Taking detailed shots of small objects.

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by stephen_m|1, Sep 18, 2006.

  1. I'm not sure if technical is the right thing for this to be under.. but I hope
    it is.

    I picked up a Canon Powershot A610 a few months back and finally got round to
    using it this last week. So far everythings more or less great, the pictues are
    of a good quality and everything comes out crisp and clear.

    The only problem I'm having is taking pictures of small objects, things about an
    inch big with quite a bit of detail just seem to come out a blurry mess in
    general where no detail can be made out. I've been trying to use the auto mode
    to take them but having no luck what so ever.

    So is anyone exprienced in taking pictures of small things and have any tips?
    Anything pin pointed at my camera would be awesome but I'm guessing it's
    something a lot of newbies struggle with no matter their camera, so generic
    advice would be great too.

    Thanks for reading.
  2. Jeremy Stein

    Jeremy Stein Moderator

    1. Have you been putting the camera into macro mode for these shots?

    2. Have you been making the shots at the widest setting of the lens?

    3. Have you been using a tripod or some other means of stopping camera motion relative to the subject?

    4. Have you been using a mode that lets you set the aperture to the smallest available (f8, I think)?

    If you have been doing all these things, let us see a picture or two. It may be that you have not realized how shallow the depth of field will be for these pictures.
  3. You probably need a DSLR with an auto macro bellows or at least some macro rings.

    Either that or a 1:1 or 1:2 macro lens.
  4. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    The Canon A610 can focus up to 1cm (0.4 inch) in macro mode. If you are doing as Jeremy said, you should be having no problem. Make sure you are at wide angle when in macro mode. Many people try to use the zoom which loses the close focus on many cameras.(I'm not too sure it that happens with the A610 but why chance it.)
  5. Shooting with the camera on a tripod is pretty important for macro shots this close. Any movement at all will usually change the focus way to much to keep things sharp. That's the most common error people make when using a small digital camera up close.
  6. The more and better balanced lighting you apply, the better the focusing and sharper the image.
    Any bright light source will work since your body has auto white balance. Even a cheap, $10 clamp-on shop light (or two) will do.
  7. Leaving the macro focussing mode, maybe indicated with a flower symbol, switched off, is the 1st mistake coming to my mind. - Many P&S get out of the AF's macro mode each time they are switched off.

    Apply plenty of light if possible and watch for your AF success indicator. Any kind of macro shot has very nearrow DOF, so apply as much light as possible to use a small aperture and prepare to wait ages for your AF, which might still have a hard time to spot enough contrast at the right point, roughly 1/3 from begining of DOF and 2/3from it's end.

    Sometimes it might be a good idea to get not that close and crop a part of the image later.

    I wouldn't say a DSLR with macro lenses is necessary, although it's nice to have, at least if you don't want to focus on moving macro subjects. Take time, try several attempts and you should get something out. I usually take 3 shots of static subjects, each refocused, to be on the safe side.
  8. <<I've been trying to use the auto mode to take them>>

    My best suggestion is to refer to the user manual to see how to photograph in macro mode and to stop using auto-mode.

    Jeremy's tips should be followed precisely.
  9. While you can focus the camera to 1cm [3/8 inch] this will be only at the wide-angle setting. If you wish to use the zoom for tight framing you need a strong Close-up Lens. The camera is capable of using a Canon adaptor tube to mount filters at 58mm thread.
    Using a CU supplimentary lens permits you to use the telephoto end of the zoom but at anot quite so close distance. People with long zoom models achive big close-ups this way but I don't know if this will give you any better result than wide-angle at 1cm. The best I can do with my gear with a 4 dioptre CU lens is 19mm across with a x12 zoom. You can stack CU lens so to get 4 dioptre I stacked a pair of 2 dioptre, although quality suffers, as does also if you use cheaper versions of CU lens.
    As suggested if you had an APS DSLR with a 1:1 'macro' lens you could achieve a 22mm across subject.
    One problem with coming in very close is that you have very little depth of field, a digicam is better here becuase of it's use of very short focla length lens.
    If you came to digital from a film SLR you could hold the 50mm lens from the SLR in front of you camera [effectively a 20 dioptre CU lens] and get very close with minimal depth of field.
    You could visit this site for "Coming in Close" information and options.

  10. Also note that, although the short focal length of the lens will give you a leg up on depth of field, you still aren't going to have much. Most people, even with a hot DSLR, don't use autofocus for macro work. Although I have, and frequently use, the MicroNikkor 60/2.8, I don't use it for 3D subjects because you don't have any control over where the focus is unless you flip it into manual focus more. If I'm going to be manually focusing, I'll use one of my longer (90mm or 105mm) manual focus lenses for the shot and give myself a little more working room.

    Some of my work is documenting my wife's art quilts, which are reasonably flat. For those, the AF works well because the plane with the highest contrast is predictably the plane of primary interest. But 3D items aren't as tractable and I have to use equipment I can manually focus.

  11. Using 'spot' mode in AF is pretty well as good as manual focusing on a digicam and if focus is not where you want it then you can move the camera every so slightly* to correct focus after AF has done it's job. I would suggest that even the 230,000 pixel screens are not nearly as good as the SLR/DSLR viewfinder for checking focus ... I rarely bother with MF except as a way to lock AF after it has found focus for me.

    *assumes you are working on a monopod or vertically with a centre column tripod :) Else a focusing rack mount to be exotic.
  12. "although the short focal length of the lens will give you a leg up on depth of field"

    Not true! DOF is dependant on magnification and apperture alone. The focal length will determine your working distance however, and the shorter FL's may cause problems because of this, since the front of the lens is so close to your subject, it can shade your subject.

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