Macro Photography Equipment: Tools For Capturing Rich Details

Published: 07th July 2010
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Macro photography is easier today than ever thanks to advances in affordable digital cameras and lens along with other macro imaging equipment. Someone new to macro photograph can often jump right in with an off the shelf digital camera and the right lens. They could begin toying with macro imaging and delving into the art.

Macro Imaging Lens

A macro, or micro, lens is the heart of macro imaging. These lenses are typically easy to spot due to their long barrels. Extension tubes and bellows are also used to extend the barrel. The further the lens is from the film or the digital sensor, the closer the focusing distance, the greater the magnification, and the darker the image.

The lens itself is most commonly found on a 1:1 standard ratio, meaning the image on the film is the same size as the object being photographed. Lens up to a 5:1 ratio are also easily attainable and are suited for macro imaging of the structure of small insect eyes, snowflakes, and anything else with similar minute details. The lenses are then categorized according to focal length:

The 50 to 60mm range is best used for product photography and small objects. The 90 to 105mm range is the standard focal range used for insects, flowers, and other fine details. 150 to 200mm focal lengths give a greater working distance for use with small animals.

Auxiliary Close Up Lens

An auxiliary macro imaging close up lens is an inexpensive way to provide close focusing. Attachments can be slipped on or screwed in. These extra lenses allow the camera to get closer to the subject to decrease the focusing distance for macro photography. Special filters can also be used to "reverse" the lens by using a reversing ring. Then, macro photography can be used to blow objects up just like a projector. Coupling a reversed lens and standard lens allows for an even greater magnification ratio up to 16:1.

Depth Of Field And Lighting

Depth of field is an advanced concept that describes how much three dimensional detail macro photography can capture. Typically, as the macro imaging focuses into a higher magnification, the total field of depth, or breadth of detail, shrinks. The best ways to get a good depth of field is to use a small aperture or high f number lens.

Then, a slow shutter speed or bright lighting is needed for correct exposure. Lighting can be achieved with very bright natural sources, but when the lens is close to the subject, not enough light reaches the lens. To compensate, auxiliary lighting can be achieved with a ring flash mounted to the lens.

So with a good lens, the right barrel or extensions, plus some auxiliary lighting if necessary, and macro photography is easy to get started. Professionals add specialized equipment and techniques to achieve even greater results for scientific and forensic work.

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