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  #1  
Old 08-24-2010, 08:46 AM
Lars Kurth Lars Kurth is offline
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Which camera is best for orchid / macro pictures?
Default Which camera is best for orchid / macro pictures?

Hi,
for me it's time to look into buying a new digital camera. I have been playing around with some SLRs, but was not too happy: lots of extra equipment needed to make good macro pics. So am looking at other digital options. Was using a Canon Powershot A720 is before, which I liked. Any suggestions, cameras you really love, etc.?
Lars
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  #2  
Old 08-24-2010, 10:32 AM
Anisa Anisa is offline
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Which camera is best for orchid / macro pictures? Female
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If you like it why do you have to replace it? I think the best micro pictures are still done with SLR and micro lens.
I am using Canon Power Shot G11. For the same money I probably could bought lover end SLR but I agree they are too big, too heavy, too...... Canon Power Shot G11 is a nice camera with lots of features that SLR have and small enough to have in my purse.
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  #3  
Old 08-24-2010, 11:39 AM
Eyebabe Eyebabe is offline
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I think what you may actually be more interested in is the best lens for your SLR camera.
And I would be interested in the answer as I have an SLR Cannon D50 and am also looking for the "optimal" lens which would give the best detail with the largest depth of field.
Some of the macro lenses I like cannot span out far enough for me to get the whole big catt bloom(s).
I got an SLR camera last year and LOVE it.
I have a good friend who is expert with this stuff and was just beginning to study with him when he got cancer. He did not see a "good" Cannon lens at the time I was looking that accomplishes what I want but I will try to remember to ask him again as I usually stop in to see him once a week.
For SLR cameras, the detail on the pics is far superior to the smaller non-SLR digitals.
Since I'm from the old school and lugged around a 33mm Olympus during the days of "film" instead of the smaller cameras du jour, the bulk of the SLR doesn't phase me.
If you are going to get into the flower pic thing a tripod will also be worth it. I have been lazy lately and not used it...you can tell the difference.
My depth of knowledge doesn't go much further than this with the digital stuff.
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  #4  
Old 08-24-2010, 03:08 PM
Lars Kurth Lars Kurth is offline
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Which camera is best for orchid / macro pictures?
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I tried a few standard SLRs in a shop at the airport (in macro mode) and compared with a Canon Powershot sx20 and sx10. The latter two do much better macro shots. You can probably get better quality with an SLR using a macro lens, extension tubes or a bellow. This would mean that you always have to use a tripod (as the camera will become heavy). Of course you will need extension tubes/bellow that match the camera electronic, which will make the whole package rather expensive. I don't want to spend as much.

I was wondering whether anybody uses an extra zoom digital camera and what your experience is.
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  #5  
Old 08-24-2010, 04:40 PM
RosieC RosieC is offline
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One problem in getting responces on this question is probably that people who know a lot about cameras and have done a lot of research tend to use SLR's while those (like me) who use non-SLRs only know the one camera so can't answer which is best.

I use a 'Canon Powershot SX200 IS' which is smaller and more compact than the SX20 but it's macro is stunning compared to my previous compact (an older Cannon). I liked the macro on the older camera and found it better than the those I borrowed ocasionally from friends/family. I need a small camera but was keen for one that could do macros well.

I favour Cannon over some of the other makes because they are a 'traditional' camera maker rather than having been electronics manufactures who have moved in to camers with the move to digital. I think that means they have more experience in the lense quality which makes a difference even to their non-SLR cameras.

Anyway I can't really help as to what is best, especially as I've not looked into the sort of range like the SX20, only the more compact ones like the SX200 types.

Of course SLR's will always give the best pics as you can have lenses dedicated to macro shots.
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  #6  
Old 08-24-2010, 05:14 PM
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nenella nenella is offline
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I have been saving up for a long time to buy myself a really good camera as I photograph my orchids every day so I am going to buy a Canon 5D mark II with a macro lens.......this should give me great photos as the camera is rated 21 megapixels.........3 times more than my Canon Ixus 700 (compact 7 megapixels)) with which I get "good" photos but not every time!! The 5D is a great camera with a great Canon macro lens......have not seen anywhere that you can get better, and I have been looking but am far from being an expert ,as my orchid photos are very important to me!
Voila, my thoughts but be ready to spend quite a lot!
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  #7  
Old 08-26-2010, 12:34 PM
ChasWG ChasWG is offline
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Which camera is best for orchid / macro pictures? Male
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An interesting topic as this is what I've been shooting a lot of lately. Well, that and my son's football, but's another story and lens all together.

Or is it?

Yes, getting into DSLR's is more expensive than trying to get by with a compact digital, but the image quality increases right along with the price.
But you don't need to spend a huge amount of money to get very good images. I think it's wonderful that Nenella is going to buy a 5D MkII, an awsome camera that also shoots full frame HD video.
But you can also get amazing images with a kit camera package like the Canon (guys, only 2 n's in Canon) XS that I see available from my local Sam's Club for $650 or so. That gets you a 12mp camera body, two lenses and a bunch of other stuff. With that, you're in the game. The only other thing that you might want to invest in is a set of Kenko Extention Tubes. I bought my set off of eBay for about $130. Extention Tubes (ET's) are used between the camera body and the rear of the lens. There is no glass in these tubes, they just pass the electrical current threw them to the lens. What they do is allow that particular lens to focus much, much closer. Thus starting to get into true macro range, depending on how many ET's and what lens is used.

