Macro Photography Explained in Detail

Who among us is not fascinated by macro photography? Those photos full of color and detail, portraying everyday objects that we have rarely seen so closely. Doesn’t it make you admire the giant head of a fly, the texture of the petals of a rose, or the details of the wings of a butterfly? I recognize that this photographic genre is one of my weaknesses. I can spend hours and hours observing Macro photos of elements of nature. It is a delight that for me is priceless.

If you have an SLR camera and you are also attracted to the idea of ​​taking Macro photos, today’s article is for you. In it I will explain some basic notions that you need to know about Macro photography and I will bring you closer to the type of lens that you will have to buy if you want to develop in this branch of photography.

And if what you want is to go deeper into nature photography, this is our most complete guide, with tips, tricks and a lot of inspiration.

First… what exactly is Macro photography?

“Macro” means big. Macro photography is therefore a branch of photography in which the photographed subject is “big” in the photo, as big as in real life or bigger. For example, if the size of an ant in the photo is equal to or larger than its size in real life, that is a Macro photo.

What is Macro photography used for?

For me the first use is to contemplate the beauty of the “small” things that surround us. And I say small in quotes because the fact that they are small is something very relative, they are only small in our eyes, and that is where the usefulness of Macrophotography arises, which is capable of teaching us the beauty of the subject (be it an object, animal or plant) in question.
Other more objective uses are that of biological research, which is a field that owes a lot to Macro photography, as it has made it possible to document many studies related to many animal and plant species.
Also thanks to Macrophotography it is possible to contemplate and enjoy some jewels or valuable objects whose very small size normally prevents them from being appreciated in all their detail.

What do I need to start taking Macro photos?

Although many compact digital cameras offer a “Macro” mode (usually marked with a little flower symbol), this is not actually a true “Macro” mode, but simply a very close-up shot, where the subject appears large but it really does not reach the level of “enlargement” necessary to be able to speak of a Macro photo.
In my days with a compact camera, I loved taking photos in this mode that I am telling you about, the one with the flower symbol, but true Macro photography begins with a SLR camera.
Answering what many have been asking me: the Macro function is not a feature of the camera itself, but rather of the lens used. Many people want to buy their first SLR camera and ask me which one is the most suitable for Macro photography. All. The camera really only takes the picture, the one that focuses is the lens and therefore you don’t have to worry about the Macro issue when buying the camera. It is a detail to take into account more when looking at objectives.
Once we have the camera, we have two options: either get a converter lens, or get a specific lens for Macro photography, which is the option I recommend the most.

Macro converter lens

It is the option of those who cannot afford a true macro lens. It consists of using the camera with any objective that we have on hand, even the one from the original kit, and hooking a small converter lens to this objective that, as its name suggests, converts the normal objective into a Macro.
It is a very cheap option, since the converter lenses usually have a very affordable price. But be careful, I also have to warn you that the optical quality offered by these converter lenses is light years away from the quality that a real Macro lens can offer you.

macro lenses

If you have tried to focus with your normal lens at a very small distance, you will have verified that it has a minimum focus distance, below which it no longer focuses.
Well, Macro lenses are lenses that have the ability to focus at very, very short distances. They are lenses that can still focus even when almost glued to the object or subject we are photographing.
It is easy to find this type of lens since the word “Macro” usually appears on its box, name or description, and they usually have a focal length between 50 and 200mm (although there are even 500mm). Anyway, in this article we tell you more about macro objectives and we leave you a good list of recommendations.

Macro photography example

Here are a few examples that capture the aesthetic power of Macro photography.

They are, if you look closely, details that we can find in our daily lives. Elements that surround us every day and that are unsuspectedly hidden in a pot, in a case or a purse.

Macro lenses that I recommend

Thus, in general, my recommendation would be to look for a lens with a focal length between 50 and 90mm, which has the word “Macro” in the description, as is obvious, and preferably has a diaphragm opening as large as possible (value f / low), something like that around f/2.8 can be an excellent option.

Here is my macro lens recommendation for the 4 most popular brands of SLR cameras:

It’s good to look at

Here comes today’s article. Now, don’t just passively gaze at the macro beauty that others portray. You already know the secret, now try to produce it yourself. When you take your first macro shots and see the end result, trust me, you won’t be able to hold back your joy. You have my word 🙂

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Happy photography!