Most serious photographers have at least one macro lens in their arsenal. The problem is that most of us don’t allocate precious room in our bags, or consider it within our weight limits when we pack and travel. In addition, macro lenses are expensive and some photographers might forego the cost of them all together.
How many times have we been out in the field and come across a great close-up opportunity only to realize we don’t have a macro lens along. Advanced Point & Shoot to the rescue. All of the photographs in this article were taken with a Canon G10. I carry this camera-mostly for grab shots along the way but also because it can serve as a backup camera in a pinch. Heck, I’ve even used a cell phone camera in a pinch-for real work! You can read all about that disaster here.
The secret to using your Point & Shoot as a macro capture device is all in the ‘little flower’ button. Most people I meet in the field don’t even know what it is for. I ran into a mother and two sons at the Como Zoo the other day and they wanted to photograph the poison dart frogs in the glass case. I showed them what the little flower was for on each of there very-different cameras and they started to get non-fuzzy pictures of frogs from much closer distances. Then I admonished them not to forget to turn the ‘little flower’ back off!
Activating the little flower puts your camera in Macro Mode. This allows you to focus on objects which are closer to your camera than in normal mode. This means you can get in tight and capture tiny details. You may not get as close as a true-macro lens but you will work much tighter than any standard lens and take pictures that are different from those most others are taking.
This rose was shot right outside my door with my Canon G10 in ‘little flower’ mode and the zoom out to it’s widest. I get pretty good depth-of-field and close focusing. With my Canon 100 MM F2.8 Macro on a DSLR, I can get a similarly-framed shot but I lose the depth-of-field in the process. Not to mention, the camera’s compact front-to-back dimension allows me to snake it into tight places. The live viewfinder means I don’t have to lay on the ground and peer through an optical viewfinder.
You can get in very tight with a Point & Shoot too. While true-macro of 1:1 size is not likely achievable you can get considerably closer than a standard lens. This shot of a Bandera in Costa Rica was done with the Canon G10 in macro mode, brought in tight coupled with a low power flash. As you can see, it makes for a sensual artistic shot of a subject most are tempted to photograph in standard mode from afar.
We don’t always have access to a macro lens in the field. If your Point & Shoot is along for the ride, consider pressing the ‘little flower’ and see what possibilities abound. Maybe it is misrepresentative to call a Point & Shoot a “New Macro” but the “New Close-up” is fine by my me. Either way – I get the shot!
Rikk Flohr © 2010