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MobiWorkshop MW 1 - Close-up Photography

FundyBrian

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Welcome to MobiWorkshop - your home for ongoing explorations into photographic topics. The idea behind MobiWorkshop is to provide a group learning environment where we can explore various topics and discuss the photos we made on the topic. We will draw upon the expertise of members, books, and online resources to help us learn about new topics. Once we have an initial information session and maybe answer a few questions it will be time to go out and make some photographs and then post them where we can discuss the results and learn from each other. Each workshop will last one week. Feel free to suggest more topics for MobiWorkshops.

MobiWorkshop 1 - Close-up Photography

B0432890-793E-462B-AC03-C432CFAC3357.jpeg

There are unlimited opportunities for close-up photos. If you look at this photo carefully you will get a sense of the limitations in depth of field that we struggle with in mobile photography. There’s never enough and we try to work around it.

Think Small!
Once you enter the close-up world you soon discover there vastly more opportunities for close-up photos than there are for landscapes. The natural world is endlessly fascinating and close-up photography allows you to bring home your discoveries. You don’t have to coax the right expression out of a mushroom and neither will it present you with problems about privacy or require model releases. You can start making close-up photos with your phone camera just as it is and easily expand the close-up capabilities with a few simple accessories. There are a few things that are useful to know when starting close-up photography so let’s get started.

Definitions:
Let’s start by defining the words “Close-up” and “Macro” as used in photography. Focus your phone camera as close as it can get - about 4". The Close-up world begins there. You might add a magnifying glass or a close-up lens attachment to get even closer. The stronger the magnification the closer you can get and the bigger the subject will be in your photo. When you have enough magnification that your subject is life-size in your image you have reached 1:1, the beginning of the Macro range. As you add more and more magnification you eventually reach a point where it is much easier switching to a microscope - Micro Photography.

Most of the photography of small things we do falls into the Close-up Photography range. The word Macro is often misused to include any type of close-up requiring attachments to get more magnification.

The closer you get, or the more magnification you use, the more difficult the challenges become.

A true Macro lens is capable of photographing at 1:1, or life-sized. The other special characteristic of a macro lens is a flat plane of focus. You will only appreciate this when photographing something flat like a document or postage stamp. For most subjects outdoors the flatness of field isn’t that important.

Close-up accessories:
You can certainly start in close-up photography without any additional close-up lenses. As you get more excited about making close-up photos you discover there is a limit to how close you can get. Your phone camera can focus to about 4” from the subject but if you try to get closer to make the subject bigger the camera just won’t focus any closer. Add-on close-up lenses extend the close-focusing capability of your camera and now you can get even closer! Here is an introduction to close-up accessories.
  • Close-up lenses: You can use any sort of magnifying lens you can get your hands on to be able to focus closer.
  • The DIY approach: I have had good results from small lenses scrounged from various devices and simply taped over the lens on my phone.
  • Store bought accessories: You will probably find the purpose-made accessories easier to use. The cheapest way to go is to find a clip-on filter holder and a set of close-up lenses. I found a filter holder & polarizing filter for $20 Cdn. on Amazon in a compact 37mm size. Next I bought a set of close-up lenses. These lenses look and attach just like the regular screw-on photographic filters. Typically these close-up lenses come in sets of 3 or 4 and each has a different amount of magnifying power, measured in diopters, such as +1, +2 and +4. The sets cost about $20, also on Amazon. For a few dollars more you can find a set that includes a +10 lens. You simply clip on the filter holder and screw on one or more of the close-up lenses to see which one gives you the right amount of magnification for the subject at hand. These close-up lenses work very well at modest magnifications without any noticeable loss in quality. At greater magnifications you might notice the corners of your image aren’t as sharp as the centre but most of the time that isn’t a problem as it would be for a landscape photo.
  • Macro Lens: For more magnification and better optical quality you might want to consider one of several different macro lenses made for cell phones. Some attach using a universal clip-on mount while others require a special cell phone case that has the matching lens mount built in.
  • Small Tripod: Even if you don’t use a tripod for most of your mobile photography it would be worth thinking about a small tripod for close-up photography. Higher magnification makes camera shake more noticeable. In addition, close-up photos often require careful focusing that is difficult to achieve with a hand held camera.
7C30DC11-3662-46D9-B6F7-258F2FD52C20.jpeg

Here is a set of close-up lenses plus a clip-on filter holder. On my filter holder I opened out the hole in the middle to cover both lenses at once. More about that later. Also I painted the inside surface flat black to minimize reflections.

Once you have your close-up equipment figured out you’re ready to make some close-up photos.

The basic plan.
Think Small! Imagine you are holding a small wire frame about the size of your phone and look for subjects that would fit inside your frame. Once you are thinking in the right scale you will start to see interesting details everywhere. See what catches your eye. It could be a shape, colour, a pattern, or a juxtaposition. You will do your best work if you go with something that really draws your interest rather than something you think other people might like.

Use whatever way you are comfortable with to photograph your subject. Try your familiar camera apps. You have your own way of seeing and your own way of working. If you run into problems you may find other apps are more suited to close-up work.
If you are just getting started here are some ideas you might consider.

To make things easier for yourself also consider the setting around the subject before deciding to use the subject. What is in the background? You don’t want to be crowded by a lot of distracting brush. You want enough distance between the subject and the nearest background so you won’t be struggling to get enough visual separation because the background will naturally be more out of focus.

What are you trying to accomplish? Is it an abstract, a study in form and colour? If it is a nature study you might want to imagine you are seeing the subject from the vantage point of a small forest creature like a mouse. If you were photographing a person you would want your camera angle to be eye-to-eye with the subject, not shooting down on top of their head.

Check to see the lighting is good, not full of extreme bright and dark areas. Look at the subject the same as you would a portrait of a person. Look at the subject planes and decide the best way to reveal it’s shape and texture. You might need to add a fill-in reflector if the shadows within the subject are too dark, or add an accent reflector to highlight certain edges or add separation from the background. You might even want to darken the background by casting a shadow.

I often find backlighting is very dramatic for close-ups. The rim lighting provides good separation from the background, especially if you can shoot into a shadowed area. Backlighting usually requires some fill-in light to reduce the extreme difference in exposure between bright highlights and dark shadows. You can make some small 4x5” reflectors by gluing wrinkled tinfoil onto cardboard. Or check out a store that has cake making supplies for the silver foil-covered cardboard used to put a cake onto. It’s handy to have reflectors with different amounts of reflectance to suit the lighting conditions. Some bamboo skewer sticks from the grocery store are perfect to poke into the ground to hold up your reflectors. A bit of time spent setting up reflectors can save a lot of burning & dodging time during editing.

