At its most basic, water droplet imagery takes very little specialist equipment to start producing, just a camera, a flash, and some good timing! But if you want to create the most dramatic results possible, there is some equipment available that will allow you to take even better control of lighting, droplet shape and image composition for breathtaking results. Here are some of our recommended items…
Unlike some genres of photography such as sports or wildlife, your camera doesn’t have to be the latest model with an all-singing-all-dancing autofocus system or the highest burst shooting rate on the market, in order to enable you to capture some great water droplet images. The only real factors of benefit in a device are a compatibility with interchangeable lenses, so a CSC or DSLR is ideal, and to a lesser degree, resolution. With an interchangeable mount, you’ll have the option to select a macro lens so that you can get nice and close to droplet’s splash for frame-filling shots, while a high file resolution will allow you to crop in even tighter if needed during editing.
You can start capturing droplet images with a standard kit lens, but if this is a genre a photography you’re considering specialising in, a macro lens will enable you to achieve the best results. A true macro lens has a magnification ratio of 1:1 or greater, which means that droplets will be projected onto the sensor at their true size, looking huge and offering plenty of detail when displayed on a screen or printed. Below are a few of the most popular options:
Canon EF 100 mm f2.8L Macro IS USM Lens – £739/€855
This macro lens offers a true 1:1 magnification ratio for close-up shots of water drops, but with it’s 100mm mid-length focal reach it can be positioned a reasonable distance from the splash itself during use. The optic also benefits from a Hybrid Image Stabiliser that helps reduce shake in images, particularly when being used handheld, and a fast aperture of f/2.8 making it a perfect portrait lens as well.
Nikon AF-S Micro 105mm f2.8G IF-ED VR Lens – £849/€989
Like the Canon, this lens also offers a versatile mid-length focal length and fast aperture while providing a 1:1 magnification, making it a highly capable choice for water droplet and people pictures alike. Its image stabilisation system can compensate for up to 3-stops of camera shake and it benefits from a silent wave motor (SWM) for fast and steady autofocussing.
Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens – £879/€994
Sony’s G Master lens range has earned a reputation as being some of the sharpest glass you can own, and the FE 90mm f/2.8 macro is no exception to that rule. With a 1:1 magnification ratio and mid-telephoto reach, this lens is a natural choice for Sony photographers looking to capture the best splash photos possible.
Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro I A – £499/€549
A slightly more affordable option available in Sigma, Canon and Sony E Mount fits is the Sigma 70mm F/2.8 DG Macro lens, this prime lens provides a 1:1 magnification ratio and superb sharpness. Its focal length is slightly shorter than its rivals, meaning that to achieve the same frame-filling shots you’ll have to position your camera slightly closer to your water drops, but it remains a highly pleasing optic.
Tamron 90mm f2.8 SP Di Macro Lens – £399/€379
The cheapest lens featured in this roundup, the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 is a classic macro that has had several iterations over the years. Despite its affordable price tag it too features a useful focal length for portraits and macro work from a reasonable distance, as well as a fast f/2.8 aperture. This lens is available in Nikon, Canon and Sony A Mounts.
All major interchangeable camera mounts including those not mentioned above (Fuji, Olympus, Pentax etc.) have macro lens options available suitable for water droplet images. Whichever device you use, try to select a lens with at least a 1:1 ratio and full-frame equivalent focal length of over 50mm.
Key to freezing your water droplets sharply and illuminating your images in an interesting way is a powerful flash of light during your exposure. While studio lighting can be highly effective, it can also be both expensive and bulky, for this reason, many who choose to specialise in droplet photography will opt to use a flashgun in their setups.
1. Metz Mecablitz 52 AF-1 – £199/€189
With a powerful guide number of 52 (ISO 100/21° at 105mm), this flashgun packs plenty of punch, while offering a fully articulated head for bounce flash and ease of setup. The device also benefits from an illuminated touchscreen for control of all settings and an inbuilt reflector system. It’s available in Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic and Pentax variants.
2. Hahnel Modus 600RT – £279/€249
This advanced flashgun provides a range of unique features including being powered by a rechargeable Li-on battery for faster recycle times and up to 1,000 1/2 power shots per charge, wireless connectivity and an impressive guide number of 60 (ISO100 at 200mm). It’s available in all major camera fits and also features a fully adjustable head.
3. Nissin Di700A – £170/€169
Also featuring inbuilt wireless connectivity is the Di700 which carries a respectable guide number of 54 (ISO100 at 200mm) and has a fully adjustable head. It has an input for an external power pack if required and has both a standard and a 3.5mm PC sync input, a High-Speed Sync flash mode is present. This flashgun is available in Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm, and Four-Thirds mounts.
Taken by Andrea Laybauer using MIOPS SPLASH
This is the part of your setup that can make all the difference as to the Droplet shots that you produce. It’s also the area where MIOPS has you covered. There are two options for you to select from….
MIOPS SPLASH – $99
Smartphone controllable, the stand-alone MIOPS SPLASH – Water Drop Kit is designed to make taking precision droplet images a breeze for everyone. The compact unit consists of a tank for your chosen liquid, an adjusting valve, and a control box. Connected wirelessly via Bluetooth, photographers can utilize the MIOPS Mobile app to select the size of every individual droplet released by the MIOPS SPLASH, the timing between each of them, and the moment an image is taken. This makes more advanced droplet effects like crowns, mushrooms, pillars and collisions not only possible to create, but easy to replicate time-and-time again. Want that last droplet to appear slightly higher in your image? Just increase its delay slightly. Think slightly larger droplets would be more impressive? Just increase their size within the app. It really is that simple.
For more information about the Splash click here: https://www.miops.com/miops-
MIOPS SMART – $219
MIOPS SMART Trigger is a versatile camera and flash trigger in a single unit which provides advanced triggering modes like Lightning, Sound, Laser, Timelapse, HDR and more. This functionality allows it to be used in a wide variety of creative photography situations, one of which is water droplet photography. Simply align a laser pointer with the SMART beneath where your droplets are being released, choose the delay before an image should be taken, and when it’s beam is broken the device will automatically trigger your camera for perfect droplet shots.
For more information about the Smart click here: https://www.miops.com/miops-