There are a large variety of different cameras available at a huge range of different prices. I am not going to sell a particular manufacturer as they all make good cameras. Most frequently used by ‘pros’ seem to be Nikon, I personally use a Canon camera.

Currently I use a mid-range camera, so mid priced, although I hanker over a new body with some additional functionality. But what do you get and what do you need?

Autofocus. Most macro photographers prefer to focus manually by leaning in and out towards the target until it is in focus. I have however taken most of my shots using autofocus, which saves time when something is about to fly away.
Modes. It is useful to have priority modes for aperture and shot speed. You can then for example set 1/90s on your camera and it will choose the correct aperture for whatever light conditions are prevailing. A full manual mode is also essential. Built in PIC modes are of limited use.

dial.jpg (15365 bytes)


Metering. A through the lens (TTL) metering system is a real advantage. This comes in many useful varieties, with spot metering being useful as you can get your butterfly properly exposed. I don’t have this but my partial metering (A bigger spot) does the job well. There are others like evaluative and matrix which try to get the whole frame properly exposed, this is a case of more money buys more (and usually better) metering functions.

The pictures to the right show what can happen with partial and spot metering. The spot metered picture (below right) has overexposed the rocks due to the very dark butterfly.

Gegenes pumilio, partial metering.
meterview.jpg (16731 bytes) Gegenes pumilio, spot metered.


Flash. A TTL flash system is incredible for flash photography. There is a photocell which decides when the film has had enough light and quenches the flash, so you can set whatever (within the limits of the flash) f-number and shot speed you like and the camera does the rest.

Others. Motor wind, saves a bit of time. Bracketing, very useful especially if it goes in 1/3 stops, however these things are manually achieved by changing the DIN number of the film (as I currently do). Depth of field preview, not much you can normally do about it anyway!

You get what you pay for, but you can take fantastic pictures without expensive equipment, if you know what you’re doing.


How about this; taken with a Minolta APS camera, fits in your top pocket and costs about 90. This particular model has a zoom and macro feature to allow close focusing. The butterfly is de Prunner's Ringlet, Erebia triaria, taken in the Picos de Europa by my parents in the May 2000 de Prunners Ringlet - Erebia triaria




All pictures in these pages copyright to Simon Coombes. Permission must be sought and obtained for any use.