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Learning macro photography:complete guide to get started quickly

Makfrofotografie Wildbiene

Macro photography: the art of photographing small creatures and objects with the right lenses, tips and a trained eye in such a way that they are captured in huge detail.In this way, even small details can be recognized in the finished images, which one would never see on conventional plant and animal photos or with the naked eye.So it's no wonder that nature blossoms in spring and summer just like your favorite motifs in flora and fauna.

Lighting also plays a crucial role in both indoor and outdoor shoots. But not only nature photographers use macro photography for great animal and plant pictures..

Even everyday objects, people and other objects can seem both mysterious and exciting when captured in close-up. In this article we will tell you how to develop an eye for the details in a macro photo, a guide with helpful tips and what equipment you need in addition to lenses.

Makrofotografie Insekten            

What is macro photography 

As soon as it gets warmer outside, it starts humming and growling, crawling and jumping again. Sometimes it drives you insane and other times the diverse and vibrant beauty delights you. The warmer time of the year offers a remarkable array of insects, which are more common than any other species on our planet.

Photographing insects and animals in close-up offers an almost inexhaustible variety of motifs and also includes some challenges that aspiring macro photographers have to overcome. Macro photography is particularly good for exploring and visualizing the habitat of these tiny creatures.

In addition to insects can also Arachnids, amphibians, reptiles, plants and fungi make excellent macro subjects be in order to be represented on the big screen.

  • But what is the correct procedure for this type of photography?
  • What equipment is needed for successful photography of small things?
  • What lenses are available
  • What other tips can we give you??

Makrofotografie Pilz

Equipment for macro photography: lens & camera

In addition to the right eye, the equipment is of course only half the battle for fascinating close-up shots in nature or in the studio. Nevertheless, a basic know-how is about the technique (Camera, lens & Co.) important.

According to DIN 19040 everything applies to macro photography Scale between 1:10 and 10:1 as a macro .

But what is typically understood as macro photography¬†(i.e. the detailed depiction of things that can hardly be seen with the eye)¬†only starts from one¬†Magnification of 1:1. Basically, they are suitable¬†almost all cameras¬†‚Äď whether it is a single-lens reflex camera or a system camera.
But a good one has proven to be the best camera for macro photography DSLR or DSLM with the Option, the lens for optimal macro photography to be able to switch , turned out.

But the good news is: In principle, impressive macro photos can also be achieved with simple and not too expensive equipment. Essential more important than the type of camera is the right lens for macro photography , which significantly affects the image quality. It is optimal to have a special macro lens to use or if not at handin Close-up lens , which can be used accordingly. Because, of course, you can achieve a high reproduction scale simply by getting close to the object. But most commercially available lenses can no longer focus at short distances.

Macro lenses, on the other hand, are optimized for good quality at short distances¬†‚Äď usually up to a scale of 1:1. As an alternative to the macro lens, beginners can also extend the extension of normal lenses with extension rings or bellows, making a standard fixed focal length macro-capable. However, they do not have any optical elements and only ensure that the distance between the rear lens and the sensor increases. This shortens the close-up limit. As a result, the object moves closer again and thus achieves a larger magnification.

For 2:1 you need e.g. already ¬†retro adapter . However, these are also recommended if you are a newcomer and want to get a feel for the photography of small objects, as they are much cheaper than a real macro lens. You can use them to attach normal lenses to the camera in a mirror-inverted manner and use this DIY solution to create a magnification of 2:1. And sometimes in very good quality. for√ľr¬†Canon cameras, there are retro adapters with transmission of aperture and AF , at¬†Nikon and other manufacturers¬† should one¬†Lens with aperture ring¬†insert. However, one should not forget to provide the lens with a UV filter as lens protection.

theUV filters are from Rollei colour-neutral, multi-coated and much cheaper than a new lens . So when it comes to the lens for macro photography, it really doesn't depend on the brand. You will receive matching Macro lenses for Nikon, for Canon, Sony, Fuji  and all other available camera brands.

If in doubt and with a few compromises, you can also mount a macro lens for Nikon on a Canon with an adapter and vice versa. to recognizen are special macro lenses with the designation 1:1 , which designates the above-mentioned image scale. This gives you the option of displaying the image in its original size, i.e. on a scale of 1:1, on the sensor. This is what makes these lenses special. The object is displayed on the sensor as large as it actually is. At a With a full format sensor, this would correspond to 36 mm by 24 mm .

