Easy Micro Camera Shots




Easy micro camera shots (or at least how I do them)

Hello, tis your old windbag Osgeld here spreading a easy way to do micro shots!

I started this the week before I moved, I found instructables in this apartment, and it seemed somewhat fitting to do one last one before I boxed up my gear,

Basically I am shoving my radio shack magnifying glass in front of my old freebie digital camera.

The results are quite decent when you want to get a really close up shot of something... which can be really handy for certain situations, like, oh maybe, instructables

Step 1: Gear

Magnifying Glass:
I have a radio shack pocket style one that has 5x, 10x and 15x lenses. I picked it up at my local shack on clearance for 5 bucks, or they sell them online for 9


Digital Camera with LCD and a manual / macro mode:
Mine is a old Toshiba PDRM500, it was given to my wife a few years ago from her dad and it was quite old then. Its 2 mega pixels, and last time I had it battery powered it sucked down 4 cheap gas station AA batteries in 6 or 7 shots.

You don't need a great camera, I use this one in all the closeup shots and it does fine (even if it is tethered to the wall)

And something to take a closeup of:
In this case, some qfp telephone chip on a pcb from a digital answering machine I still have yet to scavenge

Step 2: Camera Setup

The Following step should be about the same for any half way recent digital camera, but please consult your owners manual for detailed instructions for your specific make and model

Set your camera into manual mode:
On most cameras its just a simple matter of turning the wheel on top to the icon of a camera with a M beside it. You can use automatic mode (no M beside the camera) but it might be difficult to get a good shot.

Set your focus to macro mode:
Once in manual mode, look through the menu and find out how to change your focus from automatic, to macro mode.

On both mine and my wifes (much nicer and newer GE) camera, they just had to be set in manual mode then push the menu button. Once in the menu I just selected focus and set it to macro

Finally Zoom all the way out:
You will not be able to use the camera's built in optical zoom much if any at first, so zoom it all the way out

Step 3: Shot Setup

You want to hold the magnifying glass directly over the camera lens, you want the center of both lenses over each other

Get close, watching the lcd until you get a good clear image of the item you want

Steady your hands, here I have my elbows propped up on my legs, then my hands are propped on the edge of the table.

Adjust the magnifying lens and your hands one final time, watching the lcd for the clearest image of the subject

Hold down the shutter button half way, let the camera adjust its focus, my camera flashes a green box on the screen when its got it (and a annoying chirpy noise). If all looks good on the lcd continue pushing down the shutter button to take the picture

Step 4: Check Results

It is very important to go ahead and check every shot you take right after you take it. It is very easy to slight move something while holding the camera and magnifying glass AND pushing a button

You can tell pretty quickly if you need to take another or not. If your image looks good on the first go, most cameras let you zoom in while your viewing the image, do so and make sure you got what you want.

If everything is okay, move on to the next shot and enjoy!

Questions or comments please let me know!

Step 5: More Result Images

The first 3 are from pimp my pong

The last one was one of the few pictures I saved when I first started to play with this. It is an image of a single strand from a floppy drive ribbon cable, with a solid core wire



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    11 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Hey just checked out your VCR jog wheel. Really cool.
    But I did something like this with a scavenged photo copier lens. I have a 1.5 in one and a 1/2 in one. I can use the small one with my camera phone, just line it up and hold flat against the phone body. I haven't tried using the large one with a digital camera, I mostly use it as a loup. Nice write ups, keep it up!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    If you're using manual mode you should also set the aperture to minimum (smallest 'F' stop) to give you maximum depth of field so more of the picture is in focus. Get plenty of light on the area too to allow a fast shutter speed and reduce shake.

