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Topic: Good, Cheap Camera for Close Ups? Macro? (Read 4858 times) previous topic - next topic

vasquo

This is the "problem" you get when your camera is too close to the subject, macro lens setting, and very wide aperture.
Your depth of field is very shallow. Only a few parts are in focus.

If you're going for an artsy-fartsy shot, this may be fine but if you want everything sharp and readable, it just doesn't work without resulting to focus-stacking and that's a lot of work too (taking multiple shots, running the software, etc).



Of course, this can be "fixed" by having everything on the same plane, i.e. shooting head-on. But you may still have that problem where the board and silkscreen is in focus and the tops of capacitors aren't. 

The solution is to stop down your aperture to f8 or higher, increase ISO and/or use lots of lighting, and step back further from the subject a few feet away then shoot. 

BillHo


westfw

Frankly, most cameras above the "ultra-cheap" variety  have pretty good macro capabilities these days.
You can find a bunch of suggestions for improving your close-ups over at http://instructables.com, including clever ideas like using reading glasses as closeup lenses.  But I think the best advice was along the lines of:
"Your camera has many megapixels, because that's become a marketing number.  No one wants to see all of them in a 3.2MB file uploaded to a forum.  Put your camera further away so it can focus better, and then crop your picture to include the relevant bits using your favorite photo editor."

focalist

#18
Apr 09, 2013, 02:48 pm Last Edit: Apr 09, 2013, 03:17 pm by focalist Reason: 1
So true.  Even worse when camera dorks like me forget to do that kind of thing on an ACTUAL 24 megapixel image.  In RAW (without lossy, poorly done JPG compression done on an MCU) it's not uncommon to have 20 megabytes for a single picture.  Since the first hard drive I ever owned would have only held half of one picture, I think we can agree that storage amount is overkill.

Most digitals have many resolutions to choose from, even the cheapos.  Since a lot of people don't want to edit, just frame, click and post- at least setting the resolution to something reasonable like 4 megapixel or something like 1024x768 is good electronic hygiene.  

The sensors, even the cheap ones, are getting remarkably good.  The Iphone 5 sensor's signal to noise ratio is better than the sensor in my first "Prosumer" digital SLR- but the fact that the sensor is larger and has infinitely better glass in front of it make the images, though technically noiser, a heck of a lot better than anything any iphone ever will produce.  Light physics doesn't change to meet marketing blurbs, usually.  That being said, it's usually the expensive gear that has aperture ranges that create the depth of field issues.  f/8 is probably about right, but if you are trying to do macro with a 50mm f/1.4 you're gonna have a problem.  The fifty dollar f/8 lump o glass is far better for macro than the $700 1.4 (at least until you stop down the 50mm to f/8 that is)

Photography is great in that in many ways it is a very exacting science- I find it hard to think of it in terms of Art, I picked up a camera as an outlet after being an engineer for years.  I like to think that my tendency to overthink and overengineer shots as being just another aspect of being the nerd I am proud to be :D  I am well known locally (and getting requests from troupes regularly now) for doing theatrical photography-  extremely tricky low-light work, and worst of all, it's PEOPLE, so they actually have to look good!
When the testing is complete there will be... cake.

MichaelMeissner


f/8 is probably about right, but if you are trying to do macro with a 50mm f/1.4 you're gonna have a problem.  The fifty dollar f/8 lump o glass is far better for macro than the $700 1.4 (at least until you stop down the 50mm to f/8 that is)

This isn't the forum to get into the whole equivalence argument, and I'm sure Focalist already knows this, but depth of field of an aperture of f/8 depends on the sensor size.  For example, using Cambridge in Colour sensor size calculator (http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/digital-camera-sensor-size.htm), I plugged in f/8 with a full frame sensor/35mm film camera, and it says for a 2/3" sensor, that f/3.2 will give you an equivalent depth of field.  Now, a lot of photographers like razor thin depth of fields for isolating the subject from the background in portraiture, but for macro, you generally want as much depth of field as possible.  So a smaller sensor camera will give you more depth of field, though due to diffraction concerns, you typically can't stop the lens down to f/8.

focalist

#20
Apr 09, 2013, 04:27 pm Last Edit: Apr 11, 2013, 03:14 am by focalist Reason: 1
Hey Michael, by the way-  if you are ever interested in doing it, there is always call for local theater groups and that sort of thing.  The gigs are of course usually unpaid or at best a token payment, but you do get visibility and experience that is hard to get otherwise-- and theater people are a quirky amusing bunch.  As you are into the Steampunk/Ren/etc fair scene, it's pretty much that same, odd subset of folks that are the theater folks.  They also tend to get really amazed and appreciative of any technical assistance on props- Making a "haunted" table jump (solenoid) and bang... that's a miracle to them, frequently.  For Blithe, they needed a crystal ball to light up, but had no way to do it without a cord.  I slapped a  three watt power LED and a cell phone battery in the base, and it's the best thing sliced bread as far as they are concerned.  Low effort, but amount of comments and accolades for it has been just silly.  I haven't even done anything actually involving an Arduino yet.. but it will happen I'm sure of it.

If you give a call to the local arts groups, you will rapidly be inundated with requests.. and though not usually rewarding cash wise, it's usually very much so, amusement and challenge wise.. over the next couple of weeks I'll be doing Wizard of Oz, Annie, Blithe Spirit, and MacBeth.  I'm sure there's plenty around Ayer- it occured to me after chatting at KRF that if you aren't already, you seemed the type that really ought to be well ensconced with the local theater groups.

