Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Lens stabilisation using another tripod

Greetings and salutations.

Some of you may own cameras or lenses that have stabilisation, but sometimes, that may not be enough when taking certain photos.

My dilemma started when I got myself a macro lens that weighed almost as heavy as the camera itself. When I mount my DSLR camera equipped with this lens on to my flimsy tripod, it is not very stable, since the lens will be pulling the camera forward and downward. This particular lens (Canon EF 100mm macro) has a space to add a tripod collar, which will shift the centre of gravity a bit further forward to better balance the lens, but it costs almost as much as a flashgun *facepalm*.

I'm bringing this up because when I mount it on my rickety tripod and take a snap, the motion of the mirror inside the camera actually makes the whole camera shake. This is sometimes known as "mirror slap". If you happen to be shooting objects using long exposure, you will most likely end up with slightly blur images caused by this "mirror slap".

So, in order to overcome this problem, I had to find a way to prevent the mirror from shaking up my whole camera. Then it hit me: why not use something like a bipod, that's what they use for the M60 machine guns, right? (Photo from www.warboats.org)

Now I experimented with some tripods I had around the house, none were really successful, but the following setup did help me to get some proper photos of the previous post. Here's how it looks like:

Another look:

Yeah, the tip of the lens is resting on another tripod, which is resting on the edge of my bed. The little white thing on top of my Gorillapod is actually an eraser:

I drilled a little hole in the middle to accommodate the tripod's screw. And of course, the white background you saw in the previous post is actually a big piece of cardboard.

With this setup, I can easily set whatever shutter speed I want without worry of mirror slap vibration messing up my shots. Although you do need to be careful when moving around because the whole thing is actually a very delicate balancing act. One wrong move and you might knock your camera to the ground *gulp*.

So cheapskates everywhere, do be careful when balancing this.

Here's another macro shot to end this long winded post:
Yeah, this figurine is about 5.5 cm long - as you can deduce from the cutting mat's lines.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Macro fun - razors

Hi all, and welcome back to another edition of the dusty blog *koff koff*.

As a guy, I've been using razors for quite a number of years, but not all razors are built the same. Some razors can whisk off your facial hair and leave baby smooth skin behind, while others leave much to be desired when it comes to product satisfaction.

Today I'm gonna take a quick peek at two razors that I've used: both are disposable razors, but one is a generic brandless razor, while the other one comes from a popular razor manufacturer.

Now why would I want to compare these two razors? Well, I had the unfortunate "privilege" of using the crummy brandless razor and it made me feel like I was trying to shave using a dull Bowie knife. I thought to myself: what's the difference between the two? They both feel sharp, but why does one perform better than the other? So I decided to photograph them.

Also gives me an excuse to do some macro shooting :D

Here we have the two contenders:
On the left, the brandless razor, and on the right, the branded razor.

They both have twin blades, as well as a lubricated strip on top, but the branded razor has a trick up its sleeve: a pivoting head - so it follows the contour of your face while you shave.

Lets have a closer look:

Nothing unusual about it, but let's take a REALLY closer look:

We can see some imperfections on the plastic on the left razor, and the clean plastic on the right razor.

Here's another shot of the blades:

As I mentioned earlier, using the branded razor is a joy, while using the brandless razor can only be described as an exercise in self-torture. I think it has something to do with the angle of the blades, as well as the distance of the blades from the plastic housing to the skin. The blades on the branded razor feels like they want to come out and cut something, while the brandless razor's blades seem a bit stunted :P

So there you have it folks. If you want to enjoy shaving, avoid getting some cheap brandless razors that will make you cry, no matter how much lube you use.

On another note, I'll show you my kludge on lens stabilisation using two tripods in the next update :D