If your subject has a large area of one colour it can throw the white balance out of whack. Watch out for that and correct it however your app allows. If your app has no provision for controlling white balance you need a different app.

Here are some typical problems encountered in close-up photography.
  • I tap to focus on my subject but the background is in focus instead. - The subject is too small to conceal the background in the focus reticle. I need to move my focus point to something bigger that doesn’t include any part of the background. Or, I should try a different camera app with good manual focusing. Focus Peaking really helps, too.
  • I have trouble seeing what I’m doing. - I need a screen magnifier like the ones used for DSLRs.
  • I’m so close that I’m blocking the light with my body or hands/phone. - I need to turn and shoot from another angle.
  • I can’t stand white blobs in my background. The eye is always attracted to the brightest thing in the picture so it draws the eye away from my subject. - I need to be more careful to avoid bright spots behind the subject by trying different camera angles.
  • When its windy I have trouble keeping the subject in the frame or in focus (flowers, insects, etc.) - I should do this early in the morning before the wind comes up. Or, I need to poke a stick into the ground near the plant stem and clip them together.
  • The focus is too far back. My camera was focused as close as possible but I pushed it a bit closer in my desire to get a closer shot. It looked OK on the screen but looking more closely at the picture I can see moving the camera closer just moved the focus farther back. - I need to be more careful checking what is really in focus.
  • Can’t get enough in focus. One part is in focus but the rest is out of focus. - That’s all the depth of field there is. I need to place my camera parallel with the most important plane of the subject to make the best use possible of the depth of field. Or, I need to deliberately use shallow depth of field in my design.
  • My background is too distracting, how can I get it more out of focus? - Make sure distracting background elements are at least a few feet away. Anything within a foot will be too much in focus to be nicely blurred.
  • I come back with dirty knees after doing close-up photography. - Now I take a folded up piece of plastic with me to kneel on.
  • I have trouble keeping my phone steady enough. My little tripod is wobbly on soft ground. - High magnification amplifies camera movement. Use the self timer to allow the camera to settle before the picture is made.
  • My lighting is too flat to reveal form and texture. - I should bring some reflectors to create a more 3D lighting effect, just like lighting a portrait. Main light, fill light, hair light. But for natural results only one main lighting direction.
  • I found a good subject but it’s in a bad location. - Keep looking.
  • I found a good subject but the lighting is terrible. - Come back later.
  • I have trouble keeping my subject in focus. The slightest move I make sends the focus way off. - Close-up lenses magnify camera movement. It’s almost impossible to hold a camera steady by hand. Shallow depth of field makes the use of a tripod more important. I could deliberately move my camera closer and back, passing through the plane of focus while I use Burst Mode to take continuous shots. One of them is bound to be focused in the right place. Or, I could use my stasis ray on the subject to freeze it in place for a few minutes until I get my shot.
  • I went to a place to photograph some rare flowers and found the surrounding area trampled flat. They even pulled out nearby plants that they decided were in the way. - I will always try to cause no damage to the places I photograph. I aim to leave no traces of my having been there. Take only pictures, and don’t even leave any footprints.
Some useful tips:
  • Rather than looking at all sizes of subjects and then fiddling with your equipment to get it the right size, figure out what size of image your camera can make with a particular close-up or macro lens and then look for subjects that size.
  • What is the practical working height of your tripod? If it is from 4” to 10” off the ground focus your attention on finding subjects in that range.
  • When you’re out practicing close-up photography don’t make life unnecessarily difficult for yourself. There is no shortage of things to photograph. There’s no need to photograph in the middle of a prickle bush or the bottom of a muddy hole.
  • There’s no such thing as one tripod that is good for every purpose. Having a special tripod for close-up photography can save you a lot of aggravation.
  • Make yourself a close-up kit that includes everything you need while out making close-ups. Your close-up lenses, 2 or 3 small reflectors about 4x5”, skewer sticks to hold up your reflectors, a folded-up piece of plastic to kneel on. If you later want to add some fancier stuff, add a compact umbrella to make shade, some small clips to hold stems out of the way or clip stems together to reduce how much they flap in the wind.
  • Organize up your gear to avoid frustration. A small bag with pockets to organize small items can make your day go smoother.
  • If your camera lens is at one corner of your phone the “normal” position is at the top. When you hold your phone horizontally with the bottom edge touching the ground the lens is still a couple of inches above the ground. But if you turn your phone upside down your lens is only 1/4” above the ground and you can get some amazing worm’s eye views that way.
  • Use a close-up lens even when you don’t need one! Let’s suppose you are photographing something quite small but it does not require a close-up lens to be in focus. Your standard lens can focus from about 4” to infinity. If you put on a close-up lens your new focusing range may now be 3” to 12”. The subject is still in focus but think about the background. Right, it will be easier to throw a distracting background out of focus!
  • If you don’t have a tripod handy you can quite successfully brace one edge of your phone right on the ground and make steady exposures close to 1/15 second or more.
  • The simpler your photo, the better.
  • If you find your fine details look a bit mushy try to keep your ISO as low as possible - 64 or less. Next, try using a camera app that shoots in RAW or DNG file format and editing in an app for developing RAW files. Snapseed is a good choice. Also Darkroom, RAW Power. Affinity.
  • Front lighting, or light from the built-in flash makes your photos look flat. Cross lighting reveals more shape and texture.
Now it’s time to make some photos!

You have the basic information you need to start making some close-up photos. Start looking around and try a few different ways of making close-up photos. Experiment. Try different ways of working, maybe different apps. You know in advance your depth of field will never be enough to cover anything except a slim subject. Decide what are the most important parts of the subject that really must be in focus. Try to match your plane of focus with the most important plane of the subject. And then try deliberately using shallow depth of field to your advantage.
  • You have 3 days (until Wednesday) to take lots of pictures.
  • Pick a few of your favourites to work on.
  • Feel free to edit as much as you like but avoid special effects apps, double exposures, overlays, textures, wacky filters, antique effects. Save them for another time. For now give us the straight goods so we clearly see the details.
  • You might also want to show pictures that failed to live up to your expectations or are good examples of problems in close-up photography.
  • Post up to 6 photos. Only post pictures made this week.
  • Post them by Wednesday so we will have time to study them and discuss how things turned out.
  • Feel free to ask questions any time.
  • If you have some suggestions of your own to offer please share.

Close-up photography is quite a big topic with a lot of specialized info. Some of these subjects, like using lighting reflectors, base ISO, white balance, depth of field, and the photographic RGB-CMY colour wheel, really deserve to be explored as separate topics, but for now we will just jump in and see what problems arise.


