Prefixing the word photography with macro changes its dimensions. For one, macro photography opens doors to a whole new miniature world of photography and presents you with endless possibilities to experiment. Macro photography gives you the creative freedom to capture and portray your subjects in a completely different, larger-than-life perspective. So, whether it’s a dewdrop, a butterfly, a bug, or a flower, macro photography allows you to not only view these common subjects differently but also lets you spectacularly capture them.
Macro photography has always been popular, but lately, a lot of photographers, both beginners and professionals, are getting into it thanks to working from home. Of course, standard camera equipment is not enough to create macro magic, which is why you have to use more than just a good camera and a standard lens for macro photography.
To help you take the best macro shots we have come up with a list of the best accessories for macro photography. We’re sure this will help you get started with your macro photography journey right away. Below are some essential accessories that you should consider:
Use Your Existing Lens and a Macro Adapter
With the advent of mirrorless camera systems, the use of adapters has now come into the picture. Most cameras in this category have a self-referential design. Also, because of the compact structure of these cameras, they offer a shorter FFD (Focus Flange Distance). Technically, you can mount any lens with a longer FFD on a camera, providing a shorter FFD. However, you can do this only with the help of an adapter.
You can mount the adapter between the camera and lens. By doing so the adapter effectively serves to make up the difference in focal flange distance between the camera and lens. The result on the adapter is attached is a more magnified view. The longer the adapter, the close you can get.
There are various adapters available. Some adapters only allow manual focus whereas others offer autofocus with the aid to maintain electronic communication between the adapted lens and the body. Some lens adapters go a step ahead, retaining the inherent autofocus and stabilisation capabilities of the lens.
To achieve infinity focus, you can additionally include a corrective element in the adapter itself. In case you opt not to use a corrective element, the combination of the adapter and your lens will still offer the ability to work at focusing distances less than infinity. This becomes possible because the lens now acts as an extension tube.
Many reputed brands have come up with lens adapters that are compatible with a wide range of camera brands. Among these top names, Kenko is one trusted brand. Top macro photographers across the world swear by the amazing features of Kenko’s extension tubes. So in saying this, let’s have a look at some of their best lens adapters.
Kenko Extension Tube Set for Sony
This product comes in two categories – the extension tube set for Sony is crafted for use with Sony A-mount cameras, while the Sony DG extension tube set is specifically for Sony E-mount cameras and lenses. All you have to do is sandwich the adapter between the lens and the camera, and you can convert your regular lens to a macro lens in an instant! The DG extension tubes have no optics and help move the lens further away from the image sensor. The more the distance, the greater is the magnification achieved.
Kenko Extension Tube Set for Canon
This extension tube offers magnification just as any top-class macro lens would offer. For Canon EF/EF-S lenses, you can opt for the extension tube set for Canon. Similarly, if you are looking for a lens adapter for Canon EOS E and EOS RP (RF-mount) systems, you can choose the extension tube set for Canon RF.
Kenko Extension Tube Set for Nikon
Enjoy macro photography with these two products curated for Nikon’s range of cameras. The extension tube for Nikon Z is compatible with Nikon Z7 and Z6 (Z-mount) systems. Similarly, you also have the extension tube for Nikon, which can be paired with Nikon F-mount cameras and lenses.
Kenko Extension Tube for Micro Four Thirds
The requirements of micro four-thirds lenses are different, which is why Kenko has come up with an extension tube specifically for use with these lenses only. The two extension tubes can be employed either individually or together for enhanced results.
Dedicated Macro Lenses
While an adapter is a perfect option for beginners in macro photography if you’re looking to take it a notch higher and create exceptional macro imagery, buying yourself a macro lens is the best decision. Macro lenses are built to deliver crystal-clear, detailed close-up images. Just like adapters, we have also come up with a list of the best macro lenses to help you get started with a good macro photography experience.
Have a look at the lenses we have shortlisted for you:
Venus Optics Laowa 65mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro APO Lens for FUJIFILM X
By far, this lens is one of the best macro lenses to suit Fujifilm X Series cameras. With a 2:1 magnification and a minimum focusing distance of 6.7″, this lens delivers picture-perfect macro shots. The fact that you are getting double lifesize is phenomenal. Not many macro lenses on the market have this ability. The lens is equipped with a 9-blade diaphragm, which further enhances your images by adding a pleasing, subtle bokeh to them. With three extra-low dispersion elements, you don’t have to worry about the appearance of chromatic aberrations and colour fringing at all.
Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art Lens for L-Mount
This lens is crafted to suit the requirements of L-mount lenses and full-frame format cameras, and thus, it offers an aperture range of f/2.8 to f/22. With a 1:1 magnification (lifesize) and minimum focusing distance of 10.2″, this lens works wonderfully in close working distances. Additionally, the lens design incorporates a range of special aspherical and low dispersion elements, to ensure clear, vivid and bright imagery. Every element is coated with a super multi-layer coating, which helps produce contrast-rich and colour-neutral images.
Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro for Nikon
This large aperture, medium telephoto macro lens features Sigma’s proprietary OS (Optical Stabilizer) system. With this, you get additional stability, which is essential when it comes to handheld close-up photography. Compatible with full-frame digital SLR cameras, this lens can also be used with smaller APS-C size sensors. Further, this super-compact lens offers a magnification ratio of 1:1 at its closest working distance of 12.3 inches.
