Need macro mode explanation

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Adam, Dec 7, 2003.

  1. Adam

    Adam Guest

    I've been looking at both the Coolpix 5700 and the Dimage 1a. Among one
    of their differences is that the Nikon starts its macro range at 1.2",
    whereas the Dimage starts at around 10". Could someone explain to me
    what these differences mean when shooting in macro mode? Thanks,
    Adam, Dec 7, 2003
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  2. Adam

    Ed Ruf Guest

    This is the closest distance at which the camera can still focus. If any
    object is closer than this the camera will not be able to focus on it. So
    if you want the ability to take extreme close-ups, ie macros, this spec is
    Ed Ruf Lifetime AMA# 344007 ()
    See images taken with my CP-990 and 5700 at
    Ed Ruf, Dec 7, 2003
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  3. Adam

    DJ Guest

    AFAIK the macro mode simply changes the range over which auto-focus will search.
    Non-macro makes for somewhat faster focussing in non-macro situations.

    DJ, Dec 7, 2003
  4. Adam

    Bob Salomon Guest

    Well there are two things. 1: is the magnification the same or
    different? 2: are you shooting things that need to be lit from in front?

    The magnification that you can get at 1.2" may be astonishing. But if it
    places the lens and camera so close to the object being photographed
    that you can only light it from behind and not from in front. And to
    light it properly at that distance would require either a ring light
    (very flat lighting that surrounds the lens) or by specialized fiber
    optic equipment like the one from Novoflex.

    These problems are greatly reduced when using a cmaers whose closest
    position is further back. Although the magnification may not be as great.
    Bob Salomon, Dec 7, 2003
  5. Adam

    Adam Guest

    OK, now let's get down to practical application as I need help in
    visualizing the outcome of macro pictures of these two cameras. Assume
    that I'm taking a picture of the inside of a flower that is 3" wide and
    1" deep, and flash is not in the equation. Could you tell me what
    characteristic differences there would or would not be between these two
    camera macro pictures. Please set any parameters you want in order to
    help me see the differences. Thanks again,
    Adam, Dec 7, 2003
  6. Adam

    Paolo Pizzi Guest

    With the Nikon, you can shoot at a subject as close as 1.2 inches
    and still keep it in focus while with the Minolta, the subject has to
    be at least 10 inches away, or else the camera won't be able to
    focus it.
    Paolo Pizzi, Dec 7, 2003
  7. Adam

    Adam Guest

    Understood. Assuming I'm taking a macro of the same object (1.2" for
    Nikon, 10" for Dimage), how will or will not the pictures differ? This
    is what I'm trying tounderstand.
    Adam, Dec 7, 2003
  8. Adam

    Ed Ruf Guest

    It's not that hard. Put said object 10" from your nose. What do you see?
    Then put said object 1" from your nose. Now what do you see?

    The key word is magnification.
    Ed Ruf Lifetime AMA# 344007 ()
    See images taken with my CP-990 and 5700 at
    Ed Ruf, Dec 7, 2003
  9. Adam

    Adam Guest

    As I don't have either camera inhand, I ask: When the object is at the
    appropriate distance from each camera (1 and 10 inchaes, nikon and
    dimage, respectively), will the images produced be the same?
    Adam, Dec 8, 2003
  10. Adam

    Ed Ruf Guest

    As I said, you don't need the cameras. What do you see yourself at each
    distance, no cameras involved.
    Ed Ruf Lifetime AMA# 344007 ()
    See images taken with my CP-990 and 5700 at
    Ed Ruf, Dec 8, 2003
  11. Adam

    Rudy Garcia Guest

    No, the images will be different because of the two different
    Rudy Garcia, Dec 8, 2003
  12. Adam

    Adam Guest

    Thanks Rudy for your non-cryptic reply. So if I got it right, finally,
    taking macros with the 10" Dimage will NOT give me the real in close-ups
    that the 1.2" 5700 Nikon will, eh?

    Adam, Dec 8, 2003
  13. Adam

    CR Optiker Guest

    Adam...The Nikon is hard to beat for extreme macro. The new Fuji S7000 has
    a minimum standoff distance of 10 mm (0.4"). However, small standoff
    distance is not everything. There are things like lens blocking the
    illumination that you said wasn't an issue, consider this. You give us the
    dimensions of the subject - the field-of-view (FOV) - that you'd like to
    cover. If you go to Dave's Imaging-Resource review site, here's the URL for
    the Nikon 5700 closest macro shot, that covers a FOV of 29.4 mm x 22.1 mm,
    or 1.16" x 0.87"...

