We got a lot of snow this week
…about 3 feet (about 1 meter), then some ice and a power outage, and today – more snow. The little voice said get your butt outside and take some snowflake photos!
So, I got all the gear together – my Canon 80D, a Canon 100mm macro lens, a sturdy tripod, and some dark microfiber towels to catch the snowflakes. Seems like an easy way to photography snowflakes, doesn’t it?
No worries – there’s a Plan B.
Macro like this on a point-and-shoot camera?
Accuweather predicts there’s only 20 more minutes of snowfall. Of course they’re reliable, so I put on all my winter gear, grab a few extra towels for the camera and start shooting straight away.
The photos aren’t looking great so far with setting at f/8 and ISO 400. With a shutter speed of 7 FPS, there is obvious blur in the tiny snowflake. I move closer, move away, focus manually, change a few more settings.
Meanwhile, the towel covering the camera
is covered in snow
and my feet are already frozen.
After ten minutes, I retreat. Come in, wipe off the camera and let it be still while it acclimates to a balmy 65 degrees F in the house.
Zoomed in all the way – captured on the Olympus Tough TG-5 compact camera
It’s the Olympus Tough TG-5. It’s a little brick of a camera that fits in your pocket. The camera is mostly metal, waterproof, handles freezing temps, tolerates a few good drops (table to floor), can shoot RAW, slo mo, 4K. It can also shoot macro.
- There’s a microscope mode
- a zoom microscope mode
- a focus stack mode in-camera
- and a focus-bracketing mode
It’s attached to a Gorillapod most of the time. I grab it and head outside with a fresh towel.
Size compared to a US dime
Snow accumulates quickly
Ten cents and a snowflake
Snowfall lightens up. The camera is set to the zoom microscope mode, which can also do video. The Gorillapod is bent so that the camera is sturdy, about one inch from the towel. Everything can be seen clearly on the back of the screen – it’s waterproof and freeze tolerant. Forgot to mention – shoots 20 FPS!
When you photograph snowflakes, it has to be really really cold, or you have to be really really fast, like within a second. Otherwise, the snowflake turns to mush.
After ten minutes, the battery dies. It was not fully charged, but lasted long enough to get the job done.
If it kept snowing, I could have stayed out there much longer – it was really fun and SO easy to shoot with the Olympus. I didn’t have a ton of stuff to set up or any worries about damaged gear, settings, etc. Only two decent shots with the Canon setup – had many more to choose from with the Olympus.
Canon 80D + 100mm Macro
Olympus Tough TG-5 zoomed in all the way
My Olympus is at least two years old. Latest model is the Olympus Tough TG-6 with some notable improvements. A bundle goes for about $389 USD.
Favorite things about the Olympus:
- Compact and quiet – no shutter noise and fits in your pocket
- Video features are good when stabilized and used in daylight, including 4K, Slo Mo (60 FPS) and regular
- Macro mode is really fun and easy to use – get super-close
- Shoots RAW
- 20 FPS
- Has many other standard features like Scene mode, Timelapse, and Timer
Not so great
- Does not perform well in low light – grainy
- Video is best when stabilized, to much ghosting, IMO, when moving
- Image quality is best in daylight
- Battery life is not great and the battery indicator is unreliable – always carry an extra charged battery
- A little expensive for a point-and-shoot
Would you get a point-and-shoot camera for not only macro photography, but suitable for all of your outdoor adventures? Consider the Olympus Tough, for fast photos and 4K videos. Don’t forget that extra battery!