Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digicam Help > What Camera Should I Buy?

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Jul 3, 2007, 1:10 PM   #1
Junior Member
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 3

First off, I purchased a canon A610 about a year ago thanks to the information I read on this website. Thanks for that, it's been a great camera.

I've been using the A610 to take pictures of samples at my work. I'm a graduate student and produce samples from the size of a pencil eraser to the size of a quarter with varying thicknesses. Although the A610 has produced good pictures acceptable for publication, my boss would like to purchase a camera for the express purpose of taking good pictures for publication.

One limitation of my current camera is that even at a setting of f/8 some of my image is still out of focus. I'd rather the whole imagebe in focus. Now I don't know too much about lense theory (although I've tried to read all I can about it) so all this talk of focal lengths and aperature size isn't really important to me. I simply need a camera that will take macro pictures where most of the image subject is in focus. I have about $800 to spend.

I've looked at another canon that has 10mp but it looks like the highest aperatures is still f/8. If I could find a point and shoot that had an aperature of f/16+ and macro setting at 0 meters that would be great.

As far as DSLR's, I'mthoroughly confusedby all the many lens choices. If I could buy a DSLR case along with a lens that met my above criteria I could do that as well.

Please help.

Thank you.
scjohnson78 is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Jul 3, 2007, 2:27 PM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 977

How about the Fuji FinePix S6000fd? It goes to F11 and has a supermacro mode.

For another site's review and some sample pics, go to:


Go to the Mickey Mouse picture, which is usually in the middle of the review.
robbo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 3, 2007, 2:52 PM   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 1,093

F stop is only one factor in depth of field. Another is distance from the object. Many point-and-shoot cameras allow you to use the camera's zoom in macro mode. If yours does, move away from the object you are shooting, and use the zoom to make the image as large as it would have been if you had stayed up close and not zoomed. For the same f-stop, you will get better depth of focus. FWIW

tclune is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 4, 2007, 3:26 PM   #4
Senior Member
flippedgazelle's Avatar
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 930

tclune wrote:
F stop is only one factor in depth of field. Another is distance from the object. Many point-and-shoot cameras allow you to use the camera's zoom in macro mode. If yours does, move away from the object you are shooting, and use the zoom to make the image as large as it would have been if you had stayed up close and not zoomed. For the same f-stop, you will get better depth of focus. FWIW

I can only speak for my ultrazoom (Fuji S6000), but when shooting in (super) macro mode with full zoom, I must maintain a distance of several feet for AF to work. MF is spotty as to whether or not I can get closer.
flippedgazelle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 4, 2007, 3:51 PM   #5
Senior Member
Reanimator's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Huddersfield
Posts: 1,347

my olympus e300 as f stop of f22 !!

point and shoots are normaly much less than a dslr

Reanimator is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 5, 2007, 2:23 AM   #6
Senior Member
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Tumbleweed, Arizona
Posts: 1,381

Hi scjohnson78,

I believe that there are several ways to go, however you can only spend your money once, so the first time should be correct. Since your a graduate student, there probably is a school of fine art, or photography there on campus (or at least a campus photographer for the news paper). There also might be an industrial photographer in your area. Call them and explain your situation and ask if they could give you a few minutes of "free" consulting. Go over there with some of your material and ask them to suggest a lens, that is consistent with your lighting source, setup and viewing angles. Maybe even come back to your lab and do some test shots. Once you know what focal length was used (or range of focal lengths) then your in business.

Any dSLR camera make will do fine - what you need is a macro lens with the approperiate focal length for your work and setup. I just tried a quick set of expirements, and I would think that a 17 - 70 mm macro lens would work nicely at around 45-55mm (using a zoom lens would give you a bit more versitality here).

Take a look at this site, especially at the focal lengths and the "macro" capability

Click on the lenses and also the images to see the full size, and this will help you judge the lens that may work the best in your situation.


Take a look at these web sites also

Your going to want to determine your depth of field (which grows with the higher f stops), however as the f stops enlarge, you need more light, or a faster (higher) iso (film speed).

Take a look at this chart - specifically the minimum focusing distance -

The Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4.5 DC MACRO should work well @ 7.9 inches and goes to f22
This lens has a minimum focusing distance of 7.9" (20cm) throughout the entire zoom range. Maximum magnification of 1:2.3 enables close-up photography like a macro lens.

... yes, I see that they want $590 retail for it, but do some shopping around...
and you can get it for $389
http://www1.epinions.com/Sigma_17_70mm_f_2_8_4_5_DC_Macro_AutoFocus_Super_W ide_Angle_Zoom_Lens_for_Pentax_AF_Cameras/display_~latest_prices
here it goes down to $349

Given that the prime 100mm macro lens run $600+ you may stay with a lower cost zoom and amplify that lens to the higher focal range you may need via additional magnification. You can add a lens converter that has a factor of 1.4 to 2.0. What this does is bring things closer, say your zoom lens is at 70mm, thus with a 1.4x it turn it into 98mm or with a 2.0 x 70 = 140mm.
they can be had for about $70 - $80

Actually, something better than the above setup is an older Pentax Macro lens, I just found at Keh.com

Scroll down and you will see....

