Studio macro photography rig

This blog post features a couple of quick-and-dirty photos that provide a behind-the-scenes look at some of the photography gear I use for studio macro photography.

The following equipment is shown in the first photo, taken using an iPad mini (with retina display): Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital camera, in manual mode; Kenko 20mm macro automatic extension tubeCanon EF100mm f/2.8L Macro lens (set for manual focus); Canon MT-26EX-RT Macro Twin Lite set for “Master” mode, and Canon 580 EX- and Canon 580EX II Speedlites set for “Slave” mode.

The Canon DSLR is mounted on a Neewer Pro 4-Way Macro Focusing Rail Slider using a Manfrotto quick-release plate. Although the quick-release plate isn’t essential gear, it makes set-up and tear-down easy and fast. The focusing rails are mounted on a Manfrotto 405 Pro Digital Geared Head, connected to a Manfrotto 055XPROB Pro Tripod [discontinued].

Photography gear used for studio macro photography.

A Canon 580EX II Speedlite is mounted on a Manfrotto 054 Magnesium Ball Head with Q2 Quick Release [discontinued], connected to a Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB 100 Aluminum Alloy Tripod. A Canon 580EX Speedlite is mounted on a Sunpak 8001 UT medium duty aluminum tripod.

The last photo, taken using a Panansonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 superzoom bridge camera, shows the “stage” used for posing subjects such as the Zebra Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus scudderi) exuvia shown in the preceding photo. A Tether Tools “Rock Solid Master Articulating Arm & Clamp Kit” connects one end of the articulating arm to a leg of the Manfrotto tripod; a Manfrotto 2909 Super Clamp is connected to the other end of the articulating arm and used to hold a piece of opaque white plastic that is 12″ square. (Yep, that’s a folded paper towel used to prevent the clamp from scratching the plastic.) The plastic has a smooth side and a textured side; I prefer the textured side. An Opteka Triple Axis Spirit Level is used to level the “stage.”

Macro photography “stage.”

Product Reviews

See “Good news, bad news,” a related blog post in which I reviewed the Manfrotto 405 geared tripod head and Neewer focus rails.

Manfrotto makes an articulating arm that is similar to the one made by Tether Tools, shown above. The Manfrotto 244N Variable Friction Magic Arm is more expensive than the Tether Tools “Rock Solid Master Articulating Arm,” so I chose the less expensive arm. I’m reminded of the old saying “you get what you pay for.” In retrospect, I don’t recommend any of the articulating arms and clamps made by Tether Tools.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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3 Responses to “Studio macro photography rig”

  1. Mike Powell Says:

    Wow. That is an amazingly complicated system, Walter, but it’s hard to argue with the results that it gives you. You have managed to put together a system that handles two of the biggest problems that plague macro photography–stability and adjustability for the camera and lighting to illuminate the subject. Your rig may qualify you as a true “mad scientist.”

    • waltersanford Says:

      Buwhahahahaha! Thanks for your comments, Mike. I have experimented with several iterations of my studio macro photography rig — so far, this one works best. Signed, Dr. Frank N. Stein.

  2. Five-flash studio macro photography rig | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] blog post is a follow-on to a previous post entitled Studio macro photography rig. As you can see, my four-flash rig has been updated to include a fifth flash: a Godox TT685C […]

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