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Old Apr 15, 2003, 7:58 AM   #1
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Default Macro/supermacro, Astrophotography, Long-ish Zoom

Which digicams would folks here recommend for macro/super-macrophotography and astrophotography? A long-ish zoom range would be nice, too, for general, day-to-day use.

Thanks.
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Old Apr 15, 2003, 10:55 AM   #2
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Lots depends on "exactly" what you have in mind. Macro photography spans many dimensions from less than 1:1 to near microscopic or even photomicrography. Astro photrography may range from trying to get usable shots of the moon or planets to deep space nebula or far galaxies.

Trying to get all this into one camera may not be entirely possible without compromises.

Because you mentioned "long zoom" I'm assuming you refer to a consumer type digital with fixed lens.

Let's start with astro-photography. If all you are after is moon shots, etc., then a camera which will easily attach to a good telescope would be in order. On the other hand, if you intend to use a serious telescope (something way beyond a 90mm - 120mm mirror) then you should definitely forget a consumer digicam and budget for something like a Canon 1Ds to attach to the telescope. To get anything other than moon and planets and do it well, you will need reasonably long exposures and/or software "stacking" of multiple images.

So for consumer cameras, the attachment would be afocal (through the eyepiece of the telescope) and the "best" candidates would be the very small lens cameras like the Nikon CP series (CP950, 990, 995, 4500, etc.). For digital SLR's the best candidate is the Canon EOS-1Ds. Next to that would be the Canon D60/10D.

For macro photography, there are a number of very good candidates. Again the Nikon CP series is at or near the top of the heap. I would suggest the Nikon CP4500 of all the newer cameras. Other great macro cameras include models of Minolta, Sony and Fuji.

To do "super macro" work, it would be easier if you were to give an example of what you have in mind. Simply judging a camera's macro potential from how close it will focus is not truly indicative of performance. What needs to be considered are how much magnification is achieved, and the corresponding levels of distortion.

Cameras like the Fuji S602Z have a "super macro" mode, but in that mode some have undesirable distortion. The Minolta 7Hi has an excellent distortion free macro and a very good zoom, but it's not a good candidate for digiscoping (shooting through a telescope). The Fuji S602Z has a super macro mode, but there is significant distortion and it too is not suitable for digiscoping. The CP series Nikons have distortion free super macro capabilities, and they are very compatible with digiscoping. Zoom is 4x, but can be greatly extended with readily available tele converters. The CP series Nikons will work better with long range tele converters than any other consumer digicam.

For incredibly close macros, you can reverse an SLR lens and put it in front of any digicam which decent macro capabilities. But the down side is that it may be difficult to light properly and depth of field is tough to achieve. The same may be done with dSLR's like the Fuji S2, Nikon D100, Canon D60/10D, etc. Of these, the Canons have better long exposure - the best being the full frame and very expensive Canon EOS-1Ds.

Hope this isn't too confusing.

Lin
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Old Apr 15, 2003, 11:07 AM   #3
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Follow that.

My mate at work takes fotos of planets etc using a CCD from a web cam (low res) which he attaches to his motorised 6" reflector telescope - they are small but good.

He has a web site detailing all this and I'll try to get it tomorrow.
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Old Apr 15, 2003, 2:00 PM   #4
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Lin, thanks for your reply. You said:

Lots depends on "exactly" what you have in mind. Macro photography spans many dimensions from less than 1:1 to near microscopic or even photomicrography. Astro photrography may range from trying to get usable shots of the moon or planets to deep space nebula or far galaxies.

Indeed, I'd love to take pictures of deep space objects such as nebulae. That's probably where the DSLR's come in, though, so for now I'll settle on the moon and planets. As to terrestrial macro photography, this is the sort of thing I'd like to do:

http://www.steves-digicams.com/pictu...700_hopper.jpg

http://www.steves-digicams.com/pictu...s/6900_bee.jpg

http://www.steves-digicams.com/pictu...290_macro1.jpg

http://www.steves-digicams.com/pictu...290_macro2.jpg

http://www.steves-digicams.com/pictu...290_macro3.jpg

http://www.steves-digicams.com/pictures/pro90_fly.jpg

http://www.steves-digicams.com/pictures/s70_hummer.jpg

I'd also like to 'stop a drop of water,' if you know what I mean.



Because you mentioned "long zoom" I'm assuming you refer to a consumer type digital with fixed lens.

Right. Unfortunately, pro DSLRs are well outside my ability to pay for them.

Let's start with astro-photography. If all you are after is moon shots, etc., then a camera which will easily attach to a good telescope would be in order. On the other hand, if you intend to use a serious telescope (something way beyond a 90mm - 120mm mirror) then you should definitely forget a consumer digicam and budget for something like a Canon 1Ds to attach to the telescope. To get anything other than moon and planets and do it well, you will need reasonably long exposures and/or software "stacking" of multiple images.

I have an Orion SkyQuest XT6 reflector telescope, focal length 1200 mm, Aperture 150 mm, Focal Ratio f/8.

So for consumer cameras, the attachment would be afocal (through the eyepiece of the telescope) and the "best" candidates would be the very small lens cameras like the Nikon CP series (CP950, 990, 995, 4500, etc.). For digital SLR's the best candidate is the Canon EOS-1Ds. Next to that would be the Canon D60/10D.

For macro photography, there are a number of very good candidates. Again the Nikon CP series is at or near the top of the heap. I would suggest the Nikon CP4500 of all the newer cameras. Other great macro cameras include models of Minolta, Sony and Fuji.

To do "super macro" work, it would be easier if you were to give an example of what you have in mind. Simply judging a camera's macro potential from how close it will focus is not truly indicative of performance. What needs to be considered are how much magnification is achieved, and the corresponding levels of distortion.

Cameras like the Fuji S602Z have a "super macro" mode, but in that mode some have undesirable distortion. The Minolta 7Hi has an excellent distortion free macro and a very good zoom, but it's not a good candidate for digiscoping (shooting through a telescope). The Fuji S602Z has a super macro mode, but there is significant distortion and it too is not suitable for digiscoping. The CP series Nikons have distortion free super macro capabilities, and they are very compatible with digiscoping. Zoom is 4x, but can be greatly extended with readily available tele converters. The CP series Nikons will work better with long range tele converters than any other consumer digicam.

For incredibly close macros, you can reverse an SLR lens and put it in front of any digicam which decent macro capabilities. But the down side is that it may be difficult to light properly and depth of field is tough to achieve. The same may be done with dSLR's like the Fuji S2, Nikon D100, Canon D60/10D, etc. Of these, the Canons have better long exposure - the best being the full frame and very expensive Canon EOS-1Ds.

Hope this isn't too confusing.

Lin


Thanks, Lin.
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Old Apr 15, 2003, 2:48 PM   #5
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I suspect the CP4500 would probably be your best bet to cover these ranges. I'm posting a few shots made with my 990 & 4500 (no essential difference in capabilities, except for 4x zoom) on both ends of the spectrum for you.

Lin

First the native macro without any additional lenses:



Then digiscoped using Meade ETX-90 at 2300 mm:



Then digiscoped moon shot with Meade ETX-90 at about 2000mm:

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Old Apr 15, 2003, 3:43 PM   #6
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Nice! Based on those examples, I'd say my best choices would be either the (smallish) CP 4500 or the CP 5000. (*evil-looking* bee, btw)
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