Getting in close - Macro Photography

Another skill to learn and hone during our forced lockdown is shooting some macro images. So armed with my Sony 90mm 2.8 Macro lens fitted to my Sony A7Riv I took to the garden. The idea was to get some images of the smallest insect I could find. I was surprised how hard it is to find a willing subject (one that stays still long enough) to photograph, however I did get some reasonable images of a bee that took a liking to me! Although these images are not extreme close ups, they give a good representation of what you can achieve shooting handheld and using the available light, given a little practice.

Although the Sony 90mm 2.8 is an autofocus lens I discovered that to get the best images I would need to put my lens into manual mode and to rock my body back and forwards to get focus. This seemed to work best to attain the sharpest images although it's a bit hit and miss. If I was going to take macro images indoors then I would probably use my tripod and use some form of focus stacking software to get sharp focus all the way from the front to the back of the image. You can read more on focus stacking here

So in summary, I think I captured some pleasing images, albeit they were shot handheld and the depth of field you can achieve is limited in natural light. The images were all processed in Adobe Lightroom.

The Macro lens

A macro lens is a dedicated camera lens that is optically optimized to handle extremely close focusing distances and can take sharp, highly detailed images of microscopic subjects. It typically has a magnification ratio of 1:1 and a minimum focusing distance of around 12 inches (30 centimetres) or less. Unlike other lenses, macros are capable of high reproduction ratios. This means that the ratio of the subject size on the sensor plane is similar or greater than the actual size of the subject in real life.

History

Macro photography in its current form has been around since the early 1900s. One of the earliest forefathers of true macro photography was Frank (usually abbreviated to F.) Percy Smith. He specialised in both cinematography and still photographs. He brought macro photography to the forefront of people’s minds through a series of documentary films shot at high magnifications. One of the first films was To Demonstrate How Spiders Fly, produced in 1909 followed by The Acrobatic Fly, a 1910 film that remains one of his most famous. Up until the 1950s, macro photography was done exclusively with macro bellows and extension tubes. In 1955, however, a lens was produced that changed everything. This was the Kilfitt Makro-Kilar 4CM lens, made in West Germany by Heinz Kilfitt. This was the first lens in history to offer constant close focus. It was the rise of the SLR camera that brought about the demand for true macro lenses. From that point on, the genre became a staple among photographers around the world, no longer simply a tool for science but an art form all its own


You can find some great additional reading on macro photography here: https://www.pixpa.com/blog/macro-photography

The Gear

  • Sony A7Riv (60MP Images)
  • Sony 90mm 2.8 Macro lens
  • Sandisk Pro memory cards (300mb/s)

The Images