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"Best Macro Camera for pics of minis" Topic

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imdone Inactive Member08 May 2015 4:18 a.m. PST

Help me TMP-kanobi, you're my only hope…

I am hoping the throbbing brain that is the TMP can help me. I am looking for a good camera to take pictures of miniatures at high resolution to put on a website.

My three main criteria are hi-res, good close-up and autofocus (read easy to use). I may be missing something else important.

I am looking for what is good in 2015 (or 2014) as the technology is constantly moving. I am looking to spend what it takes (meaning not to spend thousands but also not to be pennywise and pound foolish).

Any advice, especially from those who have already done the legwork for similar use, would be much appreciated.

jdeleonardis Inactive Member08 May 2015 4:34 a.m. PST

Ive been fighting cameras for years. I just refuse to learn a hobby for another hobby!!!

But,have you tried your phone??? Most new phones take just as good, if not better pictures than cameras (as far as wanting 'the easy button')

I was at Reapercon this weekend, and took a couple photos with my phone Samsung S3 (So, not even a high end phone!)



Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP08 May 2015 5:39 a.m. PST

Frankly, for photos to put on a web site any camera these days will do. I also use my phone.

Why hi-res? All that will do is make images slow for your viewers. Standard camera pics are plenty good unless you want to go to print.

Anyway the camera is not that important. Spend a few bucks and get yourself some decent lighting. I bought two cheap reflector lamps and I have a set up I can build/teardown in 2 minutes for taking very nice photos.

Xintao08 May 2015 5:45 a.m. PST

I use my Galaxy S5. Works great. Also the iphone camera is killer. I'd like an iphone just for the camera.

Also What Extra Crispy said, its all about lighting.


Steve08 May 2015 5:46 a.m. PST

Agreed. I bought a newish camera with a macro mode from ebay for $20 USD and it's great. Lighting and background are key.

Kelly Armstrong08 May 2015 6:50 a.m. PST

There are also macro lens adapter for the iphone if you want to take a simple, adequate tool and make it more complicated for a slight gain in versatility.

Joes Shop Supporting Member of TMP08 May 2015 7:08 a.m. PST

A digital SLR is expensive and while all camera (bodies) have a a Macro Mode you will need a 50mm Marco Lens if you want to go that route.

Most smart phones have a a 'Macro Mode' for close in work.

As others have pointed out Proper Lighting Overhead and Frontal are really the key (and practice).

I've found that setting the camera controls in a phone to 'Portrait' as opposed to 'Auto' will give you good photos that you can then edit (if needed) with the suite that comes with the camera.

The following two pictures were taken indoors with very bad lighting: the camera of my Droid DNA set on 'Portrait':



They were not edited but I always take several shots of each subject to account for camera shake, angles, etc.

This 3mm shot was taken indoors with the same phone camera set on Macro Mode:


It was not edited and all I would do is adjust the Exposure Control to sharpen it up a bit.


J. P. Kelly

DyeHard08 May 2015 1:47 p.m. PST

I got a Nikon CoolPix 950? many years ago, it is like 2 megapixel. And that is much more then needed for web posting.

I like the smaller lens of the older Nikons and the flexing body works well in tight places. It does eat batteries, but they are AA, so not that big of problem.

Starting at a few bucks:




Has a good Macro as close as 1 cm focal length (or 1.2 cm or something like that).

Works well without special lights:


A 15mm Fantasy


15mm in group shot.

DyeHard08 May 2015 1:52 p.m. PST

Any way, it has worked well for me.

Here is an Ebay listing with all the Stats:

Mark RedLinePS Inactive Member09 May 2015 1:22 a.m. PST

Any half decent Nikon Coolpix, mine is a S8200.

Personal logo optional field Supporting Member of TMP09 May 2015 10:01 a.m. PST

In terms of best, that really is a question of price. If you wanted, you could get a large format camera with a digital back that scans at 50+ Megapixels, that could easily run you over $50,000 USD US.

Some have recommended phone cameras, and those have certainly gotten much better of late. If you want a point & shoot camera there are many available, but I'm not especially familiar with any these days.

However, if you want to upgrade to a DSLR, then, all in all I would recommend a Pentax. While not as popular overall as Canon or Nikon, Pentax opted to keep the same lens mounting format on their DSLR cameras they had used on their film cameras since the 1970s. That means you can find relatively inexpensive used macro lens that will work with a brand new camera, something that is quite handy for miniature work. Pentax also makes their mid-range DSLR the K-50 weather-resistant (which is not waterproof, but is certainly better protected than most cameras in the same price range). Granted that weather resistance will not matter for photographing miniatures, but if you ever take your camera outside, it will be quite handy indeed.

Joes Shop Supporting Member of TMP09 May 2015 2:48 p.m. PST

Agreed. My go to Digital SLR is a Pentax Ist Dl.

Grimmnar Supporting Member of TMP09 May 2015 10:09 p.m. PST

OK, first i am loving the prices on these Nikon Coolpix's on eBay. :-)

But because of this topic i been looking over the camera on my Samsung Galaxy S5. No macro setting. Found out a couple of things though. Love i can do burst. But wish i had a macro setting or a closeup version. Also wish i could get pics smaller that 2.4 MB as well. :-(


Kensboro Inactive Member09 May 2015 10:28 p.m. PST

Washout of figures…

I was just talking to someone at MFCA about that very topic today.

Stop using flash.

It took me along time to give in, but when I stopped using a flash my pictures consistently came out much better.

Could they use a bit better lighting sometimes? Yes… but adding a flash tends to make things worse. I'm not saying cameras shouldn't have a flash function at all, the problem is the scale we're taking pictures of, and that we're standing so close to them.

If you are going to use a flash… step back from the display! Don't get so close so the figure fills every pixel of the display; step back and zoom in (don't have your flash firing 3-inches from the front of the figure).

I get some pretty decent pictures, and I'm using a $200 USD Canon Point-and-Shoot, nothing high end by any means.

Mako11 Inactive Member10 May 2015 10:56 p.m. PST

You want something with a short, macro, focal length, for closeups.

Some really can't do that, and in some camera shops the tech people either don't like to divulge the info, or just don't know. I got the run around in several major "camera" stores where they should know that sort of thing.

My guess is the other items they were trying to sell me had better margins.

Ask for the tech brochures, or look on-line.

I use an old, Olympus with 10X optical zoom (the only real zoom that counts), and a remote trigger.

Set it up on a tripod, and use the remote, and you should be "In like Flint".

I prefer natural lighting, preferably on a slightly hazy, or cloudy day, but you can also use additional lighting as well (just not from the camera's flash unit in most cases, as mentioned above).

jwebster11 May 2015 9:12 p.m. PST

I agree with the phone/better lighting. Phone resolution is at least good enough.

On the lighting front, how about improving the lighting on your painting table ? – several high spectrum lights (can use cheap workshop clampable lamps with better bulbs) giving you bright even light around the miniature – then painting will be easier and you will have a decent photography setup. Then add a background of some kind. Turn off the flash on the phone

A quick pass through photoshop elements (there are many similar programs) to tweak contrast (levels), crop better and sharpen a little will also lead to improvements

I have a DSLR – you don't really need a specialised macro lens but I use extension tubes (bought a while back). The DSLR will give you more control over depth of field, but note that a phone with its tiny image (small imaging chip) will inherently have large depth of field. Honestly setting up a complex shot with the DSLR will give you something better, but it's a lot of work and I still don't have it dialed in

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