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-   -   Best Macro Digital Camera? (

KOZMICBLUE Jan 19, 2005 9:56 AM

I have spent months reading and re-reading different peoples views on the best (sub $1000.00) digital camera for shooting macros. The only thing I could learn so far is that no 2 people can agree on the best camera to use.

I typically shoot jewelry-- -- and am looking to upgrade my camera (a Canon G2). I only intend to use this camera for macro jewelry shots so other capabilities are not needed.

Does anyone have any thoughts on what the best camera might be? And better yet, do you think I could get 2 people to agree that the same camera might be the best or at least pretty good?

Some people have suggested the Nikon Cooplix 5400, but I have also read some bad reviews on its ability focus in low light.

Any thought would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you, thank you, and thank you!

JimC Jan 19, 2005 10:27 AM

The Nikon Coolpix "Swivel Bodied" models (Coolpix 950, 990, 995, 4500) are usually regarded as having the best "straight from the box"macro ability by professional reviewers.

They are able to "fill the frame" with something around 2/3" across with virtually no distortion (since the macro "sweet spot" is at around half zoom).

BTW, Steve Sanders (owner/editor of this site) has probably used more cameras than just about anyone (look at the number of reviews he performs).

You may want to look at some of his posts about it.

His reponse tosomeone asking about cameras with good macro ability:


The digicams that wrote the book on macro mode are Nikon Coolpix 950, 990, 995, 4500;forum_id=9

His response to someone asking what camera was used for his product photos (since the posternoticed that they were so amazing and clear -- especially the closeups of the dials and buttons):

I use a Coolpix 4500, before that we used a Coolpix 995, before that we used a Coolpix 990. There do have some of the best macro capability in the business.

Now, whether or not you need macro ability this good depends on how you plan on using the images. If for web posting only, thenmany digital cameras will work well enough (since you can simply crop the center portion of an image for web viewing).

However, if you want the "best macro", go with a swivel bodied Nikon.

Unfortunately, These models are no longer being manufactured (although, if you look around, you may be able to find the Coolpix 4500 in new condition).

Lighting and technique is probably more important than the camera you use. For one thing, uniform, diffused lighting can help to put a product in a better light (pun intended). But, you'll want to use a tripod (or a specialized equipment designed for taking macros).

Also, use of a smaller aperture (represented bya larger f/stop number) can be helpful to get the most depth of field (which can be shallow at closer ranges). So, this will require a model with the ability to control the aperture (either via Aperture Priority Mode, or Manual Exposure).

Using a smaller aperturewillrequire slower shutter speeds (again, why "hand holding" a camera for macro use is not verypractical, since a flash can cause unwanted reflections, and shutter speeds will be too slow to hand hold a camera using smaller apertures without unacceptable motion blur).

Here is a site that I've seen Steve recommend before for lighting small subjects. Note that their tutorials assume that you'll be using a Nikon Swivel Bodied model:

JimC Jan 19, 2005 10:43 AM

BTW,your existing Canon G2 should be able to do a perfectly fine job for your web use.

Areyou having any specific problems with it? It may just be a matter of technique and lighting (versus the need for a new camera).

Although your Canon is not able to capture an area as small as the Swivel Bodied Nikons, you could crop the images for web use.

Canon also offers a 250D closeup lens for your model, that allows it to capture an area of about 2 inches across at full zoom (which will require the camera to be located some distance away from your subject). Or, you could capture a little larger area if you don't use as much zoom.

Again, if you simply crop the photos for web use, this may not be a necessary investment. Chances are, you just need to use better lighting and/or technique, versus purchasing a new camera.

KOZMICBLUE Jan 19, 2005 11:21 AM

So I hear you saying that my image issues may be tied more to me than the camera? I actually like my G2 and we can really afford another camera at this point; I was just hoping I could improve on my images. I always have this nagging voice in the back of my head, "If I could just get in a little close to the object."

Here are 2 example pages: and

Do you think improving on these images may be more a matter of technique and lighting vs a new camera? It just seems like the images don't pop.

Right now I'm using a white (translucent) paint bucket (mimicking the cloud dome setup as best I can) and 2 GE Reveal bulbs in brooder lamps(those aluminum lamps you get at a hardware store). I am sort of following this approach

perdendosi Jan 19, 2005 1:04 PM

I am NOT an expert in product display photography ... but looking at your photos, it looks to me like you just need to do a little more photoshopping... raise the levels a little (because your white background is a murky grey) and perhaps boost the saturation a little. The lighting looks okay to me, assuming that you want flat, "show the product without drama" lighting. The details are observable (and attractive... that's some nice jewelry!). I think they don't "pop" perhaps because contrast and saturation are a bit too low. I'd try to fool around with an image but I'm at work... :shock:

JimC Jan 19, 2005 5:00 PM

First of all, please do me a favor and change your text color.It'sveryhard to see with theBoard Theme set to "Default". Change it that way, and you'll see what I mean. ;-)


I always have this nagging voice in the back of my head, "If I could just get in a little close to the object."


Do you think improving on these images may be more a matter of technique and lighting vs a new camera? It just seems like the images don't pop.

Well, I don't know how much you're cropping, etc. Also,you canget a closeup lens set for your G2. Canon makes a closeup adapter and lens (58mm), or you could go with one of the third partyvendor like Lensmate (they sell anadapter for the G2 that's designed for 49mm filters, and carry both Hoya and Raynox):

I'd have to see the originals, and know what theitems looked liketo start with. I'd make sure to use the custom white balance feature so that your colors are good. Then, use an image editor to enhance them later as needed (color correction, brightness, contrast, sharpening, etc.).

I'd make sure to use a small enough aperture for adequate depth of field, too. For example, this photo could have used a smaller aperture (higher f/stop number), so that more of it was in focus (and/or you were trying to focus too close for your lens):


KOZMICBLUE Jan 25, 2005 12:27 PM

Thank you for the information.

I think the biggest issue is my rotten camera work, not the actual camera. I tried a better job of cropping on my latest few: in the end, they just came out blurry. I think your right; I am trying to focus in to close.I did figure out how to play around with the levels in Photoshop to take out some of the darkness in the background, so that was a plus.


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