Photography has the power to explore the world in ways others have deemed unimaginable, and macro photography specifically has a unique ability to bring life to the smallest of scenes, and to give us a different perspective of the world to wrap our head around.
Often called macrography, or photomacrography, macro photography gives an extremely close up view of small living organisms and objects that you wouldn’t normally have such a detailed view of. The metaphorical equivalent of making a mountain out of a molehill, the end result, is making the minuscule seem larger than life.
“The two most engaging powers of a photograph are to make new things familiar and familiar things new.”William Thackeray
As I’ve developed more and more of an interest in photography, I’ve loved being able to explore the natural world around me through new eyes. Some of my favorite things to take macro photographs of are textures, bubbles, fungi, flowers with water drops, oils and my cat’s eyes – though since they’re not so good at sitting still, I haven’t exactly mastered that one yet. Total caveat, but – if you’re ever at a loss on photographic creativity, I highly suggest picking up The Photographer’s Playbook by Jason Fulford. Rich with assignments and ideas, this book has become an invaluable tool when I’ve felt a mental block in my process and I’m sure it’ll help you as well.
My Picks for Best Macro Lenses
Depending on what type of photographer you are, there are several different types of macro lenses to choose from – back in 2014, I started my journey with a simple clip on extension for my smart phone and now, 6 years later, I’ve moved onto using a Macro lens as well as a macro lens extension that fits on a 78′ thread. Below I’ve outlined some of my favorite picks, for whether you’re a cell phone photographer, semi-pro or completely invested in your hobby.
For your Smart Phone: Shuttermoon Cell Phone Camera Lens Kit
Coming in at a sweet price of $17 for the basic edition, and $30 for the deluxe edition – the Shuttermoon camera lens kit comes stocked with either 5 or 11 different types of clip on lenses, depending on which option you choose.
The basic kit comes with the following goodies and is a great starter set for the new shutterbugs that aren’t ready to commit to a DSLR camera.
- 198° Fisheye Lens
- 0.63X Wide Angle Lens
- 15X Macro Lens-
- 2x Telephoto Lens
- CPL Lens-
Ballin’ on a Budget: Opteka Achromatic Macro Lens for DSLR
Taking a small step up from cell phone photography, the Opteka macro lens is a simple addition to your prime lenses and can fit on most 52mm and 58mm Threads. Coming in hot at $24.95, this is the perfect photography addition for anyone delving more into their photographic experiences. I use mine on our Canon, but there are several different models available.
This is the macro lens that I take most of my current macro photography with, and it works fantastically with plants, flowers and fungi.
- Olympus M4/3
- Canon EF-M
- Canon EF
- Sony A
Best of the Best: Canon Macro Lenses
Once you’re comfortable shooting with an extension on your lens, it’s only natural to want to evolve into using an actual macro lens. Now, this is where things start to get a bit nuanced – just within the Canon family, there are a handful of choices, and you’ll only know which one you want if you know what type of subject material you prefer to work with. To be honest, I consider camera lenses a ‘gateway drug’ into photography: once you acquire a few, you realize you need more specialized and specific ones to add to your mix, and your collection starts ever growing – so, consider yourselves warned.
My personal go-to is the Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM, for $299 – it’s a great bang for your buck, but here are some additional variations:
- Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Fixed Lens for Canon SLR Cameras ($599)
- Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras ($899)
Do you have any tips or tricks for Macro photography? Let me know in the comments and feel free to even share one of your favorite Macro photographs; as always, happy shooting!