For most people who are starting out with macro photography, all the
equipment that's needed is a digital camera with a macro option.
You can tell if your camera has a macro option by looking for the
telltale flower icon. The macro button will tell your camera to
focus at the correct focal point — close to your camera —
while ignoring distances far away. This will ensure that the subject
you are photographing remains in focus.
Reversing rings allow you to reverse your lenses on your camera, which
can add stunning results to macro photography. A reversing ring is
essentially a bayonet fitting with filter threading. Its job is to
make sure that the reversed lens and your camera are safely fitted
If you want to improve your macro photographs, you can consider adding
some close-up filters. These filters, which work like magnifying
glasses, screw on to the camera lens. They bring the focal range
closer, in effect, allowing you to better focus on your subject. If
your current camera lens doesn't have threading that allows these filters
to be used, you can usually add an adapter to your lens. Filters
are available in different magnification sizes — from 1x all the way
up to 10x — and can also be stacked to increase magnification.
While compact digital cameras don't have interchangeable lenses, you can
"stack" lenses for effect. "Stacking" refers to adding a reversed
lens to the current lens, so that the fronts of each lens are facing each
other. In order to stack your lenses, you'll need a lens stacking
adapter called a male-to-male coupling ring. While you can use any
lens to stack, most macro photographers prefer something called a prime
lens. Prime lenses, because they have been abandoned by more
traditional photographers in favor of newer technology, can be found
inexpensively at second-hand camera stores as well as on online auction
sites. When choosing a prime lens, a general rule of thumb is that
the wider the lens is, the closer you will be able to get to your subject.
Macro lenses are special lenses that are designed to allow the
photographer to engage in close-up photography. Macro lenses will
allow you to take pictures at a shorter focal distance, and are
particularly effective when it comes to contrast, sharpness, and quality
of close images. Macro lenses are available from 50mm to
300mm. While macro lenses are more expensive than non-macro lenses,
they add a certain quality to all photographs.
Tele converters are designed so that you can trade lens speed for longer
focal lengths, and generally come in 1.2x, 1.4x, and 2x
magnifications. While a tele converter changes the magnification of
your lens, buying the proper lens will almost always result in better
An extension tube, which is a piece of tubing with a bayonet fitting, has
a similar effect as a close-up lens, with improved quality.
Extension tubes come in lengths that range from 13mm to 24mm, and can be
combined to make longer lengths.
Bellows do the same job as extension tubes, but their accordion-like style
allows the photographer to conveniently manipulate their length, without
removing them, for different magnifications.
Flash and Lighting
Because getting so close to your subject results in serious loss of
light, one of the ways you can compensate is with flash lighting.
Special macro flashes are mounted directly on the front of the lens, and
while expensive, make it easy for the photographer to control the amount
and direction of light used.
Reflectors and Diffusers
Reflectors and diffusers will help the macro photographer manipulate and
shape the light, and many of the hand-held varieties are convenient and
easy to use. Reflectors can also be made using cardboard and
aluminum foil, and sometimes just a white piece of paper or fabric will
suffice. A light-tent is a type of diffuser that re-directs direct
sunlight, and is quite frequently used for shiny objects.
A tripod will ensure that your camera stays completely still, which is
very important in macro photography due to the increased shutter speeds.