hydrurga's picture

Compact camera for macro photography

The other threads seem a bit out of date and non-specific to my requirements so I've posted this new thread.

I am looking to replace my compact camera (Samsung ES65) because it's proving inadequate for certain types of macro shot. I only ever use it to take photos of wildflowers. For most of these it's fine, but even in macro mode it struggles with very small flowers, very close shots, and fails to distinguish characteristics in white and especially yellow flowers (creating a sort of fuzzy yellow haze).

I'd like to buy another compact camera (lightweight for travelling) that redresses these problems. Has anyone had good results for macro photography with a particular model of compact camera?

As a side note, I'm only photographing wildflowers at the moment but if I ever move to further away small subjects like birds, and you know of any compact cameras that deal well with those, please let me know and I'll bear them in the mind for the future.

Many thanks indeed.

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DavidHowdon's picture

Nikon E4500

is a very good compact camera for macro purposes. Not sure if it is still produced any more.

hydrurga's picture

Thanks

Many thanks David. I'll have a look to see if any are available.

Jonathan's picture

I have a Panasonic Lumix

I have a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 that I am very happy with. I'd probably get better results if I understood the controls better, but take a look at these and make up your own mind. Bear in mind that I am not a good photographer, and someone who is could get more out of this camera:

A close-up yellow flower:

www.ispot.org.uk/node/274808

A hornet close-up!
www.ispot.org.uk/node/273498

A wheatear taken with the tele & then cropped:
http://www.ispot.org.uk/node/274781

One thing that made me choose this camera is its GPS, which means that photos have the locations stored and these are automatically read by iSpot. That said, the GPS is not particularly good (very slow to update and poor at finding satellites) but the camera is a couple of years old now and the latest models ought to be better.

Jonathan
University of Edinburgh and Biodiversity Observatory (OU)

Fenwickfield's picture

same thought

mine is the same as yours Jonathan but is TZ8 I get good macro shot's and like yourself I have just put some insects and a Redstart on yesterday and I find it great,compact and I have taken some very close up shots.

Fenwickfield

WS159's picture

Take a look at the Panasonic LX5

Take a look at the Panasonic LX5, or if you don't mind secondhand the LX3. They have a close focus of 1cm and a larger sensor than in most compacts hence more detail. You will notice a real step up in quality with this. Very nice cameras for general snapshots too.

Another possibilty is the new Sony RX100, a bigger sensor again but only 5cm close focus, though not yet released so unproven.

synan's picture

Canon PowerShot G series

I mostly photograph lichens, so nearly all of my shots are in macro mode. I have used a Canon G7 for everything on iSpot. I think the G12 is the latest model in this series. Photography isn't my strong point, but it serves me well in resolving tiny features less than 1mm across, and is good for regular snaps too.

Nigel

miked's picture

Other factors to consider

Other things you may want to consider are whether or not it has gps to put the location into the photo directly. Note this often takes a couple of minutes to get a fix when you move to a new area then is very quick for all subsequent shots.
wi-fi, something that all manufactures are sticking into most new compacts as it allows you to pair with your smartphone and directly upload image to the web and the compact delivers better image quality than the smarphone camera. Even some entry level slr's are getting this as an option or add-on.
'tough' and several metres water resistant so you can use it for rockpools and shallow diving. these used to give somewhat poor image quality but the latest ones are good I hear.
if you take bird photos or images down microscope you may want to check suitable adaptors are available for that camera and microscope/telescope combination. There are adaptors for quite a few models but probably not all.
Difficult to give any specific model recommendations as new ones come out by the dozen every month or so especially coinciding with the big consumer electronics shows etc.

hydrurga's picture

Thanks

Many thanks for all your replies! I'm probably going to buy a Lumix TZ25 (slightly old model now but looks good value) but I'll spend a wee while re-evaluating what's on the market at the moment in case I can find a better model.

hydrurga
www.leptonyx.com/nature/

miked's picture

Just to make it even more

Just to make it even more difficult some of the 'tough' models announced earlier this year sound rather interesting as they are finally starting to give quite good image quality as well as being able to take normal photos and underwater pictures (and survive being dropped).

dejayM's picture

favourite..

Everyone has a favourite and hydrurga you will NOT regret the TZ25.
There's far too much LUMIX evidence here to ignore.
I have 66 years' experience with photography, only eleven of which are with digital. I used to swear by Ixus but, for three years, I've been a LUMIX 'man'.
I now use the LX7. Perfect manual control, 1cm closest focus (leave digital zoom close up alone!). The best advantage is the ability to set the aperture to f8 on a Leitz Summilux Lens - which is also VERY fast at f1.4.
This camera fits into my pocket even in a case (which should always be tight fitting)
Nearlay all my photography is taken with it or it's cheaper sister LZ19
http://www.dpreview.com/previews/panasonic-lumix-dmc-lx7

hydrurga's picture

Re: favourite..

Thanks dejayM. I've had my Lumix TZ25 for a few weeks now and I have to say that I'm impressed at the quality of the macro shots, especially compared to my old camera.

