HHHR macro (handheld high resolution) photography is quickly becoming one of my favourite pastimes. It is a great example of how advances in camera technology can challenge our existing beliefs about photography. In this case, handheld high resolution macro images. This article shares a selection of HHHR macro images captured at the RBG (Royal Botanical Gardens) in Burlington Ontario.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
To establish a frame of reference, the above image illustrates the approximate degree of magnification used in many of the images in this HHHR macro article. The index finger of my left hand is seen in the photograph. This image was captured while holding an Olympus OM-D E-M1X with only my right hand.
I recently spent about 2.25 hours at the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) shooting HHHR macro images of various flowers and plants in the main building. During this brief period at the RBG I was able to capture a total of 75 ‘keeper’ images. I thought this was a very productive and enjoyable use of my time.
When using the E-M1X’s Handheld Hi Res Mode (HHHR) I always find it helpful to start with some simple practice photographs. So, when I first arrived I created some typical macro compositions featuring flower details as you can see in the image above.
One of the many things that I love about the Olympus OM-D E-M1X is the camera’s outstanding IBIS (in body image stabilization) performance. It allows me to place a single auto focus point precisely in a composition and hold it there rock steady. In the case of the photograph above, my auto focus point was placed directly on the flower’s stigma.
Being able to hold a single AF point steady on a small detail in a composition is extremely helpful when capturing handheld macro images. Shooting them in Handheld Hi Res Mode makes it even more challenging as the E-M1X captures 16 separate images then combines them in camera when using this feature. The result is a 50 MP RAW file. The E-M1X handles this challenge without issue.
I captured a few more practice images, then began to look for more interesting subjects and lighting.
The collection of cacti at the RBG yielded a number of interesting and varied compositions.
As is the case with all photography, lighting is an important factor with macro images. Scouring the various plants and bushes, I looked for small details that offered both interesting light and a favourable shooting angle.
The Olympus OM-D E-M1X has gotten a lot of criticism because of its size and weight compared to other M4/3 camera bodies. Unless you have used this camera you likely will not understand how confident it feels to hold this camera at very unusual and difficult shooting angles. I feel its size, shape and dual grips are significant benefits, especially for this type of handheld photography.
The E-M1X’s fully articulating screen allowed me to compose and capture handheld images that would have not been possible with DSLRs I’ve owned in the past. Many of the images in this article would have been impossible even when using my Nikon 1 kit.
There is a wonderful quote from the great hockey player Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” I often think about this quote when I use my Olympus OM-D E-M1X. This camera continually enables me to capture images that would have been impossible with other cameras that I’ve owned.
No doubt, owning a camera with a larger sensor can be helpful in specific situations. For example when photographing moving subjects in low light. For me this is an acceptable trade-off to make in order to get the overall capability of the E-M1X.
As you look at the EXIF data for the HHHR macro images in this article you’ll notice that many of the photographs were captured at ISO-6400. The Handheld Hi Res Mode of the E-M1X helps reduce high ISO concerns.
Now that I am completely comfortable using the HHHR mode to capture macro photographs, I very seldom use standard resolution for this genre of photography. The only exception is when I use my STF-8 Twin Macro Flash as it allows me to shoot handheld at base ISO under very challenging lighting.
I brought my Kenko DG Extension Tube Set with me, using the 16 mm ring for a number of HHHR macro images.
This added to the fun!
I know many people pigeon-hole the Olympus OM-D E-M1X as a ‘sports and wildlife’ camera. This does not do the camera justice. It is a great stills camera for a wide variety of subject matter and is simply awesome creating HHHR macro images!
As I’ve stated in many previous articles, every photographer should buy camera gear that best meets their individual needs. Just because the Olympus OM-D E-M1X meets my needs, doesn’t mean it will be the best camera for you.
Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.
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