@Morgan, the light is a Fenix LED torch @125 lumens, unfortunately my macro lens is rather limited [1:2.3@70mm] so this is heavily cropped and sharpened. Exposure details:
Ok, given those figures and the camera I reckon you could improve that shot quite a bit. Did you shoot on auto?
Try manual settings -
Higher f-stop, (although 16 seems to have a good portion in focus)
Use a tripod and lengthen the shutter speed. (Use the timer function if you don't have a remote trigger to prevent camera shake)
Light source gives a nice effect!
Native ISO for the D90 is 200 ... ISO 100 is simulated and produces clipping, you get no decrease in noise because the gain on the CMOS amp does not get lowered. The noise you see is exaggerated by the aggressive sharpening I did. Unfortunately I'm hitting the resolution limit here, what seems to be camera shake is actually lens and camera softness, and diffraction due to stopping down. As 1/400 is more than enough to compensate for camera shake @ 70mm I doubt a tripod will help. The real solution here is a true 1:1 macro lens, but this hobby is taking all of the funds for that away. This is a 100% crop from the original:
I actually like the full size shot! Spotlight on the LOC. Silicon's Got Talent! "What are you going to perform for us tonight?"
I see, that is pretty much the best you'll get there then. Damn that ISO 200 limit!!!
That's some good cropping/sharpening etc to have achieved that. I can't wait to see what you'll do with a proper macro! Have you tried just using a simple magnifying glass in front? You get aberrations around the edge but I know you can crop so that ain't no thang! Or try the cheap screw on adapters. They work really well considering the price.
Done with external magnifying glass, diode wa like 4 or 5 cm from the lens of camera, but as you can see, edges get real distorted, and that's only a crop of like 20% of actual image which looks like pile of colors, except the centre of it where you can make out something.
EDIT - Oh, one other addition (it's 2300 post after all, yeah!)
This is a tiny fiber Fast Axiz Correction lens taken from a C-mount in a TO3 package diode :
Right to it is a can of a standard 5.6 mm 780nm NIR diode for size refference