Point and Shoot Urban Macro
Mention macro to most photographers and I suspect that images of bugs, flower parts or other living nature type subject matter comes to mind. There, however, is a whole world to explore that is man made and things not regarded as beautiful can reveal hidden depths. Personally I like working close up with the stuff of city environments such as building materials and metals in all of there possible states.
Getting up close can really change the way that we look at the man made world. Showing just one intersection of a wire fence gives us a whole new perspective. We are conditioned to seeing the fence as a series of repeating squares not as the interplay between two strands of wire. Forcing the viewer to see a familiar object in a different way is rarely a bad thing providing the new view goes beyond the simply gimmicky.
Cities and industrial environments are not only defined by their straight lines and right angles but also by their textures. Macro allows these textures to become the focal point of the image. Move even a few inches back and the tiny signs of wear on the thread of this bolt would be lost. The small sensor of the point and shoot camera automatically gives a much greater depth of field and this can be a huge advantage, especially when using leading lines to take the viewers eye through the scene. This would be nigh on impossible to achieve with a DSLR without using a very high f/stop giving rise to a very slow shutter speed. Even then it would be a struggle.
Some point and shotos have a digital macro setting. This allows for a certain amount of zooming but keeps the focal distance very short – about one inch from the front of the lens in the case of the ZS8. The ZS8 allows for 3x zoom using this setting which gives an efl of 72mm. Normally the fact that it achieves this by using less of the sensor area would be a huge disadvantage. This particular type of photography is very forgiving regarding quality limits of small sensors. This is the good bit, the even smaller than normal sensor size gives even more depth of field. In my opinion it is worth sacrificing a bit of quality for the extra dof.
Of course color can work too. As far as editing goes I think the best advice is to edit hard and not to worry too much about subtlety. This subject matter is fairly brutal visually so work with that and don’t try to soften it too much. Lots of contrast, local contrast (clarity in Adobe Lightroom) for sure. Saying that a little noise reduction doesn’t do any harm.