Venus Optics Macro 2:1 Lens Review

Hi everyone,

I haven’t blogged in a while so I thought I would 🙂 Starting with the review of the Venus LAOWA 60mm f2.8 2:1 Macro lens.

I was sent this lens by Venus Optics a few weeks back and decided I would take it to Greece with me on my wildlife guiding trip to test it out, although this  lens has been in the market for some time, people still haven’t herd about it, which is odd as its a fantastic lens.

The lens comes with a nice little padded pouch, but no hood, this is no issue for me but other macro lenses do come with them. The build quality seems really robust, all metal, which adds strength and durability that other similar macro lens lack.

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It’s important to note that this is an all manual lens, so along with manual focus you will have to set the aperture using the dials on the lens. I always use manual focus anyway but the setting of the aperture on the lens was new to me, and…… I kind of liked it!. I found it easier and quicker to change meaning less photo opportunities missed. If you are a macro photographer like me then you know all too well that an insect can jump, crawl or fly away in an instant and you missed your shot because you had to look at your camera to change F stop, with this you don’t, you can move the dial just as you would a focus ring whilst composing your shot, simple.

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Empusa Pennata – Canon 6D – Venus Macro 2:1 Natural Light

I was keen to try this lens out using only natural light mounted on my Canon 6D and it didn’t let me down, the bokeh rendering compared to other macro lens was just superb, smooth and slightly saturated colours and a sharp subject matter making the image pop.

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Blue – Canon 6D – Venus Macro 2:1 Natural Light

I did suffer some vignettes using this lens for portraits, but it is designed for Crop bodies so that was to be expected using it on a Full Frame 6D. It doesn’t effect macro what so ever. I wish I could have tried it out as a portrait lens, maybe they will release a full frame macro lens in the future.

I had read that some users also suffered from a warm orange tint to their photos when using this lens, But I didn’t experience any of it. The lens is a tad heavy compared to others, but its strong reliable build reflects this.

All in all I would definitely recommend this lens to my friends and fellow photographers, It will be a regular in my camera bag from now on. Reasonably priced, quality build and 2:1 macro without the need for tubes, it’s an absolute little beauty.

If you have just started to get into macro but want to get that little bit closer, then this is the lens for you!

http://www.venuslens.net/product/venus-v-dx-60mm-f2-8-ultra-macro-lens/

More shots will follow over the next few months!

Matt

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Nemoptera bipennis – Canon 6D – Venus Macro 2:1 Natural Light

 

 

 

 

#30DaysWild – Days 9-12

Hi everyone,

Sorry for the lack of posts, I have been working the night shift this week so I haven’t had much time at all to do anything or get out with the kids.

Here is a quick recap of what we got upto.

Day 9.

We decided to stay at home and refill, wash and fill the the bird feeders and table.

Day 10.

For day 10 we decided to plant some herbs in our garden. Jasmine and Amber seemed more interested in eating them than planting them. lol!

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Day 11.

We left the car at home again and decided to walk home from school, 2.2 miles to be precise. For me it was tiring as I’m used to my car, for the girls and my wife it was a breeze as they do this everyday whilst I’m at work.

On the way past one of the local parks the girls decided to try some balancing on the large rocks.

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Day 12.

This morning when I arrived home from work at 6am I decided to pop into the garden to see what I could find. I was shocked and excited to find this Red Damselfly on one of the strawberry plants. I’ve never had one of these in the garden!! Due to the fact it was so early in the morning, this beauty hadn’t fully warmed up, meaning I could get a decent picture. I eventually left it alone to wake up, and I went to bed.

I can only assume that someone has a rather large pond near my house, either way I was glad for the visit.

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Hopefully I will get out and about more this weekend. How are you getting on with your #30DaysWild?

Thanks for reading

Matt

#30DaysWild – Day 7, Foraging, Spiders and Honey!

Hi everyone,

We’ve had some great weather here today, have you had the same?

We started the day off having a quick look in the garden for bugs. We found this very shy spider, Pisaura mirabilis,  under some bark in the flower beds. I love the face of this spider, it looks like it has tribal war paint down each side, a beautiful spider. Here it has its legs pulled in, a typical defensive position, I adopt a similar position when someone rolls me out of bed.

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Then we headed over to the fair and dog show on the common near our house. We purchased some Honey from the local Bee Keeper and I was amazed at the taste. We had a great chat about all Bees and conservation.

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Jasmine also decided she wanted to climb some trees.

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and try the idea from Day 1 which was hug a tree!

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After a few hours of fun we headed to our local farm. Inside one of the greenhouses they had old birds nests in a crate for everyone to look at, the kids were impressed.

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We also foraged for Strawberries and Gooseberries, it’s a bit early for anything else. Whilst we ventured the grounds we spotted lots of wildlife, Rabbits, kestrels, Buzzards, Butterflies, the list was endless. We also found lots of herbs and wildflowers. The girls are really in their element outdoors, in touch with the wild. So inquisitive, adventurous and happy! It’s the best way to be.

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Not sure what we will get upto this week as work will get in the way, but we will certainly try and do something each day.