Go and have some fun, and THINK SMALL!
 
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FundyBrian

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Telephoto close-ups. (Dual lens phones, or telephoto add-on lens)

The regular phone camera lens is a wide angle and it already focuses quite close. The difficulty with wide angle in close-ups is more noticeable perspective distortion. Also, beyond the subject, the wide angle of view takes in a very big background area. A bigger area increases the possibility of problems in the background, especially those unsightly bright blobs in the upper background. If you select the 2x lens, or add a telephoto attachment to your single lens, you soon discover it doesn’t focus nearly as close as the wide angle. But if you have close-up lenses you can get the telephoto lens to focus much closer and the perspective in close-ups in much nicer.

596A49B5-7975-4C5A-8D06-855C9E6E8627.jpeg

A close-up photo made with the 2x lens plus close-up lens attached. You can probably detect a different feel to the perspective.

Another reason to check out the 2x lens for close-ups. The 2x lens is f2.8 while the 1x lens is f1.8. Which means there is more depth of field from the 2x lens.

Using Portrait Mode for close-ups. (Dual lens phones)

You already know Portrait Mode is great for making your subject stand out by throwing the background out of focus. The problem is that when you try to Photograph closer than a couple of metres you get a message on screen telling you you’re too close. However, if you add a close up lens you can fool the distance calculations and make depth mode close-ups. Portrait Mode uses both camera lenses at once so your close-up lens has to cover both lenses at the same time. You can increase the out-of-focus effect using apps like Focos.

269899A3-D8FF-4BB3-81B7-3A13BE1DB905.jpeg

This photo uses Portrait Mode to put the background more out of focus.

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This is what it would be like without Portrait Mode.
 
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FundyBrian

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Depth of Field:

Here is some brief info about depth of field, which is always a concern in close-up photos.

Depth of field, or depth of focus, is how much of your picture (front to back) appears to be in acceptable focus. Your lens can only focus at one plane at a time but a certain amount in front and behind your plane of focus will also be acceptably sharp.

Depth of field expands as you get farther away and shrinks the closer you get to the subject. About 2/3 of your depth of field will be behind the focus point and 1/3 in front.
B02FB1ED-DDE0-4163-B86E-D79975032989.jpeg

In a casual landscape photo it may appear that everything is in focus, but if you try making a landscape that includes a very close foreground you will discover the limits of depth of field. Either the foreground or background will lack the sharpness you expected. The closer you get to the subject the narrower the depth of field becomes.

83E3B5C8-9A16-4E26-A0E8-BD5ECDBA1FF2.jpeg

In Macro photography the depth of field may be as little as a couple of millimetres. Depth of field is so limited in close-ups that it will probably be impossible to have all the subject in focus. This makes the placement of you best focus area that much more critical.
 

FundyBrian

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sinnerjohn Could you provide us with the Android perspective on close-up photography? I’m wondering if there are any different issues or if it is quite universal.

At some point I plan to post a list of apps that might be good alternatives to the native camera app when greater control is required. I would like to also have some Android apps to offer. Perhaps when you see I have posted the list you can jump in with some Android apps as well.
 

FundyBrian

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A DIY solution for close-up lenses. Here’s a simple way to hold a small lens in place on your phone. I scrounged this small lens and through testing it I found it was worth using.
5670FA79-B1D4-4EA1-867F-F3BE61F6E373.jpeg

I cut a hole in a strip of photo mat board and glued the lens into the hole. You can hold the mat board in place with your fingers or put a piece of sticky tape on it to secure the correct alignment. I used to remove it from covering the lens and park it on the back of my phone so it was always handy in case a good close-up opportunity arose when I didn’t have more accessories with me. I marked the focal length on each lens I used since the numbers helped my know the relative magnifying power of each lens.
If you find an assemetrical lens it is more likely to work better with the flatter side towards the phone.
 
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FundyBrian

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You can learn important information about your close-up lenses by photographing a piece of graph paper.
In fact, after making this test I could tell which lenses to get rid of.
25DA7346-A28E-41C0-B6F9-584AEB19B277.jpeg

This first one is from a macro lens I got with the underwater HitCase I got for my iPhone 6. Plenty of pincushion distortion!

A68E41D3-37A5-4095-A33F-A0E46FC81654.jpeg

This graph is from my first Moment Macro lens (version 1). Nicely flat and straight.
The light fall off in the photo has nothing to do with the lens. It is just because I only had a light source on one side.
 

RoseCat

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A DIY solution for close-up lenses. Here’s a simple way to hold a small lens in place on your phone. I scrounged this small lens and through testing it I found it was worth using.
View attachment 118900
I cut a hole in a strip of photo mat board and glued the lens into the hole. You can hold the mat board in place with your fingers or put a piece of sticky tape on it to secure the correct alignment. I used to remove it from covering the lens and park it on the back of my phone so it was always handy in case a good close-up opportunity arose when I didn’t have more accessories with me. I marked the focal length on each lens I used since the numbers helped my know the relative magnifying power of each lens.
If you find an assemetrical lens it is more likely to work better with the flatter side towards the phone.
That’s very clever and looks pretty easy to use. I’d probably want to use the sticky tape rather than my finger as my 7 Plus is already a bit tricky to hold.
 

RoseCat

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You can learn important information about your close-up lenses by photographing a piece of graph paper.
In fact, after making this test I could tell which lenses to get rid of.
View attachment 118901
This first one is from a macro lens I got with the underwater HitCase I got for my iPhone 6. Plenty of pincushion distortion!

View attachment 118902
This graph is from my first Moment Macro lens (version 1). Nicely flat and straight.
The light fall off in the photo has nothing to do with the lens. It is just because I only had a light source on one side.
Interesting! That’s a great visual way to test the lens out - I can clearly see the distortion, where if it had been a photo of something, like a landscape or tree or whatever, my eyes may not have been able to detect it.
 

sinnerjohn

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sinnerjohn Could you provide us with the Android perspective on close-up photography? I’m wondering if there are any different issues or if it is quite universal.

At some point I plan to post a list of apps that might be good alternatives to the native camera app when greater control is required. I would like to also have some Android apps to offer. Perhaps when you see I have posted the list you can jump in with some Android apps as well.
I think the problems with close up photography are universal Brian regardless of device.

As far as camera apps are concerned if you use a Samsung device the native camera app is pretty good and provides manual controls in pro mode. There are obviously other camera apps on the market but when I've tried any of them they don't seem to provide much more than you already have, but I'll have a think.

