A Photographer’s Guide to Macro Lens Photography

You’ve probably loved macro photography if you’ve seen close-up images of plants or insects that appear virtually difficult to grab. In this in-depth tutorial, we’ll look at macro lenses and camera choices.

You’ve probably appreciated macro photography if you’ve seen extreme close-up photographs of plants, animals, and insects that appear virtually impossible to capture. You may go even closer to your subject and expose details that are nearly undetectable to the human eye with the proper macro lens. You’ll be a pro at macro photography in no time if you have the proper macro lens and the fundamental information from our in-depth tutorial.

What is Macro Photography?

Macro photography is a type of photography that focuses on extremely close-up shots of tiny objects and living organisms. It allows you to magnify little items, such as bugs, to make them look larger than life.

 

Macro photography makes use of specialized lenses that can concentrate on subjects that are much closer than a conventional lens can. It’s commonly employed with very small things like flowers or insects because of the great magnification.

 

By shooting macro photos of bigger things, filling the frame with a fraction of the item, or creating a textural field, some macro photographers may produce abstract images.

What is Magnification?

The relationship between the size of a subject in reality and the size of its projection on the camera sensor is known as magnification. A lens (or the picture it creates) has to achieve a certain magnification to be considered macro. The size of the picture projected onto the sensor must be at least the same as in real life.

In other words, if your camera has a 36mm x 24mm full-frame sensor and you snap a photo of anything that is 36mm x 24mm, the image must occupy the entire frame.

Most macro (or micro by Nikon) lenses will produce a 1:1 reproduction, while others will only reach a 1:2 magnification or half of the real-life size.

How to Shoot Macro Photography

On its own, a normal camera lens cannot focus near enough to generate macro pictures. There are a few guidelines to follow if you wish to practice macro photography.

Macro Lenses

A specialized macro lens is the finest option for shooting macro. A macro lens is designed to not only focus close to the subject but also to be razor-sharp at that distance. The majority of macro lenses are prime lenses, which perform better than zoom lenses in their price range.

When you’re not employing macro capabilities, most macro lenses function like any other lens. When focusing at extended distances, a 100mm macro will function like any other 100mm lens. In fact, if you don’t require very wide apertures like f/1.4 or f/1.2, a 100mm f/2.8 macro lens may also be a superb portrait lens.

Extension Tubes

It is known as an extension tube when it fits between the camera body and the lens. You may concentrate on items that are closer to the sensor by moving the lens farther away from the sensor. Extension tubes do not add any new optical components to the image, therefore they have little impact on image quality. They are incredibly inexpensive and a cost-effective option because they are so basic.

 

It’s important to remember that certain extension tubes don’t transfer electrical signals between your camera and lens, which means you won’t be able to alter aperture or autofocus. If your lens isn’t sharp at its lowest focusing distance, the extension tube’s extra magnification will worsen the problem.

 

Finally, extension tubes alter the range of distances at which your lens can focus. You’ll lose the ability to focus to infinity, and the minimum focus distance may wind up being within the lens in some situations. It is the focal plane mark on the camera body (or the surface of the sensor) that determines the minimum focusing distance, not the surface of the lens.  Using a tube to change the length of a lens can result in a minimum focusing distance that is far lower than the lens can allow.

Close-Up (Macro) Filters

A close-up filter is a screw-on filter that increases magnification by attaching to the front of another lens. They function in a similar fashion to a portable magnifying glass.

 

However, because they modify the light that reaches the sensor, you should be cautious about the filter’s quality and whether it may damage the image quality. The price of close-up filters may be very low, however, the quality will be low and therefore the result will be limited.

 

Close-up filters aren’t the most appealing option for macro photography, but they may be useful. To minimize image quality loss, seek the highest-quality filters feasibly.

Focal Lengths

Macro versions are available for a wide variety of focal lengths. The most popular focal lengths are probably 90mm and 105mm, however macro lenses in the 180mm-200mm range are also popular. Shorter macro lenses, usually about 50mm to 60mm, are also available.

 

There should be no noticeable variations in the pictures generated by macro lenses of varied focal lengths because the macro designation has a defined magnification definition. The most significant distinction between macro focal lengths is the distance at which the lens should be held for maximum magnification. Shorter lenses must be closer together, whereas longer lenses must be farther apart.

 

As a result, depending on the topic and the shooting conditions, you may pick a certain focal length. If you’re photographing insects that could flee if you approach too near, a longer lens may be necessary. Try a shorter lens that doesn’t force you to back up if you’re photographing a non-living subject.

Depth of Field

Managing the depth of field is one of the most difficult aspects of macro photography. When shooting a macro photograph, the depth of focus is sometimes only a few millimeters deep. You’ll need to make some decisions about how to concentrate your image.

 

In most situations, you’ll want to reduce your aperture by a substantial amount. The sharpest parts of most lenses are between f/8 and f/11. You shouldn’t go wider for a macro photo unless you can achieve a satisfactory exposure at those apertures. Consider using a narrower aperture and accepting the softness that comes with diffraction from small apertures as a compromise.

 

Focus stacking can be used to combine multiple exposures and sharpen the image from the front to the back if the subject does not move. Of course, this will be practically difficult if you’re shooting things like moving insects. The Nikon D850 and the Fuji X-T3 are two cameras that have started to integrate automated focus stacking functions.

 

Finally, you may enjoy the depth of field. You’ll have a crisp subject in front of an out-of-focus backdrop if the most essential element of the photograph is parallel to your camera.

Best Camera for Macro Photography

The lens you choose for macro photography is more important than the camera you use.

 

Because macro photography is all about magnification, high-resolution cameras allow you to crop more heavily. You can magnify the section of the image you’re presently looking at. Cameras with the highest cropping power are the Canon 5Ds (50.4MP), Nikon D850 (45.7MP), and Sony a7R III (42.4MP).

 

Crop sensors, on the other hand, enhance the apparent magnification of your photos. For APS-C format cameras, the Canon 7D II, Nikon D500, and Sony a77II are solid choices.

 

Because you’ll be shooting macro with a small aperture, look for a camera that works well in low light. If you can’t use flash with your subjects, this is a good alternative. The Canon 1D X Mark II, Nikon D5, and Sony a7S II, for example, are excellent low-light cameras.

Best Lens for Macro Photography

While many cameras have advantages for macro photography, the lens is always the most crucial component. Choosing the finest macro lens for your camera mount can help you advance your macro photography.

 

What are you waiting for, if you’ve always wanted to try macro photography? The possibilities for starting out are virtually endless with macro lenses for virtually any interchangeable lens camera.

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