Introduction: Macrophotography With Point-and-shoot Cameras

This Instructable presents a summary of the methods and solutions I've been used to make Macrophotography with point-and-shoot cameras for the past 10 years. These photos were taken with my three point-and-shoot cameras using the ideas, concepts and instructions I present here.

I hope you enjoy! Good luck!

Best regards,

Fred Nava.

Step 1: Camera Features Requirements

I have used three different cameras for the past 10 years with good results:

Sony Cybershot DSC-W1 5M pixels with 3x optical zoom.

Fujifilm Finepix S8100fd with 10M pixels and 18x optical zoom.

Canon Powershot SX150IS with 14.1M pixels and 12x optical zoom.

As you can see, it doesn't matter the manufacturer or model. The required features you'll be looking for are:

Macro feature:
Normally represented by a flower symbol in the camera, this feature allows the camera to adjust itself for a macro setting, allowing closer distances from the subject.

Manual aperture, diaphragm or "f":

This feature is very important to allow greater depth of field, ie, the higher the f more deeper focus you’ll have. The optimal value for f is usually between 8 and 16. Attention: above f8 a flash is usually required or a very bright environment (sun light).

Optical zoom:
When using external lenses, the variation of the optical zoom allows higher or lower magnification of the subject. But beware: compact cameras with too much optical zoom (beyond 10x) tend to lose a lot of image quality when the zoom is activated above ~10x (whitish image due to a combination of many lenses and vignetting).

Burst mode or continuous drive:

Getting an optimal focus and / or a picture without shaking is always a difficult task in macrophotography. The greater the increase to be obtained of a subject, the greater the difficulty in focus and maintain it firmly together.

The burst feature (or continuous drive) allows you to take multiple pictures in a short time while holding down the shutter button and moving the camera back and forth. It increases highly the probability of obtaining a well-focused photo without shaking.

Manual exposure:

The exposure is nothing but the time in which the sensor remains opened, capturing the image. It is measured in seconds, e.g. 1/200s, 1/80s, 10s, etc... Sometimes, the subject to be recorded may require more light or a very bright environment.

It is important to notice that higher exposure times result in blurred images if the camera is not firmly supported.

Always use the camera’s exposure meter (photometer). Negative values indicate dark image (underexposed), positive values indicate very clear picture (overexposure), the indicator in the center would be the appropriate position.

White balance:
This setting is required depending on the light that is on the subject (natural light, artificial light or flash white or yellow). Adjusting the white balance avoids changing the actual color of the subject.

If you have doubts regarding your camera model I recommend you access to check your camera's features.

For more concepts or details access my blog:

Step 2: Lenses and Coupling Devices

Now that you have your point-and-shoot camera ready, it's time to couple some lenses in order to magnify the subject you want to shoot.


To get into macrophotography (at least 1:1 magnification), we need to attach external lenses to the camera lens.

In my case, I used an old binocular of my grandfather (RIP). It has glass lenses: 4x30mm (4x zoom x 30mm diameter) as you can see in the pictures. I liked the results so much that I bought another one at e-bay to couple more lenses together.

The binocular lens diameter you'll be looking for must be larger than your camera's lens. But not too large or it will not couple optically in a good way. I've done some tests with largeer binoculars 16x50mm too, but it didn’t work well also. Do not use acrylic lenses, it doesn't work. Magnifying lenses also did not work well for me.

For me the best lenses were 4x30mm.

With my old Sony camera (very small lens) a 20mm telescope ocular worked nice also, with high magnification. As seen in the picture I drilled a wood pice, attached the ocular in the middle and attached the wood to a PVC adapter that fit my camera.

Coupling devices:

I aways used PVC pipes adapters as coupling device to the camera. You will find some adapter that will fit your lens and camera easily (or with minimum adjustments). The important thing is to hold the lenses next to your camera's lens without touching it even when you activate the optical zoom. It will avoid any damage to your camera mechanics.

You will have to paint inside black (matte) to avoid light entering and reflections. Externally you can paint in the same color as your camera.

It is important you try to close any possible light entering inside the device.

To fit the lens inside the adapter I used rubber rings (O'ring). If you want a definitive solution you can use epoxi glue.

Do some tests before finish the coupling device. For Canon and Fuji cameras I obtained better results inverting the binocular lenses (curved side at camera's direction). For my old Sony camera I used the straight side of the lens towards the camera.

Step 3: Magnifying Comparison

These are some simple magnification examples for my the three point-and-shoot cameras.

But remember: high magnification doesn't mean high quality. Usually it is the opposite :)

When you attach many lenses together you will loose depht of field and image quality. When you apply optical zoom the problem gets worse.

You will have to try different combinations to find the best one that obtain high magnification without loosing light, depht of field or quality.

You also have to learn how to work with your camera resources (mentioned before) to configure the best composition for your combination.

Macrophotography requires patience and perseverance but as soon as you get used and hooked to it the results are very satisfying and enjoyable!

Good luck! Best regards,
Fred Nava.

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