How to Get the Best Macro Photography Shots

Closeup of pink flower stomata
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Always wanted to try a new kind of photography? Thanks to more time spent at home lately, try macro photography. So what is it, you may ask?

What is Macro Photography?

By definition, macro photography is extreme close-up photography, focusing on small objects (usually living organisms like bugs and plants).

Macro photography can be shared from beginners to veteran photographers. With your gear, an exciting subject, and patience, you’ll be creating unique images in no time.

Use these tips to perfect your craft.

This list was made possible by NJspots community member Riko (@rikoaustria), NJspots Patron Ken (@kenproshot), and NJspots writer Joe (@valencia32photo). We are grateful for their time putting together these tips!

 

TOOLS YOU'LL NEED

Sony 30mm f/3.5 e-mount Macro Fixed Lens
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Nikon NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G Close-up Lens
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Canon RF35mm Macro Lens
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We earn a commission if you purchase at no additional cost to you.

Need new gear? Check out our ultimate gear guide.

If you opt for shooting in a studio, this video has some tips and tricks to make the most out of your space.

CAMERA SETTINGS

There are plenty of tips and tricks to get you started on shooting the best macro shots possible, but start here:

  • Use manual mode. Manual mode is highly suggested as you must set your aperture wide for great depth of field and adjusting shutter speed to minimize shake if using handheld.
  • F2.8 and wider aperture
  • Minimum 1/100 shutter speed — the higher the better for sharper image. Upping the shutter speed to reduce camera shake.
  • For macro photography low ISO is preferred at all cost, any noise can be easily visible if the camera does not have good performance with higher ISO. Learn more about ISO here
  • Practice focus peaking — which works by “detecting edges of highest contrast in your scene and highlighting them in a bright color, usually of your choice”
  • You can also use auto extension tubes or flip your lens. As NJspots writer Joe Valencia explains:

You can remove the lens and hold it against the body. The lens reversal is a great, inexpensive way to achieve macro. A 50mm lens, turned around, on a full frame camera will achieve 1:1 — wider gets higher magnification and longer got smaller.

There are attachments that allow you to do it with digital and maintain autofocus and exposure — like auto extension tubes.

Here is a guide for everything you need to know about using them, and here's where you can buy them.

Share It! Tweet It! LinkedIn Reddit Pin It! Always wanted to try a new kind of photography? Thanks to more time spent at home lately, try macro photography. So what is it, you may ask?

What is Macro Photography?

By definition, macro photography is extreme close-up photography, focusing on small objects (usually living organisms like bugs and plants). Macro photography can be shared from beginners to veteran photographers. With your gear, an exciting subject, and patience, you’ll be creating unique images in no time. Use these tips to perfect your craft. TOOLS CAMERA SETTINGS FINDING A SUBJECT This list was made possible by NJspots community member Riko (@rikoaustria), NJspots Patron Ken (@kenproshot), and NJspots writer Joe (@valencia32photo). We are grateful for their time putting together these tips!

TOOLS YOU’LL NEED

  • Flash or an adequate light source — a ring light, flashlight or window light can do the trick if you’re just starting out!
  • Tripod to keep the camera steady
  • Ken uses a 90mm and beyond macro lens (no macro lens? any telephoto lens with a minimum focus distance of at least 7.5 inches will suffice)
  • Riko uses a 50mm lens which requires him to get closer to the subject than a 90mm or above
  • Joe uses auto extension tubes! More on that below.
  • Patience! A new skill might not come naturally. If it does, great!
Sony 30mm f/3.5 e-mount Macro Fixed Lens
Buy Now
We earn a commission if you purchase at no additional cost to you.
Nikon NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G Close-up Lens
Buy Now
We earn a commission if you purchase at no additional cost to you.
Canon RF35mm Macro Lens
Buy Now
We earn a commission if you purchase at no additional cost to you.

Need new gear? Check out our ultimate gear guide.

If you opt for shooting in a studio, this video has some tips and tricks to make the most out of your space.

CAMERA SETTINGS

There are plenty of tips and tricks to get you started on shooting the best macro shots possible, but start here:
  • Use manual mode. Manual mode is highly suggested as you must set your aperture wide for great depth of field and adjusting shutter speed to minimize shake if using handheld.
  • F2.8 and wider aperture
  • Minimum 1/100 shutter speed — the higher the better for sharper image. Upping the shutter speed to reduce camera shake.
  • For macro photography low ISO is preferred at all cost, any noise can be easily visible if the camera does not have good performance with higher ISO. Learn more about ISO here
  • Practice focus peaking — which works by “detecting edges of highest contrast in your scene and highlighting them in a bright color, usually of your choice”
  • You can also use auto extension tubes or flip your lens. As NJspots writer Joe Valencia explains:
You can remove the lens and hold it against the body. The lens reversal is a great, inexpensive way to achieve macro. A 50mm lens, turned around, on a full frame camera will achieve 1:1 — wider gets higher magnification and longer got smaller. There are attachments that allow you to do it with digital and maintain autofocus and exposure — like auto extension tubes. Here is a guide for everything you need to know about using them, and here’s where you can buy them.

FINDING YOUR SUBJECT

Historically, macro photography subjects are teeny tiny subjects in nature. But you can try anything! Here are some ideas around your home. Anything in your yard that won’t move on you. Try it! Tree bark. The latest flowers blooming. Blades of grass. Leftover sidewalk chalk. Morning dew. Evening mist…. you get the picture. Objects in your home that also won’t move on you. In order to get the hang of macro photography, try shooting things with a ring light that don’t move. This will help you get the hang of your camera settings.  Next you can graduate to living things! We’re sure you’ve seen those amazing photos of bees and dragonflies in midair. Let’s see if you can catch one with your macro lens! And if not, try the flower it just jumped off. What’s your favorite thing to take macro shots of? Let us know in the comments!

Want more photography tips?

FINDING YOUR SUBJECT

Historically, macro photography subjects are teeny tiny subjects in nature. But you can try anything! Here are some ideas around your home.

Anything in your yard that won’t move on you.

Try it! Tree bark. The latest flowers blooming. Blades of grass. Leftover sidewalk chalk. Morning dew. Evening mist…. you get the picture.

Objects in your home that also won’t move on you.

In order to get the hang of macro photography, try shooting things with a ring light that don’t move. This will help you get the hang of your camera settings. 

Next you can graduate to living things!

We’re sure you’ve seen those amazing photos of bees and dragonflies in midair. Let’s see if you can catch one with your macro lens! And if not, try the flower it just jumped off.

What’s your favorite thing to take macro shots of? Let us know in the comments!

Want more photography tips?

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