Thanks for putting this together Brian its very informative and interesting.
 

rizole

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Depth of Field:


In Macro photography the depth of field may be as little as a couple of millimetres. Depth of field is so limited in close-ups that it will probably be impossible to have all the subject in focus. This makes the placement of you best focus area that much more critical.
Just to add...
I'm often chasing small animals, flies, spiders, what have you. One of the big problems with a narrow depth of field is bringing the subject into focus before you scare them away. Just the normal random body movements, breathing, heart beat can make the camera move repeatedly through a few millimeters back and forth and make focusing quite tricky. The fix to this is burst mode for me although I've seen shooting video and picking a still as a solution.
 

FundyBrian

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Interesting! That’s a great visual way to test the lens out - I can clearly see the distortion, where if it had been a photo of something, like a landscape or tree or whatever, my eyes may not have been able to detect it.
You can often be perfectly happy with a very distorting lens as long as you don’t happen to use it in a way that reveals the distortions. In a landscape a very bent horizon or crooked walls on a building would be a give-away. In a full body photo of a person the lens would have a slimming effect, which the subject might like.
 
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GroovyGouvy

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You can learn important information about your close-up lenses by photographing a piece of graph paper.
In fact, after making this test I could tell which lenses to get rid of.
View attachment 118901
This first one is from a macro lens I got with the underwater HitCase I got for my iPhone 6. Plenty of pincushion distortion!

View attachment 118902
This graph is from my first Moment Macro lens (version 1). Nicely flat and straight.
The light fall off in the photo has nothing to do with the lens. It is just because I only had a light source on one side.
The difference is extraordinary, but actually I thought moment lens would be really straight. What I see are perfect straight lines in the middle and bendy ones around. I'll try my cheapo's later, probably to find they are more like your first picture. But from Moment I am really disappointed. :(

Not sure I can do good pictures until Wednesday. I leave the house when it's not really bright and come home in darkness. All I might do are artificial shots, no nature - at least it won't move (and the bugs have not shown up yet :)). :D If that's okay, I'm in.
 

GroovyGouvy

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Just to add...
I'm often chasing small animals, flies, spiders, what have you. One of the big problems with a narrow depth of field is bringing the subject into focus before you scare them away. Just the normal random body movements, breathing, heart beat can make the camera move repeatedly through a few millimeters back and forth and make focusing quite tricky. The fix to this is burst mode for me although I've seen shooting video and picking a still as a solution.
Yesssss! Burst is soooo damn helpful with this! And you have larger pictures than cut out ones from video. :)
 

FundyBrian

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The difference is extraordinary, but actually I thought moment lens would be really straight. What I see are perfect straight lines in the middle and bendy ones around. I'll try my cheapo's later, probably to find they are more like your first picture. But from Moment I am really disappointed. :(

Not sure I can do good pictures until Wednesday. I leave the house when it's not really bright and come home in darkness. All I might do are artificial shots, no nature - at least it won't move (and the bugs have not shown up yet :)). :D If that's okay, I'm in.
The Moment Macro is the straight one. The bent one is from the HitCase Macro.
It doesn’t matter what subject matter you photograph. There’s not much “live” nature here, either, except icicles. I was just mentioning nature as a typical type of subject that attracts many people.
 

FundyBrian

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Here’s a chart I have been working on that shows the typical working distance you can expect with the 1x and 2x lenses on my phone plus various combinations of close-up attachments. The focal length of the 1x and 2x lenses should be fairly universal among different types of phones.

Hmmm. This chart didn’t paste as expected. The formatting was lost so I have tried to straighten it out. Scratch that idea. I’ll try as a JPEG. Nope, I can’t export a jpeg from the Notes app but I can export a PDF. Hmmm. I can upload the PDF but there’s no provision to insert it on the page.
OK, a screen shot. Good Grief!

8BF1C0B3-8D1C-4F8C-8AB7-AD0126125E11.jpeg

Some notes.
1x and 2x refer to the two lenses on my iPhone.
+2cu or +4cu means a +2 close-up lens, or a +4 close-up lens.
The +2 or +4 are diopter numbers that’s describe the magnification power of the lens.
+4 +2cu means a +2 lens on top of a +4 lens - giving an effective +6.
The working distance means the distance from the front of the lens to the subject.
The DIY reference is a close up lens I made by sticking a magnifying lens into a 37mm filter ring and it turns out the diopter value is +14.
When distances are missing it just means I haven’t got around to measuring that combination yet.
M60 is the Moment Portrait (tele) lens version 2 that happens to be 60mm
M58 is the new Moment tele lens that is 58mm. - It seems that these two lenses don’t react as closely as I would expect to the different close-up attachments. The 58 by itself focuses closer than the older 60.
The full working range of each combination was figured out using manual focus, first at the closest focusing distance and then the farthest. This tells me the full range of usefulness I can expect to get from that lens.
So if I wanted to use my M58 lens on the 2x position and my subject was about 10” away I can tell by looking at the chart to select the +4 close-up lens to add to the M58.
I didn’t bother to test the +1 close-up lens because I don’t find it’s enough of a boost to bother with.
 
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ImageArt

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Welcome to MobiWorkshop - your home for ongoing explorations into photographic topics. The idea behind MobiWorkshop is to provide a group learning environment where we can explore various topics and discuss the photos we made on the topic. We will draw upon the expertise of members, books, and online resources to help us learn about new topics. Once we have an initial information session and maybe answer a few questions it will be time to go out and make some photographs and then post them where we can discuss the results and learn from each other. Each workshop will last one week. Feel free to suggest more topics for MobiWorkshops.

MobiWorkshop 1 - Close-up Photography

View attachment 118883
There are unlimited opportunities for close-up photos. If you look at this photo carefully you will get a sense of the limitations in depth of field that we struggle with in mobile photography. There’s never enough and we try to work around it.

Think Small!
Once you enter the close-up world you soon discover there vastly more opportunities for close-up photos than there are for landscapes. The natural world is endlessly fascinating and close-up photography allows you to bring home your discoveries. You don’t have to coax the right expression out of a mushroom and neither will it present you with problems about privacy or require model releases. You can start making close-up photos with your phone camera just as it is and easily expand the close-up capabilities with a few simple accessories. There are a few things that are useful to know when starting close-up photography so let’s get started.

Definitions:
Let’s start by defining the words “Close-up” and “Macro” as used in photography. Focus your phone camera as close as it can get - about 4". The Close-up world begins there. You might add a magnifying glass or a close-up lens attachment to get even closer. The stronger the magnification the closer you can get and the bigger the subject will be in your photo. When you have enough magnification that your subject is life-size in your image you have reached 1:1, the beginning of the Macro range. As you add more and more magnification you eventually reach a point where it is much easier switching to a microscope - Micro Photography.

