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The Canon Digital Elph S-100 has a reasonable Macro mode.  The problem is when we REALLY want to get close.  The camera's will focus only as close as 4" from the subject in Macro mode.

To get that true Macro shot, we paired the camera with a standard 8x loupe normally used for examining 35mm slides.  We may have gotten this one free from Agfa at a tradeshow about 10 years ago, but you can typically pick one up for about $10.  There are higher quality ones made from optical glass. The one we have is made of plastic. 

The main advantage of using the loupe is the focus distance is already fixed.  The image will always be in focus when placed on an object and viewed through the loupe.  Another great feature is since the side of the loupe is clear, light can get in to illuminate the surface being photographed.  The last, and maybe the most important, benefit is the camera can rest on the loupe to help steady the shot.  To further reduce the effect of camera shake or if light is low, set the self-timer and let the camera taking the shot.

When the S100 is in Macro Mode, the image you see in the LCD (not the glass viewfinder) is the image you get.  So you can get real time composition just by sliding the entire setup around on the object.

We have taken a few examples using the loupe on some shiny metallic subjects shown above.  We didn't use any fancy lighting setup, just natural room lighting.  There are some bright spots in the photos, but the results are entirely useable.

All of the images below were taken using the loupe and the Canon Digital Elph S-100 in macro mode.  Click on thumbnail to see the full size 2 MegaPixel image from the S-100.  Note the circular drop off in sharpness near the edge of the image.  It is a reasonable trade-off considering the quality of the closeup...and the price :-)




Macro On A Budget

By Wan Chi Lau

Getting good closeup photos with a digital camera is not that easy.  There are a few issues (lighting, shutter speed, focus) which can ruin a shot.

We have been using a little $10 trick for the past few years and have found it quite to be effective.

We have only used it with the Canon Digital Elph S-100, but it should work for other cameras as well.  A larger loupe with a different magnification may give more detailed closeup.  Let us know if you have a setup that works for you... and send some samples :-)  

Project Summary:

Initial Impression- slight edge effect

Usability- pocket size

Durability- no moving parts

Price- $10

Related Project:

1. Wide angle lens on a budget


Photography by Wan Chi Lau
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