Precision counts even for tiny things. Since physics laws are not suspended even with ever-higher resolution digital backs, two essential new components build the basis for successful extreme macro photography: An excellent macro lens and a specific stacking device. ALPA motivated Rodenstock/Qioptiq to make an incredibly high-resolution macro lens fit for classical photography and support Novoflex in developing a precise and reliable stacking platform.
The first requirement resulted in the ALPA Macro Switar 5.6/105 mm float and the second in the Castel Micro solution. We have also extended the range of applications in the more moderate reproduction scale up to 1:4 with the tried and tested Schneider Apo-Digitar 4.5/90 and created the connection to current medium format mirrorless solutions. Whether with a digital back or medium format camera, ALPA solutions make even small things big.
The Rodenstock / ALPA Macro Switar 5.6/105 mm is a high-performance lens for image scales of 1:4 to 4:1. The user can optimize the specific image scale via a ring-operated floating element which covers 1:3 to 3:1. Sharpness is extraordinary and only limited by diffraction. The ultra-low distortion nearly vanishes at 1:1 and beyond. The chromatic aberration is minimized and contrast performance is superior.
The Rodenstock / ALPA Macro Switar 5.6/105 mm offers a constant image circle of 82 mm over the full range of image scales. The image circle allows therefore movements for shift and tilt.
The lens features a 12 blade aperture (open and closed down) which offers a perfectly round aperture image for an outstanding Bokeh: out of focus highlights are rendered as homogeneously circular airy disks.
Due to its construction there is no space for a classical leaf shutter. It is used best together with the ALPA 12 FPS or any ALPA setup with a digital back capable of electronic shutter. The lens is delivered without a helical focus or the like. Focusing is performed on a bellows or via a rigid tube system optimized for the specific image scale. ALPA is offering a V groove adapter plate for mounting the lens to any ALPA universal bellows.
The new electronically controlled slider ALPA CASTEL-MICRO was specially developed for focus stacking in close-up and extreme macro photography, for example of insects, minerals, scientific documentation, and much more.
The solution has a level of precision that is second to none. The slide itself runs on high-precision ball bearing guide rails to avoid any play. The ALPA CASTEL MICRO has a maximum adjustment range of 100mm and a smallest, repeatable step size of 0.2µ (0.0002mm)! The range of step sizes ranges from between 0.2µ and 100mm depending on the motif.
The maximum load for vertical mounting is 4 kg. Self-weight is about 1.4 kg. The control unit runs on rechargeable batteries (type Canon LP-E6 - not included) and is therefore also ideal for mobile use in museums and collections as well as in the field. For studio applications, the included power supply unit can power the control unit.
Four application modes are available via the touchscreen control unit:
The Bellows Mode
This mode is designed for use with the CASTBAL-PRO bellows attachment. This attachment is part of ALPA kits. Here the front or rear standard can be moved as desired. The Bellows mode is not only ideal for macro shots, but also for shots that were previously only possible with a lot of effort, special cameras or tilt/shift lenses. The BALPRO adapter system makes it possible to use not only ALPA cameras but also various third-party cameras and lenses. In this way, different components can be individually integrated for an optimal, efficient stacking workflow. The Bellows mode allows creating a software-controlled series of differently focused images of the same object, which is then processed by a stacking software to an image with an incredible depth of field.
The Step and Picture Modes
These two modes allow a quick and uncomplicated start. In both modes, the step size or the number of desired individual shots can be specified. This setup is based on the magnification and the aperture of the lens. The software then automatically calculates the required number of individual exposures or the required step size. Besides, waiting times between captures for swinging in and out can be set.
The Continuous Mode
This mode is available for individual applications in which the slide moves continuously, eliminating the otherwise necessary acceleration and braking distances and the associated waiting times. The exposures are then made with very short shutter speeds or in combination with flash.
The electronically controlled stacking solution is completely integrated into the ALPA system. It can also be combined almost endlessly using the universal dovetail profiles (UniQ/C standard).
For mobile use, the control unit allows the use of Canon LP-E6 for power supply.