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I recently started making pictures of small to medium sized objects (watches, coffee machines) from a short distance (50cm - 5cm). I noticed that my pictures are not very sharp and I am looking for the best way to improve my image quality.

Here is an example:

enter image description here

As you can see, the whole picture is blurry and not very sharp. The same thing happens at very close range, for example when I make a close-up image of the dial.

For my pictures I use a cheap 12 MP digital camera (Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX60), mounted on a tripod, with a photobox like this one:

enter image description here

So, what should be my next steps to improve my image quality?

  • New, better camera? If yes, which kind of camera would be best for my purpose? I am not afraid to learn how to use all the different functions which come with it. But I am on a budget, up to 400$ should be fine.
  • Better lights?
  • Something else?
  • There is nothing wrong to take a software and apply a sharpen filter. :o) – Rafael Sep 20 '16 at 17:19
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    "I am not afraid to learn how to use all the different functions which come with it." Have you learned all of the ones your current camera has? Btw., What is your current camera? Lens? Settings? Post processing? You haven't explained anything of that, but already jumped to the conclusion that buying something new could be a solution. Please edit all the relevant information into your question. – null Sep 20 '16 at 17:21
  • I added the camera I use to the description. Please be patient with me, I am very new to photography and just want to start with the right equipment to learn about it. – Bobface Sep 20 '16 at 17:26
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    No worries, everybody has to start somewhere. Thanks for the camera info. Next: what settings did you use? What mode of the camera were you using to take the image? Also, try to get to the exif data of the image by right clicking on the file, then properties, then somewhere there should be all kinds of information, like when the image was taken, it's size, plus other obscure stuff. We need all this information. Especially the obscure stuff. If you cannot copy that information easily, feel free to post a screenshot. – null Sep 20 '16 at 20:06
  • It's also really hard to tell from that image just how good or not the quality is. Could you maybe upload a higher resolution version of the photo? Your camera takes 4000x3000 but you're asking us to look at one reduced to 17.5% in size in addition to whatever jpg settings you used. – RyanFromGDSE Sep 20 '16 at 22:04
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First, look at the specifications for your camera and the user manual. The normal minimum distance to subject is 50 cm, but if you use the macro mode (p. 54), you can get as close as 5 cm from the lens.

Second do not use digital zoom, which throws away pixels to make the photo look closer.

Third, mount the camera on a sturdy support, whether a tripod or a home-made support (hint: tripod sockets take a standard 1/4-20 screw, but make sure the screw is short so that it wont push into the camera body). Use the self-timer (p. 56) to avoid shaking the camera when pushing the button.

Fourth, make sure the lens surface is clean. Do not try to take apart the camera or lens to clean the interior; that is a professional job, and might cost more than the camera.

Finally, use a lot of light to force the camera to "stop down" to a smaller aperture. This gives greater depth-of-field, so the whole object is in focus. Your lighting setup in the photo seems ample!

Post some of your existing photos, and some of the new ones after you make the suggested changes; I hope there is a big difference!

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  • "5 cm, a finger's-width away from the lens." Did you mean hand's-width away? Or maybe finger's-length? – null Sep 21 '16 at 8:25
  • Finger's width (well thumb's width): I've got big hands... OK, a bit exaggerated, so it's been corrected. – DrMoishe Pippik Sep 22 '16 at 0:09
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Your current camera is more than sufficient for this task. You need to read and re-read the camera manual. Taking a photography class will work wonders as will joining a photo club. An active membership in a local camera club will expose you to knowledgeable and helpful new friends. Together, with them, you will solve all your photographic problems and have fun doing it.

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