The Macro Secret - And Everyone Can Afford One

on July 13, 2016

A quick whirl through the internet with the word "macro" in the search will turn up a bewildering variety of equipment and advice. There is science, art, alchemy, and obfuscation in about equal measures. And yet it can all be so simple.

In my weekly review of the warehouse I lit upon a number of Olympus Stylus cameras that were stacked on a shelf. I think they might be trade demo models. They are certainly inexpensive... pocket money cameras. As a speculation, I added one to the studio illustration list and took it away. Charged up the battery and tried it in the studio.

Good Grief, Charlie Brown! This is amazing!

As a little pocket camera it has been designed with a lot of automatic features - it will play between program and auto modes as well as a number of special effect programs. You'll get no hot shoe or viewfinder, but the screen is large enough to see clearly, and there is a tiny little pop-up flash that you can use to trigger other flashes or to provide a macro fill.

You can choose your aperture, thankfully, and this makes the most of the close-up experience. I elected to set the WB to tungsten to match the modelling lights on the studio strobes and let it go at that. And then I played with the special effects. Hey, I'm not above playing - anyone with a studio full of toy cars has a perfect excuse...

The basic shooting is very simple. Point. Hold steady. Shoot.

The results are excellent. The short focal length of the zoom lens means the depth of field is maximised, and the resolution at 16 megapixels is more than enough for subjects with this much illumination. Note the ease with which I got into the dashboard of the Mercedes model.

Some of the effects like the tiled image or the fisheye would quickly become clichéd but the pinhole and the dramatic have a wider application. As they are in-camera you can see at the time of capture whether they actually do work. I did not try soft focus or miniature because it is a miniature to start with.

Note as well the results on a couple of flowers - one of which is very miniature indeed.

At the pocket money price of these cameras, you can afford to dedicate one to your wildflower or closeup shooting and leave the big rig for other things. Your camera club won't even need to know how you beat them!