recommendations for a digital camera that excels at closeups?

I used to own a sony mavica, don't recall which model.
I photographed a hook rule, with the rim around the lens touching the rule.
That's fairly close-up
:)

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Hi Grant. In another thread I posted a link to a series of shots I took on some lathe and mill work: http://faxmentis.org/html/tripod.html
These were all taken with a Pentax Optio S50, (5Mp), which is in your ballpark for price. Most were flash, some were not. Most in macro mode. Auto exposure - and very satisfactory at that. Your points on autofocus noted, and agreed. Ditto the multiple shots
I reckon the results are pretty passable. I have all the SLR stuff, but choose to use this little Pentax in the workshop. I can hold it with one hand, while I feed the tool with the other. The flash works remarkably well at 12-24" range.
This isn't a "Pentax rocks" post - I use many brands (loved the Mavica, but time marches on), but this little point&shoot is a beauty. The S50 has been superceded by a 6Mp model, which I believe is similar in price.
HTH
-- Jeff R.
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Grant Erwin wrote:

Whoa. That would be the _maximum_ aperture on most digitals. Minimum would be down around F/8 or F/16. That might be part of your problem.

Good close up work needs careful lighting--doesn't necessarily mean _expensive_ lighting--when you're working down around the dimensions of a quarter for example a good LED flashlight properly placed can be quite adequate, and a little larger than that a halogen desk lamp or two can be plenty--the big problem is holding them in position and positioning them so the camera doesn't cast a shadow. The lighting does two things--by positioning carefully you put shadows where you need them to show whatever you're trying to show and with enough light you can use short exposures.

Does it have a manual focus setting? If so, then set the focus to give you the field-size you need and then move the camera to get the focus and that problem goes away.

Always if circumstances permit.

I've been using a Nikon Coolpix 990 for years--it's good for anything down to about the size of a dime. Set for aperture-preferred and stop it down to F/9, set for manual focus and set the focus to give me the field size I need (with macro photography standard practice is to set the focus and then move the camera instead of the other way around). With enough light and a good brace I can get decent handheld shots, otherwise it needs a tripod and either the remote release (wired and expensive, not infrared) or the self timer. A while back I picked up a neat little Manfrotto clamp mount that lets me position it just about anywhere I want that's very handy for getting into odd places.
No longer being made, but you can find them for around $250.

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--John
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The maximum aperture is when the lens is all of the way open (lowest F number) and provides the minimum depth of field. When the lens is at the minimum aperture (highest F number) you get the maximum depth of field.
Typical full f-stops are numbered:
1.4 2.0 2.8 4 5.6 8 11 16 22
and for every F-stop increase you halve the light reaching the film/sensor. That means that you need to increase either the flash power or the exposure. You probably don't want to increase the exposure as you can introduce camera shake which will blur your photos.
-- Geoff
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Geoff Schultz wrote:

Are you trying to clarify or to disagree? I can't tell.
Very few digitals other than interchangeable lens SLRs have apertures above 2.8--a digital set on 2.8 is generally wide open.

Yes, with macro photography you _do_ want to do that--insufficient depth of field will blur your photos for sure but camera shake you can deal with either with a good tripod or with a firm brace.

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--John
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I freely admit I had the f numbering backwards in my list of steps, but it was the smallest aperture that was important. I have now got that. Firmly. Permanently. Thanks.
GWE
Geoff Schultz wrote:

