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Know When to Zoom in and Move out

Zooming in with your point and shoot digital camera in close-up photography enables you to create more comfortable shooting situations, and produce various types of compositions. Although point and shoot digital cameras become less effective for macro and close-up photography as you utilize the zoom feature, there are still times when zooming in is necessary.

After all, it’s not always just about how big your subject is in your frame. Sometimes you may want to provide more space in the frame for supporting elements or create a composition with less barrel distortion.

You may want to keep from invading your subject’s personal space, or back out in order to protect your camera or yourself from a threat. You'd probably prefer not to place your camera’s lens within one centimeter of a wild poisonous snake or an open candle flame.

Make sure that you get experience working with the different zoom levels of your camera and the focusing distances they provide. Here are some ideas to get you zooming effectively:

Eliminate barrel distortion (left) by using a normal (halfway zoomed) perspective rather than a wid
Eliminate barrel distortion (left) by using a normal (halfway zoomed) perspective rather than a wide-angle perspective.

6.1mm, 1/160, f/8, 100    10.8mm, 1/160, f/8, 100

  • If one centimeter is too close for comfort for you or your subject then you may want to zoom in and back off a bit. A venomous snake may not appreciate a camera poking it in the eye. If you find that the safest distance to take a picture doesn’t provide the magnification you want, try adding a close-up filter to your camera if you can.

  • Depending on your main source of light and the direction it’s coming from, getting too close may cause you and your camera to cast a shadow on your subject. In this case, zoom in and back off a bit.

  • Perhaps a wide-angle point of view isn’t suitable for your subject or your scene. This perspective tends to distort the shape of things, making them appear more round (known as barrel distortion) — the size of objects in the center of the frame is exaggerated compared to what’s positioned at the frame’s edges.

  • If you determine that the background information in a scene isn’t necessary for your message, or that it takes away from your subject, then zooming in can help. It reveals less of the background and focuses more on the subject.

    Eliminate distracting background details by switching from a wide-angle perspective to a telephoto
    Eliminate distracting background details by switching from a wide-angle perspective to a telephoto (zoomed all the way) perspective.

6.1mm, 1/125, f/5.6, 400    30.5mm, 1/125, f/5.6, 400

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