I recently took a photo of a Monarch caterpillar eating the egg shell... https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildlife_photography/37596735224/in/dateposted-public/ This is the first time I have ever tried anything of this magnification, and have no idea if I did things correctly, although I am very happy with the image. I used (camera body) 1.4x TC then 3 extension tubes, then 150mm' 1:1, then a reversed 50mm'. Really those pieces are all I have for macro shots, and I was wondering if I was using them efficiently?

  • "Matter" by what metric? Total magnification ratio? One of several aspects of optical image quality? Something else? – Michael C Nov 13 '17 at 18:16
  • Matter in optimizing magnification, while maintaining a high image quality. – user69825 Nov 13 '17 at 18:22
  • I'm trying in my head to compare to my macro setup [which is totally different & mainly guesswork]... How long is that caterpillar, roughly? – Tetsujin Nov 13 '17 at 18:46
  • about 2mm in length... The shot is not cropped. – user69825 Nov 13 '17 at 18:48
  • & how far away from the end of the lens was the caterpillar? [sorry, should have asked that at the same time]. I can get 3 x 5mm to fill the frame, with just a 50mm prime & approx 60mm extension tubes, but I'm at maybe 10mm from the subject to do that. idk how the metrics stack up against your setup, so I ought to leave that to the real pros in here. – Tetsujin Nov 13 '17 at 19:02

There are so many factors related to the particular properties of each specific thing in your "stack", and the interractions between them, that I don't think anyone can give you a definitive answer without more detail. Your best bet is probably to do some empirical testing of each added component by itself under controlled conditions, and see what contributes the most magnification with the least image degradation... then test simple combinations, and so on.

As you do this, you could crop each result to the same "magnification" as the shot you posted. Depending on the quality of the components, and assuming that you're using a modern sensor with plenty of surplus resolution compared to the 720 by 480 example, you might be quite surprised to find that more cropping and less glass gives you better results. This is especially true if it results in sufficient depth of field at apertures that don't induce significant diffraction blur.

At a guess, I would say start with removing the TC and making up the 1.4x with a crop. With a 24MP sensor, I would almost bet on that being an improvement to some or all of chromatic aberration, distortion, contrast, and sharpness.


I was at first confused a bit by your question, mistaking it for image stacking issue (as compared to equipment stacking).

In image stacking there are techniques where order matters, e.g. PMax in Zerene, and those where it does not, e.g. DMap in Zerene.

As for equipment stacking, the simplest solution is often the best. Each piece of glass between your subject and sensor compounds optical errors, especially when pressed to service for which it was not originally optimized. So start simple and get fancy only when there is no other way.

On the other hand: if you like the image then what is a problem? Ars Gratia Artis, as the MGM lion said :)

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