Photographing tiny stuff

Creating a sense of scale for photographing small objects

Two small sub millimetre microchip packages

Very small, but how small

I’m often asked to provide commercial macrophotography services for capturing images of quite small items, and whilst the images may convey all the detail required, they may not give an idea of size to the casual viewer.

Look at these two semiconductor microchips – they are  a few millimetres square.

Unless you already know this, then so what?

The photographs were taken using a very specialised macro lens.

The Canon MP-E65 is an unusual lens, in that it has no focus adjustment. You move the lens and camera back and forth after setting how much magnification you need.

Last year I borrowed such a lens from Canon UK and wrote up a few notes about it

Not long afterwards,  I found one available used and  in excellent condition, but considerably cheaper than new.  As I mentioned in the notes, it’s well worth getting the specialised lens hood (via eBay in this instance) and some diffusers if you are using it with a flash like the MT-24EX

Here’s an even smaller chip – around a millimetre square.

extremely small surface mount chip, with solder bumps

A millimetre or so square

Ok, it’s small, but how about in the eye of a needle?

small microchip and eye of needle

Chip and sewing needle

or on the head of a match…

chip balanced on the head of a match

Not a giant match

Quite a lot of our commercial work in this area starts off along the lines of: “I don’t know if it’s possible, but…”

The two biggest problems are moving the tiny items, when you can hardly see them, and the ever present studio dust.

Technical challenges are always welcome… one of the reasons I do this for a job!