    For the Minolta (which I chose to buy over the Nikon for a variety of
    reasons), the FOV is 50 mm x 37 mm or 1.96" x 1.47". The test image at
    closest macro seting is at...

    Unfortunately, Dave doesn't have a review for the S7000 yet, and it differs
    significantly from the S5000, soi you can't go by that.

    Incidentally, both Nikon and Minolta cameras have sample images of the same
    subject wtih and without flash, and you'll see that the Nikon badly shadows
    the subject at extreme macro, but the Minolta does a wonderful job. I know
    this wasn't an issue for you, but, that's just for your info.

    If your subject of interest is on the order of 3" wide and 1" deep, either
    camera will capture a smaller area, but the Nikon will capture the smaller
    area - slightly less than 60% of the width of the Minolta. How small do you
    want to go - no need to reply.

    I'm a digital imaging and optical scientist. My grad work is in optics.
    While I don't have time to analyze it, if it was my decision (Oh...that's
    right, it was my decision when I bought mine), here's what I'd consider.

    The Nikon has slightly greater zoom (8X versus 7X). In general greater zoom
    correlates to more aberration (more image degradation). In general, closer
    standoff correlates to greater aberration - usually distortion, but also
    aberration that typically results in a softening of detail in the corners.
    You might observe these by clicking on Dave's sample images to get the
    highest resoution image - might be a longish download - of the dollar bill
    and using your viewer to zoom in on the dollar bill image for each camera
    unil you can see things like the blue and red threads in the dollar bill.
    Compare their sharpness. Compare the sharpness of the bead-like structure
    around the endge of the "bird" pendant at the upper right. That kind of
    comparison will give you a better feel for the comparison of these two
    cameras at their extreme macro settings. Standoff diastance isn't
    everything, nor is minimum FOV.

    At maximum zoom, the Nikon lens is 72 mm focal length (35 mm equivalent is
    280 mm). At maximum zoom, the Minolta lens is 50.8 mm (35 mm equivalent 200
    mm). In part, the Nikon's smaller FOV is due to the longer focal length
    (greater magnification). As an optical scientist, my experience and
    intuition tells me that the Nikon lens is operating closer to the edge of
    its performance envelope than the Minolta to its performance envelope. I'd
    guess that the result is that the Minolta should have better
    performance...but Nikon lenses are some of the best in the world...but
    Minolta lenses aren't junk, and the design is a couple of years
    newer...and, stabilization has to count for something when it's hand-held.

    Hope that all isn't too confusing. The bottom line is, look at the examples
    at the URLs given, consider the minimum FOV and if both are enough for you,
    choose on what's most important to you among other factors.

    CR Optiker, Dec 8, 2003
  14. Adam

    Adam Guest

    Hi Optiker,

    Great and fairly well understood explanation. Let's continue, if you
    don't mind.

    First, I'm strongly leaning towards the D1A for various reasons (newer
    model, good optics--close enough to the Nikon's, tele stabilization,
    faster AF, manual AF/tele, good low light focusing...) and the macro
    issue is something that I needed to better understand to make a more
    appropriate comparison. However, although macro performance is
    important, It will not be the most heavily weighted decision issue for me.

    I've downloaded both macros into PhotoDraw. First off, at 100% picture
    size, one can easily see that the 5700's macro shows a smaller, more
    magnified area and more detailed picture than does the D1A. In order to
    try to get the same magnification with the D1A, I goosed the
    magnification to about 172%. Clearly, at least to my eye, all
    observations again favored the clarity and detail in the 5700's macros.
    So, if I am doing these comparisons correctly, the Nikon wins. Did I
    get it right or not?

