Macro photos plus pesky padding characters

I’m looking for a compact/bridge camera that will be better for macro shots (hand-held) than my Sony (which is OK for other work). The Lumix TZ9 has been mentioned - any other candidates, please?

This is an interesting question as compact cameras have rapidly vanished, sales fell off a cliff a couple of years ago when people either moved to smartphones (the vast majority) or to DLSR i.e. interchangeable lens larger cameras.
Smartphones generally awkward for wildlife.
One feature I always look out for is built in gps and make sure this is switched on well before thinking about taking photos (even at risk of extra battery drain).

I noticed that Aldcameron uses a Nikon Coolpix W300 and takes some amazing close-ups - see Syrphus female | Observation | UK and Ireland | iSpot Nature. Although he also immobilises his subjects by chilling them before taking photos!

similar to the w300 is Olympus Tough TG-5 (now TG-6), I have one of these and I think dejay does too. These waterproof cameras useful for underwater stuff too and can do very close up. However they can’t do much zoom so if subject is a little way away it stays as dot in frame.
If you want more of a zoom then there is Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 which is bigger and bulkier but can zoom much further and might produce better image quality, not sure about its close-up ability, might need an additional closeup filter to attach to front of lens

I had a Panasonic FZ100: in fact I still have, but the zoom lever is broken, and I have not been able to get it repaired at much less than the cost of replacement. It’s weakest feature was the macro modes (2 of them in effect) - unable to shoot RAW images, and poorer quality overall. My current Sony RX10 produces better quality, provided you stand back and zoom in. Manual focussing at macro distance can produce good results, but it’s very user-unfriendly, and the autofocus liable to choose the wrong subject, whatever the settings.

Sony known for being less than friendly although I think they have been working to improve this on their most recent models. Autofocus at macro range is bad with any camera or phone, always take loads of pictures and hope if you are forced to do autofocus. The TG-5 and probably the nikon too can do rapid bursts of images automatically choosing different places to focus on for image stacking (or just to get focus right!).

Sorry…I meant to come to this 5 days ago but the tide went out.
I am quite experienced with pocket cameras for Naturalists.
I have and use both the Olymp TG and a Lumix TZ. BOTH fit in back trouser pockets and can be operated one handed - the Olymp more so.

I prefer the TG but it is not a patch on the optical quality of the Lumix.
If I had to recommend one I’d say Lumix but they are both very good for whatWEdo.
The TZ series (mine is 19, I’d be happy with a 9 and there is now at least an 80!) focusses to 3cms and has a very famous lens. Avoid touch screens and manage without WiFi. And do we really need GPS?

The TG is under-water-proof and focuses to nothing. It has superb Macro features that need experience and practise. Nearly everything you see of mine is via the TG3 - it goes everywhere with me, it is VERY worn but I have another - waiting…
Both are good for landscapes and intimate natural scenes but NOT for birds further away that 15 feet.

I HATE carrying an SLR it cramps my immediate style and I MISS a lot of opportunities.
I have ‘groan’ out of bridge cameras.

I posses Mirrorless Lumix bodies, I have a cheap camera under the seat of my car. Lumix £12 used
IF I was to begin now, I would honestly consider eBay - honestly.
Watch the wording
Get a Lumix TZ for under £50 - dozens to choose from. Reasons? Upgrading
But pay a lot more for Olymp TG - few to choose from. Reasons? They are retained or have water in them or have lost a battery cover. Watch the wording.
I am sufficiently experienced and confident to offer anyone reasoned and seasoned advice or support about photography and cameras for the iSpot-style application - I will give it if asked.
My email address is in a couple of my Projects.

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Thanks for the comments.

Ended up with a Lumix TZ95. About to post some early photos.
Initial impression - very light, but only just pocket-size. Even so, it’s very easy to hit the crowded buttons by accident.
Photos tend to be over-exposed (as with my Sony bridge camera) - ev compensation needed.
Intelligent auto (becoming ubiquitous) isn’t.

I just broke my compact camera (I’ve also got a superzoom bridge camera), so I went to Currys website to see what’s available - compact cameras vary in price from £60 to £1300. There are even superzoom compacts. (I would have thought that there wasn’t enough room for the lenses in a compact.)

I think the longer zooms are “generated” electronically (the manual for mine says “digitally”) - not by extending the lens any further: certainly the picture quality of mine deteriorates rapidly over about half the quoted range. The effect is more pronounced than the macro zoom mode (which is also electronically produced).
My Sony RX10 has the same issue. But it struggles with focus on macro shots for some reason, they are more hit-and-miss. Having spent 25 years using 35mm film, I still tend not to take anywhere near enough shots, even when the wildlife is amenable. I also have the habit of pausing to review photos (still being amazed at having the facility), instead of shooting away while the opportunity exists.