This has a minimum focus length of .25 m with a maximum f of 22 (32), so it should have excellent depth of field, and its only $80.

Here are the Pentax rebate forms

Also, check ebay and http://www.keh.com (for used equipment) - note that any Pentax digital SLR body will work fine (on a tripod).

If you get the setup right, then you may not need to crop your images. With 6.1MP you can crop quit a bit, but still you need to keep in mind what you want to show when your taking the image

So your overall price tag will be "in the ball park" of $800 and change (delivery etc.)

Another item here is that the Pentax K100D has in the body image stablization so if you are not using a tripod, and shooting hand held, then this will help you with the image quality of your shots.

Also, some inexpensive halgon desk spot lights, would probably help to light the subjects, thus enabling the higher f stops, assisting with the depth of field and a lower iso setting (200 - the lower the iso the better the quality - less noise in the image), which would all add to image quality for publication.

Pentax also offers (like most all brands) both spot focusing and an 11 point matrix focusing system, that should help quite a bit. Also, shoot in RAW format, then you can enhance the image using the software that comes with the camera. You can adjust for light, and numerous other items.

Additionally, if you use a tripod, buy a wired remote shutter release (about $20), thus when you press the shutter you will not jiggle the camera.

Hope that helps!
interested_observer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 5, 2007, 7:45 PM   #7
Junior Member
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 3

Thanks a bunch interested_observer for your excellent comments. I'll spend the next couple of days researchingthe links you gave.

I went to a local camera store and told them what I need to do. They mentioned a couple of options:

Buy a Rebel XTi body and a 50mm f2.5 compact macro lens for about $1050


by a Rebel XTi kit with 18-55mm and an extension tube EF25 for about $980

They set up the XTi with extension tube and we did some test shots. Seems like it would work out. I got a large in-focus area and the image filled up most of the frame.

It would be even nicer for the image to fill up all of the frame and even zooming in on specific details. It appears that I can always just purchase a 65mm or 100mm macro lens although I believe I've read thatthese lenses would lower my depth of field. I've read about using the extension tube along with a 50mm macro lense to get a life size reproduction or maybe even an off brand extension tube (since the tube doesn't have any lenses) that is longer to also increase the "zoom" factor.

It appears that most dSLR wil work but the devil is in the lens... or is it? Is a macro lens really necessary? I'll read through all of those links that I've been given today and tommorrow but in the mean time please feel free to comment.
scjohnson78 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 5, 2007, 11:24 PM   #8
Senior Member
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Tumbleweed, Arizona
Posts: 1,381

Hi scjohnson78,

A macro lens is one that has been designed and built to allow the minimum focusing distance to be a relative small value (distance). Say a regular Xmm lens would have a minimum focus distance of 3 feet, a macro version at the same focal length would probably have the minimum focus distance be 8 inches. Another difference is Macro lens usually have larger f stops (sometimes up to f45) so as to enlarge the depth of field in the image. So there is the difference. Thus, it really depends on your setup with in the lab and what additional equipment you have in the general area. Do you have room to get in close? The closer your able to get in, the better composition you will get and the better utilization of light, thus the better overall quality of the image (well that is the theory - my optics class was 35 years ago).

On the topic of depth of field, here is an online calculator that might help. I have tagged a number of them, as they all offer something unique, and add slightly different points of view or an slightly different aspect to the explaination....


Specifically for Macro
Note that Pentax K100D has a lens multiplier of 1.5 - I believe that the DOF calculations require the lens multiplier. That means that due to the size of the CCD sensor array (takes the palce of the film), is smaller than a standard 35mm film frame. Thus using a 50mm film lens on a digital camera will yield a result that is equal to 1.5 that of film or 1.5 x 50mm = 75mm lens. The Canon has a lens multipler of 1.3 as its sensor is slightly different in size.
Your going to have to play around with the dof calculator. I did a bit of analysis, and say with an 85mm setting on the zoom and f22, with a .3 min focusing distance and a film size/format/circle of confusion of 1.5 (the pentax lens multiplier), the farther away from the subject the larger the depth of view. So build yourself a matrix/table, figuring out just where you want to be in terms of your setup and the actual depth of field you feel you need. You can do this now, and that will help you select the lens. Again - the zoom will give you the most options for a single lens as opposed to a prime lens.

You might want to get yourself a fabric tape measure (its a yard long, but made out of fabric or plastic - sold at fabric stores) so that you can easily measure the setup from the subject to the camera for your setups and see what will work best for you. (and all you really wanted to do is to take a couple of images for your thesis so that you can graduate and get out of school!!!! - plus after all of this you will never want to touch another camera).

Now that you know more than what you ever wanted or wished to know about depth of field and focusing.....