Most of the photography of small things we do falls into the Close-up Photography range. The word Macro is often misused to include any type of close-up requiring attachments to get more magnification.

The closer you get, or the more magnification you use, the more difficult the challenges become.

A true Macro lens is capable of photographing at 1:1, or life-sized. The other special characteristic of a macro lens is a flat plane of focus. You will only appreciate this when photographing something flat like a document or postage stamp. For most subjects outdoors the flatness of field isn’t that important.

Close-up accessories:
You can certainly start in close-up photography without any additional close-up lenses. As you get more excited about making close-up photos you discover there is a limit to how close you can get. Your phone camera can focus to about 4” from the subject but if you try to get closer to make the subject bigger the camera just won’t focus any closer. Add-on close-up lenses extend the close-focusing capability of your camera and now you can get even closer! Here is an introduction to close-up accessories.
  • Close-up lenses: You can use any sort of magnifying lens you can get your hands on to be able to focus closer.
  • The DIY approach: I have had good results from small lenses scrounged from various devices and simply taped over the lens on my phone.
  • Store bought accessories: You will probably find the purpose-made accessories easier to use. The cheapest way to go is to find a clip-on filter holder and a set of close-up lenses. I found a filter holder & polarizing filter for $20 Cdn. on Amazon in a compact 37mm size. Next I bought a set of close-up lenses. These lenses look and attach just like the regular screw-on photographic filters. Typically these close-up lenses come in sets of 3 or 4 and each has a different amount of magnifying power, measured in diopters, such as +1, +2 and +4. The sets cost about $20, also on Amazon. For a few dollars more you can find a set that includes a +10 lens. You simply clip on the filter holder and screw on one or more of the close-up lenses to see which one gives you the right amount of magnification for the subject at hand. These close-up lenses work very well at modest magnifications without any noticeable loss in quality. At greater magnifications you might notice the corners of your image aren’t as sharp as the centre but most of the time that isn’t a problem as it would be for a landscape photo.
  • Macro Lens: For more magnification and better optical quality you might want to consider one of several different macro lenses made for cell phones. Some attach using a universal clip-on mount while others require a special cell phone case that has the matching lens mount built in.
  • Small Tripod: Even if you don’t use a tripod for most of your mobile photography it would be worth thinking about a small tripod for close-up photography. Higher magnification makes camera shake more noticeable. In addition, close-up photos often require careful focusing that is difficult to achieve with a hand held camera.
View attachment 118884
Here is a set of close-up lenses plus a clip-on filter holder. On my filter holder I opened out the hole in the middle to cover both lenses at once. More about that later. Also I painted the inside surface flat black to minimize reflections.

Once you have your close-up equipment figured out you’re ready to make some close-up photos.

The basic plan.
Think Small! Imagine you are holding a small wire frame about the size of your phone and look for subjects that would fit inside your frame. Once you are thinking in the right scale you will start to see interesting details everywhere. See what catches your eye. It could be a shape, colour, a pattern, or a juxtaposition. You will do your best work if you go with something that really draws your interest rather than something you think other people might like.

Use whatever way you are comfortable with to photograph your subject. Try your familiar camera apps. You have your own way of seeing and your own way of working. If you run into problems you may find other apps are more suited to close-up work.
If you are just getting started here are some ideas you might consider.

To make things easier for yourself also consider the setting around the subject before deciding to use the subject. What is in the background? You don’t want to be crowded by a lot of distracting brush. You want enough distance between the subject and the nearest background so you won’t be struggling to get enough visual separation because the background will naturally be more out of focus.

What are you trying to accomplish? Is it an abstract, a study in form and colour? If it is a nature study you might want to imagine you are seeing the subject from the vantage point of a small forest creature like a mouse. If you were photographing a person you would want your camera angle to be eye-to-eye with the subject, not shooting down on top of their head.

Check to see the lighting is good, not full of extreme bright and dark areas. Look at the subject the same as you would a portrait of a person. Look at the subject planes and decide the best way to reveal it’s shape and texture. You might need to add a fill-in reflector if the shadows within the subject are too dark, or add an accent reflector to highlight certain edges or add separation from the background. You might even want to darken the background by casting a shadow.

I often find backlighting is very dramatic for close-ups. The rim lighting provides good separation from the background, especially if you can shoot into a shadowed area. Backlighting usually requires some fill-in light to reduce the extreme difference in exposure between bright highlights and dark shadows. You can make some small 4x5” reflectors by gluing wrinkled tinfoil onto cardboard. Or check out a store that has cake making supplies for the silver foil-covered cardboard used to put a cake onto. It’s handy to have reflectors with different amounts of reflectance to suit the lighting conditions. Some bamboo skewer sticks from the grocery store are perfect to poke into the ground to hold up your reflectors. A bit of time spent setting up reflectors can save a lot of burning & dodging time during editing.

If your subject has a large area of one colour it can throw the white balance out of whack. Watch out for that and correct it however your app allows. If your app has no provision for controlling white balance you need a different app.

