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 Post subject: Budget macro rails
PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 1:44 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 12:48 pm
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Location: UK
Another ebay special just arrived in the post...

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The rails, mounted between a tripod head and the Canon 50D with Sigma 150mm macro.

These are found all over ebay. I got these for just over £30 delivered. It was a bit of a gamble, as the old saying goes "you get what you pay for" but these meet and even exceed expectations.

I wanted these as fine manual focus with macro can be a pain at the best of times. Moving a whole tripod around isn't the easiest, and moving the subject isn't always an option either. A set of rails like these gives you movement in two dimensions.

The design is basically two stacked rails. Each rail is fundamentally the same but marked differently. They are marked in cm and have an adjustment range of 10cm end to end. A large knob moves the rail. There is small play in the knob itself, but there is no wobble that I can feel in the rails themselves. A smaller knob is present opposite the main knob. This appears to apply friction up to the point where it locks the rails. I'm not sure if the intent is to adjust the friction or only to provide locking.

On the bottom are two holes which take the standard tripod thread. On the top if a single point to go into the camera or lens mount. It is screwed in by another knob which is a little fiddly to reach. The rails themselves are made from metal with other components being metal, plastic and rubber.

On a practical note, they do what you expect them to, but you still have other axis to consider like vertically, tilt and rotate. Those function will remain the responsibility of the tripod, so make sure the tripod is also up to the job and sufficiently stable.

Before buying these, I was concerned as to how they would really work. Advice on other forums seemed to point towards some high end and much more expensive ones. While I don't doubt they're better, these cheap ones seem to work well enough. Now I just need to get using them seriously.

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Canon DSLRs: 7D, 5D2, 1D, 600D, 450D full spectrum, 300D IR mod
Lenses: EF 35/2, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 15-85 IS
3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS, Celestron 1325/13
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 4:45 pm 
Wow, Popo! Now THAT'S creativity right there!! :D
Ultra cool and gave me some ideas too.. after the celebrations of the end of the year I'm going to an hardware store!! :D :D :D


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 8:32 pm 
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Location: UK
I thought I'd do an update to this review having used the rails some more now.

The smaller knob opposite the main knob can be used for friction adjustment regardless if that is its intended function or not. I was using the rails with the MP-E65 and needed to tilt quite a lot. The friction of the rails was not enough to prevent gravity from making the whole lot fall to the end stop or until it hit something. By tightening the small knob, it gave it resistance so that I can still adjust the position without the whole lot moving otherwise.

The drawback to that is the extra force required does shift the position of the whole assembly slightly. So for ultra-fine work (like shallow DoF macro) you may have to experiment to get the position exact. The tripod itself and whatever it is standing on must be absolutely stable too for best results. Forget carpet. Even wooden floors shift enough depending on where you are standing. A heftier tripod may help here.

One more practical consideration. In the original photo at the top I show the camera and lens mounted in the "natural" direction. The drawback I found with this is the front of the rail can hit whatever is in front during adjustment, unless you are using a long lens. The workaround I found for this is to mount the rails backwards. The only drawback with this is it makes the side direction adjust knob harder to reach.

Overall, I still think they're great value.

As another potential use, a guy at work saw these when I bought it in one day and borrowed them. He's into landscape panorama stitching but never found the correct position to rotate the lens for correct perspective. He mounted the rails between his kit and tripod, and used it to move it back and forwards while rotating to find the correct rotation point.

_________________
Canon DSLRs: 7D, 5D2, 1D, 600D, 450D full spectrum, 300D IR mod
Lenses: EF 35/2, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 15-85 IS
3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS, Celestron 1325/13
Tinies: Sony HX9V.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 8:41 pm 
I'm not sure that I will ever have a need for rails like these. But they look cool nonetheless!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2009 1:55 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 9:28 pm
Posts: 1065
Location: Syracuse, NY
Alex_Venom wrote:
Wow, Popo! Now THAT'S creativity right there!! :D
Ultra cool and gave me some ideas too.. after the celebrations of the end of the year I'm going to an hardware store!! :D :D :D


http://www.diyphotography.net/the-diy-macro-rail

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Jake O'Connell, 40D Crew
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