How to shoot macro without a macro lens!
Have you ever wanted to take close-up photos of small objects like children’s toys, insects, or flowers? Have you found that the flower mode on your DSLR will not get you the shot you want? The lenses that typically come packaged with cameras can only focus as close as 12 to 18 inches and will not give you a ton of magnification at that distance.
There are a few ways to tackle this problem. One of which is to get a dedicated lens for the job. Specialized macro lenses (micro if you shoot Nikon) produce images with a great deal of magnification. There are however a few options to produce great macro images without the use of a macro lens.
The first of these options is to use your telephoto lens zoomed all the way out and focus at its minimum focal distance. In the following image I used a 300mm lens and was roughly 4 feet away from my subject. One major advantage of this technique is that you get a bit more depth of field than you would with a macro lens. Also you do not need to use a tripod get good image. The disadvantage of this technique is that you won’t get quite as much magnification as a macro lens.
The second alternative to a macro lens is to buy a set of close up filters. These filters are usually sold in sets of three and can be combined to give you a range of different magnifications. They screw on to the front of your lens and can be used without the use of a tripod. They magnify the image more than using your telephotos lens and their only real disadvantage is that they produce images that are a bit softer around the edges. To compensate for this effect I centered my subject and left a little room around edges.
The last technique is to use macro extension tubes. We sell a sell a variable extension tube from Savage called the MacroART Auto Extension tube. By placing this device between the camera and lens you get incredible magnification by increasing the distance between the lens and your camera’s sensor. It did require me to us a tripod because it dramatically shrinks the depth of field and the tiny movements I made would throw the entire image out of focus. However the magnification it produced with a 50mm lens was substantial and I used the shallow depth of field to create a sense of great distance between two objects that were actually only a few inches apart.
Creve Coeur Camera carries a number of close-up filter sets to accommodate different filter sizes. Creve Coeur Camera carries the MacroART tubes for both Canon and Nikon. They are $179.99 for Canon and $199.99 for Nikon.
-Jason Hensley, O’Fallon, IL Location