Matt

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#30DaysWild – Day 3 #WhatsInYourGarden

Hi everyone,

Let’s just take a second to welcome back Mr Sun, Today was glorious! As I drove to work at 5am this morning the sun had just risen, some light mist on the fields, the roads were clear and the only sound you could hear was the dawn chorus of the birds…..Stunning.

The day got better, I was promoted at work 🙂 Wahoo! The elation was short lived however, after arriving home and discovering we had a leak from the bathroom. The kitchen was flooded! Disaster! It completely put a spanner in the works for our Day 3.

So, after the plumber had been it didn’t leave us much time to get out and into the WILD.

I do another blog called #WhatsInYourGarden on a Wednesday or Thursday so I decided to merge the two blogs for Day 3 of #30DaysWild.

So #WhatsInYourGarden……….Red Ants….Quick RUUUUUUUN!

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Well that’s the 1st thing most people do, these Ants have a bad name. Why? Because they pack a painful sting! Only if they feel threatened or you disturb a nest though.

One of the most common Ant species we get in the garden, The Red Ant, Myrmica rubra, is around 4-5mm big. It favours garden soil and lawns but will form colonies under stones and rotting wood.

For me, Ants are without doubt the best insect to watch in your garden. Just spend 10 minutes each day in a different section of your garden and you are guaranteed to see an Ant carrying out its particular job.

One may be carrying a diseased or dead Ant away from the colony.

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One may be bringing back supplies.

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However ambitious.

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You may find some grazing on near by plants.

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and if you’re really lucky, one surfing 😉

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They truly are fascinating to watch, but don’t take my word for it, watch this video I filmed today of two Ants dissecting a small fly, using those powerful mandibles to rip off its wings. Sorry about the background music.

 

Enjoy

Matt

What’s in your garden – Solitary Bees

Hi everyone,

I’m back again with this weeks installment of ‘What’s in your garden’. Today I would like to show you one of my all time favourites, The Solitary Bee.

There are over 200 different species of Solitary Bee in the Britain, it is usually the first species of Bee to be seen in our gardens, as early as march. When feeding on pollen and nectar the hairy bodies of these cute little bees and hairy hind legs are covered, the pollen is then often carried back to the nest.

FACT – Only females are equipped to carry the pollen.

These little beauties usually make their nests in the ground. The female will dig the nest and stock up her pollen and nectar before sealing it back up leaving the young with a nice starter a meal.

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These Bees are excellent pollinators and having them in your garden will do wonders for your Flora.

Now, why are they called Solitary Bees? Well the Answer lies within the name. They are Solitary. They are not social Bees like our Honeybee or Bumblebee, although you may find lots of nests together when a piece of prime real estate is on the market. Nest sites are likely to be in the lawn or where there is bare soil. The nest tunnel is vertical and is usually topped by a mound of fine soil with a hole in the top to get in and out. These Bees can vary in size from 3mm up-to 15mm.

These Bees do have a sting but very rarely use it. They are quite harmless and not aggressive at all.

To attract these little cute fluffy Bees to your garden is quite simple. Lots and lots of flowers will help, but you could also construct or buy a bug hotel. These normally come with chambers made from bamboo for the Bees to make a nest. You could also leave any dandelions that pop up in your garden for as long as possible to help give these Bees a kick start in the early spring.

So here it is, a beautiful portrait of a Solitary Bee in my back garden on a Dandelion.

As normal any question please ask.

Macro Matt.

Solitary Bee

#Day46 of #100DaysofNature

Hi all,

So, if you have been keeping up-to date with the #100daysofnature challenge started by the #BBCSpringwatch team then you should be at day 50, However I had a break to France for 4 days so my challenge was put on hold until I got back. I promised to give you 100 species just from my garden and up-to now I am doing quite well 🙂

Now….Who’s hungry? Have you ever tried caterpillar/larvae before? No? me neither, but this shield bug and other predatory insects love them.

This is today’s species, The Bronze Shield Bug, Troilus luridus. This one is at it’s Early Instar stage of development.

It’s a large predatory shieldbug in it’s adult form and has an orange band on the penultimate antennal segment, legs are usually brown and the scutellum lacks an orange tip.

So, here it is 🙂 #Day46…oh and again a new find for garden.

Enjoy

Matt

#Day44 of #100DaysofNature

Wow wow and wow again…

#Day44 of #100daysofNature and today I have one of the most extraordinary Insects I have ever found in my garden, but first let me see if you can spot it?

No? well underneath that little bit of debris on that rock lies the Larvae of The Common Green Lacewing, a predator of soft bodies insects such as Aphids. The Larva uses it’s long hollow mandibles to puncture and suck out the insides of the aphids leaving an empty skin, The Larva then creates a camouflaged home, sometimes refereed to as ‘Trash Packets’, from their empty skins to deter would be predators such as Ants. How amazing is that!!!!

When I first spotted this ‘thing’ moving on the rocks, I just assumed it was debris being blown, it was only when it started to move in a formative pattern that I realized that something was alive underneath it. How many of these have you and I disregarded in the garden as just foliage or debris? How many have we missed? I for one will be examining everything a lot more closely from now on.

Nature never fails to surprise me.

Enjoy

Matt