    6 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, it is. But the increase in the depth of field is at the expense of sharpness. Sometimes it is appropriate one thing, sometimes another. Each case must be analyzed individually.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    This is not true. Small aperture (at least up to F11) --> sharper picture. For prime lenses, this continues till you start to see diffraction effects at around F200 (i.e. a pinhole camera). Zoom lenses (i.e. all digital cameras) are a bit more complicated. You should almost invariably be shutting down below the widest aperture of the lens, which is where the lens performs worst (particularly with softness in the corners at wide-angles, vignetting with telephotos). Maybe you're confusing this effect with either long shutter --> motion blur, pixel noise (digital sensor), or the autofocus failing to have sufficient light to focus sharply?


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    No, I am not confused. If you have a larger aperture, you have more light from the subject to form each pixel of the photo. The edge diffraction is always present, and it is more perceptible when the diaphragm is littler (greater F). This is valid specially for good quality lenses.

    But I agree with you that for practical purposes is usually preferable to sacrifice a little sharpness (it is almost imperceptible) towards the depth of field. So I added "Sometimes it is appropriate one thing, sometimes another. Each case must be analyzed individually."


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    The majority of 'softness' (i.e. lack of resolution) in a lens comes from imperfections, most notably spherical aberration (due to lens elements being constructed in a spherical shape as an approximation to the parabolic ideal lens) and chromatic aberration (due to different wavelengths of light, colours, being refracted by different amounts by the same optical element - the prism effect). Expensive lenses have better features (such as aspheric elements, better coatings, higher refractive index glasses, etc.) which lessen these effects.
    In this case, with using a close-up filter or a simple magnifying glass, you've got an enormous imperfect element ruining all these compensating factors.

    Spherical aberration is reduced at smaller apertures as the lens area closest to the core of the optics is closest to the parabolic ideal. Chromatic aberration is where most of the clever lens design goes into - with strange reflective coatings and compensating elements introduced. But again, generally I understand that the lens is most effective in suppressing it within the parallax approximation when the light rays are closest to the origin.

    You're quite right about diffraction being present always, but the effect is proportional to the F-number (in fact, the Rayleigh criterion resolving distance x=1.22 x (Wavelength Light) x (F-stop)). It is irrelevant while the size of these Airy disks is less than the sensor / film grain size. I believe for a compact camera with a small sensor this is around F11 and above.

    Fundamentally, the lens manufacturers are fully aware of the diffraction limit, which generally gives the upper F-number for a given lens, which is why compact cameras (with small sensors) generally can't stop down below F8 or F11.

    The Wikipedia article is really quite good:

    Spherical Abberation "...is proportional to the fourth power of the diameter and inversely proportional to the third power of the focal length, so it is much more pronounced at short focal ratios, i.e., "fast" lenses."

    The Airy Disk article is the most 'photographic' friendly article on Wikipedia on the subject of Diffraction:

    Stop down a few notches and I promise your images will be sharper, the wide open apertures are only there for when you need the most light possible.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    You knows the matter.

    I mentioned the effect of the diffraction on littler diaphragms because I learned this in 1962-63 when I studied some optic. That effect is dramatically perceived when one look through a telescope: the stars looks as points, much smaller than one can see they at naked eyes. Obviously, I am saying a good telescope, with 8 inches o more aperture, and excellent lenses.

    I will see that Wikipedia articles, they seems very interesting.

    Put a common cheap lens in front the cam's objective and I promise your macro images will be sharper. You can see the result also in my instructable https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-take-clear-pictures-for-Instructables-with-/

    Thanks for your comment, and pardon my "automatic translator" English.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    That was ambiguous (if not totally incorrect).
    The smallest aperture is the highest F stop.
    So it should be set to F8 or F11 or rather than F2.8, F4 or F5.6.
    (And I agree with Jarvist about the sharpness.)


    10 years ago on Introduction

    cool i did this before i saw this a few days ago with a 35mm film viewer7x
    my camara is at 6x for all pic with the 7x 35mm film view
    the first and 2nt are my of my eye the last is a 1mm wide cut on a wood table


    10 years ago on Introduction

    You're doing macro shots not micro. Micro-photography is done through a microscope. Macro photography is close up photography, which is what you are doing.