Thanks for the reminder - I’d forgotten the need to check for misleading descriptions. (Argos offer a particularly cheap compact, which produces 25-megapixel images, but it turns out that they are interpolated from a 5-megapixel sensor, which is small by present standards.)

You (we) should resist the temptation to Digitally zoom for either telephoto or macro use. Most modern cameras have an OFF switch. Use it, because it is easy to try and zoom into a bird’s or beetle’s eye when trying to get that spectacular photo.
Best to CROP from an Optical zoom. Modern software can actually enhance quality when doing this.

My advice is NOT to zoom too much but to get closer with mid focal length - about 35mm equiv) 24-720 Optical on the TZ. so run the lens out to 50-70mm equiv. This is about the same as human ‘vision’. At lower focal length there will be distortion and the lens is less efficient.

ALL Macro work should be at about equiv 50mm - a tiny zoom out from widest. the best high-quality prime macro lenses are about 100mm equiv.
Many modern cameras ruin Auto-exposure shots because it’s meant for parties and flower shows. It averages the exposure and, particularly, speeds up the shutter requirement to avoid camera-shake.

Best to set cameras to expose slightly preferentially to the centre of the scene BUT NOT a central spot, that will be more ruinous than average for whole scene - neither are good for WhatWeDo

Come away from Auto, so to control exposure, switch off Digital zoom, disengage touch screens, switch off blue tooth, GPS, and WiFi until you need them. Get used to tweaking the compensation + or - for exposure. Never take more than two at the very same setting - change compensation, change position laterally.

Fractionally underexpose macro to a/ get a faster shutter speed and b/ to saturate tones (a little)
NEVER use digital zoom for macro.
An underused feature on modern cameras is BURST shooting, quite valuable for moving insects and fluttering leaves - one in ten shots is bound to be a best.
Resist the temptation to spend half the shoot ZOOOOMING. It leads to camera-shake, poor compositionsand missed off-scene events

The TZ series is streets ahead of most of the Canons, Sony and Fuji types but is still not quite as good, as the Olymp TG Series (for WhatWeDo). It will not be long before the TZ1001 which will have a heart monitor, cell-phone and Drone facility.

What a blessing not to have to wet-process in the attic!
I will talk more about photography in some of my upcoming posts - anything to get more interest in my subjects! (will it?)

I’m looking for a compact camera that will take good macro photos. As stated above, there seem to be few compact cameras on the market nowadays. But I only have a basic phone. Can anyone recommend anything that isn’t too expensive (ideally under £250) that is still available new. (I looked at one that looked promising but couldn’t find anyone who stocked it.) I don’t want a bridge camera as I already have access to my wife’s, which is excellent for zoom but only so-so for macro.

I have a lumix Tz70 which is within your price range and really compact with a great zoom. It also has a macro function although I haven’t actually used that much yet. I bought this particular model as it has a viewfinder and I like to have the option. No gps though but that wasn’t important to me. So far I like it but I’m definitely not an expert in photography. Might be worth having a Google and see what you think.

Any of the TZs are worth the money
It is worth considering a used one (with care)
TZ10 and upwards.
the TZ70 is electronic viewfinder (and screen) newer models-up have swivel screen which tends not to get much use.
Like most cameras of its type it needs to be kept fairly dust free.
Compact cameras like these do not need long zoom lenses
For most iSpotting you need a shortish focal length and a good macro facility.
The Olympus Tough TG series does everything and more but not birds and animals at a distance
Given the one-off choice for flexibility, I might choose the Tz70 (I have a Tz19) over the Olymp but would miss the tough and super-macro facility of the Olymp. It goes everywhere in my back trouser pocket and, surely you would admit, takes good photos. It has a number of facilities NOT available on any other pocket camera


thanks, Louisa and Derek.
I’m interested in what you say as I had spotted the Olympus Tough T-5 on Amazon and thought that it might be a good one to go for. I’ll read some of the many reviews.
Very grateful for your input.

Don’t forget the built in gps as that is so often missing in cameras although always present in phones so long as you turn it on.

My photo above shows the Ring-light attachment, (not to be confused with the Flash Diffuser) I use both rarely
Time for some illustrated anecdotal Camera and Phone-cam reviews here.
I’ll do a phone one this week

I think phones also vary quite a lot in their macro abilities. As an example think the previous (v6) of the top Google phone had no obvious macro ability except that it did if you used the longest focus lens i.e. complete opposite of most phones. Don’t think the macro was particularly high magnification but did give better working distance.
Working distance or how far the phone is from the subject is important as if you have to be more or less touching the subject to get macro then it is likely to be scared off if it moves or will be very difficult to get good lighting.
There are however loads of attachments you can stick on the phone to achieve varying degrees of macro.