In this article, we'll cover the equipment needed to add macro photography to your photo arsenal.
First things first, what is macro? It means the object appearing on your digital camera's sensor (or 35 mm film plane) is close to the same size as the subject you are shooting. Essentially, it's a function that allows you to focus closer than normal on your subject, giving you the effect of a magnified image.
There are four primary ways to shoot macro shots.
1. Macro Lenses
These lenses allow you to focus closer than normal lenses. They generally have a long barrel, so they look larger and more substantial than standard lenses. Macro subjects are certainly not the only subjects a macro lens can shoot. Their focus range is merely extended from much closer than normal to infinity. And like normal lenses, different macro lenses are appropriate for different kinds of photography.
Long macro lenses, such as 150-200 mm, are good for taking pictures of insects, animals, birds, or things that are generally farther away. Wide macro lenses, such as 30-60 mm, are great for shooting products, toys, and small things. Mid-range macro lenses, such as 70-120 mm, are great for flowers.
Macro lenses tend to be more expensive than their normal focus counterparts, but they give you the flexibility to expand your photography into the smaller, closer subject range. If you think you will be shooting a lot of macro subjects, this could be your best bet.
2. Extension Tubes
These are special tubes that attach to the camera between the camera body and the lens. There is no glass in the tube, and their only function is to move the lens farther away from the camera’s sensor (or the film plane). The effect is that the image appears more magnified and the lens can focus closer. There are different sized extension tubes, and the farther away the lens is from the camera, the greater the magnification. Tubes can range in price, depending on the size and camera model.
3. Close-up Diopters
The least expensive of the DSLR macro options, diopters are essentially glass filters. They screw into the front of the lens and magnify the image, allowing you to focus closer. We recommend getting the size that will fit your largest-sized lens (or the largest one you plan to buy in the future), and use inexpensive adapter rings to make them fit all of your lenses. The drawback to diopters is that the images are not quite as clear as those taken with macro lenses or extension tubes. If you need super sharp shots of the hairs on the legs of a bumblebee, then stick with a macro lens. But for easy, inexpensive close-ups of toys, baby faces, objects, etc, diopters are a good option.
4. The Macro Function on Your Point-and-Shoot
You may already have the ability to shoot macro, by using your point-and-shoot. Ever notice that flower icon? That is the macro icon, and it’s perfect for quick and easy macro shots. Simply press the flower icon or turn the dial, depending on your camera model, and voila, you can shoot super close-up.
There are other ways to shoot macro, such as a bellows attachment that is like an adjustable extension tube, or a reversing ring used to reverse your lens (actually turning it around and shooting out the other way), or even shooting through a magnifying glass!
We hope you enjoyed this information. Stay tuned for a macro technique article in the future!