty good. Did you shoot these RAW? You would have to sharpen in software if so. And even if shot JPG unless you turned it up some you'd have to sharpen. The anti-aliasing filters in cameras make it so sharpening is necessary. I don't know that lens, but typically a lens is sharpest stopped down a couple stops. Wide open like you did may not give you the sharpest results. Try at f/5.6 or f/8 and see if you get sharper. You'll get more DOF too so it will seem sharper.

vneilknobbe
 
Posts: 121

Re: Tamron 90mm Macro

Post Sun Jul 14, 2013 1:44 am


Hi Steve

Again thanks for your time in replying.

I can see what you are saying with the areas that I pick out to be most focused being the same distance, which makes me wonder if the focusing on my camera is slightly out since the AF is telling me that focus is (supposedly) on the lower part of the center of the flower which would be further away than the petals. (I know the saying about a person blaming the tools and I understand that I still have years and years to go before I would begin to consider myself proficient at photography. I did drop the camera recently and it is possible that something is now out of whack, but having to send the silly thing to the other side of the country to (perhaps) get it fixed and be without it for weeks is not a pleasant thought.)

Yes, I am shooting RAW and have not done too much work in Photoshop on the images. I would have hoped that not too post shooting work would need to be done but that may be naievity on my part.

I will give it a go al different f stops and see how I go with that.

Thanks.

sthuman
 
Posts: 97

Re: Tamron 90mm Macro

Post Sun Jul 14, 2013 3:39 am


It looked to me like the focus point was on the lower part of the center of the flower. Maybe the third row of whatever those bumps are called. And that part seemed to be stuck out from where the petals attached, but then some petals sort of curved forward, which placed them at about the same distance as the focus area. What I am saying is I thought it all looked correct. At this point I don't see anything to make me suspect something wrong with the camera or lens. To correctly check for a front or back focus issue you'd have to do a carefully controlled test shoot on a focus chart. If you did determine there was a problem your camera should have a fine tune focus feature, though I shoot Nikon and don't know what that specific camera has. I'd be extremely surprised if it didn't have that ability since its one of Canon's best cameras.

I wouldn't expect you'd have to do much post processing but anything shot RAW does require some. On purpose. One of the advantages of RAW (there are many, but we are just talking one now) is the ability to interpret the RAW to individual taste. So it comes from the camera with no contrast boost, or color saturation boost or sharpening. So at the very least you have to do a little to a RAW shot, and that especially applies to sharpening. It's completely unsharpened. And the nature of digital and the anti alias filter means it definitely needs sharpening.

You also have to consider that some subjects give the AF system a hard time. Reflections of edges and other specular highlights can make AF not do so well at times. It's simply not perfect and when you encounter something that seems to get great focus according to the camera may not be so perfect to our eyes. It could well be that your camera just doesn't like that flower. You might try with something else. Something that has more pronounced edges. Maybe set up your tripod and shoot a quarter or dollar bill or some other well defined object. And remember, shooting wide open or stopped down past where defraction starts are both bad. Try f/5.6 or f/8 with that lens.

In the end it could well be that you have a bad example of that lens. But you can't draw that conclusion yet. Reviews of it seem to be pretty good. But some people have had bad experiences. That happens with all lenses, even the super expensive ones. So try a few different subjects,and apply sharpening and if you think it's still not producing sharp results you may want to try some focus chart testing.

vneilknobbe
 
Posts: 121

Re: Tamron 90mm Macro

Post Sun Jul 14, 2013 5:47 am


Hi Steve

It is good to have someone elses perspective on the photos and your comments have given me lots to think about.

I am beginning to understand what you meant about the type of image I was attempting not being a great test for the lens. I will have to rethink on a subject for really close up work and try again.

I mostly picked up the lens for floral related shooting as I can't get, or is greatly difficult to get, closeup filters for the main lens I would use for that type of shooting. I will perservere, however, and keep working at getting the results I think should be achieved.

Again, I really appreciate the time you took to reply to this topic.

Thanks.

sthuman
 
Posts: 97

Re: Tamron 90mm Macro

Post Sun Jul 14, 2013 7:30 am


Good attitude. Pushing the limits of things, as macro photography does, often takes lots of trial and error. It's not as easy as it would seem. I have a fountain in my backyard that hummingbirds come to every morning to take a bath. It's early morning, usually a shirt time before sunrise. The fountain is beneath trees and next to a fence. The point here is there usually isn't a whole lot of light. Hummingbirds are never still. Even when just sitting there they are breathing fast and their feathers are wiggling a bunch. Without flash I could never get a fast enough shutter speed even with pretty high ISO. It took me a very long time to get my techniques and multiple remote flashes set up in a way that made for good natural looking light. The point here is keep trying. You'll figure out what works well and what doesn't and refine your techniques to where you can get consistent results you like. Look around pbase some more, you'll see that the stellar super sharp kind of shots you are wanting to get are not so common. That's saying there is more to it than just getting a great camera and lens and shooting away. It's takes practice and time to acquire the skills. Well, that or luck. You never know, that one sharp shot you see may have been the only one worth posting out of 500 shots.

dw_thomas
 
Posts: 468

Re: Tamron 90mm Macro

Post Wed Jul 17, 2013 3:20 am


sthuman has made a number of excellent points to consider. I don't have the Tamron, but my impression from what I've read is that it is generally an excellent lens. (I do own the Canon 100 mm f/2.8, but don't do a lot of really fancy macro work with it.)

While we know you want to shoot flowers, I would suggest you break the test into pieces that don't try to examine everything at once. As suggested above, if you are working outdoors, you have the possibility of motion from air currents. Combining that with flowers having a lot of curved surfaces to confuse auto-focus and the very short depth of field at high magnifications, you have quite a juggling act to deal with.

