One of the most difficult areas of photography to achieve very sharp images is Macro photography. Many photographers believe that if they purchase a Macro or Micro lens, then they will be able to produce excellent Macro images. but it is not always that easy.
- Macro images are taken very close to the subject and the image subject is greatly magnified, consequently any movement of the camera during exposure will cause blurring of the image, due to any movement of the camera. So it is imperative to keep the camera steady.
- Depth of Field is a major problem with Macro images. At large apertures of around f/2.8 the depth of field will only be a few mili-metres and there will be very little of the image in focus. To achieve a great depth of field you will need to use very small apertures. As an example in the image of the Bee above, I used an aperture of f/16. Even at f/16, one of the wings of the Bee is not fully in focus so it is seen that the depth of field is very limited. In my experience the best apertures to use are f/16 to f/22 for Macro images.
- Try to keep the shutter speed high to help reduce any camera movement. For the above image I used 1/125 second shutter speed.
- There is a range of focal lengths available in Macro lenses, the most common available lenses are around 50mm, 100mm and 200mm. Generally 50mm is too short for images of moving insects such as butterflies or bees. The 100mm or 200mm macro lenses are better for those types of subjects. For the image above I used a Nikon 105mm f/2.8 Micro lens. For butterflies I generally use a 200mm Macro lens.
- I find that the use of electronic flash can be very useful with macro images as the fast flash duration will help to freeze the subject movement.
- Quite often when using flash with Macro photography I will set the camera to manual mode and set the camera to Focal Plane Mode so that the flash will synchronise at high shutter speeds. Typically you could use a shutter speed of 1/500 second and an aperture of f/16 to f/22.
- Use a tripod and cable release or monopod where possible to help eliminate any camera movement.
It can be quite exciting to get extremely sharp Macro images, as when you look at the fine detail of the final image you can see details that are not normally visible.