Starting macro

Following are my personal observations regarding gear for close-up and macro work.

True macro is where the subject is when it is the same size on the sensor or film frame as it is in reality. So macro lenses should have a marking such as 1:1 on them.

In order to achieve close ups with most methods we usually have to resort to special arrangements, which may be different depending on the type of camera.

Expanding your camera’s abilities has never been cheaper… assuming you are happy buying Chinese imports via Amazon.

These are the 6 methods/options:

  1. Use available magnifications either in camera such as digital telephoto or cropping in software – but this obviously results in much loss of image quality when seeking macro magnification.

Use a closeup or macro lens – usually graded in dioptres, the higher the number the stronger the effect. They are available either in round mounts to attach to the filter thread your lens, or square mounts such as Cokin or equivalent. From £6.45 for a set (Amazon)

  1. Square mounts – fit all your lenses with the appropriate adapter, but you also need a system filter holder.
    1. Round mounts – perhaps easiest to use in all these methods, but obviously only fit lenses with the same filter thread.
    1. Image quality inconsistent, especially around frame edges that can end up being very soft image quality.
      1. Easiest method, but because they add at least two extra glass surfaces there is sometimes a risk of poorer image quality. They do not impact on exposure.
      1. The only option for bridge cameras
      1. An attachment can be found for camera phones for the same effect.

From £3.99 (Amazon)

Use a reversing ring – this fits to the filter thread of your chosen lens which you then fit to your camera back to front.

£10.99 for 52mm to Nikon or MFT at Amazon

  1. The cheapest are manual only – they need a lens that has an aperture ring
    1. Others are more complicated and expensive because they retain exposure information via an extra cable.
      1. Focussing has to be done manually, but there is no impact on exposure.
  2. Use extension tubes – that are usually in sets of three of varying depth and thus power.

From £34.99 (Amazon)

  1. Exposure has to be adjusted depending which tube, or multiple tubes, is fitted. Some extension tubes are manual only but others retain automatic exposure and focussing.
    1. Rather fiddly but workable for DSLRs and Mirrorless system cameras, relatively inexpensive.
  2. Use a bellows attachment – the bellows are on a rail that fits between camera and lens.

From c £39 (Amazon)

  1. This is the most powerful option, has the greatest range of magnifying power
    1. Awkward to use / tripod only
    1. Needs rings and cable to retain auto exposure
    1. Can be expensive to buy depending on how many features and focus aids you require
    1. Slide copying attachments can be found… but there are easier options.
  2. Use a bespoke macro lens.