Shooting Better Macro Images for Under $500

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When shooting macro images, you don’t need the most top of the line gear or even the best camera. What you need instead is an effective setup to give you better images. If you’re using a macro lens with the ambient light in your home, you should know that you can spend a little bit of money and get so much more from the images without needing to crank up your camera’s ISO. This actually results in a bigger loss of details. The best way to do it is to go for an affordable lens, tripod and a great lighting setup for cheap.

Here are some of our favorite items to use for macro photography projects at home for under $500.

Lenses

Olympus 60mm f2.8

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The great thing about Olympus lenses is the fact that Olympus cameras have image stabilization built in. So that means that when you’re focusing really closely at the macro levels, you’ll have the extra stability when you’re shooting at a minimum of 1/125 sec due to the 2x crop factor, making it 120mm. Also remember that f2.8 will have the equivalent depth of field of f5.6 on a full frame camera, so you may not need to crank your lights up as much or stop the lens down very much at all either.

Check out our review.

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Sony 30mm f3.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony NEX 30mm f3.5 review samples edited flowers (3 of 3)

Sony’s 30mm f3.5 isn’t a terrible lens–in fact it’s a great one. But for some odd reason we couldn’t get uber excited about it. The reason for this has to do with the 45mm equivalent field of view, which we’re not too crazy about. However, the images that it can deliver are sharp, contrasty, well saturated, and incredibly pleasing. When combined with Sony’s higher level APS-C sensor E-mount cameras, you’ll be able to yield images with loads and loads of detail.

Of course though, we recommend getting the right lighting to do this.

Check out our review.

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Tokina 100mm f2.8

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We haven’t reviewed Tokina’s 100mm f2.8, but we’ve tried it. Overall, Tokina has a lot of very great bang-for-your-buck lens options and the 100mm f2.8 is no exception. You won’t have image stabilization of any sort so you’ll need ot use a tripod and keep in mind the reciprocal rule of shutter speeds when shooting.

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Sigma 50mm f2.8

julius motal the phoblographer sigma 50mm f2.8 macro sample 10

We tested Sigma’ 50mm f2.8 on an APS-C camera body and with mostly available lighting. Like any lens, it excels with adequate amounts of light and can resolve lots of details in the right situation. Most of all, we liked the colors that it can produce. Granted, this is one of the older Sigma lenses out there, but it can still deliver great results with the right exposure parameters. The cool thing is that this lens works on Canon, Nikon and Sony DSLR bodies.

Check out our review.

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Tripods

MeFOTO Daytrip

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer MeFOTO Walkabout and Daytrip photos (13 of 22)

We tested the MeFOTO Daytrip tripod with both a DSLR and a mirrorless camera, and at the price point that we’re looking at, this is one of the better options out there. Of course, there are much better options on the market but not at this price point. What we really liked about the Daytrip is its portable nature, cool colors, stability (which we tested at a waterfront) and the fact that the manufacturers don’t use cheap techniques to create the products.

Indeed, they’re designed in America and will last you a very long time.

Check out our review.

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Lighting

LumoPro LP-180

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Lumopro LP-180 and Profoto Speedlite Speedring test with Natalie in rain (1 of 1)ISO 80001-40 sec at f - 3.2

The LumoPro LP-180, arguably our new favorite flash, is not only uber affordable, but it is also super powerful and incredibly well built. Though we usually say that you should take the flash out of the hot shoe, this time around we’re going to tell you to put it in the shoe. With the ability to crank out around 180 watt seconds of juice, you’ll be glad to know that you’ll never ever need to use that much power.

We took the flash out in a sleet storm and it survived with no issues or problems. Additionally, it is simple to use even though it only offers full manual control. The great additional factor though is the fact that when you’re done using it for macro work you can flip it around and set it up for portraits or almost anything else.

Check out our review.

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Rogue FlashBender (Large)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Easy Hack Shoot Through Umbrella with Rubber Bands and Rogue Flash Bender (3 of 3)

This little accessory is why we recommend the LumoPro LP-180 so much. When the flash is in your hot shoe and this panel is mounted onto the flash, it can bathe your subject in lots of beautifully soft light that you’ll value and love. Giving your subject lots of soft light from a flash not only makes the image look better, but also adds specular highlights that bring out extra details in your subject. To that end, it adds to the sharpness of the carefully selected lenses for the systems on this list.

Check out our tip.

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