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro for Canon EF
Equipped with the DI technology, Tamron’s 90mm macro lens is often referred to as the best portrait macro lens. With a fast f/2.8 aperture and high performing specifications, this macro lens is a popular pick among photographers across the world. The lens offers a magnification ratio of 1:1, with a minimum object distance of 11.4″. The lens features a powerful optical design with ten elements in 9 groups and delivers stunning, detailed macro shots.
Irrespective of the type of photography, lighting plays a vital role. When it comes to macro photography, it is even more crucial, as 80% of a close-up photograph’s composition is determined by lighting. This also means that lighting is the single most important element in macro photography.
Let’s be honest. You cannot always rely on natural lighting. If you are entirely dependent on it, you may not get the desired quality of results. This is precisely where external lighting equipment comes into the picture. In macro photography, all you have to do is find ways to optimise the light hitting your image sensor, and the best way to do this is to introduce force lighting.
A constant LED or a dedicated on-camera flash is ideal. The additional light brought in by this equipment enhances your close-up shots, making them look much bigger, better and brighter. When it comes to external lighting equipment, you have to ensure you choose the best. We’ve listed down the top two products that are popular for the features they offer and the results they deliver. Find out more:
Metz 15 MS-1 Wireless Digital Macro Flash
A wireless macro flash, this product from Metz comes with two individually adjustable reflectors. This macro flash has a new ring-shaped design that delivers even and precise writing. Additionally, it also enriches the creative lighting configuration in the macro range. For a greater scope of creativity, this product also offers a manual control facility.
Nikon Close-up Speedlight Commander Kit R1C1
This product from Nikon is an exceptional tool for those who want to improve the quality of their macro shots dramatically. With excellent close-up lighting control, this kit gives you the flexibility to get creative with the lighting setup for your macro shots. The layout of this kit is pretty simple and easily accessible, too. This gives you quick access to adjust and control the settings while shooting.
Macro Photography Focusing Assistant
One peculiar feature of macro lenses is that at a given time, only a very good area of the focal plane is in focus. This is the reason why when you capture the butterfly, only the front of the Lepidoptera is crisp and clear, while the rest of the image is blurred. Technically, for a completely in-focus image, you would want the entire image to be in focus.
While this may not be possible due to the focus restrictions of macro lenses, there is one way out. You can try using focus stacking to capture the same subject at different focal lengths. For an enhanced effect, you can then compile these stacked images into a single image. This way, you ensure that the whole subject is in focus.
Now, capturing the same subject at different focal lengths is easier said than done. However, with the right equipment, everything is simplified and possible. For better focus stacking, you have a focusing rail that allows you to set up your camera, adjust its distance from the subject and gradually move along the focal plane.
Sounds super easy?
It’s time to get yourself one! We’ve listed the two best focusing rails for you to choose from.
Nisi Macro Focusing Rail
When it comes to focusing rails, Nisi is undoubtedly one of the best brands out there. With a 360 degree rotating clamp, this focusing rail gives you the ability to precisely adjust the position of your camera when shooting macro shots. This focusing rail features a double-dovetail mount and is compatible with most Arca-type clamps in the market.
Manfrotto MF 454 Micro Sliding Plate
Another good brand producing top-notch photography equipment is Manfrotto. The sliding plate from Manfrotto offers precise positioning that you require to stack your images along the focal length precisely. It features a simple lock-release lever, which allows you to set up the focusing rail quickly. The product is light in weight and is perfect for carrying along on your macro photography expeditions.
Tripods for Macro Photography
What’s photography without stability? Nothing! Just give this a thought – you have everything in place, a spectacular subject, top-class macro photography equipment, well-set lighting. However, just because of instability, you end up with an image that is blurry.
This is exactly why you need to ensure added stability while shooting those close-up shots. No other equipment than tripods can provide this much-needed balance for handheld close-up shooting. Investing in a tripod is a wise choice, as it can be used not only for macro photography but all other types of photography, as well. Let’s quickly have a look at the best tripods available:
Manfrotto MK190XPRO3-3W 190 Aluminium 3-Section Tripod with Head
You can quickly switch this flexible tripod from Manfrotto from vertical to horizontal operation mode as per your requirements. With a rigid body, this tripod is easy to extend and adjust, without compromising on the stability it offers. The friction control feature offers even-weight distribution, which further adds to the stability this product provides.
Manfrotto Befree GT XPRO Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod with 496 Center Ball Head
Lightweight, foldable and compact, this tripod is simply perfect for outdoor usage. This tripod is dedicated to professional macro photographers and features a centre ball head, which ensures smooth and precise framing. Just like Manfrotto’s other tripods, this one, too, offers the best secure stability, helping you capture those clear, detailed macro shots.
Manfrotto 330B Macro Flash Bracket
One accessory which boosts the functioning of the tripod is this flash bracket. With the help of this accessory, you can attach two flash heads along with the camera on the head of the tripod. Optimising the effectiveness of a tripod, this is certainly one piece of equipment you should consider investing in.
There’s a common misconception that a fantastic camera will help you nail macro photography. With this detailed post, we hope we cleared this myth. After all, a camera is merely a part of a comprehensive macro photography kit. With the best accessories and additional equipment available out there, you can optimise what your camera and macro lens can do. So, before you start your macro photography journey, do add all of this equipment to your kit. Good luck with capturing the stunning close-up images of your favourite creepy crawlies!