Archive for the ‘Panasonic DMC-FZ150’ Category

Follow-up: Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter

August 20, 2021

In my last blog post, I mentioned that minor vignetting can be a problem when the Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter is mounted on some macro- and non-macro camera lenses.

Canon 100mm macro lens

In case you’re wondering whether vignetting is a problem when using two step-down rings with the Canon 100mm macro lens, it isn’t. As it turns out, the front lens element is recessed quite a bit from the lens barrel so the step-down rings cover little if any glass. Source Credit: Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter, by Walter Sanford.

The first photo shows the front lens element of the Canon 100mm macro lens is in fact recessed quite a bit from the lens barrel.

Lens barrel without nested step-down rings.

The next photo shows the nested 67-52mm and 52-43mm step-down rings that I use to mount the Raynox DCR-250 on my Canon 100mm macro lens. Look closely at the full-size version of this image and you should see the step-down rings don’t cover any of the camera lens.

Lens barrel with nested step-down rings.

Disclaimer: This might or might not be true for other makes and models of 100mm macro lenses.

Panasonic Lumix superzoom bridge cameras

The camera lens will need to be adjusted for at least some slight telephoto zoom in order to eliminate the vignetting caused by mounting a 43mm filter on a lens with a 52mm filter size. Source Credit: Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter, by Walter Sanford.

A Guide To Using Raynox Close Up Lenses on the FZ200 Camera, by Graham Houghton is the second item listed under “Related Resources” in my last blog post. Page 6 of Graham’s excellent guide describes a simple way to set-up both my Panasonic Lumix DCR-150 and DCR-300 superzoom bridge cameras so that vignetting isn’t a problem.

For the DMC-FZ300, press the “Menu/Set” button on the back of the camera, then select the camera icon in the left side-bar. Navigate to page 7/7 and select “Conversion”; select the icon for close-up lens. When the camera is powered-on, it will zoom to 4x (121 mm) automatically and the aperture will be limited to f/4 or smaller (f/4 to f/8).

For my older DMC-FZ150, the set-up process is the same except “Conversion” appears on page 5/5. Zoom is set to 4x and the aperture is limited to f/3.6 or smaller (f/3.6 to f/8).

Using either camera, the lens can be adjusted for greater than 4x zoom, resulting in more magnification.

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter

August 17, 2021

I watched a video by Micael Widell recently that reminded me the Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter is a good value given its versatility.

Before I bought the Raynox close-up filter many years ago, I was skeptical that it would work. I still can’t explain why it works with many lenses I own including both macro- and non-macro lenses, but I can tell you with certainty it does work and works well!

Canon 100mm macro lens

The Canon 100mm macro lens has a maximum magnification of 1:1. Micael Widell says adding the Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter to the lens increases the magnification from 1x to 2x. According the B&H Photo Specs page for the Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter, its magification is 2.5x.

Calculating magnification is tricky and not as straightforward as one might think. In this case it doesn’t matter whether Mr. Widell or B&H Photo is correct, the fact of the matter is adding a Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter to your lens should at least double the magnification.

The first photograph shows the following equipment, couterclockwise from the upper-left: “snap-on universal adapter” for Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter; Raynox close-up filter mounted on a 52-43mm step-down ring; and a 67-52mm step-down ring.

Several mounting adapters for Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter.

The Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter comes with a “snap-on universal adapter” for mounting the filter on lenses with a filter size from 52-67mm. The universal adapter clips on the front of a lens the same as a lens cap. That’s OK for use in a photo studio but less than ideal for use in the field. In my opinion, it’s better to use inexpensive step-down rings to mount the close-up filter more securely.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II macro photography kit.

The Rube Goldberg rig shown above has a lot of parts, but for the purpose of this blog post focus on the Canon 100mm macro lens and Raynox DCR-250 mounted on the lens using nested 67-52mm and 52-43mm step-down rings.

In case you’re wondering whether vignetting is a problem when using two step-down rings with the Canon 100mm macro lens, it isn’t. As it turns out, the front lens element is recessed quite a bit from the lens barrel so the step-down rings cover little if any glass.

Panasonic Lumix superzoom bridge cameras

Both my Panasonic Lumix DCR-150 and DCR-300 superzoom bridge cameras feature a 52mm filter thread size. So it’s simple to use a 52-43mm step-down ring to mount the Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter on either camera lens.

Raynox DCR-250 not mounted on the camera lens.

