Yesterday's 12 of 12 under 12" ProjectYesterday's 12 of 12 project ended up being much more challenging than I'd expected. The limitation of only using the D700 and 105mm Micro VR at less than a foot from the subject proved to be far more difficult than I envisioned. First, the 105mm VR only focuses to just under a foot so I had to work at the minimum focus distance of the lens and move the camera to focus. At that distance, the minimum aperture increases from the usual f/2.8 to f/4.8 but still retains the razor thin depth-of-field. Even on the FX (Nikon's designation for full frame 35mm sensors) body the 105mm micro had a very narrow angle making the compositions very difficult. I'd expected the most of this, but not to the degree I'd actually encountered.
These challenges ended up teaching me much more about the camera, lens, and macro composition than I'd hoped for though and I'm thrilled to have had the experience. First, to work around the slow shutter speeds in the existing light I cranked the D700 over the more comfortable 1600ISO to 2500ISO on most of the shots. It introduced enough extra noise that I wouldn't consider printing the images, but to downsize and use for screen viewing they're perfect. That narrow depth-of-field proved to me a little more challenging to work with on the D700 than on the D2x though. The D700's viewfinder is very nice, but doesn't seem to work nearly as well as the more expensive bodies. Perhaps an upgraded focus screen would help, but last I knew none were available for the D700. Being that I haven't worked with anything other than DX for more than a decade though, I still find myself relearning the viewing angles of the full-frame 35mm pick-up. I had expected the 105mm micro to provide about 6° more and while that doesn't sound like much, made a huge difference in the compositions. Many of the images I'd planned to capture were no longer an option because the subject would not fit into that narrow frame within the foot limit of the project. One of these scenes was to have been the newly arrived wireless and credit cards statements laid on the keyboard of the laptop. I'd wanted just a portion of each logo and a little of a couple keycaps. Alas with the limitations I'd imposed I couldn't get more than the bank's logo into the frame. The challenges are what make these projects so interesting.