Monday, December 22, 2014

Manfrotto 454 Focus Rail...Greaaaat :-)

I just bought a Manfrotto 454 focus rail (photo below) to replace a more generic one; big difference! Pretty simple device, a focus rail is used to manually focus a macro lens. My macro lens is the 65mm MP-E 1-5x Canon; this is an incredible lens...if you can operate it. Again, focus is all manual; it requires (for me) a tripod and a focus rail. The Manfrotto 454 has a wonderful feature, the "quick release mechanism" which gets the lens close to the subject for fine tuning fast. Once close enough, one turns the worm drive for exacting focus. Ophrys Photography has a great overview on this lens.

So, I went to one of my favorite spots for wildlife, Maclay Flat to use this new tool. Within 50 yards of the parking lot found 30 foot tall Ponderosa Pine loaded with crustose and foliose lichen. The weather was not perfect, overcast with intermittent sprinkles. Lack of natural light is not a deal breaker as I use a Canon MR-14EX macro ring lite. Within minutes I've got my rig assembled and mounted on my Manfrotto 190 tripod with a Junior Geared Head.

Compared to the focus rail I had, the 454 focus rail is a Ferrari. Easy to use, smooth, precise and fast. I took a series of photos with the intent of "focus stacking" through Photoshop. I've never done this before; followed directions given by The Nature Photography Co. The bottom photo is my first focus stacked product; it is Hypogymnia physodes or Hooded Tube Lichen. Not the greatest, but a great beginning. Hope you enjoy and see you in the field photographing/watching your favorite wildlife :-)

Manfrotto 454 focus rail

Hooded Tube Lichen