The camera lens will need to be adjusted for at least some slight telephoto zoom in order to eliminate the vignetting caused by mounting a 43mm filter on a lens with a 52mm filter size.

Both cameras feature a 24x zoom lens, so when the Raynox DCR-250 is added to the kit the actual magnification will vary depending upon the focal length for which the camera lens is set.

Raynox DCR-250 shown mounted on the camera lens.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Yellow-sided Skimmer (female, male)

June 25, 2021

Thanks to a tip from fellow odonate enthusiast Michael Ready, I was able to add another species of dragonfly to my life list recently: Yellow-sided Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula flavida).

Female

The first Yellow-sided Skimmer dragonfly that I spotted was perched along the shoreline of a small pond at an undisclosed location in Prince William County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female, as indicated by her terminal appendages.

Female Yellow-sided Skimmers have a pair of flanges beneath their eighth abdominal segment that are used to scoop and hold a few drops of water when laying eggs (oviposition), hence the family name “Skimmer.” Remember that all dragonflies and damselflies have a 10-segmented abdomen, numbered from front to back.

17 JUN 2021 | PNC. Wm. County | Yellow-sided Skimmer (female)

I followed the female from one perch to another, “working the shot.” The next two photos are full-frame (4,000 x 3,000 pixels), that is, uncropped.

17 JUN 2021 | PNC. Wm. County | Yellow-sided Skimmer (female)

Notice the amber color near the leading edge of her wings, a good field mark for L. flavida.

17 JUN 2021 | PNC. Wm. County | Yellow-sided Skimmer (female)

Male

According to Dr. Steve Roble’s excellent datasets for the Commonwealth of Virginia, the adult flight period for Yellow-sided Skimmer is from May 15 to September 21.

By mid-June most males, including this one, are completely covered by light-blue pruinescence that obscures the yellow coloration on the sides of their thorax. Look closely at the full-size version of the following photo and you should see the amber color near the leading edge of his wings.

17 JUN 2021 | PNC. Wm. County | Yellow-sided Skimmer (male)

Habitat

A small, seep-fed pond located in the forest provides ideal habitat for Yellow-sided Skimmer.

Habitat: Boggy ponds, seeps, slow streams, and weedy ditches. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Location 9094). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

23 MAY 2018 | PNC. Wm. County | small, seep-fed pond

Notice the fallen tree that lies between the foreground and the pond in the background, nearly perpendicular to the stream. The tree is a barrier that slows the flow of the stream, creating the type of boggy, weedy habitat that Yellow-sided Skimmer prefers.

Range maps

Not all species of Skimmers are as common as I tend to think. For example, the following map shows all official records for Libellula flavida in the United States of America. As you can see, Yellow-sided Skimmer is a relatively uncommon species of odonate.

Zooming in to reveal the details shows few records reported for Northern Virginia, where I live.

What are the take-aways?

Many species of dragonflies in the Family Libellulidae (Skimmers) are habitat generalists and relatively easy to find almost anywhere there is water. In contrast, I think it’s fair to say Yellow-sided Skimmer is a habitat specialist that is challenging to find.

Related Resource: Libellula flavida Yellow-sided Skimmer on NatureServe Explorer. The conservation status for L. flavida in Virginia is “Vulnerable (S3).”

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

It’s all about habitat, habitat, habitat.

April 23, 2021

Small streams and seeps in the forest are perfect places to look for habitat specialist dragonflies such as petaltails and spiketails.

An old place revisited.

The following photograph of a forest seep has been featured in my blog at least once in the past. The seep feeds a small pond; Gray Petaltail dragonflies (Tachopteryx thoreyi) can be found feeding and perching in sunny spots around the pond during late-May and early-June.

23 MAY 2018 | Prince William County, VA | forested seep

The seep is the habitat where Gray Petaltail larvae live most of their lives, not the pond. I always wondered how so many adult petaltails could emerge from this relatively small seep.

Turns out Michael Powell, my good friend and photowalking buddy, must have been wondering the same thing because he explored the area upstream from the small seep shown above and discovered several more seeps located close to the one near the pond.

The next photo shows Mike resting on a log along the edge of one of the seeps, near the confluence of two small streams. Notice the patch of skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) growing in the seep — a good sign that you might be looking at habitat suitable for Gray Petaltail.

13 APR 2021 | Prince William County, VA | forested seep

A new place worth exploring further.