Here are some typical problems encountered in close-up photography.
  • I tap to focus on my subject but the background is in focus instead. - The subject is too small to conceal the background in the focus reticle. I need to move my focus point to something bigger that doesn’t include any part of the background. Or, I should try a different camera app with good manual focusing. Focus Peaking really helps, too.
  • I have trouble seeing what I’m doing. - I need a screen magnifier like the ones used for DSLRs.
  • I’m so close that I’m blocking the light with my body or hands/phone. - I need to turn and shoot from another angle.
  • I can’t stand white blobs in my background. The eye is always attracted to the brightest thing in the picture so it draws the eye away from my subject. - I need to be more careful to avoid bright spots behind the subject by trying different camera angles.
  • When its windy I have trouble keeping the subject in the frame or in focus (flowers, insects, etc.) - I should do this early in the morning before the wind comes up. Or, I need to poke a stick into the ground near the plant stem and clip them together.
  • The focus is too far back. My camera was focused as close as possible but I pushed it a bit closer in my desire to get a closer shot. It looked OK on the screen but looking more closely at the picture I can see moving the camera closer just moved the focus farther back. - I need to be more careful checking what is really in focus.
  • Can’t get enough in focus. One part is in focus but the rest is out of focus. - That’s all the depth of field there is. I need to place my camera parallel with the most important plane of the subject to make the best use possible of the depth of field. Or, I need to deliberately use shallow depth of field in my design.
  • My background is too distracting, how can I get it more out of focus? - Make sure distracting background elements are at least a few feet away. Anything within a foot will be too much in focus to be nicely blurred.
  • I come back with dirty knees after doing close-up photography. - Now I take a folded up piece of plastic with me to kneel on.
  • I have trouble keeping my phone steady enough. My little tripod is wobbly on soft ground. - High magnification amplifies camera movement. Use the self timer to allow the camera to settle before the picture is made.
  • My lighting is too flat to reveal form and texture. - I should bring some reflectors to create a more 3D lighting effect, just like lighting a portrait. Main light, fill light, hair light. But for natural results only one main lighting direction.
  • I found a good subject but it’s in a bad location. - Keep looking.
  • I found a good subject but the lighting is terrible. - Come back later.
  • I have trouble keeping my subject in focus. The slightest move I make sends the focus way off. - Close-up lenses magnify camera movement. It’s almost impossible to hold a camera steady by hand. Shallow depth of field makes the use of a tripod more important. I could deliberately move my camera closer and back, passing through the plane of focus while I use Burst Mode to take continuous shots. One of them is bound to be focused in the right place. Or, I could use my stasis ray on the subject to freeze it in place for a few minutes until I get my shot.
  • I went to a place to photograph some rare flowers and found the surrounding area trampled flat. They even pulled out nearby plants that they decided were in the way. - I will always try to cause no damage to the places I photograph. I aim to leave no traces of my having been there. Take only pictures, and don’t even leave any footprints.
Some useful tips:
  • Rather than looking at all sizes of subjects and then fiddling with your equipment to get it the right size, figure out what size of image your camera can make with a particular close-up or macro lens and then look for subjects that size.
  • What is the practical working height of your tripod? If it is from 4” to 10” off the ground focus your attention on finding subjects in that range.
  • When you’re out practicing close-up photography don’t make life unnecessarily difficult for yourself. There is no shortage of things to photograph. There’s no need to photograph in the middle of a prickle bush or the bottom of a muddy hole.
  • There’s no such thing as one tripod that is good for every purpose. Having a special tripod for close-up photography can save you a lot of aggravation.
  • Make yourself a close-up kit that includes everything you need while out making close-ups. Your close-up lenses, 2 or 3 small reflectors about 4x5”, skewer sticks to hold up your reflectors, a folded-up piece of plastic to kneel on. If you later want to add some fancier stuff, add a compact umbrella to make shade, some small clips to hold stems out of the way or clip stems together to reduce how much they flap in the wind.
  • Organize up your gear to avoid frustration. A small bag with pockets to organize small items can make your day go smoother.
  • If your camera lens is at one corner of your phone the “normal” position is at the top. When you hold your phone horizontally with the bottom edge touching the ground the lens is still a couple of inches above the ground. But if you turn your phone upside down your lens is only 1/4” above the ground and you can get some amazing worm’s eye views that way.
  • Use a close-up lens even when you don’t need one! Let’s suppose you are photographing something quite small but it does not require a close-up lens to be in focus. Your standard lens can focus from about 4” to infinity. If you put on a close-up lens your new focusing range may now be 3” to 12”. The subject is still in focus but think about the background. Right, it will be easier to throw a distracting background out of focus!
  • If you don’t have a tripod handy you can quite successfully brace one edge of your phone right on the ground and make steady exposures close to 1/15 second or more.
  • The simpler your photo, the better.
  • If you find your fine details look a bit mushy try to keep your ISO as low as possible - 64 or less. Next, try using a camera app that shoots in RAW or DNG file format and editing in an app for developing RAW files. Snapseed is a good choice. Also Darkroom, RAW Power. Affinity.
  • Front lighting, or light from the built-in flash makes your photos look flat. Cross lighting reveals more shape and texture.
Now it’s time to make some photos!

You have the basic information you need to start making some close-up photos. Start looking around and try a few different ways of making close-up photos. Experiment. Try different ways of working, maybe different apps. You know in advance your depth of field will never be enough to cover anything except a slim subject. Decide what are the most important parts of the subject that really must be in focus. Try to match your plane of focus with the most important plane of the subject. And then try deliberately using shallow depth of field to your advantage.
  • You have 3 days (until Wednesday) to take lots of pictures.
  • Pick a few of your favourites to work on.
  • Feel free to edit as much as you like but avoid special effects apps, double exposures, overlays, textures, wacky filters, antique effects. Save them for another time. For now give us the straight goods so we clearly see the details.
  • You might also want to show pictures that failed to live up to your expectations or are good examples of problems in close-up photography.
  • Post up to 6 photos. Only post pictures made this week.
  • Post them by Wednesday so we will have time to study them and discuss how things turned out.
  • Feel free to ask questions any time.
  • If you have some suggestions of your own to offer please share.

Close-up photography is quite a big topic with a lot of specialized info. Some of these subjects, like using lighting reflectors, base ISO, white balance, depth of field, and the photographic RGB-CMY colour wheel, really deserve to be explored as separate topics, but for now we will just jump in and see what problems arise.


Go and have some fun, and THINK SMALL!
Fantastic, Brian. Thank you.

I was rather hoping that we might do this in summer because of the lack of insects at this time of the year but maybe that will provide an added challenge to find something else. We still haven’t had a good frost to encourage me to go out and photograph some lovely frosty images. It is proving to be an incredibly mild winter with no rain - not that I am encouraging the cold - oh no, roll on mild winter!
 

FundyBrian

MobiStaff
Site Staff
MobiSupporter
Real Name
Brian Townsend
Device
iPhone 8 Plus
My 365
My MobiTog 365
Fantastic, Brian. Thank you.

I was rather hoping that we might do this in summer because of the lack of insects at this time of the year but maybe that will provide an added challenge to find something else. We still haven’t had a good frost to encourage me to go out and photograph some lovely frosty images. It is proving to be an incredibly mild winter with no rain - not that I am encouraging the cold - oh no, roll on mild winter!
Do you have any snow at all?
 

GroovyGouvy

MobiLifer
Real Name
Gouvy
Device
iPhone Xs Max
My 365
My MobiTog 365
The Moment Macro is the straight one. The bent one is from the HitCase Macro.
It doesn’t matter what subject matter you photograph. There’s not much “live” nature here, either, except icicles. I was just mentioning nature as a typical type of subject that attracts many people.
I e got that, Brian, but even the “straight” Moment bends the lines in your picture. Not cushion distortion but obviously wobbly lines around the center.

Tried to do some close ups with little radishes I have in my fridge.

On XSmax it looks like so:

Normal close up (back is sharper than the front part as expected. Couldn’t focus on the sad radish)
50DD847C-BFF0-4723-98E7-096961070AEB.jpeg


Getting closer, I think this might s the 2x lens of the phone.

