How Can I Shoot Cheap Macro?

Macro photography is a beautiful and challenging art form.

Macro lenses are expensive; the least costly setup (camera body and two lenses) can easily top $3,000. 

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But you don’t need to spend huge amounts of cash on your setup to get great macro shots.

If you have an older camera or if you’ve found a great deal on used equipment, you can get started as soon as now!

So, what do you need?

What You Need To Get Started

How to shoot macro without macro lens

Here are the three things you need to start shooting macro: 

  • A camera: Older models or used ones work great 
  • A close-up lens: You may use used ones; if not, there are lots of cheap eBay options
  • Extension tubes: These allow you to move the camera farther away from the lens for increased magnification

What Is Different About a Macro Lens?

A macro lens is a specific telephoto lens that allows for extreme close-up photography. An actual macro lens typically features a reproduction ratio of 1:1. 

Thus, the image projected on your sensor is the same size as the subject. Therefore, this lets you fill the entire frame with even a tiny drop of rain. 

Such high magnification is useful for a wide variety of things. Some uses include examining the details of tiny objects.

Also, macro photography can create extreme depth of field effects in regular human portraiture photography.

Ways to Improve Your Macro Photography Kit

Sometimes you just need to up your shooting game and put your camera into a whole new perspective.  

Macro photography becomes the most rewarding type of photography if you expand your horizons. 

Here are ways to improve your macro photography cheaply.

Good Working Distance

If you’re using a close-up lens, remember that the closer you put it to your subject, the greater your magnification.

This is great for small subjects like flowers or bugs, which are easily damaged. 

However, you also need to consider where you’re shooting from.

Try backing up a few feet for an intimate, detailed view of your subject without freaking it out.

Vibration Reduction

If you’re using a tripod, make sure your camera has Vibration Reduction (VR) or Image Stabilization (IS).

A tripod is the best way to keep your camera steady, but if you’re handholding, this feature helps compensate for any movements. 

However, if your camera isn’t compatible with these features or you don’t own one yet, consider asking Santa for some VR goggles!

Adapter Rings

If you’ve got a digital SLR (DSLR), you can easily adapt it for macro photography with suitable adapter rings.

Most DSLRs have lens threads of 52mm or 55mm but if yours is different, get corresponding rings. 

Importantly, when buying your rings, know what makes up the front diameter (the big ring) and the rear diameter (the smaller ring, which is mounted to your lens).

The least expensive way is to buy adapter tubes with rings attached. 

Adapter tubes are aluminum or brass made and can be pricey depending on their quality. Don’t skimp too much though, because you don’t want them to scratch your camera. 

However, if you’re not ready to buy a set of rings, buy tube extensions and attach them with rubber bands—be careful not to scratch either surface. 

Quality varies, so be sure they’re from a reputable company. Buy the largest size you can since you’ll need to add your close-up lens in the mix as well. 

If your camera is fairly new or it has an APS-C-sized sensor, you’ll be fine with a 20mm tube length. But if you want extra magnification, consider a 40mm tube instead. 

What You Need To Know About Your Lens

Budget macro lenses

Once you’ve got your adapter rings (or tubes), attach them to your camera body and then attach your close-up lens or extension tube.

Switch the camera to manual focus mode and focus the lens to infinity. 

If your camera won’t go to this setting, set it as close to infinity as possible. Move the camera closer or farther from your subject using a tripod until you’re clear. 

What Is the Best Option for Taking a Macro Photograph?

Macro photography should be done in color. Therefore, a macro filter is essential for color correction.

In addition, a macro filter uses even the smallest of apertures while maintaining a sufficient shutter speed, thus avoiding motion blur.

Filters from the major brands are relatively expensive.

And while they give good results, sticking to screw-in filters, purchasing several sizes of the same filter, and stacking them can provide good results quite affordably.

Final Thoughts

With a few bucks,  you can create an efficient macro system. You can develop the parts needed to build your lightbox with cheap available things. 

Also, if you would like to experiment with various ratios of color temperature through filters, they are incredibly cheap or even free.

Hopefully, this article ignites your macro photography creativity.

What’s best? Experimenting with cheap materials allows you to splurge on the good stuff while saving money.