Originally Posted by AgentPothead
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What are you guys doing to get such awesome in focus pictures of bugs? My crappy camera wouldn't even focus on this gold one, I think cause it was so shiny. I had to focus on the leaf next to it.
Being shiny shouldn't make a difference. It could be that your camera can not focus very close - check your specs. Some cameras have a macro mode which you should use.
I don't use point & shoot/consumer cameras any more, but when I had one, it had a manual focus mode which I would use for macro shots. I would just set it to it's min. focus distance and shoot once my subject looked in focus.
Auto focus has never been much use with small subjects. It tends to hunt around and then focus on the background rather than the subject, especially if the subject is only a small part of the whole image. Better to focus manually and place the focus exactly where you want it.
For the extreme close up shots I use a DSLR with a specialized 65mm lens which only focuses at distances which correspond with 0-5x magnification, on a tripod. It's completely manual focus, so I have to move/nudge the tripod to focus.
It could also be that your camera has the ability to focus close, and your subject is in focus, but the subject (or you/the camera) is moving or vibrating, making it look out of focus.
The slightest wind, touching the plant which your subject is on, or even breathing too hard can result in the above. The closer you get, and the more the magnification, the more this becomes an issue.
Bad lighting will exacerbate the problem because you'll need a longer exposure, and long exposures are more prone to camera shake and subject movement. If anything moves during your exposure then it will look blurry/fuzzy, similar (although only superficially so) to how it would look if out of focus.
It's probably not the issue you are having, but you could take a few test shots with the camera steadied against a solid surface in good (bright) light to see how close it will focus.