I would suggest doing some sort of table top setup indoors to check the basic lens/camera functions. Use a printed page of text or some tidbit of mechanical hardware with sharp edges and contrasty lines as a subject and experiment with focus and depth of field. Even some fairly awesome lenses get a bit soft wide open, so as suggested, targeting mid-range -- f/5.6, 8 or 11 would be a good idea. I don't see any comment, but I assume you are using a good solid tripod and cable release, as the camera needs to be really anchored for macro work at high magnification.

A way sometimes used to examine depth of field is to use a yardstick, ruler, or maybe a steel machinist's scale for a smaller target, mounted so the scale angles across the view of the camera, with the scale and numbers visible to the camera. Attempt to focus on some major division near the center of the scale and then see a) is that division indeed the center of focus, and b) how far forward or behind the scale divisions show acceptable focus to get a sense of depth of field. I've seen macros of insects where only about 1/4 of the critter's body is sharp -- it's tricky business.

After you get a handle on how the lens behaves on the camera, you can introduce more complex subjects -- like flowers! :D Even for that you could start with 1 or 2 in a vase on the table top setup to eliminate some outdoor variables.

Good luck with it!

DaveT

vneilknobbe
 
Posts: 121

Re: Tamron 90mm Macro

Post Wed Jul 17, 2013 5:21 am


Hi Dave

Thanks for taking the time to add imput to this thread and as with Steve your opinions are valued and will be taken onboard in an attempt to better my skills.

Thus far any work that I have been doing with the lens has been indoors using table top, well stool top, tripod (have a decent one but need, ok want, to get a better one) and cable release.

I am understanding now that the idea of getting in really, really close with a flower is tricky and need to re-evaluate and start with something with less complex visually which I am looking at (did a couple with a 5 cent piece which is about the size of your dime). I am more encouraged with the outcome of these images which is pleasing.

I realize that I have a lot of practice ahead of me to get good shots, and as I mentioned eariler I am most likely a tad impatient in wanting good, not great or fantastic just good, results sooner than I have been so I need to step back, be a little patient and choose better subjects for macro work.

Again your insights on this matter are greatly appreciated and I will incoroporate your suggestions into my work.

Neil

sthuman
 
Posts: 97

Re: Tamron 90mm Macro

Post Thu Jul 18, 2013 4:38 am


Neil,
The flower shots I saw were good, or very good. So you can feel you satisfied your impatience in large part. You asked about sharpness, so my previous discussions were based on that. Had you asked if I thought it was a good photo I would have said yes.as much as I would for that type composition. There is nothing wrong with unsharp parts in a photo and in fact is often desirable. Take for instance your flower with the little bumps or whatever they are called in the center with petals around it. Having a small area of that center sharp, but the rest blurred would draw attention to that center area. The point is sharpness isn't everything. Of course that's coming from the mouth of a sharpness freak! But it depends on the subject. I do a lot of hummingbird (and other bird) shots. To me getting extreme sharpness is important in most cases. I like extremely sharp feather detail and on hummingbirds that's not so easy. But if I want to concentrate attention on its head I may not want the rest of the body to be sharp. That focuses (pun intended) attention on the head. For the most part, in any wildlife photography the eye has to be sharp. Beyond that it can be either sharp or not depending on the intent.

Dave,
All great points, but one minor quibble. Printed text is not even close to sharp. Especially in a macro sense. Get out a magnifying glass and look at it. It's quite fuzzy in most cases. Your thought of something mechanical with sharp edges is right on though.

vneilknobbe
 
Posts: 121

Re: Tamron 90mm Macro

Post Thu Jul 18, 2013 6:38 am


Hi Steve

Thanks for the additional info and observations.

I am still mulling over the other points but have yet to settle on a next subject. Once I get some shots I will undoubtably upload them for more opinions/observations.

I appreciate your taking to time to help me understand more about the craft.

dw_thomas
 
Posts: 468

Re: Tamron 90mm Macro

Post Thu Jul 18, 2013 3:24 pm


sthuman wrote:Neil,
...
Dave,
All great points, but one minor quibble. Printed text is not even close to sharp. Especially in a macro sense. Get out a magnifying glass and look at it. It's quite fuzzy in most cases. Your thought of something mechanical with sharp edges is right on though.


Enh, I suppose you're right at high magnification, but I think it would be an adequate test relative to the scale of a mid-size flower. It depends a lot on the specific paper and printing. My main interest in suggesting it was reducing the subject to a more two-dimensional test to eliminate some variables. A general engineering/troubleshooting technique is to try to break the process into smaller chunks to isolate the source of problems, as opposed to throwing everything in the box and saying "It doesn't work right." :?

In any event, I think Neil is on his way with lots of worthy input; it's good to tap the collective wisdom now and again!

DaveT
Just back from some shooting with a macro lens - a Bronica Zenzanon 110mm f/4.5 -- but alas, using it as a short telephoto on his all manual 6x6 film SLR!

sthuman
 
Posts: 97

Re: Tamron 90mm Macro

Post Fri Jul 19, 2013 1:22 am


Dave,
You're a gluten for punishment huh? 6x6 film? To think I get tired lugging my Nikon stuff around.

I agree with the text comments. I almost suggested a coin too, because it's almost two dimensional.

vneilknobbe
 
Posts: 121

Re: Tamron 90mm Macro

Post Sat Jul 20, 2013 7:24 am


Hi Dave and Steve

Many thanks for your thoughts and advice.

Much happier now.


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