CF15BD9B-86FB-4853-BD28-AD3616DF4142.jpeg


And macro attached (a dragonhead appears)

749851B1-9F7A-4330-A8CA-2F7ADFBC7899.jpeg


And zoomed to 2.9x (dragon head has furry parts)

1419A4EC-76E5-4AD3-B43F-B99664517209.jpeg


All unedited.

PS: I do have problems where to attach the clip on lens. A) the lens is nearly not to spot though the clip lens, b) somehow there might be a way to force the 2x lens to work, in this case it’s all the 1x lens, because the macro was over it, even the zoom was the 1x. Have you read anything about forcing the lenses to work? Or maybe with a special app like Halide or so????
 

FundyBrian

MobiStaff
Site Staff
MobiSupporter
Real Name
Brian Townsend
Device
iPhone 8 Plus
My 365
My MobiTog 365
I e got that, Brian, but even the “straight” Moment bends the lines in your picture. Not cushion distortion but obviously wobbly lines around the center.

Tried to do some close ups with little radishes I have in my fridge.

On XSmax it looks like so:

Normal close up (back is sharper than the front part as expected. Couldn’t focus on the sad radish)
View attachment 118939

Getting closer, I think this might s the 2x lens of the phone.

View attachment 118940

And macro attached (a dragonhead appears)

View attachment 118937

And zoomed to 2.9x (dragon head has furry parts)

View attachment 118938

All unedited.

PS: I do have problems where to attach the clip on lens. A) the lens is nearly not to spot though the clip lens, b) somehow there might be a way to force the 2x lens to work, in this case it’s all the 1x lens, because the macro was over it, even the zoom was the 1x. Have you read anything about forcing the lenses to work? Or maybe with a special app like Halide or so????
As far as I know the native camera app is the only app that automatically switches from the 2x to the 1x if it considers the 1x zoomed in would offer a better exposure. Remember the 1x lens is f1.8 while the 2x is f2.8 so in low light the 1x has a better chance of a faster exposure time. (I’m not sure but I think I read that the 2x lens on the X phones is f2.4? 1/3 of a stop brighter.)

These are camera apps I have tried that offer the 1x-2x lens switch and they really do switch to the lens you chose. Moment cam, for sure. It doesn’t require use of Moment lenses. Also, PureShot, Halide, Prime, Camera+ 2, CameraPixels, RAW+, 645 Pro, ProCamera, Camera-M, ProCam, Filmborn, Gimbse, Slow Shutter, NightCap Pro, Rookie Cam, CB9C, Obscura, Argentum. I’m sure you can find one you like from that selection.

These cheater camera apps offer 1x to 2x lens selection but they are faking it. When you select the 2x lens it is just the 1x zoomed in to 2x - nception, Gloomlogue, Sparkle Cam. Bummer!

There are still lots of apps that do not offer 1x - 2x lens selection.

I plan to provide a short list of other camera apps that provide features you might find useful for close-up photography. Lens selection is just one of them.
 

FundyBrian

MobiStaff
Site Staff
MobiSupporter
Real Name
Brian Townsend
Device
iPhone 8 Plus
My 365
My MobiTog 365
Favourite Camera apps for Close-up Photography.

Close-ups often present difficulties to overcome that require more manual control than the native Apple camera provides. Manual focus is a very useful function for close-up work. I understand that some Android phones have better manual controls than the Apple cam. But there are probably more “other” camera apps available for iOS, even though you have to pay for most of them.

Here are the main features I want in a more advanced camera app.
  • Manual focus with some sort of focus assist, like focus peaking or magnified view while focusing. While focusing it is also useful to know where in the overall focus scale I currently am as this helps to control what areas will be the most out of focus.
  • Good custom white balance control, as well as white balance presets. Read from White Balance card.
  • Selection of exposure modes, especially ISO Priority, full manual, SS priority.
  • Current camera settings (ISO & Shutter Speed) always on-screen.
  • Histogram
  • Image file format selection, especially Camera RAW (DNG), but also tiff and max-quality jpeg.
  • Shadow and highlight peaking indication for exposure.
  • Auto-exposure bracketing (adjustable) for making HDR sets.
  • Exposure compensation
  • 1x & 2x lens selection
  • On-screen level indicator.
  • Burst mode would be nice, too.
  • Grid overlays (on & off)
  • Exposure, focus, and white balance lock.
  • When I set a manual setting I expect it to stay put and not suddenly change by itself.
  • Controls I can see even in bright light.
  • (Incidentally, if you try to use zoom then RAW mode will be disabled. You cannot zoom in in RAW mode.)

The Short List of favourite camera apps.
  • My #1 - PureShot & 645 Pro - The most comprehensive set of camera tools available. Easy to use for custom white balance. You just hold out your white balance card and press one button. Select max quality jpeg, tiff, or camera RAW (DNG) for your file type. It has several camera modes but I like ISO priority automatic. Set your ISO as low as you want (20) for the lowest amount of digital noise and let the camera pick the shutter speed (But you do need to keep an eye on where the shutter speed ends up in case it is very low, fortunately PureShot always displays the current settings). Exposure compensation, Histogram display, Focus Peaking, dual lens selection, HDR bracketing, when manual focusing your can select the amount of zoom-in to better see the effect of your focusing, and a lot more. It’s all there. Edit: it has various modes of shutter release - the one I mostly use is, you press to hold everything and lift to make the picture.
  • Prime - If telling what is in focus is you biggest issue check out Prime. It has excellent Focus Peaking that you can easily switch on & off without menu hopping, dual lens selection, and also saves DNG. The only thing that keeps me from liking it more is the white balance control. Manual exposure control is a bit fiddly.
  • Camera+ 2 - another strong choice. It has white balance lock but you have to call up a menu to access it. Also allows saving DNG and has dual lens selection. This is the only app that has a dedicated close-up mode. It really just zooms in and it shuts off RAW mode but for a quickie close-up with no add-ons it is quite handy.
  • Halide - is another good choice but I find the menus a bit fiddly. Has Depth Mode, nice big histogram, 1x & 2x lens selection, Exposure compensation, white balance control is disappointing, focus peaking, grid lines and level too faint to see outdoors.
  • RAW+ - another good one. Full manual only. Has Camera RAW mode. The focus assist area is quite small, has histogram, shadow and highlight warnings, the white balance control is minimal.
  • Camera Pixels - is your one choice for focus stacking. Camera RAW, 1x & 2x lens selection, histogram, manual focus, manual exposure, in AWB the colour temperature is displayed in ºK. Exposure compensation, exposure bracketing. The controls are a bit small to see well in bright light, but its never very bright where I tend to use it.
  • Moment cam - a simpler app that still has pretty good manual control. I’m frustrated by the white balance control, though. If you are using Moment lenses you can select which lens you are using and the info will be saved in metadata. Edit: Moment cam has a very nice two-stage shutter button that works just like a real camera. Half press to focus, you see the focus indicator turn blue when focused, press a bit more to make the exposure. This feature requires a phone with 3D Touch.

