If you’ve ever wanted to take those incredibly close photos of plants, animals, and other small things that pop with stunning color and detail, you need to learn about the macro photography and the essential macro tool kit. It includes the right DSLR camera, macro lenses, and a few other pieces of specialized equipment.
The first thing to consider is a simple conversion tool called a lens reversing ring. If you don’t have the budget for an expensive macro lens and compatible housing, you can use this tool to literally reverse the direction of your lens, turning it into a decent macro lens. You’ll still have to pick up some other equipment, but this is a decent alternative if you’re already invested in your DSLR camera and want to save.
If you’re just getting into macro photography, you can stick with the first DSLR camera body you already own. As long as it has a tripod mount you are fine. However, if you’re ready to invest, you should look into full-frame cameras with much larger sensor chips, because they offer a larger dynamic range, which is helpful for capturing all the beautiful details and contrasts that show up in macro photography.
This is the heart of the issue. You probably need a macro lens. The reason these are so important is that they magnify the subject, making it appear life size. This is different from conventional lenses that rely on a zoom factor. They also facilitate much shorter focal lengths so you can get very close to the subject and still achieve perfect focus, while simultaneously enjoying the right aperture for this type of photography. Unfortunately, macro lenses are among the most expensive hardware for a given camera.
Macro lenses decrease depth of field. You have to close the aperture to compensate so you can get that entire bug or flower into focus. This then requires a slower shutter speed to let in enough light – and most macro lenses aren’t particularly fast anyway – which is one of the main reasons you need a tripod to stabilize. Macro photography subjects often occur in low-light settings where adding the right artificial light is difficult, further necessitating a stabilization tool. You don’t need to focus on anything macro-specific for the tripod, but following the common guidelines for a first tripod, especially that it can get quite low to the ground, is important.
When every detail is magnified several times, it’s important to get the lighting right. And the mounted flash on most DSLR cameras won’t cut it. A hand flash with remote as well as a small set of mirrors, bounce cards, and diffusers is essential for any indoor macro photography. These allow you to control the contrast and fill lighting to accent your subject properly. If you’re working in nature, you won’t have time to set up all these light modifiers, but you will need to be handy with the hand-held flash and a diffuser setup that works for the setting.
Every photography kit should include tools to remove dust, wipe dust and grit off the camera and the lens, and dry the camera off. Whether you’re working indoors or not, you need to be able to keep your rig clean and protected from the elements. Make sure your camera bag includes these accessories as well as backup batteries and extra memory cards. There’s no reason to risk needing one of these simple items when you don’t have it.
That’s is for the essential macro photography tool kit. Pros compliment their DSLR cameras and huge macro lenses with lots of other items like filters and meters, but for someone who is getting into the art or even expanding, this tool kit will be sufficient.