How to Capture Dynamic Close-Ups on the Canon Rebel T5/1200D
For great close-up shots with the Canon Rebel T5/1200D, start with the basic capture settings. However, if your goal is a dynamic close–up, then try the following additional settings and techniques:
Check your owner’s manual to find out the minimum close-focusing distance of your lens. How “up close and personal” you can be to your subject depends on your lens, not on the camera body.
Take control of depth of field by setting the camera mode to Av (aperture-priority autoexposure) mode. Whether you want a shallow, medium, or extreme depth of field depends on the point of your photo. For the romantic scene shown in the figure below, for example, setting the aperture to f/5.6 blurred the background, helping the subjects stand out more from the similarly colored background.
But if you want the viewer to clearly see all details throughout the frame — for example, if you’re shooting a product shot for your company’s sales catalog — go in the other direction, stopping down the aperture as far as possible.
Remember that both zooming in and getting close to your subject decrease depth of field. Back to that product shot: If you need depth of field beyond what you can achieve with the aperture setting, you may need to back away or zoom out, or both.
When shooting flowers and other nature scenes outdoors, pay attention to shutter speed, too. Even a slight breeze may cause your subject to move, causing blurring at slow shutter speeds.
Use fill flash for better outdoor lighting. Just as with portraits, a tiny bit of flash typically improves close-ups when the sun is your primary light source. You may need to reduce the flash output slightly, via the camera’s Flash Exposure Compensation control.
Keep in mind that the maximum shutter speed possible when you use the built-in flash is 1/200 second. So in extremely bright light, you may need to use a high f-stop setting to avoid overexposing the picture. You also can lower the ISO speed setting, if it’s not already all the way down to ISO 100.
When shooting indoors, try not to use flash as your primary light source. Because you’re shooting at close range, the light from your flash may be too harsh. If flash is inevitable, turn on as many room lights as possible to reduce the flash power that’s needed. However, if you have multiple light sources, you may need to tweak the White Balance setting.
To get very close to your subject, invest in a macro lens or a set of diopters. A true macro lens is an expensive proposition; expect to pay $300 or more. If you enjoy capturing the tiny details in life, it’s worth the investment.
For a less expensive way to go, you can spend about $40 for a set of diopters, which are sort of like reading glasses you screw onto your existing lens. Diopters come in several strengths: +1, +2, +4, and so on, with a higher number indicating a greater magnifying power. In fact, a diopter was used to capture the rose in the figure below.
The left image shows the closest shot possible with the regular lens; to produce the right image, a +6 diopter was attached. The downfall of diopters, sadly, is that they typically produce images that are very soft around the edges, which is a problem that doesn’t occur with a good macro lens.