Mike also discovered another small stream in the forest when he was exploring for Uhler’s Sundragon (Helocordulia uhleri). The stream is located at the approximate midpoint between two trails, so I nicknamed it “Middle Creek.” Clever, huh? Note the patch of skunk cabbage growing in a seep alongside the stream. Did an alarm just go off in your head?

13 APR 2021 | Prince William County, VA | forested stream and seep

Mike and I are eager to explore the stream further, mainly looking for Gray Petaltail during late spring. Several species of spiketails might be found there as well.

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Cobra Clubtail versus Midland Clubtail

April 20, 2020

Odonate exuviae from two species in Genus GomphurusCobra Clubtail (Gomphurus vastus) and Midland Clubtail (Gomphurus fraternus) — are nearly perfect body doubles, with the exception of one key field mark that can be used to differentiate the species.

Dorsal views

Lateral spines are located on abdominal segments six through nine (S6-S9) for both species.

10 JUN 2019 | Barron County, WI | Midland Clubtail exuvia (dorsal)

Ventral views

The overall shape of the prementum is similar for both species.

10 JUN 2019 | Barron County, WI | Midland Clubtail exuvia (ventral)

Prementum (ventral view)

The shape of the palpal lobes on the prementum is different for the two species, as shown in the following diagram on p. 15, Key to the species of genus GomphurusIdentification Keys to Northeastern Anisoptera Larvae, compiled by Ken Soltesz.

The following images are magnified approximately three and one-half times life size (~3.5x).

For both species, focus on the row of teeth along the right palpal lobe. Notice the strongly curved shape of the palpal lobe for Cobra Clubtail (shown above), in contrast with the gently arched shape of the palpal lobe for Midland Clubtail (shown below). Also notice the Cobra palpal lobe has fewer teeth than Midland.

10 JUN 2019 | Barron County, WI | Gomphurus fraternus (exuvia)

Adults

Adult Cobra Clubtail dragonflies are almost identical to Midland Clubtails too. Several field marks can be used to differentiate the two species. In my opinion, one field mark is the easiest to recognize where it really matters — in the field!

16 MAY 2016 | Riverbend Park | Cobra Clubtail (adult male)

Notice there aren’t any mid-dorsal marks on abdominal segments eight and nine (S8-S9) for Cobra Clubtail (shown above). In contrast, there is a small yellow triangle on abdominal segment eight (S8) for Midland Clubtail (shown below). This is true for males and females of both species.

Photo used with permission from Freda van den Broek.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Cross-compatibility of Godox TT685-series flashes

November 20, 2019

The following quick-and-dirty video is a demonstration of the cross-compatibily among Godox TT685-series external flash units, including a Godox TT685F, TT685o/p, and TT685C (shown from left-to-right). All three flash units were test-fired using Godox X2TF and X2To/p radio flash triggers.

Notice the brand of flash trigger used to fire the flashes appears in the lower-left corner of the LCD on each flash. The beginning of the video shows all three flash units had been fired by a Godox X2TF (for Fujifilm) set for TTL mode. Think about that — now the TT685o/p (center) and TT685C (right) “think” and operate like the Fujifilm-compatible flash (left). Incredible!

Next I switched to a Godox X2To/p (for Olympus and Panasonic), changed the mode to Manual (M), and test-fired the flashes.

Take-aways

The cross-compability of Godox TT685-series flashes makes these relatively inexpensive, well-made flashes an even better value. By buying wisely it’s possible to assemble an array of flashes that provides maximum flexibility. Bravo, Godox!

Editor’s Commentary

You know, I actually had a vision of how I wanted this video to turn out before I started shooting. Let’s just say my vision wasn’t realized. I like to think I’m a fairly good photographer; videographer, not so much. Perhaps I’ll re-do the video when I’m not as pressed for time as I was for this iteration.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Old business. New business.

November 18, 2019

The following quick-and-dirty photograph shows an array of gear used for off-camera flash photography, including a Canon 580EX II Speedlite, Godox X1R-C radio receiver for Canon, Godox X2TF radio transmitter, and Godox X2To/p radio transmitter. This photo will be used to illustrate some old- and new business.

An array of gear used for off-camera flash photography.

Old business

In my last blog post, entitled Pass-through hot shoe, I wrote…

…the Canon macro flash is compatible with Panasonic bridge cameras with one caveat: TTL is incompatible, so it’s manual mode flash only.

