A few weeks back I stumbled upon David Runyan II’s Point and Surpass Flickr photostream. In this stream David posts a collection of his macro photographs and they are amazing.
Initially I assumed they had been taken using DSLR, but as clicked through his stream, I realised that he actually uses a Canon PowerShot A1000 IS (a compact camera) with an attached macro lens he has developed. David calls this lens the Little BigShot and it is capable of your turning your point and shoot compact camera into an excellent macro photography tool!
Intrigued by his photographs, I decided I wanted such a lens, so I clicked over to his Little BigShot P&S macro lens site to find out more.
The lens costs $19.99 and you can pay using pay pal. Alternatively David provides an eBay link or gives the option to pay via mail order.
On his site, David claims that his lens will work with any compact camera, and provides explanations and tutorials on using the lens. A little concerned that the lens may be a gimmick, I decided to take the risk (with shipping the total cost is only $24.99, about R180) anyway and place an order using pay pal.
The process was really very simple, and after receiving all the normal confirmations I got an additional email from David:
Hello Cara and thank you for your order.
Kindly inform me which camera make and model you use and which color carabiner is your preference.
Also, how did you learn about this lens?
I informed him that I use Canon PowerShot G11, but I was a little worried that the lens would not be big enough. Within hours I received the following reply:
Your camera is similar to my Canon SX130, and so you would use the 2″ aspheric lens.
I will ship your kit Monday morning. I have no clue how long it will take to arrive in South Africa because I haven’t yet shipped to that location. However, recent shipments to India and Malaysia took about 12 days.
At this stage I started feeling rather excited about my purchase and hoped that the snail mail would not take too long.
15 days later (not bad considering I live in South Africa and the parcel was sent from the States) my package arrived.
The aspheric lens is simply attached to the camera lens using dual lock (a bit like velcro) sticker tabs which I attached following the instructions David provides on his blog.
The good news is, the dual locks in no way damage your camera, and should you wish to remove them at a later stage, they simply peel off. In addition, the Little BigShot lens can be easily removed or attached to your camera so you need only attach the lens when you want to get that snap of the little bug, the rest of the time you can store it away in the little case provided.
Now with everything set up, I was ready to indulge in some serious macro photography. As Murphy’s law would decree, no ugly bugs were around to practise shooting so I settled for some flowers.
Using the lens takes a little getting used to and practise. Again David provides a good video tutorial on his blog entitled “Macro Photography Technique” which is well worth watching.
Using the Little BigShot, I imagine, is similar to taking a photograph through a magnifying glass.
I have found the best way to get that “perfect focus” is to first decide how much of the object you want to fill the frame, zoom accordingly, then move the camera back or forward until the image comes into focus, then it is a case of focusing the camera and taking the shot.
Of course the other challenge is not to shake, as the slightest movement is also magnified!
I sent David an email asking him for some tips, here is his reply:
If you set your camera to ISO 400, this will give you a faster shutter speed and reduce shake.
Hand held macros take a bit of practice. When you push half way to the focus detente, hold it there and recompose until you have the focus you desire, then push to shoot.
It is a fact that when you push to shoot, there is some camera movement when the shutter button is going all the way down. So I keep myself cognizant of that tendency and I have learned to stabilize the camera at that moment.
On your yellow flower, the petals in the lower part of the frame have a soft focus and the center of the flower and the upper petals have a good focus. If your intention was a soft focus, then you were successful. If not, then you would have the camera more perpendicular to the flower to get all the petals in focus. Another option is to zoom a bit tighter and crop those lower petals out.
Many of my shots of large flowers have regions with a soft focus. I find it artistic to do so at times. And some flowers are simply so bulky that soft focus can’t be avoided. This lens has a shallow dof (as do DSLR macro lenses) so this is common, and we simply have to experiment with composition to achieve the best result.
So far I am very pleased with this little macro lens. I believe it represents excellent value for money and the concept is simply brilliant as it allows us little compact users to produce some very big shots.