The Best Macro Lens You Probably Already Own

Aug 28, 2015

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.

The Best Macro Lens You Probably Already Own

Aug 28, 2015

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.

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how to use an old point and shoot for amazing macro phtography

Here’s a quick tip for amazing macro photography using a the best macro lens you probably already own…

Your old point-and-shoot camera – which is probably sitting in a closet somewhere gathering dust.

Most point and shoot cameras have “macro mode” – otherwise known as “the little flower icon”.

I use my nine year old Canon G9 exclusively for macro photographs of wedding rings, and in many cases it does an as good or better job than a dedicated macro lens – and its super easy to do.

how to use an old point and shoot for amazing macro phtography

To Take Macro Photos With Your Point-And-Shoot

Almost all point-and-shoot cameras have built in macro mode – so just set your camera to “the little flower icon”.

Now, depending on how sophisticated your point-and-shoot is, you may be able to further customize your settings.

If it’s available use full manual mode, or at least aperture priority to control your depth of field.  For wedding rings I prefer the look of a shallow depth of field, so I generally use f/2.8 or f/4 – but if you’re photographing insects or something you want a deeper depth of field – you might want to use a higher aperture.

how to use an old point and shoot for amazing macro phtographyAlso, use spot focus.  You can make matrix focus work if you don’t have a choice, but spot focus works much better.  Once in spot focus, adjust the location of the focus point to be right on the point of your scene that you want in sharp focus.

Focusing on macro subjects is a little touchy, especially if you’re using a shallow depth of field, so take a few photos to make sure you have the focus you want.

how to use an old point and shoot for amazing macro phtography

Try to use the lowest ISO you can.  Old point and shoot cameras don’t do well with high ISO (the Canon G9 is useless at ISO 400 and up – by modern standards of photo noise anyway).

how to use an old point and shoot for amazing macro phtography

To get really close, zoom all the way out and move your camera in close – close as in the lens is nearly touching your subject.

This is a little counter intuitive – it makes more sense to try to zoom in with the optical zoom on your camera – but in macro mode your camera can focus closer to the lens with the lens zoomed all the way out – so you can actually get a much closer shot by zooming out and moving the camera physically closer.

You do have to be careful of the shadow of the camera using this technique, but with side lighting or backlighting, its not a problem.

how to use an old point and shoot for amazing macro phtography

Finally, if you have a high end point-and-shoot like the Canon G9 – you can even shoot your macro photography in RAW, but if your point-and-shoot doesn’t do RAW, just use the highest quality JPEG you can.

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JP Danko

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.

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14 responses to “The Best Macro Lens You Probably Already Own”

  1. Michal Rosa Avatar
    Michal Rosa

    Canon G9 is not a “point and shoot” camera. It’s a compact, high end camera. There is a huge difference between cheap, entry level P&S and expensive, high end compacts – like for example most of the manual functions that G9 has and P&S’ don’t.

    1. Leo Avatar
      Leo

      I was doing this with a Canon PowerShot that cost maybe $200. They always came out great. That was around 10 years ago, I think.

  2. Szabó Pál Avatar
    Szabó Pál

    I changed my old EF 24-70/2.8L lens to the new Canon EF 24-70/4L IS.
    It has got a switch with macro function and I can turn the zoom ring from 70mm to macro stand and the minimal subject distance is decreased from 182 mm to 29mm (!!!) from the front lens. It’s more than enough for me :)
    This case the focal lenght will be 80mm in the EXIF.

    1. AdamBoltGC Avatar
      AdamBoltGC

      Yeah love this lens. My old Canon 24-105mm L lens died and I decided to get this because of the macro function. It’s now my favourite walk around lens because its capable of so much.

  3. Daniel Shortt Avatar
    Daniel Shortt

    Or you could make awesome shots with an actual macro lens and lighting. Because Bokeh is awesome!

    1. JP Danko Avatar
      JP Danko

      Gorgeous shot – thanks for sharing!

  4. Albin Avatar
    Albin

    That Canon G9 will support the CHDK firmware enhancement, that has scripts for focus stacking to overcome the DOF problem, where full documentation of a subject rather than artsy bokeh is what’s wanted. I also keep an old Canon p&s around for some of the things doable with that “hack”.

    1. JP Danko Avatar
      JP Danko

      I’ve was thinking of installing CHDK to use the G9 for time lapse – you’ve given me another reason to install it. Great to be able to re-purpose old gear.

    2. udi tirosh Avatar
      udi tirosh

      The G9 and CHDK are a match made in heaven. I took countless timapses with the G9, CHDK and a direct power with some mock up batteries. Sadly, one day we had a power surge and the camera was fried….

  5. raceviper13 Avatar
    raceviper13

    Sure, let me get out the camera my kids use that gets exposure and color balance correct 1 out of 100 shots to do macro. Sure, I could spend a lot of time in menus on it to choose a better color balance and then set the manual settings, but no thanks, those JPGs are mostly throw-aways, especially, since its macro function isn’t apparently as good as yours.

    For me, the best macros come from my Nikon 35mm or the Nikon 18-200 @ 200mm. If I need extremely close shots, I have some semi-junky thread-on macro lenses. They add a bunch of CA, and have a crazy shallow depth of field, but they can do it much better than that Fuji F30 (which was very nice when it was the only camera we had).

  6. John Crippen Avatar
    John Crippen

    No

  7. Ralph Hightower Avatar
    Ralph Hightower

    Hmm. Getting two rings in a frame with my Canon Auto Bellows and Canon FD film cameras ain’t gonna happen. Maybe the diamond up close. I haven’t tried my 28mm on the bellows; I’ve only used the 50mm.

  8. Justin Barr Avatar
    Justin Barr

    David Wells

  9. Lloyd Benliro Avatar
    Lloyd Benliro

    Another drawback in shooting with point and shot is some point and shoot doesn’t have RAW options, only JPEG.