We have talked about it previously, but Macro photography is one of those niches in the photography world that can and does have a lot of overlap with many genres. The niche itself at the base level really only requires a macro lens, which for those unaware is generally considered to be a lens with a 1:1 magnification ratio or better( 2:1, 4:1, etc).
The idea with macro photography is to show us the details of small objects, so if you can’t even reproduce things at their full size on the image how are you going to show people more than they would see otherwise? You couldn’t. But as with all things photography related, what you can accomplish with a minimal kit is impressive, however, there are certain things that you should invest in if you are serious about Macro Photography. We are here today to talk about those things.
So, as we talked about, a key piece to getting serious about macro photography is having a lens that gives you those true macro capabilities with at a minimum 1:1 magnification. You don’t actually have to invest in an expensive dedicated macro lens though, you could always take advantage of a lens reversing ring, which allows you to connect lenses to your camera backward (with the front element pointed at the sensor). This has the effect of giving you increased macro capabilities, however, this should really only be done with manual lenses, and shouldn’t be considered a ‘professional’ solution to this.
But if you are wanting to play with macro photography on the cheap, getting yourself a reversing ring is probably the most inexpensive way to do that – assuming you have a lens you can use that on. You can find reversing rings at your local camera store most likely, but if not they have a decent collection of them over on Amazon as well.
If a reversing ring is not your cup of tea, then you will want to invest in a real, true macro lens. Here is a quick list of some of our favorite macro lenses on the market right now. Any of these would be an excellent choice, depending on what you intended to be using the macro lens for.
- Canon 100mm F2.8L Macro
- Nikon 105mm F2.8G IF-ED Macro
- Tamron 90mm F2.8 Di Macro VC USD
- Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro
- Sony FE 90 mm F2.8 Macro G OSS
- Fujifilm 80mm F2.8 R LM OIS Macro
Another aspect to macro photography is stabilization. If you want to get the best quality images out of your macro endeavors, then you will want to have your camera locked down on a tripod to avoid unnecessary movement and such in the photo. The depth of field, particularly when shooting wide open, on macro lenses is very small, so any movement can be the difference between nailing focus where you want it and missing it by a hair.
So we suggest having a solid tripod to use; or at the very least a small ‘table-top’ tripod that you can use to lock down your shot on a solid surface like a table, desk or floor. Here are a few tripod options that we recommend checking out:
Another aspect of macro photography is lighting. Because the depth of field in this niche is so small when shooting wide open, many macro photographers will stop down the lens quite a bit in order to get their lens in that goldie-lox zone for sharpness and depth of field, somewhere probably around F8, or even higher.
Because of this, many times additional lighting will be needed in order to get a proper exposure for the shot(s). there are many ways one can approach this, from an on-camera lighting rig, to studio lighting – it really depends on what you are trying to shoot with your macro photography. But at any rate, here are some of the lighting options that we would recommend looking at.
Finally, there are some other macro specific tools out there that you can use to get really precise macro images. One of those items is bellows, and basically what this does is adds a light sealed extendable mount onto your camera. So you can put your lens on the front like you normally would, but then using a special dial you can move the lens further or closer to the sensor, depending on the magnification and focus you are hoping to achieve. These have the negative side effect of causing you to lose infinity focus, however, you don’t really need that for really close detailed macro work anyway.
You can find bellows over on Amazon, here.
Another tool that you can make use of is what’s called Macro Extension Tubes, and these work similarly to bellows, except that they come at predetermined lengths and often feature electric contacts, allowing your lens to retain communication with the camera. This is another popular and practical way to do more macro photography without necessarily investing in a dedicated lens.
You can find Extension Tubes over on Amazon, here.
So there you have it, a quick look at Macro Photography and some of the tools that you need in order to really take your macro work to another level.