Macro Photography Tips

  • Use macro lenses
  • Use extension tube
  • Experiment with natural and artificial lighting
  • Focus directly on the object

Edited by Nataly Bogorad

July 29, 2019

What Is Macro Photography

The definition of macro photography holds that this is a set of techniques for picturing small objects from a very close distance. But what is macro photography artistically? During this process, you can capture details that are invisible to the human eye. In fact, macro photography is a specific genre with some professionals dedicating their lives to capturing one perfect shot. Here are some basics that will help you understand macro photography better.

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Macro Photography Tips

This genre of photography may seem difficult for you if you have just started wondering how to take macro photos. Nevertheless, we are ready to assist you in overcoming technical difficulties if your desire to find out some new macro photography ideas is strong. Theory means nothing without practice, so we’ve collected some of the useful macro photography tips for you. This list will help you to learn something about equipment, setup and little tricks, which are familiar to all professional photographers.

Macro lenses

You do not need to buy expensive equipment from the get-go because you can start by using alternative variants. For example, try to get to an object as close as possible. You can enable both manual and automatic shooting mode and set your camera on a tripod. As soon as the object is in focus, fix the composition, and try to make a good shot. For a full-frame sensor, you can use ordinary lenses. Keep in mind that every lens has a minimum focusing distance (from 1-3 cm to half a meter). That is the main difference between ordinary lenses and lenses for macro photos. As a rule, the last-named ones have a much shorter focal length.

The focal length of a standard macro lens is 50-60 mm. Generally, such lenses are very comfortable to work with, but for a stronger effect, it is better to use a 100 mm lens.

Macro lenses are pretty expensive, so they should be purchased only when you feel that a regular lens does not fit your purposes. Additionally, you will need them hundred-per-cent if you have decided to become a professional photographer.

Looking for a lens or a camera? Check out what Amazon has to offer:

Extension tube

The next point in our tips and tricks list is an extension tube, which is a hollow cylinder mounted between the camera and a removable lens. The main idea of the tube is to increase the distance between the lens and the sensor. This extra distance helps put things in focus closer to the object. Thus, images of small objects become larger and sharper. Extension tubes are considered a flexible solution for macro photography, but there are several disadvantages too. Although they are cheaper than lenses, they will never give the same quality of pictures as lenses do. Also, their focal range is very limited. So, you should decide which variant fits you best.

How does an aperture affect the macro?

To discuss this question, we need to get into technical details. Given that this guide should be clear even for beginners, it won’t be too difficult. An aperture is a hole on camera’s lens which could be wider or narrower resulting in a blurry or sharp background of your picture. If you set the aperture low, then the background will be in focus. The objects that are out of focus (i.e. the background) can also look very dramatic.

Natural or artificial lighting

In the context of optics, this kind of photography has one important feature: the closer to the subject, the lower the illuminance.

There are 3 types of lighting:

  • natural;
  • artificial;
  • combined.

Usually, natural light means solar illumination, the advantage of which is high brightness. In order to use sunlight as efficiently as possible, you should shoot in the morning in ambient light conditions or, if possible, use diffusers and reflectors. Sometimes, sunlight gives strong glare on photos, and for removing it, it is smart to use a polarizing filter.

Very often you have to turn to artificial lighting. One of the popular sources of this type is flash. There is a special macro flash used by most of photographers. If you are interested in taking good macro photos, you can avail of a full-blown system of flashes synchronized with each other. An important point in our tutorial is that it is not necessary to use a powerful flash, as long as it can be adjusted. With the help of a flexible universal holder, you can vary the direction of the light in the frame.

Finally, you can combine natural light with a flash. It is best to choose daytime and experiment with different sources of artificial lighting: try to diffuse the light or use a reflector.

Point of focus

When talking about macro photography, it is considered mandatory to focus directly on the object. However, it is important to know that the focus not only makes the details of the picture clear, but can completely change its appearance.

Most cameras do not focus effectively in their automatic mode when using dioptric lenses. In this case, it is better to switch to a manual mode if there is one in your camera. If there is no manual focus in the camera, check whether you can switch the autofocus to another button to remove the half-press focus function. You can also move around the object with the camera until you catch the right focus.


Even if you have never held a professional camera in your hands and took pictures only for your Instagram, you know what this is about. Nowadays, editing is vital. Unfortunately, there is a lack of free tools and filters available for macro photography than any mobile app can offer for editing your selfie. Yet, you can spot some inexpensive professional photo editors, featuring a large arsenal of tools and including those designed for macro photography.

For example, Movavi Photo Editor grants you the ability to remove objects that accidentally got on a photo. This is important for macro photography, since even a small extra object can spoil the composition and balance of the picture. It is also great when an editor has several sets for color correction. With their help, you can learn black-and-white macro photography and find out how to do a great job with color balance. The possibility to work with backgrounds making them transparent or vague will comes in handy as well. And don’t forget that the app allows adding your own settings and managing pictures in your portfolio fast and easy.

Movavi Photo Editor

The easiest way to turn any snapshot into an eye candy

  • Improve quality and retouch blemishes
  • Add effects and filters
  • Crop, straighten, and flip pictures
  • Change image backgrounds and remove objects