First spring flower

by Steph
(Scottish Borders)

Spring in Scotland

Spring in Scotland

For this shot I was attempting to get a good close sharp image of the subject matter, using my Pentax Optio s7 with the flower icon.

I think this mode works the same way as a macro.

(For convenience, all links below open in new windows)
It seems that spring has sprung in Scotland!

First off, let's clarify the 'Macro' issue. True Macro is where the subject is focussed onto the image sensor life size. So if your image sensor is 20mm across, and your subject is 20mm wide in real life, it would completely fill the image.

The reality is that image sensors in compact digital cameras are nowhere near this size. They are far smaller. In fact, most compact digital camera sensors are around 7mm across. This would mean that, in order to get true macro, your subject itself could only be a maximum of 7mm across. (NB: Digital SLR cameras use much bigger image sensors, and this is one of their strengths. Click to read more about the advantage of digital slr cameras).

But back to Steph, and the use of the 'flower' mode. This is indeed a close up mode, and is often labelled (technically, incorrectly) as macro. It is definitely the one to use for this type of photo, so well done there!

There is something to be wary of using these close up modes – the depth of field. As you get closer to the subject, the depth of field tends to get shallower. This means that less of the photo will be in focus. Care needs to be taken to ensure the point of focus is where you want it, because there won’t be much margin for error.

This leads me onto an improvement for Steph’s flowers – ensure the petals are in focus. In the photo above, the petals appear soft. It is not always easy to focus on a specific part of a scene with a compact digital camera, because they often don’t allow you to choose the focal point. Instead the camera decides what it 'thinks' is your subject, and focuses on that instead.

I suspect Steph’s camera chose to focus on the stem, rather than the petals.

If you are unable to select the focus area manually, I suggest moving the camera a little until the camera focuses on what you want it to focus on (they usually have little squares to show which bit they are focussing on), then, hold the shutter button down halfway to lock the focus, then re-frame your scene.

Hope this is helpful, and thanks for the submission Steph,


Want more tips? Get our recommended eBook.
Read a hands on review here

Click here to post comments

Return to Digital photography tutorials - submissions, March 2008.