What constitutes a macro lens

Several manufacturers of zoom lenses add macro to the description for example 28-105 mm macro lens this is a little misleading since a true macro lens is 1-1, or life-size meaning that the object will fill the frame of your camera sensor in this instance I have a full frame sensor or FX as its commonly known that is 36 x 24 mm in size. My watch face pictured is very close to that size hence 1-1. Zoom lenses that quote a macro feature are rarely closer than 1-2 of half life size, down to 1-4 a quarter of life size.

A true macro lenses offering 1-1 has enormous drawbacks unless you are photographing on a flat plain (my watch face) there is very little depth of field ( the amount of the image that is actually in focus) at the closest focus distance unless you stop the lens down to f11, f16, or even f32 if the lens will stop down that far. This is why  a ring type flash gun attached to the lens will give superior results. There is in addition the problem that unless you use a focal length of more than 100mm you will be so close to your subject you will either frighten the subject away or worse block out the light with the lens, a lens hood attached will be even worse.

So for most users a zoom or prime lens that will get close enough to allow a final crop of the image to enlarge the subject is usually sufficient and could be said all that is needed in most cases without going to the expense and weight! of a true macro lens.

Life size or 1-1 notice how little of the image is in focus this was at f2.8




1-1 with no cropping the flower head is about the size of a 1 pence piece


Most smartphone cameras and standard 18-55 kit lenses will achieve this close up of a tulip without cropping




Sovereign Harbour Eastbourne

It`s been a grey last few days  weather wise so Judi and I decided to pay Sovereign Harbour a visit as we have not been there for a long while and it gave me a chance to try out my little Fuji X-A1 mirrorless camera, yes I am a pensioner but I am willing to keep up with new technology.

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Mid July on the Plot with the Fuji X100s

I recently sold my Fuji x100 and upgraded to the S version which has numerous tweaks to correct the niggling faults of the first version including a bigger sensor and better processor. I fired off a few shots today for the first time over on the plot, I won`t need to tell you what`s in the trug you can see for yourself.

I need to work on the various menus that have changed on the camera to get the best out of it, but I am pleased to say that I still enjoy having total manual control over this niche camera, notice the rarity nowadays of the threaded shutter release button for a time exposure with a cable release. You will of course have noticed this is a fixed lens camera, no zoom! some may regard it as it`s Achilles heel, not me, prime lenses are invariably sharper and faster than zooms.

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Fuji x100s rangefinder style fixed lens full aps-c mirror-less 16 MP camera. Unique optical and electronic  viewfinder.


The optical and electronic viewfinder is activated by placing your eye to the finder


Full auto or manual control


Wisley Magic or Enorma……….and the winner is

Amazing the difference a good mount of rain has made to the growth rate of all the plants on the plot. I visited today after some days unwell with a tummy bug and was greeted with the scent of a large amount of sweet peas that needed cutting. Growing underneath them I cut my first small round courgette “Eight Ball” a plant given to me by a fellow plot holder

I note that the pot marigolds “Flighty`s Favourites” are flowering at their best at different times this is good news, my thanks to Mark Willis for the tip of marking the plants that I want to save seed from in the Autumn. I used a small cable tie for each.

I am growing two varieties of runner beans as the main title suggests and the Wisley Magic will be ready to pick before Enorma but not by  much and in about a  or two, how pleasing runner beans with new buttered Charlotte potatoes.

The scent is heavenly


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A real doozy of a marigold

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A collection of “Flighty`s Favourites” calendula

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Wisley Magic

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Pot Marigolds and Poppies on the Plot

My last post was on the Nikon D40 camera. Today I used it to photograph the proliferation of marigolds that have self seeded all over the allotment plot, my favourite is a variety called “Flighty`s Favourite” from seeds kindly donated by Mike Rodgers. There are not to many pictures to bore you with, but they do add a real touch of bright colour growing among the vegetables. The many coloured self seeded poppies have also started flowering.

one of the”Flighty`s Favourite” varieties

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The Nikon D40 6.1MP digital slr camera

I first bought one of these in 2007 as a useful addition to my camera kit because of it`s lightweight body and lens and a flash sync speed of 1/500 sec very useful for fill flash. I still continue to use it regularly as it is very handy to travel with. I have recently reduced the weight further by the addition of a retractable standard lens, I have had a macro lens for this model for a few years and it still continues to amaze me what a wonderful combination it makes with the D40. The whole kit including the flashgun goes in a small backpack. Nikon got cold feet just after the D40 came out reasoning that with the race for cameras with bigger and bigger mega pixel counts the D40 with only 6.1 was going to be a slow seller, so they bought out the inferior in my opinion D40X with 10MP which added a few more pixels but more noise at high ISO`s. I can happily print out to A4 with my D40 and still crop to a reasonable degree when necessary, so if your on a tight budget and you want to buy one, a good body with the standard lens can be had for around £150. I show how easy to hold and carry the camera with one hand is compared with my usual heavyweight version which takes both hands and often a tripod

Standard lens retracted




40mm macro lens


SB400 flashgun


A reasonable 2.5 ” screen

DSC00872The heavyweight Canon 5D mk1


The following photos were taken with the camera and the two lenses shown of a astrantia flower and “old man`s beard”

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More wild flowers at five acre field

Last year in commemoration of the outbreak of WWI the local council erected a mound about a metre high around the two long sides of the five acre field and very popular it was too with it`s mass of poppies that were planted along with other wild flowers, left to it`s devices it has flourished and this year it has produced a mass of flowers again although at the moment it`s mostly the large daisy family it is still a wonderful sight.

I took the Canon 5D Mk 1 with the 17-40 wide-angle zoom lens along to take some pictures on a mostly grey and overcast day not ideal for photographs.. An interesting thought occurred while taking these pictures that along with other cameras that have a LCD screen to view the pictures taken, that they are difficult to read in daylight and almost impossible in sunshine without shading the screen, as the 5D has a smallish screen I use it to view the first image on the histogram to check exposure etc and don`t tend to bother after that. I think this method probably dates back to the days of 35mm film photography when I would compose the shot then take several versions and print the best of them, this might only entail 8 useable shots out of a roll of 36 a ratio that is about the same for me now with digital photography.

One of the sides of the field

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The Dancing Dunnock

One of the advantages of our garden is that it is not formal, far from it there is plenty of cover for the birds with plenty of nesting places for most of them. Feeding them is a constant job especially with the male blackbirds who are tame enough to come to the porch door for sultanas, (Judi cuts them into small pieces when they are feeding the nestlings). We have had a breeding pair of Dunnocks for a few years now and this one amused me the other day with his antics. They look like a sparrow but have a grey head and breast and are about the size of a robin.

The dunnock was on the fence post directly behind the bird bath which is a real attraction for all types of birds,to drink and also to keep their feathers in good condition

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 The Dunnock notice the beak shape is different to the sparrow its mostly a ground feeder on small seeds

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 you lift the left leg up

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then you turn round and lift the right leg up

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cock the head

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and take a bow

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The weather has been really changeable this month the sky was grey when I took the above pictures and just after I took this picture of the sky

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