In most cases, suitable macro lenses are fixed focal lengths , which between 60mm and 200mm Move focal length and have a very low close-up limit. Of course, you can also use macro lenses to enlarge the subject even further The impressive compound eye of a fly often only unfolds its effect on a scale of 2:1 .

Here you work with a reproduction scale that depicts the subject on the sensor twice as large as it is in real life.

Makrofotografie Schmetterling

Which lens should you use for macro photography

Here's one short list of common focal lengths . You should also take into account that which lens you should use depends above all on the exact choice of motif and the desired mood.

Just remember the following here : The longer the focal length, the easier it is to position the tripod without shooing the subject away or obscuring it with the shadow of the lens.

  • Short focal length: 30mm to 50mm
  • Standard focal length: 60mm to 105mm
  • Telephoto macro lenses: 150mm to 200mm
  • For insects that flee quickly: 105 mm or 180 mm lens, for a minimum distance between lens and subject between 30 cm and 50 cm

Of course, if you want to get a good picture of something as small as aphids, the 1:1 scale isn't good enough either, so a magnifying lens should be used. Alternatively, a teleconverter  used between the lens and the camera. These converters extend the focal length and the open aperture by the respective factor.

For a 90mm macro lens, a 1.4x converter would produce 126mm, a 1.7x converter would produce 153mm and a 2x converter would produce 180mm. the close-up limit  does not change, the focal length increases and thus one gets closer to the subject..

If you haven't bought your own macro lenses yet, but want to get a taste of macro photography first, you should experiment with a comparatively inexpensive retro adapter. This is required in order to be able to mount the kit lens, which is often supplied with the housing, upside down and use it as a macro lens. Another option would be the die Close-up lenses or achromats .

It is a close-up lens (to put it casually) to magnifying glasses that are screwed in front of the lens to reduce the close-up limit Close-up lenses give the opportunity to get closer to the subject. These tools can also be placed in front of standard lenses to make a macro lens out of them.

Other important photo accessories are the¬†remote trigger , possibly a small one¬†reflector , a bean bag and/or a ¬†tripod¬†‚Äď we will deal with these items separately in the further course of this article.

Makro-Stativ mit Kamera

These macro photography tips lead to better results

Tripod or bean bag:

As good as you are at taking pictures freehand, you should still use a firm and stable surface in order to be able to compose the picture with the greatest care and to be able to align the camera in peace. Ideally, use one macro tripod. Otherwise, only a short shutter speed is possible.

Longer shutter speeds are no longer a problem. You can have a normal one¬†tripod¬†for macro photography, for shots close to the ground we recommend models with a reversible center column or tripod feet that can be swiveled by 180. For models who don't want to keep still, you can alsoin monopod ‚Äď Use a monopod to use at least a minimal amount of support and be able to take pin-sharp photos at the right moment..

Instead of placing your expensive and sensitive camera directly on the ground, you should use a small bean bag that, thanks to its very flexible filling, compensates for uneven floors and fixes your camera securely on the object that is very close to the ground.

Makro-Stativ Compact Traveler Mini

cable release:

Another guarantee for high sharpness is provided by a cable release, as it allows the camera to be triggered without touching it. This is very helpful, especially with this image size, macro photography.

With DLSR cameras, the mirror lock-up should also be activated so that the mirror impact does not cloud the sharpness due to the minimal vibration of the housing.


If the camera is safe and secure, the LiveView should be used to manually focus on the subject. By using the screen magnifier you can work extremely precisely. On the other hand, if you follow the insect, you should have thought about the depth of field in advance and have already practiced focusing on and after the movement.n.

This is where you can get a little more focus reserve by having to increase the depth of field, but at the cost of potentially bukeh performance. So that we understand each other correctly: Shooting a razor-sharp macro photo from the dynamic movement would be tantamount to winning the lottery in terms of the probability of

Nonetheless, if you've been able to follow the rare butterfly to its next stop and want to finally capture it before the sun dips below the horizon, don't waste too much time focusing. Otherwise the wild hunt starts all over again.los.


This should be deactivated when taking photos on a solid surface in order to avoid incorrect corrections. Otherwise, it can be a big challenge to take a sharp picture.

Macro Photography Lighting:

You can a little LED permanent light or use a flash for macro photography.

But please remember that when dealing with insects, the principle applies that nature should be disturbed as little as possible. Even qualified zoologists cannot judge with absolute certainty whether and how much a triggered flashlight disturbs or upsets an insect. It is therefore better to flash once too little than once too much..


