Using an automatic setting or "close-up" mode does not really work when photographing miniatures. When capturing such small items on film, there are two key points: depth of field and lighting. Virtually all my photographs (digital excepted) are taken on the highest possible apeture setting (in other words the smallest aperture possible). Depending on the lense you are using, this should be from f22 to f32. As a result and depending on lighting, you are looking at a shutter speed of 2" to 4", therefore a tripod is essential.
I would not recommend using a direct flash as it "washes" out the colours. You can use professional lighting equipment or bounce the flash off a piece of card; however, we use a desk lamp, with a blue filter to compensate for the "yellow" effect of the normal lightbulb. To see the difference, compare Fredorksun and Rifle Orc which uses the blue filter with Orc Rifles in Azteca which was taken without in other words before we bought our blue filter.
You can also see how much closer you can get when using extension tubes, see details on the EOS 500 on the next page. Extension tubes literally allow you to get the focal length down to less than quarter of an inch, whereas without them it may be as much as twelves inches.
The EOS500 is nice in that it allows us to set the apeture but lets the camera set the shutter speed (depending on the speed of the film), however the full manual capability is also available and useful for certain shots.
Most digital cameras have a close-up mode (look for the tulip) but they are certainly not as flexible as a full manual SLR camera. Generally until recently most digital SLRs were out of the price range of most consumers, but the prices are coming down, in 2001 a digital SLR would costs £10,000, now you can buy a Canon EOS 300D digital SLR for less than £800!
One trick to use with a digital camera, is to take a long distance shot and then crop.
This is the original shot (which was 2400 x 1800 but has been resized to 600 x450 so to fit on this page).
The next stage is to decide on the area to crop, in this example I am aiming to get a picture of the Hydra.
You can now crop, so this image is in fact actual size.
Therefore you get a better result than if you tried to take the image of just the Hydra.
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