In this two-part post we’ll be discussing all things macro. Today we’ll go over the basic concept as well as the equipment needed. Next week’s post will explain the technical aspects of shooting macro.
Macro photography, by definition, is close-up photography of small to microscopic subjects. We know it seems backwards – you’d think that magnifying and shooting the finest details would be called “micro” photography, not macro. Still, that’s the correct term.
Technically speaking, not all close-up photography is considered macro photography. True macro photography is an image that has a ratio of 1:1 or larger. In layman’s terms, the subject captured is life-size or larger. As far as this post is concerned, equipment and tips apply to both close-up and macro photography.
The great thing about macro photography is that you can achieve incredible results with most cameras. But (there’s always a “but”) like everything in life, the more your equipment is geared for a specific function, the more your results will reflect your investment.
Having a macro lens for your DSLR will produce the best images and reveal the finest details. Not in the market for a new lens? Not to worry, we’ll explain everything in between.
With a depth of field as small as 1mm, focus is paramount. Any twitch can result in a blur. So whatever camera you shoot with, using a tripod will produce crisp macro images.
Don’t be fooled. Though not the choice of professionals, compact cameras are capable of producing some remarkable images. If you select Macro Mode (flower icon), your camera will know that you are trying to focus on something closer than normal. Put your camera abnormally close to a flower, zoom in further, and snap it. You’ll see what we mean.
Having a DSLR for macro photography is preferred. It will give you flexibility with equipment options and allow you the most control over your camera. Check out these alternatives to enhance your DSLR’s macro capabilities:
- Extension tubes – By extending the length of your lens, extension tubes increase the size of the image that your senor reads. In essence it fills the frame with the desired image, giving your existing lens enhanced macro capability.
- Close-up lens filter – Imagine a magnifying glass for your camera, an external attachment that increases the focal strength of your current lens. Close-up lenses are simple, cheap, and produce good results, though just not the same results as the best option available.
- Macro Lenses – If you’re looking to shoot macro at the highest level, then the best option is to get your hands on a real macro lens. There’s no way around it, these lenses are engineered to produce sharp images at a very close range. Like a microscope, these lenses can bring things to your photos that the naked eye cannot see.
Stay tuned for next week’s installment on the technical side of shooting macro. In the meantime, check out these beautiful macro photography books in the Blurb Bookstore.