The Canon Rebel is a good camera, actually its pretty impossible to buy a dSLR that is not good these days. As I said yesterday, I suggested the Pentax body because they represent the best value for the dollar. Excellent build, features, functionality and usually more capability than their peers at the same price range, they are price pointed at the low end, however they give the upper tier a run for the money. Since your primarly concerned with functionality, the egronomics really did not enter into the mix (note if you have large hands, the Pentax K100D body may be a tad small for you, but you have a cost cap, thus I figured that cost was king here - also if your using a tripod then it would not matter). Also, Pentax lenses have a great reputation for quality. Every Pentax lens made in the last 40 years would fit and work on the camera body. Actually, I would suggest going over to the pentax forum and ask about macro capabilities, and get their view. There are a number of people into "bugs" there and can give you some great information on close up photography with the body.

The Sigma lens being a third party is a bit less to buy, and would probably work very well for you - and its a quality lens from a quality manufractuer. With it being a zoom, it would add additional functionality to your setup and composition of the image. Just all around making things a bit easier - especially with a tripod. If you were to shoot hand held, the image stablization would help - its not a cure all, but it does help quite a bit. Another thought, the K100D Super was just announced, and it will probably be the same price - has an improved image stablization design, so if your going hand held a lot, that would be a plus. On a tripod you would want to turn the shake reduction off, so you need to decide what fits your needs the best. Also note that the K110D is the same camera without the image stablization. I would go with the K100D just in case you do wind up going hand held more than anticipated - just additional insurance - keeping your options open.

The Pentax lens is slightly different - still a zoom and at .25m minimum focusing distance is on par with the Sigma. The Sigma is a new lens, the Pentax is used - thus the difference in cost. The Pentax lens is not as fast (low f stops), but your main concern is on the other end of the range - you need the higher f stops, which it also provides. Call and talk with Keh and ask if the lens in their opinion would work in its condition. Any external blemishes would not hurt at all, and it appears that the glass is still good. They might offer to let you try it for the cost of postage - who knows - ask - they can only say no. The coatings on the lens will help with flare (light), in the picture. A Pentax SMC (Super Multi Coating) is famous for their coatings, but Sigma is not bad here.

The large infocus area is a function of the higher f stops. You want the largest f stop you can find. Then you need to supply sufficient light so that you are actually able to take a picture at the lowest iso speed (200 and hopefully not over 400). All of this can be setup within the camera, so that its pretty "automatic".

I think that the key is the lens as you indicated. A zoom given a decent min focus distance, will give you the largest degree of freedom in deciding what and how to get the image. The large f stop again is the key to depth of field, however the closer you zoom in, the narrower the field of view - or width of the viewing area.

In terms of cost and everything - if KEH were willing to let you test the Pentax lens, I would try that - mainly for cost. If it does not work out, send it back and get the Sigma. If you do not have a week (or two) to burn - then just go with the Sigma lens.

Now, I just had an idea, and it may be something new to your area of what ever your working with. HDR is High Dynamic Range. Most camera bodies support this with bracketing. This is what you do. You turn bracketing on and set it up once for +1, 0, -1 f stop, then when you take an image, it actually takes 3 images in quick succession. So you would set the camera up for f16, and it would take 3 images, one at f22, one at f16, and one at f11. Then there is software the combines all three images together, and due to the differences in lighting it brings out additional features in the object being photographed. see http://www.hdrsoft.com/ ... just an idea.

Again, Hope it helps....
interested_observer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 6, 2007, 5:57 PM   #9
Junior Member
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 3

Again, thank you for your comments, interested_observer.

After way more research than I had ever planned on doing on this I've come to decide on the Rebel XTi body along with a sigma 50mm Macro lens. I went with this lens because it gives 1:1 reproduction and has a very small min. aperature of f/45 whereas a similar canon 50 mm lens has .5x reproduction with a min. aperature of f/32. It appears that I will have at least 0.5 inches of depth of field with the sigma(by the way, I realized that I titled this thread incorrectly by using the phrase "field of view" when I should have said "depth of field".)

In addition, I've decided to purchase a set of kenko extension tubes of 12, 20 and 36 mm. I can use these to further manipulate min. focus distance as well as the magnification of the image.

Any additional comments over the weekend would be great as I won't actually pull the trigger on this until Monday.

scjohnson78 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 6, 2007, 7:12 PM   #10
Senior Member
hgernhardtjr's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 516

scjohnson78: Perhaps I missed it, but I did not notice just what you were taking macro photos of. While macro lenses, tubes, belows, etc., and abundant lightcan produce nice macro shots, there are times when you need something like what I occasionally need to use: Helicon Focus ( http://www.heliconsoft.com/heliconfocus.html).

While there are other programs that do similar treatments, Helicon Focus has a free download (it does mark the resulting image). What you do is this: take several images of the same object, each at a slightly different focus depth — then Helicon Focus assembles them into one, SHARP photo.

Another app that works and is free for the download is Combine ZM, which among other things stacksstill photos and sharpens them like Helicon Focus ( http://www.hadleyweb.pwp.blueyonder..../combinezm.htm).
hgernhardtjr is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 8:31 PM.