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Bugging on a Budget [iPhone Entomology]

I've read a lot of the threads in this forum regarding the type of macro photography setups and equipment people use and I know they all have something in common: They are expensive.

I am a father of three, working a blue-collar job just trying to make ends meet and I just don't have any extra income to buy a fancy camera and macro lenses and flashes, etc...

But I still had the strong desire to catalog and identify all my spider discoveries. So I decided to use the tool that I already had: my iPhone. (Not even a new iPhone, the standard iPhone 4.)

So I purchased a magnetic macro lens for $10 off the internet and began learning how to take good pictures with my setup. Turns out a lot of the lessons had to do with proper lighting. Lighting is key.

I even bought an iphone tripod and created a light box using cardboard and some lights from home depot. All on sale for less than 20 bucks, of course.

So i'm a bugger on a budget but let me tell you something, I've gotten a lot of young people to buy the lens and use the iphone they have anyway and begin getting interested in bugs! I show people some of my photos and they say, "You took that with an iPhone?' and I reply, 'Yes, and you can too.'

Maybe true photographers will scoff at me. Maybe I don't belong in 'the club'. But I love spiders and if I can teach others about the wonders of the world beneath our feet, I feel like I've accomplished something.

Lie I said, the main issues are getting proper lighting and a very shallow depth of field, but I make up for it in cost and portability.

~ Jason

iPhone 6
The iPhone 6 camera focuses closer than previous models. See my comment here

Another possibility
Even more compact: an app that does closeups. Not great quality, but there's nothing to carry and if you get a shot of that sasquatch rare beetle, it's sure worth the $2.00.

Also excellent for its intended purpose, as a always-ready pair of reading glasses.

very interesting...
I had no idea that they had macro lenses for iPhones... that's pretty cool. If I had seen the demo photos without reading first I would certainly not have guessed that they were taken from an iPhone.

How small a bug can you get a good photo of with this technique?

Camera suggestion
You can get a good bridge-camera with a good closeup supplementary lens for around $700, less if you're willing to shop for used equipment.

I'm not scoffing at all; there are published directions for doing photomicrographs of blood cells with an iPhone.

Just because you see some bugguide folks outfitted in thousands of dollars worth of equipment (looking barely able to move) doesn't mean that's required for excellent field photos.

Your mileage may vary--greatly!
I traded up, or so I thought, from a little $200 Canon ELPH to a larger $500 Canon G15. It turns out that the smaller camera does better at macro in some ways than the fancy new one.

Anyway, many people can't spare $700 for photographic gear. This includes young people who are still in school. I think Jason's done an excellent job of getting the most out of a simple setup and showing others his strategy.

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