Macro Photography with a compact camera

These pictures of a garden org spider were taken a couple of years ago (Sept 2010) with a Panasonic DMC-FZ8 compact camera.

There are lots of things wrong with these pictures, but they do serve to show one important point – you can get very good macro results with a compact camera. Because the sensor is small and therefore the aperture is small, there is a large amount of depth of field available, which is a positive boon when taking macro shots. These pictures were taken at around f/3.3; using the same aperture on my Pentax K-5 would leave very little of the picture in focus.

Another plus for the compact camera is that because the sensor is small it needs less light to take the picture, so I could take these at a low iso setting and with a fast enough shutter speed to hand hold the shot. Of course, it’s not all good news – because the focal length of the lens is short you have to get very close to the subject which can sometimes be difficult.

So although there are some things you can’t easily do with a compact or bridge camera (like produce blurred backgrounds for portraits), they are very good for macro shots.

The picture shows a female garden orb spider which I found hanging off a tomato plant in my garden. There was a small male spider making advances to the female who got bundled up and eaten for his trouble, as shown in the final picture. The perils of being a male spider !

If you are interested in options for macro photography you may be interested in a newer post I did covering just that subject – look here.

13 Replies to “Macro Photography with a compact camera”

    1. I found the FZ8 to be quite noisy, which isn’t surprising for a small sensor camera, but with enough light it could be pretty good. I have a canon S95 which I keep in my pocket all the time and that too can be good in the right circumstances

  1. As we move into spring and I start to see spiders again, I may have to try carrying along a point-and-shoot and see what results I can get. I attempted a lot of spider shots last summer and can confirm that depth of field is a huge issue. The shape of a spider is such that it’s virtually impossible to get all of the legs and the body simultaneously in focus. I love your shots and thanks for the tips.

  2. Excellent shots, Simon, really beautiful images! My favourite is the side on view, in which the spider doesn’t appear to be attached to anything at all. Good stuff! Adrian

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