The one drawback I've found is that in non-macro shots it creates photos that have an "unnatural" look about them, particularly around the object boundaries. I assume that the camera is processing the captured shots and producing photos that it thinks I wants (i.e. à la mode). On looking at photos that other people have taken with this camera on the web, I see the same thing, but with people having left comments like "Great photo!" and "Great colours!". So it looks as if my view of "unnaturalness" is not the same as others.

In general, I think that there is a modern trend regarding what the public want to see in their photos as regards colours and contrast, and the TZ25 panders to that trend. But, apart from that, it's a nice wee camera, particularly regarding what you get for your money.

Pete
www.leptonyx.com/nature/

DavidHowdon's picture

Does it not let you

adjust the colour saturation, contrast etc. in the images afterwards (ideally by producing images in a loss-less format RAW, TIFF or some such)?

I think I would want that as a key feature of any wildlife compact camera myself - and when my increasingly clunky Nikon CoolPix E4500 dies I will have to get another.

hydrurga's picture

Re: Does it not

There's no Raw facility in the TZ25 unfortunately David (as for most, if not all, of the compact zooms). I already shoot at maximum resolution just to try to minimise the jiggery-pokery the camera might employ while downsizing from the pixels captured by the sensor. I have to say that I always shy away from adjusting anything like color saturation, contrast etc. (strangely, I feel that is cheating) but that's a great idea - I may have to do something like that post-capture to try and remedy the TZ25's image processing. However I get the impression that the damage is done by that processing before I even get my hands on the captured image.

You get what you pay for! In the end the benefits outweighed the costs...

Pete
www.leptonyx.com/nature/

dejayM's picture

TZs

I have used a few TZs - from 7 up to 19. I think this series, generally, is the best macro-shooting camera available. I DO think, however, that to get the best from any small camera you HAVE to accept a little post-shooting manipulation. I underexpose all my pictures by 1/3rd, try to stay on low ISO, avoid bright sunshine and increase mid tones in software. A little gentle Gama-tweak is always worth a try.
I am so, so impressed with my LX7 though.
It is a difficult camera to use and has some glaring design faults but wow, the lens is faultless for tones and FULL manual control a delight. It has THREE Raw settings but I do not expect it to behave as well as an SLR in that area. The Leica f1.4 Summilux is as good as the very old Sonnar.
Do remember these are pocket cameras, designed for average amateur use.
ðj

Dluogs's picture

Bridge Camera

I've been amazed by the quality of the shots and ease of use of my Lumix TZ6. However, small compact zooms do eventually swallow dust if used extensively (it gets trapped between the lenses), so after 100,000 photos I felt able to replace it. I was planning to buy a TZ30 or TZ40 for GPS capability but found the TZ40 didn't take the same batteries as my TZ6, pushing the price up considerably. I wasn't so happy with the colour on the TZ30 - having compared TZ30 & TZ40 and my old TZ6 side by side in a good camera shop. (I'd brought in a few small wild flowers of different colours to test the macro on - it was well worth doing).

In the end I went for a Canon bridge camera with change from £400 - Canon SX50 - increased bulk and no GPS but with 0mm focus compared with Panasonic Lumix's 30mm. It also comes equipped with an astonishing 50x zoom as a bonus - I can take ID shots of birds and insects I can't even see with the naked eye. Even hand-held in dull light produces useful ID pictures. And the camera really does have 0mm focus - if your lens is dirty, set to macro it will sometimes helpfully focus on the pollen sitting on it to remind you it's time to clean it. You can stand an aphid on the lens and take a good photo of that against a suitably bright background.

In conclusion: * buy from a good shop where you can try out a range of cameras.
* Take macro subjects in to the shop with you - flowers, a dead bee, that sort of thing.
* Remember to leave room in your budget for memory cards, spare batteries and a case - often the shop will give you a discount if you buy them all together.

It would have been possible to have saved a few pounds buying on the internet, but had I done that I would have chosen the TZ30 and been very unhappy with the deterioration in colour from my beloved TZ6.

Fenwickfield's picture

Lumix

I had a TZ8 and mine also went due to dust getting trapped but I must say it took some time as I had it for a while and it had taken a very large amount of photo's.I was lucky enough to replace it with a TZ30 and the battery is the same plus I just transferred the memory card it also has GPS.I do not know how much it was as my partner bought it for me and he did not tell me how much and I didn't ask.I love this camera and don't find that the colour is any different to my previous camera and it is fantastic for invertebrates and my main obsession which is fungi were true colour is important plus I bring samples home and take photo's of spore prints and colour change.

Fenwickfield

dejayM's picture

no regrets

Yes, you wont regret the TZ and as http://www.ispot.org.uk/node/343065 is a example of the quality and camera handling, anyone wondering what is almost certainly the best for this sort of photography - iSpotting - will do well to follow your example.
Keep the TZ 8 until you are brave enough to follow this.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nmwt0frZns

It is a simple process but you need to be brave.
ðj

Fenwickfield's picture

tried

My partner did take the camera to bit's as shown on the web but sadly it was still no good so just kept the battery and card.

Fenwickfield