How to do Macro Photography

posted on 18th of october, 2010

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).

Macro Lenses

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.

Macro Filters

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.

Comments (13)

Posted by Unteroffizier on October 29, 2010
I strongly agree that for people doing macro (esp field insect works) a ring light will definitely add flavours to your photo presentation. It gives a more even and shadowless appearance to your photos. Cheaper ones are always 'on' (e.g the Godox 48) while more costly ones may come with TTL functions from camera manufacturers or third parties. A macro lens is still the basic equpment if you are serious about doing macro work, and i don't mean just showing them online. External lighting system a must since aperture may go beyond f22 at times and when you deal with subjects in motion that do not allow for slower shutter speeds.
Posted by Ratmandude on October 21, 2010
I recently purchased a Ring Flash … which has opened a whole new avenue for macro shooting … along with the macro filters that I already have … but even without the filters, I would strongly recommend the ring flash as it does seem to give so much more function than I had originally thought it would offer.

So if toy are really keen on macro shooting, seriously look at getting one … I know macro will never be the same for me again, without the ring flash …

If you are now wondering … where do I get one of those nifty gadgets ? Well all I say say without punting any particular location is that I bought mine on a very well know "eLECtronic" shopping facility. One where no matter where in the world you are located you will almost certainly find a seller who will supply you the goods you are after.
Failing that you could always visit you local camera dealer and see what they can offer …
But be aware that the "OEM" ones are VERY pricey and are not necessarily that much...(More)
Posted by Sagarprajapati on October 21, 2010
It's really great information about micro photography.
thanks to send your time writing this page
Posted by Surub on October 20, 2010
You can also use a reversed lense :-)
Posted by smartview27 on October 19, 2010
Thanks for your information.
Posted by Unteroffizier on October 19, 2010
Macro, or closeup is best carried out with a true macro lens in the 1:1 magnification ratio. And note that this 1:1 ratio is achieve only at the nearest focusing distance of the lens. Going manual focusing should be the best approach if a photographer wants to explore the full potential in magnification. For insect macro photography, besides looking at a suitable external lighting system, it will be easier for photographers to use lenses of longer focal lengths (e.g 85mm and up). These focal lengths comes with a bigger working distance so that your subjects will not be spooked. Addition of extension tubes on them for flexibility and increased magnification over 1:1 size while teleconveters are good for shorter macro lenses.
Posted by Xiaofeng123 on October 18, 2010
I like micro photo.
Posted by Laurasinelle on October 18, 2010
Very useful! Thanks for sharing!
Posted by Halilin on October 18, 2010
useful!!! Thanks...
Posted by Trottola on October 18, 2010
Interesting blog, thank you for sharing!
Posted by Egomezta on October 18, 2010
Nice blog, thanks for sharing.
Posted by Picstudio on October 18, 2010
Very good blog, nice writing.
Posted by Mariaam on October 18, 2010
Very interesting article! Thanks for sharing!

Comments (13)

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