Choose a Macro Lens for Close-Up Photography - dummies

Choose a Macro Lens for Close-Up Photography

By Doug Sahlin

When you want to get close, really close to your photography subject, nothing beats a macro lens. Macro lenses come in a variety of focal lengths. Prime macro lenses have a range from 50mm to 200mm. The longer focal lengths are useful when you want to photograph small subjects like insects from a distance. The shorter focal lengths are great for close-ups of subjects like flowers.

You can also purchase a zoom lens with macro capabilities. A macro zoom lens has a shorter minimum focusing distance than a regular zoom lens with the same focal lengths.

When you photograph objects with a macro lens, you’ve got a very shallow depth of field at any f-stop. This is because you’re much closer to your subject. Focus can also be an issue with macro lenses because of your proximity to the subject.

When you’re looking for a macro lens, it is best, if possible, to test the lens on your camera. Photograph something like a flower. This will tell you if the lens has any focusing issues.

If you intend to do a lot of macro photography, your best option is a dedicated prime macro lens. With so many macro lenses available, it’s impossible to recommend one. Check out the specifications of lenses that pique your curiosity. If one focuses closer than another with the same focal length, see if you can find a review for the lens.

You may also find customer reviews for lenses at online photography stores like Adorama and B&H Photo Video.

If your budget prohibits you from purchasing a macro lens, or if you just want to dip your feet into the shallow end of the macro pool, you can purchase extension tubes at a fraction of the cost of a macro lens. An extension tube attaches to the camera body and then the lens attaches to the extension tube.

The combination lets you focus at a closer distance, thereby filling a large portion, or the entire frame, with a small object. You won’t get the same quality pictures you’d get with a true macro lens, but it beats the alternative, which is no macro photography.