Look closely at the Godox X2T-series of radio flash triggers shown in the lower-half of the preceding photo. Notice the pass-through hot shoe on top of both units features one pin — the power pin. Therefore the X2Tx units can be used to trigger a flash mounted on the pass-through hot shoe but no other communication is possible between the camera, X2Tx, and shoe-mounted flash.

When a Canon flash is mounted directly on the hot shoe of one of my Panasonic superzoom bridge cameras, or one of my Fujifilm X-series cameras, the center power pin on the flash and contact on the camera are aligned so the flash can be triggered in manual mode. The other pins on a Canon flash might touch some of the contacts on the cameras, but the pins/contacts aren’t used for the same purpose from one brand to another so they don’t work. As a result, flash features like TTL and high-speed sync might not work. Essentially, it’s as if the camera hot shoe has only one pin — the center power pin.

Related Resource: Answering Your Godox X1T Questions, by alex silva photography (7:10). Ignore the fact that this video was made for the Godox X1T-series radio flash triggers — the X1T and X2T are essentially the same. Fast-forward to 3:03/7:10 for a segment related to mounting a flash on the pass-through hot shoe; the segment ends at 4:00/7:10.

New business (What’s old is new.)

The first two external flash units that I bought are Canon Speedlites, including the Canon 580EX and Canon 580EX II. Neither flash unit is radio-capable — they can be used off-camera but it’s optical master and optical slave mode only for these two flashes. Both Canon flashes cost ~$500 each when new. Although I bought the flash units lightly-used, they hadn’t depreciated much, and as a result, I paid several hundred dollars for each one.

During the past year-or-so, I switched to the Godox TT685-series of external flash units. Not only does each Godox flash cost approximately one-fifth the MSRP for current Canon flashes, the Godox units are radio-capable.

Mounting my Canon 580EX II Speedlite on a Godox X1R-C radio receiver converts the Canon flash to a radio-controlled flash unit that works like any Godox TT685-series flash. Interfaced with an X1R-C, the Canon can be set and triggered remotely by radio from both the Godox X2T-series and XPro-series radio flash triggers, or even another Godox TT685-series flash set for master mode.

The Canon 580EX II — the newer model of my Canon flashes — is fully-compatible with the Godox X1R-C; the older Canon 580EX is incompatible.

For $40 — less than half the cost of a new Godox flash — I was able to repurpose one of my old, reliable Canon flashes. How cool is that? Very cool!

Related Resource: Godox XPro TTL Flash Trigger [REVIEW], by steeletraining (10:53). This video covers three points that might be of interest to readers of my blog.

  • Godox X1R-C receiver (enables use of newer Canon flashes with Godox system)
  • cross-brand compatibility among Godox flashes and radio flash triggers
  • TCM Function, Godox XPro-series radio flash triggers

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Pass-through hot shoe

November 15, 2019

The Godox X2To/p radio flash trigger has a slightly lower price point than the Godox XProO/P, smaller footprint, and a pass-through hot-shoe. Perhaps you’re wondering, “Who needs a pass-through hot shoe?” You do. Well, you might, for some applications.

The following photos show a Godox X2To/p mounted on my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 24x superzoom bridge camera; the Canon MT-26EX-RT Macro Twin Lite is mounted on the pass-through hot shoe on top of the X2To/p. The same set-up works with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 24x superzoom bridge camera.

Macro flash kit for Panasonic Lumix 24x superzoom digital cameras.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, the Canon macro flash is compatible with Panasonic bridge cameras with one caveat: TTL is incompatible, so it’s manual mode flash only.

Macro flash kit for Panasonic Lumix 24x superzoom digital cameras.

The beauty of adding the Godox X2To/p to the rig is it can wirelessly trigger multiple off-camera flash units via a radio signal. During limited testing, I discovered the X2To/p can be set for either TTL- or Manual modes; for consistency, I use Manual mode for all the flashes including the Canon macro flash.

Take-aways

Although this rig is well-suited for studio applications, I’m guessing it isn’t as good for field work. That being said, I have never used a multi-flash setup in the field.

Full disclosure

The radio flash trigger shown in the preceding photos is actually a Godox X2TF for Fujifilm cameras. The two brands of Godox radio flash triggers are virtually identical except for the label on top of each unit.

