When we take macro photography pictures, we have three choices of optical solution: special macro lenses, intermediate rings (extension tubes) or bellows, and macro filters, which are screwed to the lens, just like a typical photographic filter. And please remember about a tripod. It seems essential to use the SLR, because even though compact cameras usually have the macro mode, it usually doesn’t allow taking pictures of smaller flowers or insects (not to mention overall quality of the photos).
This option is the easiest and quickest to use, but at the same time the most expensive. These are essentially normal lenses, which glasses, however, can be put much further in the direction of a photographed object. These lenses usually provide excellent picture quality, and at the same time are brighter than the other optical options.
How does it work? To have your photographic subject accurately mapped on a 1:1 scale (so the actual size of the photographed subject and its image on the sensor or film frame will be the same), its distance from the very center of the optical set must be equal to the two focal lengths of a lens. While, for example, photographing with a lens of 55mm focal length, the subject should be located at a distance of 110mm from the optical center of the lens, and if it is a lens of 105mm focal length, this item should be removed from it by 210mm. And here doesn’t count the size of the digital camera sensor or the size of a film frame. This is a general principle - applies to all lenses and to all cameras.
Using lenses designed specifically to carry out macro photography pictures you can take advantage of the full range of automatic light metering and focusing. The most popular macro lenses have focal lengths that are in the range from 50mm to 105mm. Also, some zooms provide focus range in a macro mode - but usually this is not really a 1:1 reproduction ratio. For example, photographers who are using lenses of fixed focal length may use a macro lens of 50mm or 55mm focal length as a standard lens as well (this applies only to holders of digital SLR cameras with a sensor size corresponding to the 24x36mm large film frame). For photographers using other digital SLRs with smaller sensors, this focal length is a bit too long for a standard lens.
Bellows and Intermediate Rings (Extension Tubes)
Both types of this equipment work in the same way: while holding the lens further from the surface of the camera’s sensor (or a film frame), it allows to increase the scale of mapping. It is a little unhandy solution, but cheap, and allows us to use other, non-macro lenses with fixed focal length that provide a good picture quality. Bellows and intermediate rings, however, cause loss of light (the further the distance between the lens and the camera, the larger loss of light). Unfortunately, with the increasing loss of light simultaneously depth of field remains the same.
Also light metering becomes more difficult - we can’t enjoy the full automation of measurement - the best in that situation is to work with the camera in manual mode and set the aperture manually on the lens as indicated by photometer. Similarly, the same applies to focusing – it needs to be set manually, but in the case of macro photography it gives us a lot of advantages. Only a few and expensive tools like that, designed for each camera system provide an automation of light measurement and autofocus. Usually this hardware has a very simple design - these are uncomplicated mechanisms which are put between a lens and the camera body.
This is the cheapest option for macro photography, but allows to achieve a satisfactory optical effects. It is the only solution that can be used for most compact cameras, which lenses aren’t possible to be changed. They are just magnifying glasses of different magnification magnitude, fastened to the front of the camera lens or other filters. Additionally, you can combine them together in order to intensify the magnification. It must be remembered that the more additional layers of glass (or plastic in the case of the cheapest macro filters) will be put in front of the camera lens, the worse optical quality of the pictures. For those wanting to receive a picture of the highest optical quality, such magnifying lenses are not the best solution.