Trumpets and Macros

Posted 2009.08.11 19.56 in Aquaria, Photography by Stephanie

I recently found yet another uninvited guest in my aquarium – a ‘trumpet’ snail. These guys burrow in the substrate so they spend a lot of time out of sight. The burrowing is good, as it churns up the gravel and helps prevent ‘dead spots’ from forming. On the down-side, some resources say they reproduce parthenogenetically, meaning an unfertilized female can reproduce all by herself. So they might have the potential to multiply out of control.

Trumpet Snail, front and back

Trumpet Snail, 1/2 inch long, front and back.

I’ve already got an out-of-control situation with the physas (tadpole snails) and the planorbids (ramshorns). Add to that the bithynias (faucet snails) and now this trumpet and I’ve pretty much run the gamut on ‘dang pest snails’.

One other thing that probably should have got its own post, is that I’ve realized that the “kit lens” that came with my camera is actually a pretty good lens in one particular category – although Canon doesn’t make any mention of this, the lens is practically a macro lens. For an 18-55mm zoom lens, F3.5-5.6, with a quiet AF motor and image stabilization, it’s adequate. Most “kit lenses” are not worth much – they’re ok for beginners but typically you’d get rid of it and use something better. I’d have done that but it was worth so little that I ended up hanging on to it ‘just in case’ and I’m glad I did. It’s minimum focusing distance is a mere 25 centimeters – and that’s not from the front of the lens, that’s from the focal plane near the back of the camera! In the above photos, these aren’t enlarged — these are cropped and reduced images. According to Canon, the maximum magnification is 0.34x which for a ‘non-macro’ lens is pretty significant.

I don’t know why Canon doesn’t mention this capability of the lens, it might make a difference to some people. On the other hand, the lens is somewhat slow, f/3.5 at the wide end and f/5.6 at the long end, and it seems to be made entirely out of plastic. You can read some more info about these kit lenses at CameraHacker.com – the only caveat there is they are talking about the non-IS (Image Stabilization) versions. Unlike the versions they discuss, the IS lens cannot be (easily) modified from EF-S to EF, as the bit that they remove to do the mod is where the IS accellerometers are positioned. (Yes, I took the lens apart.) (Yes, the lens still worked when I put it back together.)

Now that I’ve realized this, I’m definately going to hang on to this lens for now – unless / until I get a true Macro lens, this one is going to serve that function for me.

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