What is the best way to get into macro shooting?

tkruger

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I have never had a camera that shot macro well. Looking at inexpensive ways to shoot macros with my Canon T3.

I have been looking at three options, note I am on a very tight budget:
1. Purchase a used macro lense and an adapter to fit my camera.
2. Get a used 55mm lens that has all the manual settings on the barrel and an reversing adapter to fit it on my camera.
3. Have seen adapters that connect to the end of my 55mm lense to make it a macro (not sure if this is a gimmick or a not).
 

Derrel

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3: Canon 500D close-up lens. This is one of the best ones made. Two-element, achromatic lens design. VERY good quality--not junk, like the $19 models.

Canon 500D Close-up lens

This will give you bright, clear, easy manual or automatic focusing, and again, that will be with a BRIGHT viewfinder image, with the lens held wide-open until the moment of exposure, UNLIKE a lens reversing ring setup. Make sure to get this in the appropriate filter thread size! THis is also transferrable to other lenses in the future, even to non-Canon lenses. I won one of these in the 77mm size, and it's pretty good quality.
 

480sparky

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The lenses that attach to the front of the lens work, but not well. They're usually cheap, but they're an inexpensive way to try out macro work to see if you have the patience for it.

Next step up would be a set of extension tubes. The cheap ones do not maintain the mechanical and electrical connections between the camera & lens, the better ones do.

A reversing ring is servicable, but shooting any lens in total manual mode will try your patience.
 

TCampbell

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Lots of ways to do close-up photography...

The thread-on close-up diopters are probably the cheapest but a one-element diopter (which is what nearly all of them are) are low quality and will degrade quality particularly around the edges.

The one Derrel linked is high quality. That's a two-element achromatic diopter. It has a compensating element to correct for the dispersion caused by using just a single element so you get a higher quality result, but they do cost more. Also note that Canon makes a 250D and a 500D ... the 250D is for use on shorter focal length lenses (30-135mm) and the 500D is designed for use on longer focal length lenses (70-300mm) (yes there is some overlap).

You can also get "extension tubes". They're fairly inexpensive. These are hollow tubes that mount between the camera and lens and their job is to mount the lens a bit farther from the sensor. When you change the back-focus distance you change the entire focus range of the lens... you reduce it. The lens can focus closer... but loses it's ability to focus all the way out to infinity (when mounted on extension tubes). You can "stack" extension tubes (they come in different lengths). They have contacts to pass the signal through so the body and lens can still communicate electronically but they do NOT have any elements in them they're just hollow barrels.

You get "reversing" rings which lets you mount a lens backward -- but you have no control over the lens. Novoflex does make a special adapter for reversing rings where an adapter mounts to the body, providing the reversing rings and then runs a cable to the other end of the lens so that the body can still control the lens even when it's mounted backwards.

You can buy a true "macro" lens -- this provides the best optical quality but is also probably the most expensive solution. BTW, there are zooms that claim to be "macro" zooms... meaning if you set a telephoto focal length they'll allow for fairly close focusing distance to create a close-up result. But the result is usually only 1:4 scale... maybe 1:3 scale if you're lucky. A true macro lens will provide 1:1 scale (Canon makes an MP-E 65mm special-purpose macro lens that can provide up to 5:1 scale).

You can also get macro-bellows. It's sort of the same concept as extension tubes and there are many varieties of these. Novoflex makes some especially nice ones which run a cable from the camera end to the lens end and it forwards all communication through so that the lens and camera can still communicate.

One bit of caution... when you get into very close focusing distance the depth of field gets VERY narrow... often just a tiny bit of a subject can be focused. For this reason a tripod is not just a nice to have... it's practically an essential. Also you may have to perform "focus stacking" where you shoot many frames -- each focused to a slightly different distance. You can get something called a "focus rail" which mounts to the tripod and allows you to move the entire camera forward or backward by a tiny amount between each frame to help collect enough images to do the focus stacking. There is special focus stacking software... Photoshop can also do focus stacking (it's part of their photo-merge capability).
 

sgbotsford

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The closeup diopter lenses/filters are a good starter. Use them well stopped down. f/11 or smaller. Don't stack more than 2.
The second step is a decent tripod. You will be amazed at what you can do if you don't have to keep the camera from moving. Look for features that allow you to get close to your subject:
* An invertible elevator so you can use the camera below the peak.
* Side bar so you can use the camera outside of the triangle formed by the base.

The third step is a rail. Ranging from $$ to $$$ this allow you to move the camera in fractional millimeters. Amazon is your friend on this on.

Long focal length lenses give you more working room with your subject. A macro lens generally will allow you to focus down to 1:1. The image on the sensor/film is about the same size as the real object. This means that a nominally 100 mm lens will be roughly 100 mm from the subject. (Actually it would be 200 mm, but the bulk of the lens makes this non obvious.)

I just bought a tamron f/2.8 macro capable lens for my nikon. Jury is still out. But I can get the front element about 3-4 inches from my subject and get very sharp focus.
 

480sparky

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Here's a run-down on your options, ranging (GENERALLY) from the cheapest to most expensive:

Close-up filters:

01CloseUplenseson50mm.jpg~original



Extension tubes:

02ExtTubeson50mm.jpg~original



Macro lens:

03MacroLens.jpg~original



Yes, you can put close-up lenses on a macro:

04CUonmacro.jpg~original



And tubes can be used on a macro as well:

05Exttubesonmacro.jpg~original



You can reverse a single lens on the camera:

06Reversed50mm.jpg~original



As use tubes with a reversed lens:

07reversed50ontubes.jpg~original



You can reverse a lens on another, basically making the reversed lens a close-up lens:

0850reversedonmacro.jpg~original



If you like spending money, you can get into a bellows:

0950onmacro.jpg~original



And put a macro lens on it as well:

10macroonbellows.jpg~original



For getting really close, reverse a lens on a bellows:

11reversed50onbellows.jpg~original



And to increased magnification even more, reversing shorter focal-length lenses is the next step:

12reversed28onbellows.jpg~original
 

Derrel

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480sparky--you win the Macro Tinkerer of The Year Award, 2013 HANDS DOWN!!!!!!! DUDE!!!!! what a post! Awesome stuff.
 

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