Macros and Close Ups

Taking close-up photos has its own challenges with regard to focusing. Here are a few tips on using macros easily and effectively:

■ Be aware of what your camera's normal focusing range is. By that we mean how close can it focus without going into the macro mode? Don't press the macro button until you're certain that you are too close for normal focus to work.

■ When you press the macro button or initiate the macro command in the menu, you will probably hear the autofocus motor move the lens out into position. Then press the shutter down halfway, until the subject you are shooting pops into sharp focus.

■ Invoking the macro mode will automatically turn on your LCD viewfinder or electronic viewfinder on many digital cameras. That's because the optical viewfinder is unreliable in macro because of something called parallax (where the closer that your lens gets to the subject, the more inaccurate your optical viewfinder becomes).

Be aware that if you're using flash, you might be too close for it to work effectively, and it might blow the picture out (badly overexpose it). If that's the case, you'll see it immediately in the LCD viewfinder, because the subject will look like a white blob. Turn your flash off and shoot again.

Because you're in the macro mode and shooting close up, any motion or movement will be exaggerated and result in blur or an out-of-focus condition. Hold your camera extra steady; better yet, use a minipod or tripod, or brace it against a table, chair, wall, or so forth.

By the way, the icon for macro is nearly universal—a small flower—which makes it relatively easy to find the button or menu option to activate it. When macro is turned on, you'll usually see the flower in the control panel.

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