I have a Fuji Finepix S5200 and I really want to shoot sharp macro photos. I've been playing with this setting for several years. My camera has other settings that I have not explored yet. It has a 'P', 'M', 'S', 'A' nightime setting, landscape, and an 'N' which I don't know what it does. I would like to try and shoot macro in manual instead of auto. Which settings under manual do I use? I am mostly interested in photographing flowers from close distances. What f-stops should it be set at? I've been googling macro photography like crazy lately but most of the articles deal with macro lens, diffusers, more complicated equipment. The Fuji Finepix S5200 doesn't have a way to add lens. It's fixed. I am looking for step-by-step of how to set my camera for shooting flowers up close. With Summer coming up I want to shoot the best photos possible. And like I said want to explore the other features on my camera instead of the auto setting which doesn't always give me good results.
You'll have to dig in the manual and experiment a lot if you want to understand all the ins and outs of what your camera can do.
I expect most of the more experienced photographers here use mainly the P, A, S, M modes. Those are the most basic modes, where the camera does not do any "special" post treatment. Those special treatments are useless anyway when you use raw files, as they are only applied to the camera-generated jpeg file. Those four modes are more or less automatic (I assume no flash for what follows):
- P mode is "fully automatic": the camera selects shutter speed and diaphragm/aperture (F value) (and possibly even ISO value) depending on the light situation.
- A and S mode give you a bit more control: you select aperture (in A mode) or shutter speed (in S mode), the camera sets the other based on the available light;
- in M mode, you're fully on your own: you decide which speed and aperture to use, the camera will just follow your orders (but can indicate if exposure will be correct according to the light metered).
Even in P, A or S mode, you can influence what the camera does through "exposure compensation" (EC), where you basically tell the camera: "act as if there is more (or less) might than your meter tells you" (if you are in "A" mode and set +1 EC, you tell the camera to expose twice as long as the meter tells it to)
The macro setting limits the distance over which the camera will focus, to avoid moving all the time over the full focussing range. But you still have to select P, A, S, M or one of the other shooting modes.
In macro photography, there are two main problems: amount of available light, and Depth of Field (the two are related). When you get closer, your depth of field becomes very small, so you want to use a small aperture (large F number, say F16). But (especially if you zoom in, so you use a large focal lenght) you need a high shutter speed to avoid motion blur. And you want to stay with a low ISO setting for best quality...
In practice, this isn't possible, so something has to give: either you use a flash, or you go to a higher ISO setting (which means more noise, among other things). The on-camera flash may or may not work: the lens can in some cases partially block the light from the flash (but that's easy to check).
Or you use a tripod or other support (like a small bean bag). Highly recommended for macro work, especially for flowers (they won't run away while you set up your equipment, contrary to insects). To get the best results, you either need a remote release switch, or use the self-timer on the camera (so the shot is taken 2-10s after you push the button). And keep in mind that flowers tend to move as soon as there's a bit of wind (leading to motion blur).
When using a tripod, I usually set my camera to the lowest ISO setting, and use F16 or larger in "A" mode. If the shutter speed really gets too long I increase the ISO setting, but I wouldn't recommend going over ISO 400 with your camera. If you have a large, rather flat flower (like a daisy, or one of its larger relatives), I'd probably use a lower F value (F8 or so) if there isn't all that much light.
When I don't want to use a tripod (like when trying to photograph butterflies), I make sure my shutter speed stays faster than 1/250. F8 or smaller is still needed to get enough Depth of Field, so that means that I have to increase the ISO setting (up to 800 or 1600)
From what I see, your camera should be able to get good pictures of most flowers, except the smallest.
When you start looking for more information, keep in mind that normally the term "macro photography" is used when the magnification is larger than 1:1, which means that the image on the sensor is at least as large as the subject you are photographing. And that requires specific equipment... You will probably get better results when searching for "close up photography".
I am looking for step by step of how to set my camera for shooting flowers in macro.
It's easy: get the camera as close to your subject as you like, then shoot.
Then if you encounter problems such as unsatisfactory results, you can come back here with an actual image and a question stating precisely what it is that you do not like about that image, and people will try to help.
I am not at all being sarcastic, by the way. Your camera is very smart and can figure a lot of things out on its own. See this, for example (I assume this is the sort of image you are aiming for; perhaps not as "macro" but the idea is the same):
Do you think I used a lot of fancy settings to get it? Nope, much more important is to be at the right place at the right time, and to keep an eye for interesting things. The camera will handle the rest well enough for now.