Need help taking macros with Canon PowerShot SX 20 IS

Delphi, IN

I'm not much of a photographer, but do my best for shots of flowers, butterflies and birds. I just got my camera in March this year and haven't had time to learn to use it with the exception of the auto mode which has been great (and easy). Generally just too busy during the outdoor season to learn more, and although I was taking indoor photos for practice, it is very different.

The butterflies in my garden this year are just great, seems like many more than usual and different ones. There are some very small ones, like an inch or less that I want to photograph, but they are very quick and flitty when getting close. Since I don't know much about these kinds of cameras and all the settings, what I was wondering is if there 1) is any way to use the zoom and the macro feature at the same time? I've found to keep these butterflies from flying away, I have to remain a distance, like I just can't have my camera on top of them. It doesn't appear to work when I use the zoom and macro as it goes fuzzy. Also, I really don't know much about the settings. Like for these butterflies, 2) do I use Portrait setting? I thought it would be nice to use the Sports setting with the macro, but it didn't seem to let me do that either.

Any suggestions/help you might offer is appreciated. Thanks. (I did happen to get one decent shot.)

Delphi, IN

The one photo.

Thumbnail by TsFlowers
Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

Macro mode is for close up work. Zoom (telephoto) is for taking photos a distance away from the subject. Macro is great for small static (or slow moving) objects. Often you must stand close to flowers and wait for a butterfly to land on a flower near to you to use macro mode.

If you want to photograph butterflies without scaring them away then you probably want to stay a certain distance away from them so use the zoom feature in any mode other than macro. If the image starts to blur then you are probably too close in this mode - back away until the image is sharp (refocus as necessary).

Portrait mode is okay but you might want to just go to program mode (or manual mode) to select the fastest shutter speed for the scene.

Delphi, IN

Thanks! That helps. As for the manual mode, that's something I have to learn about how to set the settings. I'm not a good button

Ellendale, DE(Zone 7a)

I have a Sony Cybershot DSC-H3 point-and-shoot 8 megapixel digital camera. I do a lot of macros. I have learned that you can adjust to focus on a tiny spot in the middle of the frame, or to a bigger focused center if you want, or you can adjust to multiple focus points within the viewfinder.

Many folks get scared off of learning eveything there is to know about their digital cameras because it's so much easier to shoot everything in automatic focus. In addition, oftentimes digital cameras do not come with a paper manual.

The older generation (to which I belong) is more familiar with learning photography with the aid of a paper manual of some sort.

My camera came with a CD that had to be loaded into the computer. The manual is electronic and only available on the pc screen. This is not an efficient way to learn; I can't carry my computer outdoors to refer to an electronic PDF page when I am composing a nature shot.

The camera has automatic mode, program mode, and manual mode. It is maddening at first to know how to go back and forth quickly between each mode. Then it is painstaking to figure out to set focus, ISO, and EV with each mode. Opportunity is lost while experimenting, experimenting, experimenting. There goes the shot! I missed it while trying to figure out this darn camera....

Is it any wonder that we stick with auto settings ....

I am now saving up for my first DSLR. I am told that once I try such a manual camera, I will not have anywhere near the difficulties I currently have with my point-and-shoot in changing my camera's settings to obtain a nice image.

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

You can print out your manual if you want it on paper (make sure your tray is full of paper). I did that after I lost my manual for my Kodak pro-sumer that I gave my parents. This way I could print it out in much larger type and put it in a 3 ring binder for older eyes.

A DSLR has a lot to learn as well as a pro-sumer or compact camera so there is no magic bullet (camera). I do agree that a DSLR is a lot easier to change on the fly once you play with it enough. A lot of functions are on dials on a DSLR instead of a menu on a P&S but some DSLR functions are buried in menus so you need to either learn where they are or carry a manual with you (best to learn and memorize).

Thumbnail by hcmcdole
Delphi, IN

LOL, Timmijo! Funny you posted because tonight I wanted to take a macro and had done forgotten how. And with my Sony Mavica, I did have a small manual that was excellent and I carried it with me, so I understand that language. I haven't taken the time to print out my current manual from the CD which I loaded on the computer, but I couldn't always understand it anyway. Thanks to the help from the kids in at Best Buy (where I bought the camera) to give me some instructions, when I couldn't understand the manual.

And wow hcmcdole, nice macro butterfly shot. I can't even identify the butterfly because I've not seen one underside that close. Is it a Monarch? Now I'm so familiar with many many perennials that I identified the flower immediately. Some would call it Ironweed, but it's Vernonia. And I agree with learn and memorize. That's what I need to do with the macro shots, plus a few other things.

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

Yep, Ironweed (Veronia is correct but most folks call it Ironweed).

Not sure what butterfly that is but it held still long enough to get some get shots. I cropped it to see more detail.

This dragonfly sat still for several minutes on a rebar post.

Thumbnail by hcmcdole
Ellendale, DE(Zone 7a)

Thanks, everyone. We are learning from each other. Yes, I did print out that PDF of my camera manual--all 123 pages of it. I couldn't figure out how to enlarge them, tho'. Either that, or I didn't have the patience to use the crop tool in Adobe.

You're right, there is no magic bullet, but everyone says I won't be happy until I get my DSLR. Until then, I must do the best I can with what I have.

Here is a macro of a tomato hornworm that represents the best my macro can do. Usually, parts of the subject are not in focus. I take a lot of pics and then eliminate, eliminate, eliminate 'til I have one or two that are okay. At least on this shot, you can see the hairs on the worm, and his phony "teeth" are somewhat clear.

Thanks again! Happy Macro-ing!

Thumbnail by timmijo
Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

Yep, with digital you can take hundreds of shots and delete them with abandon. It kind of levels the playing field with the pros (somewhat). A DSLR allows you to fill the memory card faster.

Great shot of the tomato worm with parasitic wasps eggs. To get most everything in focus you need to have the subject in the same parallel plane as the lens and use a small f-stop. A tripod helps but can be a pain too. Having a sharp focus for everything in macro is next to impossible so select what area you want to hone in on.

As for enlarging the print out, simply tell the software to make the size as large as the paper. I don't know if it depends on your printer but I can choose Print..., then on the Page Scaling button, I select Fit to Printable Area. It zooms the small document by 193% to fill the page.

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