Close-Up Photography with a Digital Point and Shoot - dummies

Close-Up Photography with a Digital Point and Shoot

By Thomas Clark

When it comes to macro and close-up photography, a lot of information is available to photographers with DSLR equipment, while photographers who primarily use point and shoot or compact digital cameras are left fending for themselves.


But your digital point and shoot camera has much to offer and can be a very useful tool, providing quality images of all sorts. Here are some tips for using your digital point and shoot camera for macro photography:

  • Shoot with a wide angle of view: By choosing the camera’s widest angle of view (zoomed all the way out), when in the macro shooting mode, you can take advantage of its closest possible focusing distance. Some digital point and shoot cameras let you get within a centimeter of your subject.

  • Use the camera’s zoom function: If you want to cut out some of the surrounding environment from your composition, create a more shallow depth of field or create some distance between your camera and your subject. Then you can zoom in with the camera’s optical zoom function. By doing so you produce a narrower angle of view, but you also lose some size and detail in your subject.

  • Focus the camera: Some digital point and shoot cameras offer manual and auto focus controls. Focus is very important in macro and close-up photography. Because the subject is so close to the camera and includes such great detail, a misplaced point of focus is very obvious.

    For instance, if you take a macro shot of a butterfly on a flower and the flower is in focus rather than the butterfly, the photograph might look awkward. Had the butterfly not been there you’d want the flower to be your point of focus, but if the butterfly is in the scene, it should be in focus.

  • Steady the camera on a tripod: Most photographers don’t think to position their point and shoot digital camera on a tripod, but in macro and close-up situations doing so is a good idea. A tripod can help to maximize quality in a few different ways.

  • Pay attention to composition: Just because you’re using a point and shoot camera doesn’t mean you have to literally point and shoot at your subjects. You need to compose each image you create in a way that depicts the scene in its best way and gets your intended message (or your reason for taking the photograph) across.

  • Control your shutter speed: Your shutter speed is an exposure setting that determines how quickly a photograph is taken. A faster shutter speed (such as 1/250 of a second) can freeze motion in a scene, while a slower shutter speed (such as 1 second) can reveal motion in a scene.

  • Set the aperture: Your aperture value controls the depth of field in a photograph. A small aperture setting (determined by a higher number such as f/16) gives your image a greater depth of field and brings more of the scene into sharp focus. A larger aperture setting (determined by a lower number such as f/2.8) gives your image a shallower depth of field and allows less of the scene to appear in sharp focus.

  • Find subjects that work well with your camera: By using your digital point and shoot in macro and close-up situations, you’ll get a feeling of how much detail can be depicted in subjects of various sizes. Your camera may enable you to take beautiful photographs of butterflies, but may not be so great for capturing intimate detail in smaller ants.

  • Use macro and close-up attachments: Accessories designed to increase macro and close-up abilities are available according to camera. These are generally known as tele-converters, close-up filters, or close-up lenses.

    One close-up lens that stands out from the others is the Zoerk Macroscope. This is an aspherical, coated lens that screws on to the front of your ordinary lens. It provides high-quality optics and can produce 1:1 ratios when combined with an 80mm lens.

  • Light your subject: Depending on the model, your digital point and shoot camera can enable you to get within a centimeter of your subject while still achieving sharp focus on it. This can tend to be problematic when it comes to lighting, as your camera can cast its shadow on the subject.

    A few different approaches can help you avoid this problem and produce beautiful lighting for your subject, such as using a ring flash, an ordinary flash from the side, or a reflector.