Macro photography is one of the most fascinating areas of photography. By definition, it’s about depicting certain objects at a scale of 10:1 to 1:10. You don’t need very expensive equipment for this, because there are many ways and means to create photos in this scale. In this article we would like to introduce you to the world of macro photography.
Basics of macro photography – tips for professional photos
In practice, macro photography means putting small subjects in a big way – true fascination. Details that are seemingly incidental are brought into focus and take up the bulk of the photo. To do this, it’s not enough to simply hold the camera close to the subject. There are some basic points you should keep in mind when taking macro photographs.
The right equipment for macro photography
Most modern cameras are suitable for macro photography. If your camera has Liveview, a built-in viewfinder or a ground-glass focusing screen, you are already equipped for this endeavor. However, systems whose viewfinder has a different perspective in the close-up range than in the shot are not suitable. These include, for example, two-lens reflex cameras, rangefinder cameras and cameras that only have a see-through viewfinder.
The most straightforward method to create macro photographs is to use so-called macro lenses. These allow you to display a large scale of reproduction and are designed for this endeavor. Modern lenses of this type use several groups of lenses, which can change the distances relative to each other. This has the advantage that aberrations can be corrected almost perfectly. Unlike normal fixed focal lengths, macro lenses are often expensive, heavy and large. Although almost all of them have autofocus, they are particularly good for manual focusing, since you want to change the focus only minimally, especially with small objects. Common focal lengths for macro lenses range from about 60 – 200 mm, depending on the application.
With extension rings you can easily increase the distance between lens and photo sensor by a selected value. This has the advantage that you can achieve a macro effect even with inexpensive lenses or fixed focal lengths. Extension rings are attached between the camera body and the lens. They do not contain any optical elements, which eliminates distortion. Basically, they do nothing other than an additional extension by the amount of the length of the extension ring.
The use of retroadapters is probably by far the cheapest way to create high-quality macro photographs. The principle is that you attach your lens to the camera in a so-called retro position, i.e. upside down. This trick enables you to achieve very large photo scales. Even a kit lens with a retro adapter attached can produce images that would normally only be possible with an expensive macro lens. The only disadvantage is that you have no control over your aperture, or can only change it through certain tricks. Also, with retroadapters you can only focus on objects directly in front of the lens.
Some tips for macro photography
Especially with very small objects, it is advisable to use a self-timer or remote shutter release to avoid blurring due to vibrations. You should also use a tripod if necessary. For subjects where you also want to show depth, it is best to align your camera so that the film plane is parallel to the object plane. Optimally, you should have plenty of space on your memory card or carry a set of several memory cards. Since adjusting focus is one of the biggest problems in macro photography, there will be a lot of waste between good photos. Wind, vibrations, and objects moving too fast (such as insects), will cause many photos to be out of focus. In addition, you should not be under time pressure, but leave yourself plenty of time to take good photos and observe nature on a scale that is hidden from us.