Extreme macro that is....!
For a couple of years i have been using a reversed 50mm F1.8 to get extreme macro results wich are larger then the regular 1:1 macro lens has to offer. I used combinations of extension tubes and teleconverters and got decent results up to around 4 times lifesize.
I had however an old Canon 28mm F1.8 FD lens laying around wich i had intended to use for reversed lens technique but never got the aperture ring to work properly. As i usually work at around F9 for extreme macro (due to diffraction at these extreme magnifications) i decided to break te lens open and fix the aperture at F10.
I did some testshots of a Jumping spider and was very pleased with the results wich came out somewhere between 5:1 up to 8:1 wich is even larger then the Canon MP-E 65 can provide. There was however one drawback...due to the large aperture i had only a very small aperture-hole to peek through wich turned the viewfinder in one large black hole with hardly anything visible. I had seen a tip once from another macro photographer displaying how he used a small LED light to assist him with getting the focus right when working with extreme macro and a reversed lens. So at first i bought some small LED's and tried it without any good results. Then i drove off to the local gas station to look for one of those small LED light key-chains and i found one wich worked really well and provided me with a narrow but clear bright lightbeam to assis me with my AF. It works very good as when the viewfinder turns bright i know i am close to getting an accurate AF.
Here's the Jumping Spider i photographed with this set-up:
And here you can see the actual size of the Jumping Spider photographed with a regular 1:1 macro lens. As you can see the spider was only around 3mm so you can imagine how hard it was to get accurate focus on such a small animal when working handheld with a dark viewfinder.
Here you can see the set-up i have used in order to get the final Jumping Spider image. It is not as small as the Canon MP-E 65 and i propably will some day invest in that exceptional lens but for now this works like a charme...
I do not always use a ringflash though as it tends to give me circular highlights in the animal's eyes even though i diffused the ring somewhat with styrofoam. I prefer to use the set-up with a macro bracket and my regular Canon 550EX flash being diffused by the Gary Fong-lightsphere and some kitchen towell.
Here you can see a result with the ringflash where the circular highlights are present and in my opinion less attractive then the one shot with the regular flash pointed from above when using the macro bracket, Canon 550EX and Gary-Fong lightsphere:
And things can always get extremer....so here i coupled a bellows unit to the 2x teleconverter and added a 28mm F1.8 in reverse...
This set-up provides me with images at around 10:1 scale wich is double what a Canon MPE 65mm would produce. Ofcourse diffraction is a real issue here and shooting at F5.6 and then stacking the image is the only option.Also the viewfinder is completely dark so that's why i put the LED on top to help me get accurate focus.