Shooting tips > Let a Small Item Play the Main Role

    Level: Beginner

    LESSON 9Let a Small Item Play the Main Role

    Focal length: 30 mm / F-number: 7.1 / Shutter speed: 1/125 sec

    To bring out the characteristics, coolness, or cuteness of a small item, it is essential to focus accurately on the item and let it play the main role in the photograph. This chapter provides some shooting techniques that are mainly for shooting fancy goods and tabletop photography.
    First, set the camera to the P-mode before beginning to shoot.

    Basic rule: Get close and shoot on the telephoto side

    When you shoot a small item as the main subject, defocus the backgrounds to emphasize the subject.
    To capture a close-up of the subject and defocus other areas, the key rules are to "Get as close as possible to the subject" and "Shoot on the telephoto side (with longer focal lengths) of the zoom lens," as advised in "1. Shoot Impressive Portraits with People Highlighted," "8. Capture the Micro World," etc. However, filling the entire frame with the subject may not effectively conveying the characteristics of a small item. In such cases, take several shots repeatedly while moving the camera away from the subject little by little.

    This photograph was shot with the zoom lens "SEL1855" included in the NEX-F3 zoom lens kit. To defocus the background, the focal length was set to the telephoto end, 55 mm. By focusing on the small item and shooting from the same level as the subject, the item was highlighted and the background was defocused.
    Also, macro lenses are useful when shooting small items. Compared to other lenses, macro lenses let you get extremely closer to the subject. As a result, you can shoot close-ups of small pieces of jewelry, like rings, necklaces, and earrings.

    Lens: SEL1855 / Focal length: 55 mm / F-number: 5.6 / Shutter speed: 1/100 sec

    This is a pendant shot with a macro lens.
    In addition to the ability to shoot close-ups, macro lenses also have the great advantage of allowing the photographer to get as close as possible to the subject. With a macro lens, you have the flexibility to decide the angle, composition, and size of the subject, even in a limited space, like on a table or in a small room.

    Lens: SAL100M28 / Focal length: 100 mm / F-number: 7.1 / Shutter speed: 1/13 sec

    Considering the Composition

    Pay attention to the composition before releasing the shutter.
    If a beginning photographer releases the shutter unintentionally, the main subject is often placed in the center of the frame. This composition can clearly express the power and theme of the subject. When shooting small items, however, it can be challenging to make use of a space for photographic expression and a sense of rhythm.
    For shooting small items, the "Rule of Thirds" composition or the diagonal composition are recommended.

    Focal length: 100 mm / F-number: 2.8 / Shutter speed: 1/60 sec “Rule of Thirds” composition

    This is an example of the "Rule of Thirds" composition. In "Rule of Thirds" composition, the frame is divided into 9 sections (3 horizontal × 3 vertical), and the main subject is placed at the intersections of the dividing lines. In the above example, the main small item is placed at the upper-right intersection. With the main subject at this position, the photograph looks more stable, with a perfect balance created by the pattern of the cloth on the open space. However, if you use the "Rule of Thirds" composition for all shots, your photographs may become monotonous. As a result, it is recommended to use this composition only as a reference when you are at a loss in regard to composition.

    Focal length: 30 mm / F-number: 3.5 / Shutter speed: 1/20 sec Diagonal composition

    Another composition recommended for shooting small items is the diagonal composition. As in the photograph above, if the same items or patterns are lined up successively, or if there is a striped pattern, arrange them diagonally in the frame to make this composition.
    The diagonal composition can add a sense of rhythm and let the viewer imagine how the scene extends beyond the frame.

    Diagonal composition
    Focal length: 18 mm / F-number: 3.5 / Shutter speed: 1/400 sec

    This photograph is also an example of the diagonal composition. Colorful macaroons are rhythmically arranged in the frame.
    In this way, the diagonal composition produces rhythm and perspective, but it may give an imbalanced and uneasy impression. Instead of sticking to just one composition, try various compositions. In the previous example of the macaroons, shooting from directly above the macaroons could create an interesting photograph.

    Trying macro lenses

    If you often shoot small items or flowers, having a macro lens will greatly enhance your photographic expression. If you are trying a macro lens for the first time, "SAL30M28" for A-mount and "SEL30M35" for E-mount are recommended. They have a convenient angle of view and provide excellent performance for the cost.

    Focal length: 30 mm / F-number: 3.5 / Shutter speed: 1/50 sec

    SAL30M28

    This lens allows you to move in as close as 2 cm from your subject to capture macro images with up to 1:1 magnification. The details you focus on will be astonishingly sharp, while the out-of-focus background dissolves into a creamy blur that can really make the details stand out.

    Focal length: 30 mm / F-number: 3.5 / Shutter speed: 1/60 sec

    SEL30M35

    This lens offers versatile, high-performance macro capabilities in a compact, lightweight body. It is a true 1:1 macro lens with a 2.4 cm minimum working distance that allows tiny subjects and details to be rendered with excellent resolution and contrast.