A Beginner’s Guide on What is Macro Photography

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Macro photography is a genre of photography. It involves taking larger than life-size pictures of tiny subjects.

If you have been captivated by extreme close-up pictures of tiny plants, insects, or animals online and you would like to try it yourself, you have to come to the right place.

In this article, we will be going through some macro photography tips to help you click some amazing photographs in your backyard.

Basics Of Macro Photography

What Is Macro Photography? 

In regular photography, the size of the image formed on the sensor will usually be much smaller than the subject itself. As we get closer to the subject, the size of the image gets closer to the real-life size of the subject.

Eventually, we will be able to produce an image equal to the size of the subject. This is when we enter the domain of macro photography.

In macro photgraphy, the size of the image produced is either equal to or greater than the real-life size of the subject.

1. Difference Between Close-Up And Macro Photography?

The term Close-up Photography is used to describe any photograph shot with the subject closer and in more detail than we are used to. There is no technical definition as such for it.

No specific equipment is required for close-up photography. Any regular lens will do, all you need to do is zoom in or get closer to the subject.

Close-Up photography is just a blanket  term used for macro, micro, and regular close-up photography.

Macro photography can also be considered as a type of close-up. However, in macro photography, the image size needs to be equal to or greater than the subject size.

Regular lenses cannot accomplish this as most lenses will reach a minimum focusing distance, after which getting any closer will make the image blurry and out of focus.

2. Macro Vs. Micro Photography

While the term may seem counter-intuitive, micro-photography deals with magnifications that exceed those of macro-photography.

Both macro and micro photography accomplish the same thing, which is making subjects look bigger. 

Since micro-photography deals with magnifications at the microscopic level, it requires a microscope to help you achieve magnifications above 5 times. In micro photography the subjects aren’t visible to the naked eye.

Equipment Required For Macro Photography

Just like with any genre of photography, you will need the right set of equipment and lenses to shoot the perfect macro shot.

In this guide, we will be going through all the equipment you require to start your macro photography journey.

1. Point-And-Shoot Digital Cameras

A digital camera is actually a great way to take your first steps into macro photography. All you need to do is switch your camera to macro mode. This will cause your lens elements to automatically adjust for close focusing.

The main upside is it a no-cost, hassle-free way of taking macro shots. This requires absolutely zero investment in additional equipment.

If you are just starting to consider macro photography, this is a great way for you to explore the genre without any investment. 

The only downside to this is you won’t be getting the same level of precision, detail, quality, and magnification that you would get with a DSLR and a dedicated macro-lens.

You can still take great shots with your digital camera, nevertheless. And it is a great way to try your hand out at some macro photography. 

2. DSLR Cameras

With A DSLR ( Digital Single Lens Reflex) Camera, your options will increase exponentially.

You can use the lenses you already have and add equipment that will enhance the capability of the pre-existing lenses, or you can also invest in dedicated lenses made specifically for macro photography. 

Irrespective of the method you choose, you can produce an excellent image. Your choice of method will depend on your budget, your experience level, and the quality of shots you need to produce.

3. Reverse The Lens You Already Have

The ‘reverse the lens’ technique is actually pretty simple, all you need is to take your pre-existing camera lenses and turn it around.

So basically, the front of the lens that usually faces the subject now faces the camera. 

If you have a steady hand, you can simply hold the lens against the camera and shoot.

However, if you want more stability you can invest in a reversing ring, which is a threaded adaptor that holds the reversed lens in place. 

4. Extension Tubes

When you try to come too close to the subject, the rays of light focus behind the sensor. This makes the formed image blurry.

With extension tubes, you can move the camera lens farther away from the sensor, allowing you to come closer to the subject without risking going out of focus.

Also, since there are no optics involved in an extension tube, there is no loss of quality. 

The only drawback of extension tubes is that images produced may not be as bright as required due to some light loss. This can easily be compensated by setting your camera to automatic exposure mode.

5. Macro Lenses

Macro lenses are lenses made specifically for the purpose of macro photography. These lenses will allow you to take macro shots without the hassle of attachments or further equipment. 

A dedicated macro lens will allow you to move in close enough to get a 1:1 ratio on image to object size with ease.

Along with your macro lens you can use attachments for greater magnification. At high magnifications it can be difficult to focus accurately. Hence you’ll need some kind of focusing rack or a tripod.

A Few Tips To Get You Started 

1. Depth Of Field

The closer you get to the subject, the shallower the depth of field. An easy fix is to decrease the aperture of your lens.

But, increasing the aperture can cause you to lose brightness, which can be compensated by lower shutter speed. However, lower shutter speed can make your image blurry.

All of this can be very confusing to handle. The solution is to take a lot of shots so you can learn how to use your camera to the best of its capabilities. There is no substitute to practice.

2. Move The Subject 

When shooting keep your camera fixed and move the subject to get a better picture once in focus.

3. Keep Things Tidy.

When shooting macro we often forget that things not visible to the naked eye such as dust and fingerprints can become highly visible. So keep all surfaces tidy.

4. Experiment With Different Angles 

Don’t just stick to parallel, experiment with different angles to get great shots.

5. Fine-Tune Your Composition

With macro shots sometimes the most minute change can give your subject an entirely different look, so don’t be afraid to experiment. 

Macro photography is a fascinating genre of photography. It allows us to see the world around us from a completely different perspective. Looking at tiny subjects in such detail can be quite intriguing.

The best part is all you need is a simple digital camera to start your macro photography journey. With a little bit of practice you’ll be able to click some exquisite macro shots.

So don’t be afraid to try it, as it may even end up being a life-long obsession of yours. Sometimes good things do come in small packages.

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Marco Downs

Marco Downs

Marco Downs is our second founder and he is the creative head of this website. Marco stumbled upon photography only in college when he joined the photography club. His parents could never afford a camera for him as a child and it was in college that he saved up and bought his first camera. He now writes in-depth buyer guides and informational articles to assist the buyers. 
Marco Downs

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