Macro Photography With CHDK


[Tim] photographs insects for As you can imagine, macro photography is a must. He was very frustrated with his camera’s stock ability to capture the insects. You can see in the example on his site that the image is blurry and has some color issues. He did some research and hacked together a method of getting fantastic macro images for relatively cheap. He used the reversed lens method to get his macro lens set up. He then modded his camera with CHDK for more control. He found that his focal distance was too small to get the entire bug in focus, so he took 15 images at different distances and combined them to make the final image. We’re curious how the pringles can macro lens would compare to this. Thanks for the submission [sp’ange]. Lets see some more tips.

17 thoughts on “Macro Photography With CHDK

  1. OK, why not buy a DSLR and affix the lens in the proper way, they have made really good affordable macro lenses for years. No hacking needed, I don’t have a problem with hacking, but i only see a need when a need is not filled with something already, or it is unaffordable.

  2. @ jec
    … macro lenses are usually between $300-$600.. That’s affordable compared to $20 to make your own?

    P.S. – Excellent hack.
    I went to the local thrift store the other day to pick up a lens for the D40 and create my own macro lens using this method!

  3. @JEC,

    Reversing the lens is a time-honored tradition in photography. I played around with reversing the lenses on my 35mm camera 30 years ago, back when I could barely afford film and paper, and “discovered” it was a good way to get macro shots, (my 55mm filter thread happened to slip nicely over my Pentax mount.) I’m also sure I didn’t discover it first, and that it’s been going on a lot longer.

    These days you can purchase pre-made “reverser rings” that specifically provide a threaded mount for your lens, or you can just hold it in place. It’s certainly not a “hack” to reverse a prime focus lens. You just have to be careful to stay within the limits of your setup, and not expect perfection out to the corners of the frame, for example.

    Anyway, I applaud him for his nice combination of good ideas: low cost equipment, plus software to achieve his goal. I’m going to try using his CHDK script and stack a bunch of frames to see if I can get some decent macro shots, too.

  4. Why not just add in an iris so you can step down your f-number? If all you are photographing is dead bugs I see no reason to not run a super small aperture and use a bright flash

    Points for ingenuity with the image enhancement system though!


    Raynox adaptors work amazing, i used to use mine on a panasonic fz8, and now use it on my gx10 with the da 50-200 (sometimes with a 2x tele converter) and get nice results to.

    I tryed putting my 50mm f1.7 in reverse on my 50-200mm and it was no match for the raynox when it came to img quality.

    some snow flakes that were hanging from a leaf.

    next to were with the fz8

  6. It’s great he engineered a solution to get images through firmware hacking, multiple shots, focus bracketing, and image compositing. Kind of a complicated workaround forced by shooting the aperture wide open.

    I appreciate the effort and creativity, but considering all he had to do was move the little stop-down metering slider sticking off of the back of the lens to get the iris to close and stop the lens down, I don’t see it as very elegant.

    All he really needed to get all of that depth of field was a piece of tape or a rubber band…

  7. With high macro magnifications, the depth of field is too shallow regardless of how far you stop down. I use a standard DSLR with an APS-C size sensor and depth of field at 1-1 magnification is less than a millimetre at f/11. I use CZPBatch to do focus stacking and combine images with overlapping sharp focal regions.

    Stopping down further, especially on a small sensor compact cameras, will end up reducing final image sharpness due to diffraction limits. It is odd that he didn’t pick up a cheap old fast prime with manual aperture; there are no shortage of them on ebay let alone in any local camera shops.

    I’ll also say his price comparison was a bit disingenuous. I shoot with an old nikon flash and a sigma macro lens (combined price: £75) for outstanding results… mount it on an old DSLR body (cos you need precisely zero bells and whistles) and the final price is waaaay shoty of $2000. There’s no need to look at super expensive high end systems only as he did.

  8. Someone should make hollow bowl shaped sensors already that would fix so many issues, why can’t we develop such technology?
    Can’t we create the circuit on a flat mouldable surface and then heatmould it in a bowl shape? that would reduce the effort in lensdesign a lot since a large part is about getting a flat image but that’s not how light wants to go, and you can see the necessity with paper but now with CCD’s it should be able to move forwards.

  9. I have some articles on focus stacking on my website…

    Ruan is right, at high magnification, simply stopping down the lens is not good enough as diffraction sets in, especially on a smaller sensor cam…

  10. To those suggesting a DSLR for this, they sure don’t know much about photography and digital cameras. That’s for damn sure. Due to the larger sensor the DOF in all macro images in a DSLR is much much shallower than that in a P&S camera. A P&S camera is the ideal choice for all macro photography due to its inherent deeper DOF. Hand-held macro photography in available light at full aperture is easy with a P&S camera. With a DSLR you require using flash to use the smaller apertures for enough DOF, and have to put your rig on a tripod. Not only is this cumbersome but the flash destroys the quality of the subject. I will use no other type of camera than a smaller sensored P&S for exceptional macro photography these days. Add in the high-speed burst focus-bracketing that CHDK offers, adjustable to any step-size your heart desires, as many frames as you want, at the highest burst rate your camera can shoot, and there’s no better combo of cameras and operating systems on the planet for this task. For those looking for inexpensive adapters to use their old SLR glass, in reverse, as macro lenses on their P&S cameras, just type the words “macro coupling” (without quotes) into the search box at Adorama. They’re only $8, one size costing $14. That minor cost is worth all the trouble of trying to create your own from old filter rings. And for you DSLR-pushing idiots, get a clue and some experience with real cameras before you offer such lame advice again.

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