(1) I have always been interested in close-up photography. For my early digital images I used a Sony P100 compact video camera where found it essential to have the facility of a rotating monitor. Images were captured on Memory Sticks but, as the images were only 1Mb, they were too small to to allow much croppng. Edges of objects such as tree branches against a bright sky had blue halation which was difficult to remove.

(2) Later I obtained a Sony DSC-F717 digital camera which gives a maximum image size of 5 Mb (2560 x 1920). A considerable degree of reduction or cropping is then available for displaying to fill the computer screen. This is one of the few digital cameras made with a swivelling body, a feature that I often find so essential, and is my main camera for use in the field. The rotating lens/body is essential for filming at ground level and it is a pity that the model is no longer manufactured. Both aperture and shutter settings are adjustable. The large overall diameter of the lens (6.2 cm) can sometimes be a disadvantage when the camera macro setting is used on very small subjects due to self-shading. [JS provides a full features list]. The F717 cannot be used for photomicrography!

(3) I use a 5Mb Sony DSC-W5 for photomicrography. With its image-size of up to 2592 x 1944, a considerable reduction or cropping can be used to fit images to the computer screen. The lens has a small overall diameter of 3.2 cm which fits neatly over the eye-piece of the microscope. Images at all nominal magnifications up to x2000 are easily obtained using full zoom (x3). The 6.2 cm (2.5 inch) LCD screen of the W5 is especially useful to obtain sharp images. I use a home-made rigid support to lock the camera in position over the vertical photograhic eyepiece and use the camera's self-timer to obtain the essential stability for high magnifications and multiple exposures of the same subject.

(4) The 10.3 Mb (Maximum 2560 x 1920) Sony R1, like the 717, has a rotatable LCD display. I use this camera mainly on a bench set-up to obtain extreme macro images using various supplementary close-up lenses. It is also useful as a field camera and its large images can be cropped (more than the 717) for display on the PC. The R1 accepts both Sony Memory sticks and Compact Flash, the latter allowing much faster access. Image quality is excellent.

(5) I use Photoshop to produce the final image using both cropping and reduction. Sometimes I slightly sharpen the image and then blur any already out-of-focus background. It is often necessary to adjust levels of contrast and brightness and, under certain lighting conditions (such as tree canopy), to adjust the overall colour balance.

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