Attached is a shot of "Charles" for "Blithe Spirit", local theater doing it.  Took the press shots for the local paper last Thursday.  Supposed to come across as 1940 ish British and snobby... but look at it from the Depth of Field standpoint-- that's where those lenses that you can drive a truck through really shine.  No flash used, this is 100w Halogen PAR sidelit at about 6000K, hair and balance at about 2500K, 50w halogen and 20w LED.  Next to it is a still from the original 1945 film, where Charles is played by Rex Harrison.  The shot was taken with my Canon Rebel T2i, you can buy the camera with stock lens at Walmart for under $500.  A Canon 50mm prime f1.8 is another $89, the f/1.4 (only recently purchased, the King Richard's Faire gig paid for that lens) is more like $600, and still debating whether that upcharge for that increase is really worth it.  I know that you are another who takes pride in good results from minimalist equipment :)

 
Making shots like this happen is a LOT of fun :)  I am quite pleased with the work I did, it doesn't look out of place even next to the original cinema work.  As the guy with the camera, you become the director. Getting the "Charles"  look right took quite a while, but I think it came out pretty decent ;).  Not bad considering he's a local accountant.  "Elvira" will be coming over to the house later tonight, so I can shoot some stuff with her that emphasizes that she is quite dead, while still elegant, flirty and witty.  That's right, an attractive zombie.

(okay I promise no more hijacking the thread, didn't mean to get so far off track!)

OP:  The thing is, I would recommend that you go and search around Craigslist or something, and see if you can buy yourself a gently used digital SLR with a basic lens (usually they come with 18-55mm or similar basic zoom lens).  A Canon Rebel XT or XTi with that lens could probably be had these days used for two hundred dollars and would give you a tool that you won't regret having gotten!  I'm a Canon guy myself, but Nikon and Minolta and Sony (among others!) also produce a decent entry-level digital SLR for several years now- so the secondary market is easy to shop for a bargain.  Maybe try a Adorama or another well-known vendor of refurbs also.

I did a single search on ebay, and "Buy it Now", here's the first hit that came up- I am not recommending this one or anything, it's just to show it's typical pricing and setup:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Canon-EOS-Digital-Rebel-XT-350D-8-0-MP-Digital-SLR-Camera-Black-Kit-w-/161005063785?pt=Digital_Cameras&hash=item257ca64e69

It's selling for $140.. so there's going to be quite a few for the under-$200-price tag range.  My Rebel XT was my first digital SLR, and it's still going strong today.  Several shots for Blithe came from it.

Used for Macro, that camera and lens can do quite well.  This stop-motion shot I took with the XT and 18-55mm, using Arduino to trigger a flash timed for the impact of a paint drop into a bowl:



When the testing is complete there will be... cake.

AlxDroidDev


All I have is an IPhone to take pics of my work.  Was looking at getting a cheap camera for close ups and macro work of the PCBs I make.

Anybody got any input?


for basic macro photos, a camera phone will be a lot easier to use than a semi-pro camera with non-macro lenses. That is because the phone's tiny CMOS sensor will focus better on a near object.

The problem, however, is lighting: you need really good lighting to get good shots.

I don't have an iPhone (I am an Android fan), but my Galaxy S III's camera has a "Macro" focus setting, that allows me to take very good macro photos, specially considering the effort required (turn lamp on, adjust settings, point, focus, click).

For my Galaxy S III, I don't use it's built-in flash for macro photos. Good ambient light is way better.

the image below was taken with my Galaxy S III in the macro mode. It is a shield I am building that will host a L293D motor controller and a LM317T voltage regulator with an on-board digital voltmeter.



Considering it was taken with my cellphone, and zero investment was made in lenses or expensive lighting, I consider this an excellent result.
Learn to live: Live to learn.
Showing off my work: http://arduino.cc/forum/index.php/topic,126197.0.html

codlink

That is a good pic.  But I want to get closer and to see more details than that.  My IPhone just won't do it. 

My old Canon does a much better job.  Plus, I don't do this for a living nor do I do it as a hobby.  I just wanted some nice pics of the boards I made.  I am looking for an all around good camera.  But, I don't have to have one..
//LiNK

AlxDroidDev


That is a good pic.  But I want to get closer and to see more details than that.  My IPhone just won't do it. 

My old Canon does a much better job.  Plus, I don't do this for a living nor do I do it as a hobby.  I just wanted some nice pics of the boards I made.  I am looking for an all around good camera.  But, I don't have to have one..


That pic was taken in 8 megapixels, and I had to resize it (to less than 3Mpx) to upload. With the original image you can see a lot more details than that.
Learn to live: Live to learn.
Showing off my work: http://arduino.cc/forum/index.php/topic,126197.0.html

vasquo

What is your real intention for this photo? What kind of details do you want to see? Solder whiskers?
What Axl posted (reduced sized even) is enough for use in an assembly guide for the user.

Are you looking to do an optical inspection of SMD parts? An 8MP photo can also do that too.

Have you tried the scanner method? I scanned one of my boards at 1200dpi and it freaking humongous. You can see the thickness of the silkscreen paint applied.

codlink


What is your real intention for this photo? What kind of details do you want to see? Solder whiskers?


Probably not that close.  And it's really not a big deal.  I am surprised at how many replies this subject has gotten. 

Quote

Are you looking to do an optical inspection of SMD parts? An 8MP photo can also do that too.


Yes, that would be a plus. 

Quote

Have you tried the scanner method? I scanned one of my boards at 1200dpi and it freaking humongous. You can see the thickness of the silkscreen paint applied.


First board is done with my scanner.
http://arduino.cc/forum/index.php/topic,158280.msg1188396.html#msg1188396

My scanner only goes to 600.  But it was still better than I though it would be.

Thanks gents for all the advise.
//LiNK

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