Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thank you for purchasing the Little BigShot lens and welcome to the fascinating world of macro photography.  This guide walks you through all the steps necessary to derive the greatest satisfaction from your lens and your hobby.

 How It Works
Select your desired zoom level, move the camera closer and further until perfect focus appears in the monitor and take the shot.  It's that easy, as this video demonstrates.

Step One
Attaching Little BigShot to Your Camera

This video explains how to attach the Little BigShot lens to your compact or superzoom camera.  If you purchased a 50mm LBS lens for your Canon bridge camera then you will follow these steps but instead of attaching Dual Lock to your camera, you will attach them to your UV filter instead and all other instructions are the same.

NOTE: if you received a 50mm lens, both sides are curved, one side more than the other so place the flatter side toward your camera.  All other instructions in this video apply to your lens.

A few cautions worth repeating.
1 - When attaching Little BigShot, do so with the camera turned off and the lens fully retracted.  
2 - When removing Little BigShot, do so by gently peeling it off to the side.  Never pull it straight out away from the camera.
3 - If you need to replace the Dual Lock which you attached to your camera, peel off the pieces gently and slowly to the side.  Do not pull them straight out quickly.  

Step Two - Attaching the Leash
The LBS leash will prevent your lens from falling and becoming lost or damaged.  Simply peel the paper backing from the Dual Lock hinge, press the adhesive side of the hinge against the flat side of the LBS lens and loop the lens through the camera wrist strap.    

NOTE: If you bought the LBS bridge lens, skip this step.

If you have the 30mm LBS lens, you are using 2 pieces of Dual Lock at 12 and 6 o:clock, so position the leash at 9 o:clock.

If you have the 50mm LBS lens, you are using 4 pieces of Dual Lock at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o:clock, so position the leash at 7:30.

Step Three
Proving Proper Performance
After your LBS lens is attached to your camera and before you attempt to use it, watch this video and do the text test to insure that it works properly and provides you with a sharply focused image.  Be aware that zoom levels exceeding 6-8x might create edge distortion so limit the zoom to 6x maximum during the test.   

The FHRS Hand Held Focusing Technique
Your LBS lens is best used with hand held focus, but camera shake (aka: photographer shake) coupled with breezes and subject movement can result in blurry images.  The video demonstrates a simple camera trick known as FHRS which helps insure a sharp focus despite the obstacles.  It takes a little practice, but once you master it, you'll be glad you did, so learn and practice the wonderful tool called FHRS.

Getting Under Way
As you begin to use your Little BigShot lens, you're encouraged to join the macro group on Facebook.  This is a friendly helpful environment with many LBS users to encourage you as you learn to master macro photography.  Here's the link:

Now that you've attached LBS to your camera, proven that it works well, and learned how to stabilize your hand held shots with the FHRS technique, it's time to start taking some macro photos.  The old saying "learn to walk before your run" applies to macro photography so we'll start with the basics, practice those, and then move on from there.

First . . . camera settings. If Auto mode allows you to make ISO changes, then leave the camera in Auto and select ISO 400.  If you can't make ISO changes in Auto, then switch the camera to Program Mode (P mode) and select ISO 400.  Selecting ISO 400 forces a faster shutter speed which reduces the chance for motion blur in your images.  As your hand held macro photography improves, you can reduce the ISO to 200 on overcast days and 100 on sunny days, but you must "learn to walk before you run" so kindly leave the camera at ISO 400 when you first start using LBS.

Other settings:  Flash = OFF . . . Image Stabilizer = ON . . . Face Detection = OFF.  Even though you'll be taking macro photos, there is no need to set the camera to macro mode.  The LBS lens takes over the focus function from your camera so you can run in normal mode.  

You're all set . . . let's shoot!

Select a subject such as a wildflower, garden flower or some other object outdoors.  If you have no wildflowers, choose any subject large or small . . . a door handle, a window latch, an automobile headlight.  Shoot between the hours of 10am - 3pm as this provides greater light intensity, even on overcast days.  Avoid direct sunlight on your subject as this makes seeing the monitor difficult.  Not being able to see the monitor makes focusing difficult.  

You've found a subject, great!  Now let's compose and capture.

Look into the monitor to position your subject in the frame, set the zoom to 2x, push the shutter button half way and hold, use FHRS to tweak your focus and then push to shoot, being careful not to cause motion blur by excess pressure on the shutter button.

After taking the shot, look at the results in the preview.  Take a few more shots of the same subject at the same 2x zoom level and analyze the results in the preview.  When you're satisfied with your focus and results, move on to new subjects but keep the zoom level at 2x.  Remember, in macro photography, you must learn to walk before you run.  Higher zoom levels and lower ISO speeds come later . . . when you're ready.

Once you've got the hang of FHRS at 2x zoom and ISO 400, the next step is to decrease the ISO but leave the zoom at 2x.  On overcast days, use ISO 200 and on sunny days use ISO 100.  Once you can consistently shoot nicely focused images at the lower ISO speeds, you can increase zoom to 3x but also increase ISO back to 400.  Once you get consistently good focus at 3x zoom and ISO 400, reduce the ISO.  This cycle of bringing the ISO back up to 400 each time you increase your zoom level is advisable as you ratchet up your  magnification during your training period.

With the passing of time, I've learned how to shoot with magnification as high as 8x zoom at ISO 100, and you will also be able to do this, but you must walk before you run so please start at 2x zoom and ISO 400.  I want you to be successful, not frustrated.

Progression Chart
2x Zoom / ISO 400
2x Zoom / ISO 200
3x Zoom / ISO 400
3x Zoom / ISO 200
4x Zoom / ISO 400
4x Zoom / ISO 200
5x Zoom / ISO 400
5x Zoom / ISO 200
6x Zoom / ISO 400
6x Zoom / ISO 200

Step Five
Higher Education
For a comprehensive course in compact camera macro photography, please visit the Macro Bootcamp blog.  The information there will guide you into macro excellence with your LBS lens.