Marvellous macro photography – part 3
So far in this series on macro photography we’ve looked at a few ways you can have some fun with this method without breaking the bank. But what if you have a few quid sitting around and fancy investing in the best gear? This time we’re going to take a peek at some of the high-end lenses the pros use to take the kind of macro shots that have the WOW factor.
A quick word on cameras
Although we stated previously that almost any modern camera will do for macro, we definitely recommend that you look for one with the highest resolution possible. All of the major manufacturers produce high-resolution crop and full frame sensors these days, but for the absolute highest image quality we do still favour full frame simply because you’ll be able to shoot at a smaller aperture before diffraction affects your images. Macro photography is all about the detail you can extract from an image and the more megapixels you have the better – especially for printing large images to canvas.
To make the most of all of the resolving power in the sensors we’ve just been discussing, you’ll need to invest in the best glass possible. It also makes sense to buy the longest macro lens you can afford – between 90mm and 180mm – because it will give you a little bit more distance between you and your subject. That’s not an issue while shooting still life, but once you get the bug for snapping little creatures in the garden you may find a shorter focal length will spook them and frustrate you; not a great combination!
The features you should expect from the lens you choose should include:
- Internal focusing – this means that the front element does not extend during focusing and spook your intended target.
- Image stabilisation – very few DSLRs have in-camera IS so choose a lens that helps you out; you’ll soon find that steady hands are essential with macro photography!
- At least 1:1 magnification – any less isn’t true macro, so don’t be fooled!
- A quality manual focus ring – manual focusing is far more accurate for macro work, so you want to be sure that your lens has a smooth and accurate focus ring.
A few of the lenses we recommend you look at are:
- Canon MP-E 65 f/2.8 – a stellar performer that offers 5:1 magnification – that’s five times as much as a standard macro lens!
- Nikon 105mm f/2.8G – razor sharp, relatively light and with beautiful colour rendition.
- Zeiss 100mm f/2 Makro Planar ZE – over £1000 for a manual focus only lens? Trust us, it’s worth it!
- Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG APO AF – perfect for really skittish bugs with a working distance of over two feet.
Whichever lens you choose, we always recommend trying before you buy when investing a large sum of cash in a purchase, but we think that you’ll be absolutely delighted with any of these amazing bits of glass.