Macro Photography is known as extreme close up photography and the object is to get as much of a close up and detail of an object as possible. Ever see a photograph of a grasshopper where you can see the insect’s eyes and all the little hairs on his legs? That is Macro photography and it takes special tools to get those kinds of images.
There are three ways to get Macro photography, a Macro lens, but these can be expensive, such as the EF 100mm F/2.8 Macro USM by Canon for $549 or the even more expensive EF 100mm F/2.8 L IS USM by Canon which runs around $1,000. What do you get for your money? Well the regular Canon 100mm F/2 USM prime lens takes fantastic portraits but you cannot use it for Macro photography as it’s minimum focus distance is 6 feet. The 100mm Macro lenses by Canon, however have a minimum focus distance of 3 inches, quit a difference between the two lens types. The reason the Macro lens can get closer is because of the glass used inside it. The Canon 100mm F/2.8 Macro can do true 1:1 of an object so a bug that is 18mm will take up 18mm of the sensor, where in the Canon 100mm F/2 USM prime lens the ration is 1:7.3 so the bug only takes up a much smaller 2.5 mm on the sensor. I happen to own the Canon EF 50mm F/2.5 Compact Macro lens and mine has a front element that moves as I focus so mine can do 1:4, 1:2, 1:1.4, 1:1.2 and 1:1. This first image is a rose shot on Canon EOS 5D with 100mm F/2 and Extension Tube, the second image is the same rose shot with Canon EOS 6D with 50mm F/2.5 Compact Macrro.
Macro filters are a less expensive option for Macro photography and can achieve the same results, although the quality of the images is subjective. The idea with Macro filters is you buy these for the front of your lens, according to the size of filter the lens takes, i.e. 58mm and then screw them onto your regular lens in hopes of getting some Macro goodness. Macro filters run from around $13-$59 depending on the quality. Some of the issues with Macro filters are soft focus and vignetting. The next image is shot with Canon EOS 5D with 100mm F/2 with 1x Macro Filter, the second on here is shot with my EOS 6D with the Canon EF 50mm F/2.5 Compact Macro lens.
The third option is extension tubes and these are also subjective as far as how well they work. Extension tubes of in varying degrees of quality and expense, depending on whether you want them to allow you to use auto focus or not. The idea with extension tubes is you place these on the camera body first and then add your regular lens to the extension tubes and the tubes move your lens away from the sensor and allow you to get Macro goodness.
Macro photography can open up new worlds of photography for you and let you really show your creative side. What option is best? Well, in my humble opinion, it’s always best to go with a lens that is made for the job, but if that is not in your budget, then give one of the less expensive options a try. Now get out there and make some great images.