Thursday, March 26, 2009
Super Macro for less than $100.
I've been doing macrophotography for quite a while. From 35mm to medium format, and in between, digital. The beauty of macro is that one can photograph almost anything and make it look interesting. The downside of macro is that for most people, it means more money for adapters, lenses, cameras, etc. I won't deny that I have some expensive macro equipment. My Nikon 70-180 Micro-Nikkor is a lens that Nikon doesn't offer anymore, and you can't find one used. I have used it for years and love the results. However, I am not telling you to go and buy the latest macro gear for your DSLR. Instead, we are doing this on the cheap.
I recently bought a factory-refurbished Fuji Finepix S700 online from eCost.com for about $90. I used to own a Fuji S7000 EVF camera and loved it. When I bought a Nikon D70s, I sold the Fuji. I'd been keeping my eye on the S700 for a while, because it is compact, and best of all, besides the 10x optical zoom, the 46mm filter ring in front of the lens offers a way add filters and adapters. That is something that the retractable lens P&S cameras do not have, and after I opened up the S700 box, I knew my Canon Powershot A570 was going to Adrienne.
So, how does one get super macro from the S700? First of all, most P&S cameras that have a "Macro" feature are not really shooting macro. They are allowing you to focus very closely at the shortest possible focal length. That's a trick of wide-angle lenses being able to close-focus. True macro is defined as being able to achieve a 1:1 reproduction ratio. If the object is 5mm long, then the resulting image on the sensor (or film) is the same size. Now, with the small sensors of point and shoot cameras, that's obviously an issue.
So, how do you get true macro from the S700? Simple. First, you need a 46mm to 52mm step-up ring. That allows you to use any 52mm diameter filter on the front of the S700. Very useful if you want to do fun things.
Second, you buy a 52mm reversing ring -- really just an adapter with male threads on both sides.
Third, you screw any 50mm (called a normal lens) manual focus lens on the front of the S700 using the reversing ring (if it has a different diameter than 52mm, find an appropriate adapter).
Here is the S700, the 46-52mm adapter, the reversing ring, and a Vivitar 50mm 1.7 lens.
Set the S700 to maximum optical zoom, and make sure that the 50mm lens is set to its widest aperture (fully open). Do not use the "macro" setting on the camera. Be prepared to go wow.
A yellowjacket at full magnification.
If you use a macro setup like this one, which utilizes a steady base and good lighting, you'll get much better results. Be careful of that exposed rear element of the 50mm lens.
what the camera saw....
If you reduce the zoom, you will get some vignetting from the attached 50mm, but you'll also get crisper results.
At maximum magnification, the field of view is about 5mm wide! You can go crazy with exploring the tiny world in your backyard.
These are the fruiting bodies of lichen in my backyard. The beauty of this outfit is the compactness and versatility that you get from the S700, and the inexpensive nature of the gear that gives you some pretty good results.