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More on digital cameras

Posted on LTS forum Jan 22 2006, by Scotto:


Jim had posted this on Conch-L, and I thought it would be good to continue here.

So my problem lies can I take a decent upclose shot of a
small specimen (<25mm) and still capture it's color and pattern very well
even if the picture isnt totally crisp......I have tried taking pictures of
shells outside in natural shaded light, and that seems to work a little bit
better, I wonder if the problem is the lighting, or the camera?

Hi again, Lyle,

The secret lies in the auxiliary close up lens. This is a mandatory purchase
for any camera owner -- 35mm or digital. I've had great success shooting
cowries using two bounce flashes, though that's admittedly an advanced
technique. Also be certain you are in manual mode so you can control the
aperture. For small shells, you should be shooting at a minimum of f11 on
a digital and f22 on a 35mm. The smaller apertures give you greater depth
of field, which is critical as you get closer.

I have seen the newest Mavica that takes the cd, but now I wonder if that
investment would be worth it, or should I get something that uses a memory
card and has more megapixels, or, do I invest in a newer scanner which some
folks seem to rely on for pictures?

I'm likely the very first person to ever put a shell on a scanner. Scanners are
now really cheap at the big stores like Best Buy. I got a Canon for $79 that
blows away my old $3,000 Agfa. While this was a good way to quickly
obtain shell images in the "old days," it's a very, very poor substitute for
a digital camera.

As for the newer Mavica, I would recommend against it. You can buy data
cards that hold 256MB of data for $29-39. Writing data to a CD is much slower.
You'll go nuts waiting. Do yourself a favor and go with a digital camera. And
don't pinch pennies if image quality is important.

If you (or anyone else) would like a recommendation as to what camera is
the best in a given price range, let me know.

Best regards,


Always enjoy reading about the finer points of shell photography, particularly very small shells.

I can highly recommend Cannon Powershot 1 8mp......has a very good super macro and standard macro functions.

Also had great success with a standard 3.2mp Sony DSC7...[I think from memory, it's been a while].

I've had a lot of improvement since using a copy light stand that I made myself.



Powershot 1.8 megapix. Which model is that? I'm using a 2.0 megapix A60. Good results with shells a few inches, but haven't gotten there in the 10 mm range.


The Cannon camera is the Powershot 1 with 8 megapixels with 7x Optical Zoom. It's a large camera that works best on a stand. I also use a double light stand to help with better quality pictures.

Also had a lot of success with a Pentax Optio 60. It's very user friendly.


I got very good results with my Nikon Coolpix 4500. There are

two important facts:

- the minimum distance you can use are only 2 cm
- you can attach a ring light. So you don´t need a flash

This example shows a 4 mm Vexillum plurinotatum 
(Hervier, 1897).

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