Steve's Digicams

Happenstance Close-up Stand
for Nikon Coolpix 950/990

Review posted 7/15/00
updated 8/30/00

Happenstance Nikon 990 closeup stand
Happenstance Closeup stand for the Coolpix 990

With the $39 Happenstance Close-up Stand and your Nikon Coolpix 950 or 990 digital camera you can easily explore the world of super-macro photography from the convenience of your table top.

The key to this system is the 950/990's ability to focus down to less than an inch with no auxilliary lenses required. The Happenstance Close-up Stand is designed so that your can capture full-frame images (long direction of the frame) of objects over a 2:1 range at 0.8 to 1.6 inches.

The Happenstance Close-up stand is constructed from machined acrylic and stainless steel, it is a high quality piece of precision hardware.

Happenstance Nikon 950 closeup stand
Happenstance Closeup stand for the Coolpix 950

Using the closeup stand with the Coolpix 950 is very simple if you follow these steps:

  1. Put the Nikon in M-Rec mode
  2. Press the Menu button
  3. Go to the SET UP submenu
  4. Select LCD ON/OFF menu
  5. Select ON&S-AF option <-- very important!
  6. Press Menu button to return to normal operation
  7. Enable Macro mode and disable the flash
  8. Zoom in until the macro icon (flower) turns yellow
What we accomplished in step 5 was to disable the continuous autofocus feature. Now you can use the Single Autofocus like a time delay shutter release to avoid camera shake when capturing the image. The Coolpix 950 does not allow the selftimer to be used when in Macro mode.

(Note that the Coolpix 990 can be set for Macro and selftimer functions at same time or you can use it as outlined here for the 950.)

Place the camera on the stand as shown in the photo above making sure that the stand is sitting level on the work surface. The two pins on the top of the stand make contact with the finger grip of the camera and keep it level and steady.

Place the object to be photographed underneath of the stand and move either the object or the entire stand until it is properly framed in the LCD. Because the camera is in Single-AF mode you will need to half-press the shutter to make the lens focus so you can see your subject clearly.

Happenstance Nikon 950 closeup stand

Here you see the light diffuser which can be (and should be) used if you want the best and shadowless lighting. After putting the diffuser into place you should then arrange your lighting so as to properly illuminate the subject. A small lamp on each side of the stand works great.

To insure the maximum depth of field (focus range), put the Nikon 950 into Aperture prefered exposure mode. Press and hold the Mode button and turn the command dial until the "P" turns into an "A" on the LCD display. Release the Mode button and turn the command dial until the aperture value number is the largest, i.e. 8.9.  I also suggest that you lock the camera in ISO 100 to insure the least amount of noise in your pictures.

Happenstance Nikon 990 closeup stand

Even with fairly strong lighting the exposure time (shutter) is going to be 1/8 sec or as long as 2 or 4 seconds. It is very important to press the shutter button and then get your hands off of the camera completely before the picture is captured. You'll see the camera focus which takes a good second to two seconds which gives you plenty of time to let go of it. The shutter will fire and once the preview image comes back on the LCD you can take another shot or change the subject.

Before you take too many shots put the camera into Play mode and check the results. If you pictures have a strong green tint to them then you need to use the White Balance settings and change it to flourescent. If they're too red you might try using the incandescent setting. You can always color correct your pictures later with any good graphic editing program. PhotoShop, PaintShop Pro, PhotoImpact and others have a feature called Auto Levels which can greatly improve the picture with a single click of the mouse.

Happenstance Nikon 950 closeup stand
(Resized uncropped full frame)

After getting all the camera settings and lighting correct you now need to pay attention to what you use as a background. Notice the picture of the quarter, it can be improved 500% by placing a solid, dark background behind the coin. A pattern like that wood besides being distracting can also "fool" the autofocus and cause it to focus on that rather than on the coin.

Happenstance Nikon 950 closeup stand
(Resized uncropped full frame)

President Jackson on the U.S. twenty dollar bill.

Happenstance Nikon 950 closeup stand
(Resized uncropped full frame)

Ballpoint pen

Happenstance Nikon 950 closeup stand
(Resized uncropped full frame)

Tiny electronics parts

Happenstance Nikon 950 closeup stand
(Resized uncropped full frame)

Postage stamps

Steve's Digi-Rating

Digi rating Digi rating Digi rating Digi rating Digi rating

I give the Happenstance Closeup Stand a solid 5 (out of a possible 5) digicams!

If you need to photograph small objects this is ideal for that purpose. This gadget will make coin collectors do a double backflip as it seems to be ideally suited for that use. It costs less than $40 and makes taking super-macro shots simple and easy.

Happenstance's web page

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