The Digital Photo Guy

Holy Macro, Batman!

by on Apr.10, 2012, under gear, Monday Morning Tips

It’s Not the Camera but How You Use It

© 2012 Roy Ang   © 2012 Roy Ang   © 2012 Roy Ang   © 2012 Roy Ang

I received an e-mail from Roy Ang, a very talented San Diego photographer, hinting at interesting macro photos for the fiscally challenged. When I received the above photos from the San Diego Wild Animal Park Butterfly exhibit, I was impressed but not blown away as I knew the sophisticated gear Roy owned. I asked him what was so unique about these macros and received the following reply:

OK, Here is the amazing part…I DID NOT (emphasis mine) do it with the following:

Canon MPE65
Canon 100 macro
Tamron 90 macro
Kenko Extension tubes and/or Canon/Kenko TC’s

There was no cropping here.
The only post work was some recovery slider in LR3 and some clarity boost in LR3.

Further, he stated these were handheld. Now, my curiosity was piqued. Just how in the heck did Roy manage this?

Hold on to your hats! Roy used a Canon SX40 HS P&S camera with a 1/2.3″ sensor. P&S cameras have always had a reputation for good macros because of their tiny sensors. For a comparison, see the chart on this page. Notice the SX40 HS sensor is 1/6th the size of a Canon G1 X. In theory, the smaller sensor results in smaller photosites (light detectors) which, in turn, result in greater noise. But, the SX40 HS uses a Canon DIGIC V cpu, the same cpu used in most Canon dSLRs, to wring the most out of a potentially noisy sensor.

Combined with a 35x optical zoom (24mm to 840mm, 35mm equivalent) lens, the SX40 HS is able to produce some amazing macros as Roy’s photos attest.



2 Comments for this entry

  • Karen

    Very interesting! I’ve been looking for a P/S to keep in my purse as my old S3IS has some battery issues…and I want one with a viewfinder. Granted this is bigger than most but it would be smaller than the 50D. Or do you have any other ideas? I don’t have an iphone or I’d make that “do”. Thanks for continuing the interesting info on your site. Have been interested in the 7D so am re-reading your posts on that camera.

    • Lee

      Hi Karen,
      Thanks for reading my ramblings. I don’t follow P&S cameras so I really don’t have an answer for you. The one thing that gives me pause about the Canon SX40 HS is the tiny 1/2.3″ sensor. On the other hand, it’s a CMOS sensor and coupled with the Canon DIGIC V, seems to produce outstanding images. On the third hand, the Canon G1X has a much larger sensor and the same DIGIC V cpu but lacks the 35x optical zoom. In the past, I pooh-poohed ultra-extreme-mondo-gonzo-mega zooms on P&S but the newer designs seem to work well for people who have the skills.

      The 7D continues to be my favorite Canon dSLR. I’ve considered buying a 5D Mk II or III but can’t justify the expense knowing the quality that comes out of my 7D. Good luck, good light and good photos!

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