Hand Holding the 100 Macro: Two Ways to Go « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Hand Holding the 100 Macro: Two Ways to Go

The Streak Continues: 168

This post marks 168 consecutive days with a new educational blog post. With so many folks getting in the habit of using our B&H links and our Amazon logo-links why quit now? April was a record month but May has not been so good. So far…. To show your appreciation for my efforts here, I do ask that you use our the B&H and Amazon affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially Gitzo tripods, Wimberley tripod heads, and the like. We sell only what I used, tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know the tools that you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And we are always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

You can find the following items in the store: Gitzo tripods, Mongoose M3.6 and Wimberley heads, plates, low feet, and accessories, flash brackets, , Delkin e-film Pro Compact Flash Cards, LensCoat products, and our unique line-up of educational materials including ABP I & II, Digital Basics, Site and Set-up e-Guides, Canon and Nikon Camera Users and AF e-Guides, and MP-4 Photoshop video tutorials among others.

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This post took 1 1/2 hours to put together. Enjoy!


This tulip center image was created at the Willem Alexander Pavilion at Keukenhof Gardens on last April’s Holland Tulip IPT with the hand held Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS macro lens and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital camera body. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops: 1/250 sec. at f/2.8 in Av mode.

Two sensors up from the Central Sensor/AI Servo-Surround/Rear Focus AF squarely on the tip of the anther as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure. See more at the BreezeBrowser screen capture below. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Active AF When Hand Holding the 100 Macro

Hand holding any lens gives you a lot more freedom than working on a tripod. It is faster and easier to frame the image and without being encumbered by a tripod allows you to explore any and all perspectives. When you are on a tripod these choices are greatly restricted.

My great preference when hand holding the new 100mm macro is to work with active AF provided that there is enough contrast to acquire focus. If in doubt, it is a simple matter to select the sensor that will give you the desired composition and try to acquire focus. If the system consistently acquires and holds focus then you are fine to hand hold with active AF. This ensures that the image will be sharp where you want it to be sharp assuming a fast enough shutter speed. With this image I had more than enough shutter speed (1/250 sec.) to create a sharp image. With the 100 macro’s excellent Image Stabilization feature going a lot slower is possible. With a bit of practice most folks are able to create consistently sharp images with this lens while hand holding at shutter speeds down to 1/30 sec.


The Breezebrowser Main View Screen Capture

Most folks will need to enlarge the image by clicking on it so that they can see that the active sensor, two sensors up from the central sensor, is illuminated in red.

The BreezeBrowser Main View Screen Capture

Above is the BreezeBrowser Main View screen capture for today’s image. Note that the illuminated red square shows the AF point that was selected and active at the moment of exposure; if you wear reading glasses you will likely have to enlarge the image to see that.

In BreezeBrowser you need to check “Show Focus Points” under View to activate this feature. To see the focus points in DPP check “AF Point” under View or hit Alt L. Hit Alt M to see Highlight Alert. To learn how and why I use DPP (Canon Digital Photo Professional) to convert all of my RAW files, see the info on our DPP RAW Conversion Guide here.

Note as usual the perfect histogram the WHITEs well into the rightmost histogram box. Regular readers know that I use and depend on BreezeBrowser every day of the year. It allows me to sort my keepers and delete the rejects faster than any other Windows browsing program. We use it on the main computer in the home office to catalog our images file-drawer style. And the companion program, Downloader Pro allows me to download my images quickly and conveniently. It automatically adds my IPTC data and the shooting location. I have it set up to create a folder named by the Month/date/year. The Breezebrowser/Downloader Pro combo saves me many hours each week. To learn more or to purchase this great PC only program, click here. As far as the BreezeBrowser/Downloader Pro Combo goes, if you are using a Windows platform and are not using these two great programs you are at best, wasting your valuable time. My understanding is that Photo Mechanic is best for Mac-users who do not opt to run Parallels or VM Ware fusion on their Macs so that they can enjoy the many advantages of BreezeBrowser. See BreezeBrowswer on a Mac for details.

This tightly detailed sunflower image was created on last year’s Swan Island Dahlia Farm IPT with the hand held Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS macro lens and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital camera body. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/25 sec. at f/8 in Av mode.

Manual focus. Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Hand Holding with Manual Focus

On every flower trip that I have done with Denise Ippolito, she encouraged everyone to hand hold while focusing manually. She is so skilled at staying still and controlling her breathing that she can consistently make sharp images using this technique. I cannot stay still enough to do that so when I want to or need to hand hold (when there is not enough contrast to acquire AF) I try the following: Get the approximate focus manually. Take a good stance. Breathe slowly. Allow my body to move naturally and slowly so that the focus goes in and out. Then, I press the shutter button when the image is focused where I want it to be. I did not think that I would be capable of using this technique successfully, but I was wrong. I first tried it on the Swan Island Dahlia Farm IPT and by the end of the trip I was able to make some sharp and pleasing images like the one above. Note that the image stabilization surely helped me to produce a sharp image at the 1/25 sec. shutter speed.

Holland 2015

Denise and I will be returning to Holland in April 2015 to conduct our third straight A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART/Tulips & A Touch of Holland IPT. Details will be announced here soon. If you would like early notice please shoot me an e-mail.

Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog or via a BAA Online Bulletin is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charges a minimum of 20% plus assorted fees! Yikes. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly–I offer free pricing advise, usually sells in no time flat as did Dennis Cassidy’s 500 II recently on the blog. Larry Master’s 400 DO and his 800 f/5.6 sold within a week. From Larry via e-mail: Thanks for helping me sell the lenses so quickly!

A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART friend Kitto Kono sold her Nikon 500 to a Blog subscriber in less than a week. Janet Horton’s 7D sold this week after a $100 price reduction. Denise Ippolito’s 100-400 and her 100 macro sold in one day. Peter Kes sold his 70-200 f/2.8L IS II and his 400 DO through BAA in ten days. In the past two months we have sold a Canon 800, a Canon 500 II, 3 400 DO lenses, a Nikon 500mm, and lots more. If you are interested in using our services, please e-mail.

New Used Photography Gear Page

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that there is now a link to a Used Photography Gear page on the yellow tool bar at the top of each blog page. Folks looking to buy (or to sell) can click on that tab or here. I will on occasion continue to list new gear and great buys in blog posts (as below) and in Bulletins and may on rare occasion share all the listings with you on the blog. I will strive to keep the listings current. Great news for Kitty Kono and her Nikon 400mm f/2.8; it sold yesterday! That made her 2 for 2 in selling her older Nikon super-telephotos with BAA.

Two Brand New Listings

Both of these items are priced to sell fast

EOS-1D Mark IV

BAA friend Nancy Bell is offering a used Canon EOS-1D Mark IV camera body for sale for $3200. The body is in excellent condition. It enjoyed annual routine cleaning and service at a Canon Factory Service Center; the last one was done on 5/30/13. The sale includes the original box, battery charger, 3 Canon batteries, the instruction manual, all connection cables, a Canon neck strap, and insured Fed-Ex Ground shipping to US addresses only.

Payment by personal or teller’s check; the item will ship item only after the check clears. Please contact Nancy via e-mail or by phone at 970-484-8791–Colorado, MDT.

Canon 400mm f/4 DO IS Lens

BAA friend Nancy Bell is also offering a used Canon 400mm f/4 DO IS USM lens for sale for only $4499. The lens is in very good to excellent condition with some minor blemishes on the exterior finish and some signs of wear on lens hood interior rim. The glass is perfect and the lens is both light and sharp. The last yearly routine cleaning and service at a Canon Factory Service Center was on 5/30/13.

The sale includes the leather lens hood, the lens trunk, and insured Fed-Ex Ground shipping to US addresses only.

Payment by personal or teller’s check; the item will ship item only after the check clears. Please contact Nancy via e-mail or by phone at 970-484-8791–Colorado, MDT.

Price Reduced

Used Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens for Sale/Price Reduced $300!

Multiple IPT veteran Bill Wingfield is offering a Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens in excellent condition for $1125! The glass is clean and the lens is in perfect working condition. The sale includes the lens hood, the fabric case, and insured shipping by UPS Ground to US addresses only. Personal checks only; your new lens will be shipped after your check clears.

For more than a decade I used the 100-400 to create hundreds of sharp, sale-able image. It is a very versatile lens.

You can reach Bill via e-mail or by phone at 843-729-6670.

Best Super-telephoto Lens Value

Used Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS Lens for Sale

Multiple IPT veteran, the too-kind Jim Bicket, is offering a Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM lens in excellent condition for $8750. The lens is like new except for some wear on the bottom of the lens hood near the forward edge when the hood is reversed. The sales includes the LensCoat that has protected the lens since day 1, the leather hood, the original hard case and key, and insured shipping via UPS Ground to US addresses only. Personal checks only; your new lens will be shipped only after your check clears.

This great lens, my favorite for 3 years, sells new at B&H for $13,999.00. A month ago B&H was offering one in mint condition for a ridiculous $10,249.90; it sold overnight. Go figure. Jim’s lens will save you a ton of dough and you will have a great lens with lots of reach. I can’t believe that this one has not sold yet as Jim is practically giving it away!

Interested folks can contact Jim via e-mail or try him at 501-915-9336.

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6 comments to Hand Holding the 100 Macro: Two Ways to Go

  • Beautiful images Arthur!!! I often use the latter method for my frog photography. The human body makes a great focusing rail.

  • avatar kw mcculloch


    have you got any silver bullets for shooting canon macro with flash, such as the small flash that mounts on the lens with adapter that nikon produces, to enable a better depth of field as others do?
    Thanks for all the great tips and lessons.


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Sorry, no. I never us flash with macro. I believe that what you are referring to is the use of flash as main light techniques with small apertures. The brackets would be the same irrespective of Nikon or Canon…

  • avatar Leonard Malkin

    I just want to thank you for all the great tips on this site. It’s from the master and it’s free!

  • avatar David Policansky

    Those are wonderful images, Artie. I’m glad you didn’t ask us which was our favorite, or perhaps I missed it, because I love them both. I have the non-IS version of that lens, which is very sharp, but of course it has no IS.