    Adam, Dec 8, 2003
  15. I've been looking a Pentax digital (Optio 550) with a super-macro limit
    of 0.8 inches (2cm).
    It struck me that one backlit application would be to avoid updating my
    scanner to one with
    a slide attachment, and use to Pentax to photograph slides on a light
    box. This would be much
    faster, with care about the focus distance, and could scan a box of 36
    slides in a few minutes.
    Has anyone tried this? The 550 is 5+ Megapixels, so should if my math
    is what it was
    equivalent to a 2400 dpi scanner. Downsides: that focus problem, and
    the need for a really
    evenly-lit lightbox.
    Anthony Buckland, Dec 8, 2003
  16. Adam

    CR Optiker Guest

    Adam...sounds like you got it right. As I said, I didn't do the analysis or
    compare the pics magnified to the same scale. I have done it for a
    different short-list of cameras. I ran a quick test and would agree that
    taking the A1 image, magnifying it to match the image scale of the Nikon, I
    would prefer the Nikon image. I guess I would repeat, that if you need the
    macro level that the Nikon provides, and all other considerations are
    accepable, then that's your camera. It's unfortunate that Dave's site
    doesn't have the same image for the Fuji S7000 at its extreme macro setting
    for comparison.

    Not to suggest that it makes a difference, but, by magnifying one image to
    match the scale of the other, you are introducing some (probably
    negligible) bias. No resize algorithm is going to produce an image equal to
    one not processed. A fairer test might be to compare images printed or
    displayed at the size you would use for that image - even if that means
    different scales - and asking yourself if you would not be happy with
    either one...that is, is the difference significant or can you call them
    both acceptable and use other specs or performance to make the decision.

    I'll repeat, go with what suits you, not what somebody else tells you - too
    much personal preference in what you use it for and the level of image
    quality that satisfies you. For my part, I can tolerate a little less iamge
    quality because if I need to, I'll record raw images and do my own

    The other option is that if you choose a camera that can't quite get close
    enough for the magnification you'd like, through-the-lens focus and
    composing makes add-on close-up adapters a viable solution. I'm looking at
    them now for my A1 because I'd like a little more magnification than I can
    get with the A1 at its extreme macro setting - the Nikon would have been
    adequate. I chose knowlingly to accept a larger macro FOV rather than give
    up some of the A1 features.

    Incidentally, in the case of the A1, Phil's review (DPR site) on the A1 was
    somewhat critical of image quality and suggested that it was less than
    should be expected at that price, and that hopefully Minolta will come out
    with a firmware upgrade that will tweak the processing to improve it. I
    won't hold my breath, bit it might happen. In the meantime, when I wan't
    best quality, I'll record raw and postprocess.

    CR Optiker, Dec 8, 2003
  17. Adam

    CR Optiker Guest

    Anthony...can't comment on the Pentax, but part of my consideration in
    buying a Minolta A1 was the same - to use it to quickly digitize 35mm
    slides. The A1 has a minimum macro field of 50 mm giving 1239 pixels/in.
    That's really not enough, so I am planning on buying a close-up adaptor
    that will get me a small enough field. I chose the A1 on other issues.

    Years ago I built a copy fixture that I could use with a 35 mm camera to
    copy 35 mm slides. It consisted of a couple of rails (1/4" dia. brass rods)
    attached to a block that the camera attached to using the tripod screw. A
    carrier on the two rails had a slide holder that the slides dropped into
    and were held firm, and could be slid along the rails to get the best
    possible focus, then locked with a lock screw. This could be made from
    wood, or from metal starting with materials and components you can find at
    a good hardware store. Behind the slide position was a 2x2 piece of opal
    glass - opal glass is a plate of glass with a thin layer of white glass
    applied to one side. It serves as an excellent diffuser and can be bought
    from Edmund Industrial Optics (Edmund Scientific's optics division). See...

    A 50 mm x 50 mm x 5-6 mm (1/8") thick opal glass diffuser costs $9 (plus
    shipping of course).

    You can create your own diffuser in a variety of ways, but opal results in
    a nice, uniform illumination. YOu can probably find white diffusing
    plastic at a home improvement store, and probably can even do with multiple
    sheets of paper if the one closest to the slide is not in focus. Use
    several sheets separated by a small gap rather than just a stack.

    For a light source, sunshine works great, but isn't a constant. A good,
    "daylight" bulb at a distance behind the diffuser will do. White balance
    will make it possible to correct for the color of the lamp.