I needed the Godox X2To/p for use with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 24x superzoom bridge camera in order to control two off-camera Godox flashes that were used to light the scene in both photos shown above. Both external flash units were set for Radio Slave mode.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Macro flash for Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150/300

November 13, 2019

You might be familiar with the old proverb that begins “For want of a nail, the shoe was lost.” Updating the poem, I might say “For want of a step-up ring, the macro flash was lost.” Until recently, that is, when a $7 part solved a long-standing problem.

Both of my “go-to” cameras for photowalking — including the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 24x superzoom bridge camera, and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 24x superzoom bridge camera — feature excellent capability for macro photography. Set for “Wide Macro,” both cameras have a focus range from 1 cm (0.39 in) to infinity.

Problem is, at a working distance of 1 cm from the subject, “lens shadow” is a problem using the built-in pop-up flash. What’s the solution? Add an external macro flash unit such as the Canon MT-26EX-RT Macro Twin Lite.

Front of macro flash rig

The lens on the DMC-FZ150 and DMC-FZ300 has the same size filter thread (52mm), so both cameras can use many of the same accessories. I used a new Sensei PRO 52-58mm Aluminum Step-Up Ring to adapt an old Canon Macrolite Adapter 58C (58mm) to the camera lens.

The Flash Unit Mount Ring (round holder for the twin flashes) clips onto a flange around the Canon Macrolite Adapter 58C; the Contol Unit is mounted on the camera hot shoe.

It’s worth noting there is a Canon Macrolite Adapter 52C (52mm) available for ~$14 MSRP. Since I already had a 58C for one of my Fujinon lenses, I decided to buy a step-up ring and save $7.

Macro flash kit for Panasonic Lumix 24x superzoom digital cameras.

For more magnification, a Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter can be mounted to the 58mm filter thread on the front of the Canon MT-26EX-RT Flash Unit Mount Ring using two adapter rings: a Sensei 58-52mm step-down ring; and a Sensei 52-43mm step-down ring.

The same combination of adapter rings can be used to mount the Raynox close-up filter on any lens to which the MT-26EX-RT Flash Unit Mount Ring is attached.

Back of macro flash rig

Macro flash kit for Panasonic Lumix 24x superzoom digital cameras.

Demystifying step-up and step-down rings

Here’s how to decode the numbers that appear around the rim of either a step-down or step-up ring. Let’s say we’d like to connect a Canon Macrolite Adapter 58C to the lens of a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300.

The Macrolite Adapter has a filter thread diameter of 58mm; the DMC-FZ300 lens has a filter thread diameter of 52mm. We need a 52-58mm step-up ring, because we’re going to step up from a smaller- to a larger filter thread diameter. Make sense? Hope so!

How/why a Canon flash works with a Panasonic camera

The following annotated image shows the pin configuration on the hot shoe for the Fujifilm EF-X500 external flash unit. Notice that the hot shoe has four-pins: the “center pin” is used for power; the other three pins are used for proprietary communication between the camera and flash unit, such as TTL.

Copyright © 2019 ReviewThree.com and B&H Photo. All rights reserved.

The pin configuration for other brands of external flash units varies by manufacturer, but most flashes use the center pin for power.

For example, all Canon external flash units (including the MT-26EX-RT Macro Twin Lite) have a five-pin hot shoe; the center pin is used for power and it’s aligned perfectly with the power pin on Panasonic bridge cameras. Therefore any current model of Canon flash is compatible with Panasonic bridge cameras with one caveat: TTL is incompatible, so it’s manual mode flash only. That’s not a problem since I prefer manual exposure for macro photography.

High-speed sync is also incompatible, but that’s a non-issue since Panasonic superzoom bridge cameras feature a leaf shutter in the lens rather than a focal plane shutter in the camera body. As a result, there is no camera “sync speed” so the flash will work properly using any shutter speed supported by the camera.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Autumn Meadowhawk is a fall species

November 11, 2019

Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum) is classified as a fall species of odonate. This blog post features two of many Autumn Meadowhawks that were spotted during a photowalk along the boardwalk in the central wetland area at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

The first individual is a male, as indicated by his terminal appendages. He is perched on a Swamp Rose (Rosa palustris) leaf. Nothing says “fall” like this little red devil against a background of fiery foliage!

The last individual is a male, perched on a cattail (Typha sp.) leaf near Swamp Rose and buttonbush (Cephalanthus sp.). The brown globes are the fruit of buttonbush.

The Backstory

My collection of field notes includes two text files that list lots of photos of both Blue-faced Meadowhawk (S. ambiguum) and Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies that were never published in my photoblog.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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