Video Example

Here is a tutorial going through how I use the Canon 65mm MP-E 1x-5x Macro lens with the MT-26EX twin flash.

Overview

I lucked out and had a bug waiting for me right by my door, so I picked him up, gave him some water, and made a video tutorial showing how I use the Canon 65mm MP-E 1x-5x macro lens with the MT-26EX twin flash on the 5D Mark IV. I really love the MP-E lens since it lets me get very close to bugs and at 5x I can usually fill the frame with a bug’s head!

  • The MP-E is a manual focus lens, and manual focusing is a good practice to follow with any macro lens.
  • In the video, I use my custom macro backgrounds since I enjoy adding some extra color to photos.
  • I have a very simple diffuser on the MT-26EX twin flash
    • I use the stock diffusers that come with the flash
    • I tape one paper towel over each flash head to make a little fluffy ball to soften the light
  • My starting settings are: +1 flash compensation, ISO 100, F / 14, 1/200th shutter
  • I change the aperture based on how zoomed in I am with the MP-E
    • 1x – f / 16 or f / 14 (I prefer f / 14 to make my background card look blurry)
    • 2x – f / 14
    • 3x – f / 13
    • 4x – f / 10
    • 5x – f / 9

Why do you switch aperture?

If you were to use f / 16 at 5x, due to physics and the way light bends, your subject would appear blurry when you zoom in. To get tack sharp bug eyes at 5x, I’ve had the best results at f / 9.

Lighting

Lighting is the most important aspect of macro photography to allow you to get stunning photos; a good diffused flash is a great priority on the list ;). With a flash you can get tack sharp bug eyes consistently, and you can get much more detail in a single shot since you can utilize higher f stops.

Here are two images for comparison:

At 2:1 and 1/200th of a second shutter f / 14 can be used to get amazing details
At 2:1 and 1/200th of a second shutter f / 2.8the image is exposed properly and the depth of field is too shallow to see good details

Another fun thing about a good flash is that you can use ETTL mode and only worry about modifying the flash compensation to add or remove the light. The flash is your primary light source and gives you freedom and control. The flash also gives a lot of extra leeways that allows you to get more sharp photos that are fun to share. If you do not have steady hands, the flash will help tremendously! If you fire four shots off with shaky hands, you will be surprised that 1-2 of them are in focus and full of amazing details!