    Good luck...Optiker
    CR Optiker, Dec 8, 2003
  18. Adam

    Rudy Garcia Guest

    No, what I said is that the two different approaches will give you
    somewhat different perspectives. They will both give you close-up
    pictures at some image magnification, but their perspectives will be
    somewhat different due to the difference in lens to subject distance.
    Rudy Garcia, Dec 9, 2003
  19. Adam

    Adam Guest

    On the Imaging Resourses comaprison site I closely looked at the two
    cameras' (easier than downloading and setting up in my photo program)
    pictures and test patterns. From all comparisons, I could easily see
    that the Nikon did, indeed, offer up better images, particularly on the
    test patterns in which there was much less noise between the parallel
    and diverging lines patterns. As the 1A has many more features than
    the 5700 but not quite the imaging capacity of the 5700, I'm now in a
    quandry as to just how much of a difference I'll see in the real world
    pictures that I'll be taking. I'm nowheres near a professional or super
    enthusiast photographer, but I have been using all sorts of cameras for
    over 40 years, and this camera will probably be my last hurrah (I'm now
    retired). I'll be using it for family, travel, nature and such
    pictures, and want to have the ability to have fun and if I get more
    serious, to take very good pictures that will withstand blowing up to
    maximum sizes. Given the above, any opinion/comment just how critical
    the imaging differences will be, is appreciated. Oh yes, I also doubt
    that Minolta will come up will firmware/sopftware changes to improve the
    image quality of the the 1A.
    Adam, Dec 9, 2003
  20. Adam

    CR Optiker Guest

    Adam...we sound pretty similar other than my profession is in digital image
    science and optical science. Like you, I've been into photography for most
    of my 60 years and remember putting a simple plastic magnifier lens in
    front of my first 35 mm camera (a Kodak Retina rangefinder-type camera) to
    try to take macro pics and wondering why I couldn't eliminate the
    vignetting - that was around 1950-something.

    I came down the same path. In spite of knowing more than I need about
    optical testing, MTFs, optical design, radiometry/photometry, image
    processing and analysis, you name it, I asked myself the same question -
    are the differences in image quality enough to sway me? With my eyes not as
    sharp as they used to be, I could probably be satisfied with a lot less
    camera! :)

    I also told my wife that this is probably my last new camera as retirement
    is coming over the horizon and my priorities and expected retirement income
    will proibably not permit a new digital camera any time soon. I too will
    use it for snapshots, but also creative photography, and possibly in some
    consulting I hope to do after I retire. I very much enjoy portraiture and
    macro photography. I've already shot 100 MB of portraits of my daughter and
    expected son-in-law within the first few days of receiving the camera.

    I really don't want to convince you to do it my way - I don't care to be
    remembered, even in anonymity as "that blankety-blank on the group who convinced me to go against my own judgement."

    That said, and contrary to a lot of positive replies in this group, and a
    mix of posts on the Nikon groups associated with the various review sites,
    I bought the Minolta. Since it's so new, there weren't a lot of posts in
    any of the groups on it, but most that I saw were positive. On the issue of
    better Nikon images, Phil's disappointment with the A1's image quality, and
    the test results that show lower image quality (as Phil puts it), I also
    struggled with the issue of "does all that matter enough in the real world
    to make a difference." I decided that there will be those images that I
    will look at and wish I was using a Canon EOS 1Ds, 35 mm film, or maybe
    even my ancient 6x9 cm medium format Mamiya. But, for the vast majority of
    what I will do, the subjective difference in image quality will be an
    acceptable tradeoff in order to get some of the newer features of the A1 -
    stabilization for just one example.

    Frankly, I'd guess you'll be quite happy with either. Knowing myself, if
    I'd bought the Nikon, I'd be kicking myself in a few months when I see what
    I might have bought if I'd waited - maybe the Sony F828 if it's as good as
    they claim. On the other hand, with the A1, it might not be the best I
    could have bought, but as a new camera (versus one a year and a half old
    like the Nikon), I know the leap in technology is minimal and I can handle
    that without buyer's remorse.

    Good luck in making your decision. I'm sure either will be great for you.
    But, remember, you'll always find some shortcomings no matter what you buy.
    I'm in the process of ordering a Canon EOS 1Ds at work with a host of
    goodies. I've chosen it over the Kodak DSLR even though the Kodak costs
    less and has more pixels. But, I don't doubt that in six months I'll be
    drooling over some other newer DSLR's specs and wondering if I should have
    waited. As somebody else posted, there will always be a better choice if
    you wait, but in the meantime, your fretting, not taking pics.

    CR Optiker, Dec 9, 2003
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