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You cannot go wrong with the Nikon Coolpix 9xx series. they can go from .8" to anything else with no trouble. I have owned a "raft" of cameras and overall, for macros these are the most versitile in your stated price range. Spend a little more and you can get a 995 or 4500 on e-bay with 4x nikor zoom and battery life that will surprise you. Metalworking content: The cases are (mostly) pressed Mg.! I have a 950 that has been dropped, twice, badly, still works, although there are dings.
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I recently asked pretty much the same question on a couple of metalworking and camera sites, right down to the under $200 limit. Although I had specified that it use cf memory cards as that's what my other gear uses.
I was expecting quite a variation in suggestions, but interestingly enough there was one camera that came up much more often than others. That would be the Nikon model 5400. Unfortunately, while I am "an owner" of the camera, I have not had a chance to use it yet as it is wrapped up under the tree. But I thought I would pass on the info none the less.
One other consistent piece of input that came back was that a foldout lcd screen was often very handy for close up work were you may not be able to get square with the camera to clearly see the screen. I was also told that this camera had a good quality wide angle lens adapter available if needed as well. Anyway, this is the one I ended up purchasing off of ebay.
Wayne
http://cgi.ebay.com/NIKON-COOLPIX-5400-5-1MP-DIGITAL-CAMERA-2-BONUS-INBOX_W0QQitemZ7572958457QQcategoryZ48541QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

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On Tue, 20 Dec 2005 17:06:09 GMT, with neither quill nor qualm,

Best of luck to you, Wayne. Let's hope this is NOT a gray-box special from another country which will never be warrantied/worked on by Nikon US camera techs. That was one of the things I was made aware of when I bought my Nikon 995 about 5 years ago and I stayed away from eBay as a result. I adore the camera, BTW.
- Every day above ground is a Good Day(tm). ----------- http://diversify.com Website Application Programming
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quickly quoth:

I bought a Reconditioned Nikon 5400 from Adorama recently for $250 and I'm thoroughly satisfied with it. Other than having a fixed limited range lens rather than taking interchangeable lenses, there's almost nothing I can do with my Nikon D70 DSLR that I can't do with the 5400.
It's controls are much more than most people would ever want in a camera, but it's an excellent performer and takes extraordinarily good close-up/macro shots
Norm
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That's good to hear Norm. I've got a Canon rebel with a boatload of lens if I need to reach out and touch someone. The 5400 will live in the shop, as I'm way to lazy to walk back to the house, pull the rebel out, install the right lens etc for those quick snapshots.
Wayne

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On Mon, 19 Dec 2005 09:24:16 -0800, Grant Erwin

Olympus C-740, 3.2 megapixel, 10x optical and 3x digital zoom. At 3", a business card fills the screen with no zoom. Uses XD card. Downloads with USB cable. Uses AA batteries. New on eBay in June; $204. Here is a BIN for $149 item# 7574432259 factory refurb
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Well... kind of on topic, certainly related...
This guy has a GREAT site on scanning, and improving/sizing digital images. Lot of reading though...
http://www.scantips.com
Erik
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On 19 Dec 2005 10:03:24 -0800, "Too_Many_Tools"

With high resolution, you can backup far enough to use the flash. After cropping, the remaining area is still high quality.
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Everything was okay until you put the $200 limit. I've very happy with my Olympus 740. It has a 10:1 optical zoom and a great macro. Meets all of your other criteria, but does include a flash. You can select either aperature control or speed control and also set the ASA rating. The only limitation is that it doesn't have a sufficiently wide angle lens and there's no simple way to change that. At the time, this cost me about $750, but the same or equivalent camera can be had for about $350 today. The next step up with good macro capability is a digital SLR with interchangeable lenses. They're all over $1000. Still happy as a pig in shit with my Olympus for taking close-up photos of models and such. It replaced about 50 pounds of various camera bodies, a dozen lenses, flashes, etc. The olny thing that irks me about the camera is that it makes better decisions than I do.
Boris
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Grant Erwin wrote:

Grant,
I have a 2MP Fuji Finepix A203 point and shoot that serves me pretty well. Paid $150 CDN for it last year, no regrets. Not exactly the connoisseurs choice but functional enough.
Just how small are the details you need to see anyway? From about 6 inches, I can get a pretty good screen sized blowup of my fingerprint by simply aiming and pressing down the button to get it the focus indicator to close up.
I bought it for it's simplicity, and the fact that I don't give a damn if the pictures can be blown up to poster size or not. I can ram it into my pocket and have it with me on auction day.:-)
Cheers Trevor Jones
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