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By jadefreeman
i am practising close up and macro, i just cant get the 'tack sharpness' in an image. As a begginner i have limited equipment so im using a canon 1000dslr, 18-55mm lens with close up filters.i would love to purchase a macro lens but not until i master the technique and save up. i use the live view and connect camera to my laptop for even better viewing, what am i doing wrong? criticism welcome, be gentle though.thank you.

Tags: Close-up and macro Flower close up

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This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.


siduck68 4 6 United Kingdom
18 Jul 2012 4:00PM

I'm afraid you will be limited with what you can take with a kit lens. The macro lens enables you to get in much closer. When I take macro's I use the view finder and a1 focus setting and spot metering. Also zoom in close will help and using narrow apertue for shallow depth of field. There's no exif data so I couldn't see you settings. If you follow the above and crop the shot you should get some good close ups. Getting the lighting right will also add detail.

Hope this is of help.


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damienvc 5 28 2 Belgium
18 Jul 2012 4:09PM
As Simon has said, it's always going to be difficult with a kit lens to get decent macro shots. If you can tether the camera then it's much easier to get the depth of field right by playing around with the aperture as you go. If not, maybe a series at varying apertures would let you get it exactly how you want it. I'm not a fan of live view with DOF preview personally, as it's only ever an indication. It's not until you get the pic up on a proper display that you can get right into the details to see how you're doing.

In the example above amending the depth of field so that the central yellow part of the flower (sorry - don't know what it's called!) is in focus, while retaining the out of focus foreground and background, might be quite effective perhaps? Also, it's quite a tight crop. Is there any mileage in coming back slightly to include all of the petals as well? It might isolate the flower quite well.

All that said, it's a lot better than most of the macro stuff I've tried!

SueEley 10 279 96 Wales
18 Jul 2012 6:17PM
This is certainly a pretty shot, with a very fair level of detail, though not, as you say, pin sharp. I have used close up filters with a Canon 18-55 and have got some good results though it was a bit hit and miss and on a different body (in fact, an older one). We just used a reasonably small aperture and autofocus with the focus point over a high contrast edge - we didn't use the strongest magnification in the kit as focusing was tough with this, but with your rig it would be easier, I think. I have also tried them out on my Nikon at home, and, although the results aren't as good as with a dedicated macro lens, the good shots are pretty good. I think issues may arise from the fact that our close up filters don't have any fancy anti reflective coating - I suspect this reduces sharpness due to light bouncing around a bit. Using them indoors and away from direct light sources could be helpful, perhaps. Anyhow, I think the answer is shoot loads and keep the best! By the way, was this raw? If so, did you sharpen it?
banehawi Plus
12 1.5k 3534 Canada
19 Jul 2012 1:58PM
Hi Jade, lets first discuss how to take a macro shot, and go from there.

1. Set you camera on Manual focus.

2. Use a tripod.

3. Manually focus on the area you want sharp.

4. Set the camera to APERTURE PRIORITY, not Shutter priority

5. Using the link I will add below, select an aperture. In macro photography, quite small apertures are normally used, however, this is when using a lens designed for macro photography. You should not use lower that f/11.

6. Set the camera to ISO 100

7. Use the self timer, and press the shutter. The exposure time will likely be long, depending on the light. Try to use good bright window light, NOT with Sun streaming in. You do not want Sun.

What is a macro lens?

This is a specially designed lens that allows you to place the lens close to the subject, and be able to focus on the subject. It will get physically MUCH closer than your existing lens. It will have the ability to use very sall apertures, smaller than yours. And the image will be a full sized image, in other words a 1:1 ratio. The Canon 100mm macro is a full macro, while the 60mm lens is a half macro, meaning a real macro lens, but priduces an image with the subject half the size of the 100mm. Other names make good macros, Tamron 90mm and Sigma 105 mm being very good.

What is a close-up attachment?

Its a piece of magnifying glass that is placed in front of the lens. Any additional elements placed in front of the lens degrade quality, and since the kit lens is just acceptable, you are lowering the optical performance of a system thats already borderline.

So you have to get the technique right first. This technique is the same whether you use the kit lens alone, with the close -up, or using a macro lens.

You settings do not show the exif used, but do sow you used Shutter Priority, which you now know is incorrect.

The absolute limit for sharpness is the optical systems ability to resolve fine detail. This means the lens, and if you ever wonder why one lens can cost 3 times a much as a simialr focal length model, its usually because of it ability to deliver very high resolution.

Finally, when you re size your image for uploading to the web, and save the re sized image, open it again before you upload, cnad check it for sharpness. Most images need some additional sharpening after being re sized, as file compression will soften the image.

Ive uploaded a mod, with a little sharpening applied, colour balance corrected, flower centre shadow brightened. Looks like the light in this was not great, - you need to ensure the focal point of your shot has decent light, - and this should be the centre of the flower in this image.

Get practicing this technique,


SueEley 10 279 96 Wales
19 Jul 2012 2:45PM
I didn't notice the shutter priority - Willie's right about that, and the rest! We used autofocus because it was very fiddly getting the focus right with manual focus. With the setup we were using, the zone of focusing, at about f11 which we were using, was very shallow and hard to find and I was working it with youngish kids and we were trying to work to a time limit. That said, autofocus can give you a starting point, then you can switch to manual and refine it - this saves a long hunt!

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