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Old Jul 30, 2003, 2:14 PM   #1
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Default How Close Macro?

I am trying to figure out how much of a Macro I need in a camera.
How close does the camera really need to be to get great Macro shots? Like, say to take a pic of an entire butterfly, or something smaller like an ant?

The reason I ask is because some cameras, like the Nikons can get incredibly close. However, I am not sure I need to get that close.
The g3 macro is 5cm, but I don't know if that's close enough.

I want to take a lot of Macro shots, but I want a camera that can take good general photos too.
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Old Jul 30, 2003, 3:16 PM   #2
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Though it would seem logical that how "close" one is able to get might be a very important issue, it's really not always the case.

Different digicams use different portions of their focal length (zoom) to do macro work. Cameras which use the telephoto end can get larger magnifications at greater distances. Cameras which use the wide angle end of the spectrum to do macros need to be closer to the subject to get similar results.

Each of these approaches has it's own share of "problems" which must be dealt with. When a camera uses the telephoto end of the spectrum, it sometimes has more problems achieving good depth of field (range of focus front to back). When the camera uses the wider angle end of the spectrum, it may encounter barrel distortion (curving straight lines at the horizontal periphery of the image).

Nikon has a very "flat" field with excellent, distortion free macros, and has arguably the "best" overall macro capability of the fixed lens digicams. Minolta 7hi, Sony DSC-F717, Fuji S602Z, etc., are also very good - but in my experience not up to Nikon's capabilities.

Nikon uses the middle third of their focal length where distortion is very low to get their best macro range. On the other hand, it's definitely possible to add close-up filters (one or more accessory lenses) to many of the digicams and get excellent macro results.

For normal flowers with an inch or more diameter size, you really don't need a great deal in the way of macro capabilities. For ants, you need all you can get and then some!

If you think you will spend more time with "ant" sized subjects, then the CP4500 or similar camera would be the better choice. If you will be spending more time photographing flower sized subjects, then any camera which will focus down to about 8 inches or so should be more than adequate. Remember, a larger (longer) lens will become its own "enemy" for really close macro work because it tends to shadow light. Also consider the availability of a ring light or flash to use at extremely close distances. Nikon has a nice little ring light (not flash) which is good from about 3/4 inch to about 5 inches.

Lin
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Old Jul 30, 2003, 3:29 PM   #3
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Thank You Lin Evans, for such a detailed answer. I greatly appreciate it.
The Nikon 4500 is not an option for me right now, as it is tough to find a reputable place to buy it, and I am very concerned about how it acts in low light. The more research I do about the camera, the more second thoughts I have about it. I am also concerned about Nikon's customer service.
I have decided to go for a more 'all around' camera. I am currently very interested in the Canon G3 and S50. They both have their good points. That may change tomorrow, *lol*. Picking a camera is a daunting task. I did not think it would be this hard, but it is.
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Old Jul 31, 2003, 12:44 AM   #4
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Default Re: How Close Macro?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gardengirl
I am trying to figure out how much of a Macro I need in a camera. How close does the camera really need to be to get great Macro shots? Like, say to take a pic of an entire butterfly, or something smaller like an ant?
Take Nikon's 4500 as an example. At its minimum focusing distance about 2cm (in macro mode), the length of 2cm fills the horizontal edge as shown below. This means anything smaller than 2cm will not be able to fill the whole image. Moreover, this also means that in order to take the image of anything is longer than 2cm will have a focusing distance larger than 2cm. Based on this discussion, an ant may not fill the screen complete unless its length is longer than 2cm, which is unlikely. On the other hand, if you pull your camera back a little, a flower should be able to fill the frame completely.




Quote:
Originally Posted by gardengirl
The reason I ask is because some cameras, like the Nikons can get incredibly close. However, I am not sure I need to get that close. The g3 macro is 5cm, but I don't know if that's close enough
There are many ways to pull your camera back (i.e., larger subject-camera distance). One way to do it is the use of close-up lenses. Note that it is NOT macro lenses. To use close-up lenses, the camera lens should be zoomed all the way in, which means that the minimum focusing distance increases. Adding one close-up lens on the camera lens forces you to move the camera closer to the subject. In general, you can add at most two high quality close-up lenses without significant image quality loss.

The Canon's 5cm and Nikon's 2cm may not have much difference because close-up photography is not about closest focusing distance. It is about magnification. I would suggest to bring a ruler to a local camera shop and take a few images at G5's minimum focusing distance in its macro mode. If the G5 can cover 2cm of the ruler, the G5 may have an advantage to your work because you have 3cm more working distance (i.e., the distance from the front of the camera lens to the subject). Of course, the G5 can also use close-up lenses.

Note that if close-up image quality is critical, you might want to buy top of the line close-up lenses. Canon and Nikon have their own line of good close-up lenses.

Check the following for more details. Note that I did not use the actual size of the image sensor in the calculation, and, as a result, the magnification values are not very accurate. However, in terms of macro photography, the error is not very significant. Who cares about the difference between 0.4X and 0.45X unless you are a scientist or forensic expert.
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...essage=4936523
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...essage=4940566
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...essage=5021937
The "Close Up" page of my 2500 user guide has a brief discussion of using close-up lenses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gardengirl
I want to take a lot of Macro shots, but I want a camera that can take good general photos too.
Both the Canon G5 and Nikon 4500 are good general cameras.

CK
http://www.cs.mtu.edu/~shene/DigiCam
Nikon Coolpix 950/990/995/2500/4500 user guide
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