Mini Macro Setup: Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS

Using an eyepiece from a broken microscope as a macro attachment for a point and shoot digital camera.

Canon Macro Setup

A microscope eyepiece is reversed, fitted onto the open lens of the camera, using carboard from a starbucks coffee insulator to form a collar.

By coincidence, the diameter of the extended part of the lens of this camera is almost identical to that of a microscope eyepiece. I made a collar from thin corrugated cardboard, wrapped tightly around the eyepiece extension that normally fits into the eyetube of the microscope, leaving about a quarter of an inch or less of overhang. (Make sure the collar is tighly wrapped; use transparent tape efifcaciously, to wrap the collar *tightly*.

If you are lucky, a takeout coffee insulator jacket will be corrugated. If not, keep looking (in my opinion): the corrugated nature of this card stock helps to hold the “macro adaptor” tightly onto the lens extension.

The next photo shows the system ready to be assembled.

Prior to fitting the “adaptor” to the lens.

Be sure the eyepiece is square to the lens, and that all lens surfaces are clean.

Using the Canon Hacker’s Development Kit (CHDK), one can do some additional gymnastics with this system: digital macro, with the stock firmware, does not permit the use of a flash; however, with CHDK, this is possible, and one of three flash intensities may be selected.

The flash is not properly aligned with the lens axis; however, if the flash is intense enough, illumination can be sufficient even for objects very close to the lens.

CHDK permits setting several parameters separately:

  1. override the subject distance
  2. flash on or off, or flash intensity (#2 is brighter than the normal intensity as canon has set it)
  3. set a “neutral density filter”.   This camera does not have an iris.
  4. set a custom ISO, such as 12 or 16, if the light is too intense.
  5. Zoom in, to minimize vignetting.
  6. I have had good results using macro mode, or even digital macro mode.

I find it useful to set the camera on continuous shooting mode.  When using this unit for handheld macro, the flash can freeze action, and the recovery time is fast enough to make multiple shots a useful feature.  Even without a flash, continuous shooting often helps: after pushing the button down, hold the camera as steady as possible, and one of the shots might be less affected by camera shake.

One may even make videos through this setup.

Here are a couple of photos taken with this unit:

Head end of an inchworm.

The next shot is a spittlebug on a redwood tip.

An unknown, small flower.


About lngndvs

I am a teacher / biologist with eclectic interests.
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