Introduction to Macro Photography

Macro photography is a type of photography where a subject is photographed at an extremely close or magnified ratio. Often people new to photography will assume that they must invest big money in a dedicated macro lens to achieve good macro photographs. This is simple not the case. While a dedicated macro lens is definitely easier to use it can be too costly for amateur or new photographers. This is where extension tubes can be a great option for people looking to get into macro photography. Being much cheaper than a dedicated macro lens and having the ability to be combined with most lenses extension tubes can be a great option for an introduction to macro photography. 

Overview of Extension Tubes

Extension tubes basically extend the distance between the lens and the cameras sensor, effectively reducing the minimum distance that a lens must be from the subject to focus. Extension tubes can be purchased in difference sizes and will work with most lenses above 50mm zoom. I have personally used a set of Kenko extension tubes with a budget Tamron 70-300 zoom lens and had great success with macro quality photographs. The use of extension tubes is not without its own set of limitations, these can include:

  • Difficulties in focusing – using extension tubes works best under manual focus which can be hard without a tripod. Often a macro photographer needs to balance the tradeoff between the stability of a tripod and the mobility of using the camera without a tripod. An old trick is to use a stick or lean on something to hold your arms stable.
  • Lighting – as your minimum distance to the subject has been drastically reduced it is often difficult to attain sufficient light on the subject. Using extension tubes is recommended either during a sunny day or by combining extension tubes with a external flash. Professional macro photographers will often use a ring flash however great results can be achieved by using low end speed lights with home made diffusers to soften the light splashed onto the subject.

Now that you are aware of the most prominent limitations its time to look at the advantages of using extension tubes, these can include:

  • Great macro photography results for a fraction of the price
  • Ability to use multiple lenses and turn them all into a macro lens!
  • Much cheaper than purchasing a dedicated macro lens
  • Different sizes and combinations available
  • Generic extensions tubes can be purchased extremely cheap from ebay, otherwise most good camera shops or online photography stores will hold a set of Kenko extension tubes for around $200. 

Make money online

One way to generate some income online is by selling your macro photography online via stock sites. Unique macro photographs can often stand out and create a nice little side stream of income. Sites such as allow users to upload their photographs for various licensing options. This is an extremely competitive avenue to pursue, but it can certainly develop into a nice side stream if you are passionate about photography. 

Closing comments

Macro photography often has a stigma associated with it that it is only for dedicated professional photographers. The introduction of extension tubes into a photographers kit can completely remove this assumption and allow even the most basic photography kit achieve great macro photography results.