A littlefolding reflector can work wonders. It is possible to keep the light that is too hard away from the subject by shading it, or to reflect warm light by using the gold foil. Reflectors as passive lighting elements are definitely preferable to active light sources.

Makrofotografie Kreuzotter

Macro photography instructions: Finding a subject for macro photos

Small motifs can be found almost everywhere, which makes the search for suitable macro photography motifs relatively easy. For example bees, which can hardly be seen with the naked eye, represent interesting motifs.

Exciting images are presented to the public, however, of species that are not found on every tree or flower. If you dedicate yourself to a certain species, knowledge of its habitat is of course an advantage.

Some knowledge of the biodiversity of the class Insects or Kerfer (as insects are also called) is even essential for a targeted and successful search for a motif. For example, blues can be encountered in dry, nutrient-poor locations, whereas dragonflies are more likely to be found in and around ponds. It is also important to know the phase of the year when the potential subjects are most active in order to get the right time to take pictures. Once this knowledge is available, the search for your favorite motif begins, which can be very time-consuming, but is rarely boring. Experience has shown that opportunities for other exciting motifs often arise during the search.

Flying animals such as beetles are in themselves a very rewarding subject for macro shots, as they have comparatively short escape distances or camouflage strategies. Anyone who walks cautiously across a supposedly typical spring meadow with an open eye will discover numerous objects that at first glance look like plants, but at second glance turn out to be very photogenic insects that use the first rays of the sun to wake up.zen.

Makrofotografie Libelle

When do I find a suitable subject for macro photography?

The time of the search for insects should be in the evening or in the morning, since the cold-blooded animals tend to sit still at this time.

If you want to increase the chance of a good picture, it makes sense to look in the evening where the animals are sleeping and then go back there in the first light of the morning and take the photos. For amphibians, reptiles and flowers, it is also advisable to use the soft light of the evening or morning.

Once the motif has been found, only the interplay of photo technology, light and motif has to be right in order to get the most beautiful picture possible. However, the preferences and image ideas are so different and subjective that there is no right or wrong, just a few recommendations.gen.

Makrofotografie Frosch

macro photography ideas

The most important photographic design tools for successful macro photos are image sharpness and the play with foreground and background. Only with razor-sharp motifs and a suitable background can you reap the recognition you desire.

These success factors influence each other, usually experienced macro photographers focus on the head of the insect and select the depth of field in such a way that all parts of the body relevant to the respective picture statement are also sharply imaged. You can achieve better macro photos if you also include the surroundings in the focus range..

Then play with the aperture to possibly place the razor-sharp head of a fly in front of a bukeh (background blur) that is as atmospheric as possible and also to provide the necessary contrast. If the foreground and background of your photos are too similar, the image will drown and only serve as a bad example.l.

Makrofotografie Schmetterling

What are some tips for beginners of macro photography?

In addition to the photo-technical photo accessories, there are a few items that make the life of an experienced outdoor photographer much easier:

Appropriate outdoor clothing and/or sleeping pad

If you are not jumping after the many colorful butterflies in the best summer weather, it can get too cold or too wet over time, even for experienced macro photographers. If you sit hour after hour next to the perfectly grown plant and wait for the planned insect to finally settle on it, you should not only wear warm and waterproof clothing in extremely wintry temperatures.n.

In the fresh air, our body will sooner or later cool down quite a bit if we are not moving. Wetness accelerates this process considerably. To be on the safe side, simply take a thin sleeping pad with you or at least a sturdy garbage bag that doesn't take up much space.

tools and stabilization material

If the flower stalk breaks off at the decisive moment, the long-awaited insect makes off with it. Stabilize plants with gardening wire or number picks, and you are also welcome to take a little modeling clay with you for as invisible support and fixation as possible.

Outdoor photographers should always have knives, scissors, screwdrivers and mini pliers in the form of a multi-tool or combination pocket knife with them anyway. Textile adhesive tape completes the small tool case for macro photos.s.

water spray bottle

Dewdrops are particularly useful as a reflection light source or size reference for smaller insects. Unfortunately, the dew rarely manages to be there at exactly the right moment with the right drop size on its own.n.

No problem, just help yourself and always take a small water spray bottle with you. In a pinch, a mini bellows will do the trick..

Makrofotografie Eis


Macro photography is not rocket science, nor does it require spending in the tens of thousands. Without special photography equipment, however, there will be no sense of achievement sooner or later.

Our tip: Start with a retro adapter, a stable outdoor tripod and a remote release ‚Äď these will also serve you well if, contrary to expectations, macro photography does not develop into your personal favorite photo discipline!!

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