Macro photography with the Panasonic DMC-LX3

by Richard Beal

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At its simplest, set the focus slider to close-up, leave the lens at its widest setting, and take photos.

 But as with any camera the difficulties with macro photography are:

I needed a way to get handheld macro shots under dark and difficult conditions such as rainforest at night, and to get these shots very quickly, preferably within just 30 seconds of finding the subject. Therefore I developed a macro and flash technique with the LX3 which works extremely well. To get comparable shots would normally require an SLR with a macro lens, a tripod, flash, and plenty of time to set up - at which point the creature has probably left.

 Start by setting up the camera so that when doing macro and flash the command dial can be turned to C1 to load the settings.

  1. Turn the command dial to M mode.

  2. Set the shutter speed to 1/2000. (Minimises blur caused by ambient light/camera shake)

  3. Set aperture to f/8. (Maximum depth of field)

  4. Set flash exposure compensation to -1. (The flash will be closer then the normal minimum distance, so its power needs to be reduced).

  5. Then on the menu: Setup/Tools/Cust.Set Mem to C1. (This stores the above settings in C1)

 The next issue is that if you are very close indeed, the end of the lens will block the light from the flash. The solution is to hold a piece of diffusing plastic in front of the flash, just to the left of the lens, and level with the front of it. I use the diffuser that comes with a Nikon SB-800 flash, but any piece of transparent plastic will do. The light source will then come from immediately beside the front of the lens.

 Now get ready:

  1. Pop up the flash.

  2. Turn the command dial to C1.

  3. Set the focus slider to Close-up.

Now the moment you see the subject do as follows:

  1. Turn on the camera.

  2. Hold the diffuser in your left hand and the camera in your right hand, steadied with fingers from your left hand as well.

  3. Bend down and hold the camera as close as 1 to 2 cm from the subject.

  4. Partly press the release to make it focus.

  5. The moment you have focus confirmation, press the shutter.

It is important to practice this repeatedly until you can get a good photo in under 30 seconds.

Some pictures from Richard of the method of hand holding....

hand held 1

hand held 2

hand held 3

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