recommendation for moderately priced camera with good macro capabilities

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by benny_spinoza, Jan 8, 2014.

  1. My wife is interested in an easy-to-use camera capable of macro shots of jewelry for selling on e-bay. Any recommendations, say below the $400 range. I was thinking of buying a used Olympus PEN from keh.com, say for around $150, and a macro lens, which can be had used for $400, for $550 total. That would provide 1:2 images on a micro 4/3 sensor, which should, after perhaps cropping, provide very good resolution for posting images of jewelry. Any other suggestions? I wonder if a good shoot and point would have sufficient macro capabilities? She wouldn't need to shoot in RAW. "Raw, honey...why, I always take pictures with clothes on!"
     
  2. It isn't really about the camera so much as about the lens. I use an EP-2 for all my macro and I use film lenses (manual aperture) via an adapter. Kiron give excellent results and are available (used only) in various mounts. The 75-150 does 1:4 on fill frame, so 1:2 on m4/3. I also use legacy flash guns on the hotshoe. An Olympus T32 will meter itself (you may have to lie to it about ISO to allow for the magnification factor for exposure.).
     
  3. That seems like a reasonable price on a PEN. That system is adaptable to many manual focus lenses and macro lenses, so with an adapter you may be able to get by with a less expensive manual focus macro lens.
    Many tiny sensor P&S digicams have very good macro capabilities. The tricky bit is often to avoid the widest focal length on the zoom, to minimize barrel distortion and field curvature. Using the middle to tele focal range usually provides more natural looking photos.
    I still occasionally drag out my ancient Olympus C-3040Z P&S digicam for small product illustrations. Despite the obsolete SmartMedia sorta-floppy cards and noise above ISO 100, it's still a handy camera. Excellent zoom and closeup capabilities, and often easier to set up with a light tent for simple stuff than setting up my dSLR and macro lens.
    I'm also a fan of the Nikon 1 System, although it doesn't have a true macro lens. But it's good for small item closeups with the 10-30 VR kit zoom. There may still be some good prices on the J1, J2 or J3 models - those were heavily discounted last year, especially over the holidays. However the built in flash isn't great, so you'll need supplemental lights for jewelry photos. But you'd want that anyway.
    A light tent or similar diffuser, two or three gooseneck or adjustable desk lamps, some bright neutral bulbs (grab those incandescent flood lamps while you still can), and you have an easy setup for simple small product photos. The look will be pretty generic, but good enough for ebay. A unique background or other trick can enhance a signature look.
     
  4. Just get your choice of interchangeable lens mirrorless body and a manual focus Nikon 55mm macro lens with the
    appropriate adapter (one of the $30 or under adapters from Amazon). The lens should be easy to find for $100 or less.
    Then put the rest of your budget into tripod and/or lights.
     
  5. Thanks for the info. I was thinking about a manual lens with adapter, but I am not sure how easy it would be to focus
    using the LCD screen.
     
  6. Manual focusing with the Nikon 1 system cameras' rear LCD is not great - the magnified view is coarse and not suitable to accurate fine focusing. The V1 is acceptable through the EVF. But for accurate manual focusing a more recent model with focus peaking would be better. Sony and other mirrorless models offer better manual focusing aids than Nikon.
    However, I mostly use AF for my small digicams for small item illustrations. As long as there's plenty of ambient lighting it's reliable enough. Even if you turn off the ambient lights and use flash for the actual exposures, it helps to have a bright light available when composing to assist the AF.
     
  7. the nikon 1 j1 is actually not terrible for handheld macros. with the 10-30, it focuses to within about 3 inches, with stabilization.
    and if you're using an adaptor on m4/3 or Nex (which has focus peaking), you may want to consider the tokina 35 macro, which would be a 70mm equivalent. it's wicked sharp, close-focuses closer than longer focal lengths and can do 1:1. the nikon 55, i believe only goes to 1:2. the tokina 35 has been discontinued but you should be able to find a used copy if you dig deep enough; a flickr page is here.
    whether you use a P&S, mirrorless, or a DSLR, what's going to matter the most is the rest of your setup, i.e., light tent.
     
  8. On M4/3 usually you have a live view zoom for manual focus. On NEX and Fuji there's both zoom and focus peaking. I
    really like the NEX 5n for this sort of thing because you can tilt the screen for viewing angle while it's on a tripod, and tap
    the touchscreen where you want to zoom. When you're zoomed you see focus peaking with more detail and finer
    tolerances.
     
  9. I think my wife will need auto focusing. The new olympus stylus 1 looks great. More than I originally wanted to spend, but
    then, it looks like it has sufficient macro capabilities. And it looks like it would be a great general use camera.
     
  10. In answer to these questions it is usually emphasised that the camera is a very minor part of the question and lighting is the be-all and end-all. The automatics of the camera work as normal when you add a close-up lens .... This is how I work for close shots all the time as the simplest way to go despite having other gear gathering dust from lack of use.
    Even for whole page web pictures you do not need a bigger file than 500kb so the sensor size is imaterial ... anyway low Mp cameras are hard to find.
    Being able to come in close is not a real requirement as in this situation it is better to use the CU lens to enable the longer lens to focus moderately close which keeps the camera out of the 'set' but looking in. Longer lenses normally cannot focus even reasonably close until the CU lens is added.
    I would suggest a secondhand Panasonic FZ50 and a two dioptre close-up lens. The camera's 430mm lens with the CU lens will enable you to fill the sensor with something 1.5 inches wide from a distance of about 13 inches. This what I have and mainly used until I got a MFT which is quite un-needed for the job in hand.
    On Amazon the cost of this would be well under the $400 budget.
    Photo shows a small ornamental mouse about an inch long full frame except the top of frame was cropped when adding photo of my 50cent white plastic bucket used as a light tent on my worktable. Mouse was placed on block of wood with material as background. The CU lens appears to be my plastic magnifying glass and the hole was cut to match the lens diameter of my FZ30 which I had before my FZ50.
    00cKmC-545056284.jpg
     

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