Beginner Tips for Taking Close-up or Macro Photos

Close-up photography, or macro photography as it is sometimes incorrectly called, is a genre hat many want to try as they learn digital photography. One of the first accessories I bought when I started out in photography was a set of close-up filters. Close-up photography can be very expensive but there is a way of starting on a budget.

how to take macro photos

“Autumn Color” captured by Edgar Barany

Most people love the world of close-up, as subjects are magnified and we see features that are not usually viewed with the naked eye. And, if you are a photographer this is where you want to get involved soon after your first camera purchase. But, unfortunately it can be quite expensive and this puts people off. So how do you start?

1. Purchase a compact camera with a macro feature

Although not truly macro unless it’s a 1:1, a compact digital camera with a macro feature can help you experience the world of close-up. Make sure that when you purchase the camera you know how close you can get to your subject. The closer the better. If you can, test the camera out before you make your purchase.

2. Close-up filters for your compact camera

Some compact camera manufactures make a wide range of accessories for their models. Check with your manufacturer’s website to see if they make close-up filters that can screw on the end of the camera’s lens. Some compacts actually can take the smallest filters for a DSLR.

macro shot of frog

“coki croack” captured by Félix León

3. Close-up filters for DSLR cameras

All DSLR lenses have a screw thread, which means they can all take the close-up filters made for your particular brand or generic brands. These screw on to the end of the lens allowing you to get in very close to your subject. Remember though that the better the quality of the filters the better image you will get. These come usually in series of three lenses allowing you different distances from the subject. More glass between the subject and the sensor means a loss of light, so a bigger aperture may be required.

4. Extension tubes

These are tubes placed between your camera and the lens. They have no glass so they don’t interfere much with the light reaching the sensor. What they do is extend the distance between the rear element of the lens and the digital sensor which allows you to get in very close to the subject. They also come in a series of three tubes of different lengths allowing you a variety of combinations and distances from the subject. The great thing about extension tubes is that they are reasonably priced and can be used with most lens focal lengths.

5. DSLR lens with a macro feature

Again this is not truly a macro feature but more of a close-up feature. It does allow you to get in reasonably close and get quite a good close-up image. It’s nowhere near what a true macro lens will give you, but macro lenses are very expensive.

close-up photography

“goodmorning” captured by Shery Han

The great thing about these budget methods is that it is not going to cost you an arm and a leg to try out close-up photography. As you learn photography and decide that close-up is for you, you can lay out the extra money for the true macro equipment. Happy shooting!

About the Author:
Wayne Turner has been teaching photography for 25 years and has written three books on photography. He has produced 21 Steps to Perfect Photos; a program of learner-based training using outcomes based education.

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