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The Magic of Mini: Beginner’s Guide to Miniature Photography

Miniature photo with Canon EOS 200D II
Canon EOS 200D II, f/5.6, 1/800s, ISO 100

First off, what does the miniature effect do to your photos?

Imagine creating a city of skyscrapers, cars, trains and people, all in your living room using building blocks and model figurines. Then, taking a picture using your camera to showcase your creation. How would that look like in your mind? Now, that’s the miniature effect.

Miniature – or Tilt-shift – effect is a photography function that makes photo subjects look way smaller than in real life with an almost toy-like, dreamy effect. Typically, this effect is achieved with elaborate blurring on the top and bottom (foreground and background) of the picture, visually contrasting with details of the main subject in the centre of the photo. 

Why go mini?

Like all photography effects, going ‘mini’ can be a great photography tool to communicate the story and concept behind your photos.

For example, using the miniature effect on your photos can help your viewers understand the real scale of your image; it can be used to express how high or far away you are from your subject; perhaps your concept is to visualise one’s dream? Or a time-lapse video to show the bustling city going by in a blur? The miniature effect becomes the storytelling photography tool of choice.

And like all tools, they work best only if you know how to use it. Good news: we have compiled this brief guide to help you get started!

Ways to achieve a miniature effect

One common way to get this effect is to add tilt-shift lenses to your photography gear. This type of lens enables you to tilt and shift camera optics in a range of directions, dramatically altering your plane of sharp focus.

For beginners, you can start by using photo editing tools that are already available on your camera. Try out the Creative Assist features in the Canon EOS 200D II. With easy-to-understand modes, you can effortlessly, switch shoot conditions even through the viewfinder; adjust background blur, hue, brightness, contrast and colour directly on the camera display screen during playback.  

Want a more natural way of replicating miniature shots? We highly recommend that you get a DSLR with the built-in Miniature Effect function. With the Canon EOS 200D II, you can achieve this effect with a collection of in-camera filters and processing options to help you expand endless creative possibilities. Okay now, on to the tips!   

Miniature photography with Canon EOS 200D II
Canon EOS 200D II, f/5.6, 1/250s, ISO 100

Tip #1: Go high up

The higher you go, the smaller (and more miniature) your subjects will be.

If available, make full use of the built-in Vari-angle Touchscreen LCD display for bold compositions and angles. Designed for easy shooting at extraordinarily low or high angles, you can tilt, flip and swivel the display monitor to get the full view even in challenging angles.

To get the desired depth of field, photos should be captured from above but not directly overhead. Avoid wide angles and shots taken at the same level as the subject.  

See also: Camera Basics #14: Position and Angle

Tip #2: Keep it simple

Remember the ‘living room city’ we discussed above? Achieve that effect by keeping it really simple – toy models are usually small yet attention-grabbing, simply because there aren’t too many distractive elements. If humans are part of the subject, make sure they are as small and undetailed as possible. Keep it clean and direct for maximum impact.

Miniature photography with Canon EOS 200D II
Canon EOS 200D II, f/5.6, 1/200s, ISO 400

Tip #3: Focus on the subjects

The best miniature effects are achieved with a well-defined focal point – that’s the highlight of your photo. Make sure that main photo subjects are captured in high-quality sharpness with powerful image processing. We recommend a 24.1 MP APS-C CMOS sensor and the latest DIGIC 8 image processor because the sharper the image is, the more it will stand out within the blurry effects.

Try it for yourself now

Miniature photography is a great addition to your skills. Perfect for adding that special something to food, architecture and even portrait photography.

Still searching for your camera of choice? If you’re on a lookout for quality on the go, test out the all-new Canon EOS 200D II. It’s portable and incredibly light (as lightweight as 449g for black and silver model) yet heavy on features that bring out the best in photography for everyday users. 

Check it out and go get creative! Who knows? You might even uncover a whole new photography genre with the miniature effect!

Miniature photography with Canon EOS 200D II
Canon EOS 200D II, f/5.6, 1/640s, ISO 100