My favorite rig right now is using a Canon 85mm f1.8, 56mm's of ET's on my Canon 40D body (10.6mp).

Here's more examples of the work that I can do with this setup.






This setup is also pretty light and easy to use. I don't use Auto Focus with macro. I simply get close and then rock back and forth until the subject is in focus and doing something cool! It's slow, but it works better than the AF at those distances.

I have a lot more work done with that setup. The 85mm f1.8 is not a macro lens at all. It is extremely sharp and is a stunning portrait lens. But with some ET's, it becomes a macro lens.

I also use ET's on my longer lens, a Canon 70-200mm f4L. The lens I use to shot outdoor sports. This gets me a lot closer than the Minimum Focus Distance (MFD) stated on the lens. In this case the lens has a switch either 1.3 meters or 3 meters. I switch it to the 1.3 setting and put a couple ET's behind it and suddenly I can get well inside that original MFD. Here's a couple shots using that setup.







Just some technical info. All lenses, whether a true macro or not work the same way. Once you focus a lens that close to a subject you will always get a very shallow Depth of Field (DoF). There are no exceptions to this. The only way to expand that DoF is to use a smaller aperture ( f11 or smaller). But to that you need more light or a higher ISO. The Canon 5D MkII and the Canon 7D are great cameras that have the ability to raise the ISO really high, but still maintain decent image quality.

Personally, I like adding light rather than raising the ISO too high on my camera. I can get to ISO 800 and still have good results, but I don't like to go much higher than ISO 400. ISO 200 is my normal starting point.

I use a small flash bracket to mount my flash on the side of my camera and then tip the flash forward to hang right over the top of the lens pointing slightly forward. This allows me to use a small aperture (f11 and smaller) and still have a pretty fast Shutter Speed (SS). Shutter speed is really important. I like to have a SS number that is equal to or higher than the focal length of the lens I'm using. So if I'm shooting a 85mm with ET's, I like to have the SS at least be around 1/125th. That gets rid of any camera shake blur. That is a good rule of thumb even if you arn't shooting macro.
Why do I talk about that? Because I almost never use a tripod to shoot macro subjects. A tripod is cumbersome and gets in the way. There is no way I could have shot that Praying Mantis above using a tripod and still got the shot. That creature was moving way to fast for a tripod. And I didn't even have my cool Off Camera flash bracket. I mounted the flash to the top of the camera, lowered the built in diffuser and got some great results. No macro lens, no specialty flash bracket or macro ring lights used. Just a little experience and some luck.

Canon makes some amazing, true macro lenses that are not all that expensive. Starting with the 50mm EF f2.5, the 60mm EF-s f2.8 and then the killer 100mm EF f2.8 macro lens. The 50mm and the 100mm EF lenses will work on the 5D MkII, the 60mm EF-s will not. All these lenses will work on Canon's APS-C cameras like the 7D, 40D, 50D or XS. The 50mm f2.5 compact macro is a really great lens and a killer price of $259 from Amazon. It's really hard to beat that lens for that price! Yeah, it's expensive, but if you want to do true macro photography, there is an entrance fee.

I only have one lens that is considered a macro lens. It says "Macro" on the side of it because it focuses very close to subjects without the use of any ET's. It's a Canon 24-70 f2.8L. Not a cheap lens at all. New it'll cost you $1400, used you'll spend $1000 to $1100. But it is an amazing lens ad I get a bunch of great images from it. I should probably get that 50mm f2.5 lens next. Add some ET's behind that and suddenly I'm getting crazy close to all sorts of stuff!

In short (that wasn't short!), it's not about which camera (in this case DSLR's) that you use, it's about the lenses and other tools to get the job done.
With my setups I can not get those incredibly super tight shots of insects compound eyes, but I do get some pretty cool stuff.

One more image:


I broke one of my rules of thumb on that one. The EXIF data for that image shows that I shot it at f3.5 and 1/80th using the85mm lens with a 12mm ET and no flash fired. Sometimes if you hold your breath and are very still, it works out. Or I just got lucky.

If you want to see more examples of my work look around at my Flickr page. Ignore the sound mixer at the top of the page. I had to post those up because I'm trying to sell it right now.
Flickr: ChasWG's Photostream

I hope this helps some!

Last edited by ChasWG; 08-26-2010 at 12:50 PM..
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  #8  
Old 08-26-2010, 06:08 PM
Eyebabe Eyebabe is offline
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Chas,
You shoot great work!
Thanks for all the tips regarding the Cannon lenses
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  #9  
Old 08-26-2010, 06:28 PM
ChasWG ChasWG is offline
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Which camera is best for orchid / macro pictures? Male
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Oh, also, if you are into Canon gear, then you should check out this site:
Digital camera photo galleries, gallery database, info and forums

This is one of the very best web forum style sites dedicated to Canon gear and images made with Canon gear! It's such a cool place that they even allow people who own Nikon gear to be members and contribute! And there are a lot of them at POTN.
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  #10  
Old 08-26-2010, 06:50 PM
Paul Paul is offline
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Which camera is best for orchid / macro pictures? Male
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Some sweet pics, Chas! My favorite is the mantis.

Thank you too for correcting the "canon" spelling ... one of those pet peeves of mine. (Btw, not to be ornery, but not "threw them to the lens" but rather "through them to the lens"

And thank you for the explanation and advice/input on choosing a macro lens and extension tubes!
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