Please share your favourite apps for close-up and maybe tell us what features you find especially useful.
 
Last edited:

FundyBrian

MobiStaff
Site Staff
MobiSupporter
Real Name
Brian Townsend
Device
iPhone 8 Plus
My 365
My MobiTog 365
I e got that, Brian, but even the “straight” Moment bends the lines in your picture. Not cushion distortion but obviously wobbly lines around the center.

Tried to do some close ups with little radishes I have in my fridge.

On XSmax it looks like so:

Normal close up (back is sharper than the front part as expected. Couldn’t focus on the sad radish)
View attachment 118939

Getting closer, I think this might s the 2x lens of the phone.

View attachment 118940

And macro attached (a dragonhead appears)

View attachment 118937

And zoomed to 2.9x (dragon head has furry parts)

View attachment 118938

All unedited.

PS: I do have problems where to attach the clip on lens. A) the lens is nearly not to spot though the clip lens, b) somehow there might be a way to force the 2x lens to work, in this case it’s all the 1x lens, because the macro was over it, even the zoom was the 1x. Have you read anything about forcing the lenses to work? Or maybe with a special app like Halide or so????
In your photos it appears that your main focus problem is getting closer than the closest distance your camera can focus. You might try setting up as you have here but when you are ready to shoot, back up just a bit. An app that gives you better indication of what will be in focus would help a lot. Pick your most important point to focus on. There will never be enough depth of field to give your any wiggle room. With an app that has manual focus you can just set the focus to the closest position, then move your camera forward and back until you see your most important area come into focus. Click!
 

FundyBrian

MobiStaff
Site Staff
MobiSupporter
Real Name
Brian Townsend
Device
iPhone 8 Plus
My 365
My MobiTog 365
Sounds semi-tropical.
I remember now that I went to England in January when I was 21. I was walking around in light-weight fall clothes. While in a small shop I asked the sales clerk, Don’t you ever have snow here? I was thinking she might say Oh yes, especially later in January and in February . She, said, Oh yes, we had some once.
 

GroovyGouvy

MobiLifer
Real Name
Gouvy
Device
iPhone Xs Max
My 365
My MobiTog 365
Favourite Camera apps for Close-up Photography.

Close-ups often present difficulties to overcome that require more manual control than the native Apple camera provides. Manual focus is a very useful function for close-up work. I understand that some Android phones have better manual controls than the Apple cam. But there are probably more “other” camera apps available for iOS, even though you have to pay for most of them.

Here are the main features I want in a more advanced camera app.
  • Manual focus with some sort of focus assist, like focus peaking or magnified view while focusing. While focusing it is also useful to know where in the overall focus scale I currently am as this helps to control what areas will be the most out of focus.
  • Good custom white balance control, as well as white balance presets. Read from White Balance card.
  • Selection of exposure modes, especially ISO Priority, full manual, SS priority.
  • Current camera settings (ISO & Shutter Speed) always on-screen.
  • Histogram
  • Image file format selection, especially Camera RAW (DNG), but also tiff and max-quality jpeg.
  • Shadow and highlight peaking indication for exposure.
  • Auto-exposure bracketing (adjustable) for making HDR sets.
  • Exposure compensation
  • 1x & 2x lens selection
  • On-screen level indicator.
  • Burst mode would be nice, too.
  • Grid overlays (on & off)
  • Exposure, focus, and white balance lock.
  • When I set a manual setting I expect it to stay put and not suddenly change by itself.
  • Controls I can see even in bright light.
  • (Incidentally, if you try to use zoom then RAW mode will be disabled. You cannot zoom in in RAW mode.)

The Short List of favourite camera apps.
  • My #1 - PureShot & 645 Pro - The most comprehensive set of camera tools available. Easy to use for custom white balance. You just hold out your white balance card and press one button. Select max quality jpeg, tiff, or camera RAW (DNG) for your file type. It has several camera modes but I like ISO priority automatic. Set your ISO as low as you want (20) for the lowest amount of digital noise and let the camera pick the shutter speed. Exposure compensation, Histogram display, Focus Peaking, dual lens selection, HDR bracketing, when manual focusing your can select the amount of zoom-in to better see the effect of your focusing, and a lot more. It’s all there.
  • Prime - If telling what is in focus is you biggest issue check out Prime. It has excellent Focus Peaking that you can easily switch on & off without menu hopping, dual lens selection, and also saves DNG. The only thing that keeps me from liking it more is the white balance control. Manual exposure control is a bit fiddly.
  • Camera+ 2 - another strong choice. It has white balance lock but you have to call up a menu to access it. Also allows saving DNG and has dual lens selection. This is the only app that has a dedicated close-up mode. It really just zooms in and it shuts off RAW mode but for a quickie close-up with no add-ons it is quite handy.
  • Halide - is another good choice but I find the menus a bit fiddly. Has Depth Mode, nice big histogram, 1x & 2x lens selection, Exposure compensation, white balance control is disappointing, focus peaking, grid lines and level too faint to see outdoors.
  • RAW+ - another good one. Full manual only. Has Camera RAW mode. The focus assist area is quite small, has histogram, shadow and highlight warnings, the white balance control is minimal.
  • Camera Pixels - is you one choice for focus stacking. Camera RAW, 1x & 2x lens selection, histogram, manual focus, manual exposure, in AWB the colour temperature is displayed in ºK. Exposure compensation, exposure bracketing. The controls are a bit small to see well in bright light, but its never very bright where I tend to use it.
  • Moment cam - a simpler app that still has pretty good manual control. I’m frustrated by the white balance control, though. If you are using Moment lenses you can select which lens you are using and the info will be saved in metadata.

Please share your favourite apps for close-up and maybe tell us what features you find especially useful.
I will check for the cameras. I have at least 80% of them. Thanks for the list. :feet:
 

terse

MobiLifer
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Ted
Device
iPhone Xs
It's been hard to grab a moment to do any closeup photos, but here's an easy one -- easy because the subject is flat. It's a detail of a linocut block print that hangs in my office, shot with the Moment macro lens translucent light diffuser pressed flat against the print. iPhone 7, Moment macro, native cam, reduced from 4032x3024 to 2016x1512 in Big Photo. No other editing.

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