When to Use Macro Mode

Sep 07, 2012

Few photographs are as striking as those that capture scenes of life and nature in vivid closeup. Whether you’re shooting the petals of a flower or an ant shuttling a leaf to its nest, a little knowledge about how to use your camera’s Macro mode will yield great results.

Understanding Macro Mode

No big mystery here: Macro mode configures your camera for ultra-close photography. And most digital cameras, including point-and-shoot models like the Samsung, have a Macro mode setting, built-in, which means no manual settings to struggle with. (You may have also heard about macro photography using cameras with interchangeable lenses—but that’s a separate topic.)

What to Shoot in Macro Mode

Look around and you’ll find that almost anything lends itself to macro photography. The bark of a tree trunk, the hands of a child, the rings of a spiral binder, and many other common objects become more interesting as you get closer to them. Notice the grain of your dining room table or the intricate patterns on the surface of some minerals. Almost anything (with the exception of landscapes and panoramas, of course) you would consider shooting from a distance with a standard setting is worth experimenting with on a macro scale. The trick is to look for the most interesting details of your subject—patterns, unusual features, strange textures—and focus on them.

When to Use Macro Mode

Cameras vary, but typically if your subject is closer than 32 inches from the camera lens, you should be using Macro mode. Most point-and-shoot cameras will not be able to focus on objects closer than 2 inches from the lens, so be sure to step back a bit. If you are using the built-in zoom lens, your subject should be between 39 and 59 inches away.

How to Use Macro Mode

You’ll find the Macro mode setting either on your camera’s control dial (an icon that looks like a flower is the usual shorthand) or, with a touchscreen-controlled camera like the SH100, under the Focus menu. Just select Macro and the camera will do the rest.
Because you’re working with very close subjects, even the tiniest bit of camera motion or jitter is a problem when using Macro mode. A tripod will solve that, ensuring that the camera doesn’t shake while you’re shooting. When you’re shooting close-up subjects, the flash will usually go off automatically. Review your shots afterwards and consider taking another photo with the flash turned off. If you’re too close, the flash may wash out the image completely, eliminating all the visual interest you were trying to capture. The closer you are, the less useful a flash will be.

Macro Mode Tips

When setting up your shot, try to experiment with both of the main techniques of macro photography: with a zoom, and without one. When you use the zoom lens from more of a distance, the background will vanish from the scene. But if you physically move in as close as possible to the subject, you will leave some of the background intact. Neither way is the “right” way to get the shot. They’ll both capture those tiny details, but will yield strikingly different effects in the finished picture.
Note: Macro mode is available on select Samsung camera models.