The Best Camera Settings for Photographing Smaller Objects

The Best Camera Settings for Photographing Smaller Objects

The greatest challenge in photography while you try to capture photos of smaller objects is the outstanding sharpness of your subject, in exactly the right place. The following settings are suitable for this:

1. Switch off the image stabilizer if you are using tripod

If you take pictures with a tripod, always turn off the image stabilizer, otherwise it will cause camera shake. With longer exposure times from a tripod, take pictures with the self-timer if possible, delay for 2 seconds so that you don’t blur the photo when the shutter is released.

2. Focus manually

The autofocus is usually not useful in smaller objects photography. Ideally, you can check whether the manual focus is correct using the enlarged live view image from your camera.

3. Choose an aperture

A medium aperture is usually best suited for macro photography. If your camera has a smaller sensor stick to an aperture of up to 11 because of the increasing diffraction blur.

4. Choose a low ISO value

Since macro photography is about sharpness, image noise is quite annoying here. The ISO value should therefore be really low. If possible, set it to 100 and generally always as low as possible.

5. Choose the appropriate exposure time

The middle aperture and the low ISO will give you a specific exposure time. If you’re moving still objects, it doesn’t really matter how long it is. However, as always, you have to take longer exposure times from a tripod.

When you take pictures of moving subjects, a short exposure time is much more important. Here you need shutter speeds in the thousandths range. With insects in particular, you cannot avoid extremely short exposure times. If necessary, go a little higher with the ISO. If this leads to picture noise, you only have the option to take photos with flash.

6. Focus on moving subjects

Since you will hardly be able to capture moving animals with the auto focus at close range, you have to pre-focus and should be patient with it. So, concentrate on a flower that you suspect your insect will land here and focus on the landing area. As soon as the insect approaches, take many pictures in a row at lightning speed with a very short exposure time.

The macro challenge: sharpness!

The greatest technical challenge in macro photography is the sharpness of the photos. The closer you are (the more intense and better your recording is), the more difficult and complex the topic becomes.

A crisp sharpness in exactly the right place, however, is what makes a great macro photo, because the point is to depict the smallest details in a clearly visible manner. While we don’t normally consider ourselves to be absolute hotness fanatics, it is indispensable in macro photography.

Sharp macro photos with focus stacking

To solve the problem of the very small plane of focus in macro photography, you can use the technique of focus stacking. Focus stacking is used in particular for extreme macros in order to get an arbitrarily large level of sharpness if it cannot or should not be faded out further.

With focus stacking, several individual photos are taken, whereby the level of focus is always slightly offset. To put it very simply, an insect first focuses on the eyes – photo. Then on the front part of the body – photo.

Techniques of Photo Stacking

There are different approaches to the technique of focus stacking:

Some new cameras have built-in automatic focus stacking. When you activate this mode, several photos are taken with an automatic shift of the focus area and then added together.

If your camera does not have this function, you have to move the focus point manually. You either do this completely by hand using manual focusing or you work with a so-called macro slide. This allows the camera and lens to be moved precisely.

You can then add up your individual photos using an image processing program. This works very simply and well. The special software for complicated focus are available online.

Image composition in macro photography

General Rule:

For macro photography, get as close to your subject as you possibly can. The closer you are, the more details and small structures become visible and the deeper insight into another world your photo shows.

If possible, you should not take macro photos from above, but always at eye level with the animal. For plants and objects, a perspective from the side is usually best. Photos from above appear rather flat and “normal”, whereas photos from a deep perspective appear intense and appealing.

Always keep in mind that the normal viewer has probably never seen the world or the object being photographed from a perspective other than their normal eye level. This knowledge offers you a lot of potential for exciting macro photos, even of everyday things.


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