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Old Dec 22, 2005, 11:07 PM   #1
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Currently use a Nikon Coopix 4300 which does ok. But I was told the Sony Cybershot (I don't know which one) takes concise, detailed & magnified images of jewelry. I can't get this with the Coolpix. Lighting is terrible, macro fells to capture close up details & blurr is a constant issue even with tripod. Ready to buy better within $400-500 range.

I have researched so many different cameras that I am terribly confused now. Welcome any/all suggestions.

Thank you.
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Old Dec 23, 2005, 11:05 AM   #2
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Don't believe everything you read. ;-)

The Nikon Coolpix 990, 995 or 4500 are your best bets if you need the absolute best macros of tiny subjects. But, they're discontinued now so you'd need to look on Ebay.

However, chances are, most of your problems with your existing model are due to technique.

Lighting is very important (use a diffused light source). A tripod or other similar device to keep a camera from moving) is going to be mandatory for best results, and you may want to use a self timer to keep from moving the camrera, even if it is on a tripod. Although, Nikon's unique BSS (Best Shot Selector) can help get around some of the problem by selecting the sharpest in a series of images if you use this feature.

Here is an example of a commercial product designed to provide a solution (stable platform designed to diffuse your light sources). If you check their tutorials, they assume you're using a Nikon Swivel Bodied Coolpix Model (specifically mentioning the macro icon changing color at the optimum zoom setting).


Hint: check your kitchen for what you may be able to use as a home made solution for lighting. Experiment.

Make sure you've got Focus Lock, too (or shoot with manual focus if needed).

If your blurry photos are not being caused by camera shake (the most likely problem) or focus; it's probably a Depth of Field issue.

Most cameras are going to use their largest available aperture (smaller f/stop numbers) in low light (and a well lit interior is low light to a camera). That's because they are trying to keep shutter speeds faster to reduce motion blur.

But, the largest available apertures result in a shallower depth of field. The doser you get to a subject, the shallower it becomes, too. So, you can have the first part of an object in focus, and the rest blurry. Depth of Field is contrlled by a relationship between focal length (zoom setting), focus distance, and aperture.

The Nikon Swivel Bodied Coolpix Models I mentioned can "fill the frame' with an object about 2/3" across with virtually no distortion. That's because the macro "sweet spot" is at around half zoom (and the macro icon changes color to let you know when you're at the sweet spot). But, you'll need a tripod because of slower shutter speeds (and increased magnification causes more blur from camera shake, too).

These Coolpix models also have an available Aperture Priority Mode. That lets you use a smaller aperture (higher f/stop number) giving you greater depth of field (more of your subject in focus as you get further away from the focus point). Your CP 4300 doesn't have this mode (so it's going to use a larger aperture indoors, with less depth of field).

Chances are, you can still get acceptable results from it for internet use. DOF is pretty good for a compact model like yours compared to a 35mm camera, even at wide open apertures (and you can shoot from a bit further away and crop for internet use if depth of field is a problem).

I'd post a sample of a problem image. Then, forum members can probably give you some tips. Use something like irfanview (free from http://www.irfanview.com ) to resize your photos to around 640 pixels wide for posting here (you'll see an image, resize/resample menu for this). By default, it will retain the image EXIF settings when you use the "Save As" feature and give it a new filename (the EXIF in the image lets us see what the camera settings were using an editor).

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Old Dec 23, 2005, 11:31 AM   #3
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Many of the photos you see in the reviews herewere taken with a Swivel Bodied Coolpix model (990, 995, 4500). Steve has probably reviewed more cameras than anyone around over the years. So, when someone like Steve uses one for his own closeups, you can bet it's a pretty good tool for the job. See his response to a question about it here, when a forum member noticed how much detail there was in things like dials and buttons in the images:


If you want to see how detailed the closeups from one of these cameras can be,here is a photo of a cointhat Steve tookwith an old 3MPNikon Coolpix 990 (straight from the camera with nomodifications or cropping).


But, a smaller aperture (larger f/stop number) was used for more depth of field, making shutter speeds too slow to hand hold a camera. That's where technique comes into play (camera settings, use of tripod, lighting).

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