Using A Macro Lens
Using a macro lens can be tricky, but with some simple and easy ways to understand it, it can become one of the most enjoyable things in your photography equipment. Using a macro lens requires some understanding of what results you want to achieve first. Then and only then, can you get truly stunning macro images.
Macro photography is the art of shooting a subject to make its size as true to life, or a little larger. For example, a grasshopper may be 2 cm long, so it becomes important to enhance as much of your grasshopper as possible to give it as much real life detail as possible. In other words, make your grasshopper seem as large and as life size as possible.
So, that brings us to using a macro lens. How do we do it? First of all let’s look at what a macro lens actually is. Specialised camera lenses that are designed for macro photography are set to be at their best, most sharp at very close distances.
Using a macro lens is like any other digital camera lens on first glance, but because these lenses are especially made specifically close ups work. They are actually quite long (for sharp focusing close up).
Using a macro lens gives you much satisfaction and sharp results at a magnification of 1:1. Like other photography lenses, you can have different types of macro lenses that sit at different focal lengths.
Using a macro lens around the 50-60mm mark will give you details in household items and smaller objects, like, for example pencil sharpeners and ornaments.
Using a macro lens that has a focal length of around 90-105mm will give you excellent close ups of flowers, bugs and even smaller objects such as pencil tips.
Using a macro lens of around 150-200mm is very close indeed. This lens is perfect for insect macro photography.
Using a macro lens is not the same as using close up filters or putting your camera on macro mode. The reason is because the lens is an extension of what the camera sees. The lens can bring us that much closer than your normal camera lens or close up filters can.
When I first started using a macro lens for the very first time it took me a little getting used to the sharp zoom capabilities, the clear focus and the sensitivity of the lens itself. In my experience with using a macro lens, it was time and patience that got me to where I am today. They are great lenses and I have taught many others to start being comfortable with using a macro lens to be able to get closer and more powerful images.
One of my students began using a macro lens just after he was unable to get into the other extreme- Astro photography. He made many attempts at shooting the stars and had some great photos. However, he soon grew tired of waiting before he had the right telescope, so in the meantime he turned to macro photography.
On his first attempt at using a macro lens for the first time, he emailed me with some focusing problems. They were not major problems, but nevertheless he was experiencing some focus and sharpness problems. His macro photographs just weren’t as tack sharp as what he’d hoped for.
I knew what the problem was before I’d even finished reading his email. In using a macro lens initially he was still used to shooting with a standard lens. He was treating the macro shot like a standard shot. That never works well.
He complained about a lack of lighting too. I replied to him that in using a macro lens for the very first time, you need to realise that using a tripod, getting more light onto your scene and using manual focus were all necessary things to get started in macro photography, and, would produce better macro photography images.
Using a macro lens is not the same as using a standard or telephoto lens. And, using a macro lens requires more lighting and knowledge of some sharp focusing techniques. I found that when you have less light in macro photography, you will need to increase your light source, or, slow sown your shutter speed, or, open up your aperture a lot more. You can increase your ISO if you want, at the risk of getting some pretty heavy noise, or you can use a tripod, a shutter release cable and slow that shutter and open that aperture wider.
In using a macro lens this way, you decrease the chance of blur, noise or the image just not being as sharp as you want. Remember, they are the similar to a standard lens, but macro photography is very different to standard photography. That’s what macro lenses provide you- the opportunity to break out of standard photograph and into the small world.
When using a macro lens for the time, do your research on what you specifically need it for. Think about what focal length you will need and work from that point on.