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[HOW TO] Simple DSLR Setup for Macro/Close-Up Shots

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Topic [HOW TO] Simple DSLR Setup for Macro/Close-Up Shots

Post by GS on Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:57 pm

[HOW TO] Simple DSLR Setup for Macro/Close-Up Shots

Getting Macro-like results without expensive macro lens is possible!

[ Introduction ]

I'm certainly not a professional photographer but i am willing to share my humble knowledge with fellow hobbyist.
For those who might be interested to know, i started taking photos on my invert collection using Nokia N95. Well, generally, it only captures the shape and not the details, so to speak.

Then, I moved on to phone4. With careful positioning of the light source (from a table lamp) or with the help of reflectors, the following shot on a Androctonus australis is the best i can get out from an iphone.

Upon reaching the limit of what i can do with my iphone4, i decided to make my first investment on a DSLR, an entry level Nikon D3100.

[ My Camera Setup ]

Camera body: Nikon D3100
Lens:18-55mm Kit Lens
Filter: Raynox DCR 250

DSLR settings: Fully manual
Lens focusing mode: Manual
Tripod: Nil, handheld

Lighting: 16W Daylight bulb

[ White Balance ]

- Depending on the type of bulb you are using, you might need to do a proper white balance to get the "right" colors displayed, or else, it might appear either too blueish or warm

- For this particular daylight bulb i'm using, it is on the warmer side of the color temperature and i counter it off with a cooler temperature preset

[ Equipment costing for this simple setup ]

 USD$600 (D3100   18-55mm Kit lens)
 USD$100 (Raynox DCR 250)
 USD$10 (Table lamp with bulb)
= USD$710

- Currently, i am using just a table lamp to illuminate up my subjects. And my macro shots are all taken using the above Nikon 18-55mm kit lens with an close-up filter, Raynox DCR 250. Handheld without any tripod or external flash.

- Of course, you may create a natural landscape just for the photo session (which i am in the process of making one myself), i used carbon fibre vinyl for good color contrast with some of my critters

[ Things to note ]

- The height clearance of the container used for your photoshoot acts as a double security perimeter for your live specimen

- Do ensure that the height of the container is taller then the total length of the bug itself

- An adjustable table lamp comes in handy when you needed to shift it around your subject to achieve different light intensity and angle

[ Stabilizing a live specimen ]

- It is the natural instinct for most specimens to shy away from the intense light when they are being introduced to the setup

- You may try to place a hide right at the center of the setup and allow few minutes for the specimen to crawl under it

- Once the specimen has calmed down beneath the hide, gently the hide with a pair of tongs, in a firm grip.

- Be careful not to drop the hide on the specimen

[ Tips to share ]

- The essence of taking a good photo with your DSLR is the ability to utilize light at it's best angle while on full manual mode.

- Don't be shy to try out the different settings for every shot you take e.g. different shutter speed /aperture for your shots until you are satisfied with the results. Don't be stubborn.

[ Stabilizing your shots while you're on freehand shooting ]

- Use a higher shutter speed

- Find a resting/pivot point for your hands (while gripping onto the camera body) to compensate hand movements.

[ Depth-of-field ]

- For macro shots, one of the goal is to achieve a decent depth-of-field, it might be a torture to view pictures with less than 10% of the picture area in focus


- Step down your aperture and compensate the lost of light with an appropriate ISO increase or shutter speed reduction:


[ Some of my works ]

[ Macro shots ]

[ Practice makes perfect ]

- There is no such thing as "one size fits all" settings to photography and knowing the camera settings of others might not be helpful at all, as different scenarios/ subjects/ lighting conditions requires your dedicated setting for it.

- It's basically the same idea when you know of someone using expensive high-end DSLR and delicated Macro lens, getting the same gears does not equate identical results.

- Hence, do not rush in getting something that might be out of your budget or something which you may not utilize fully. Ample research has to be done.

- That is why I started with this entry level camera with kit lens, as i believe only when i have reached the limit of my current gears, i'll then be able to find my money's worth after an upgrade.

I'll keep this guide updated regularly with new info as much as possible and I do hope you will find the info useful. Looking forward to see your works in the forums Smile


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