What is Macro Photography

January 01

8 min. to read

Find out what makes Macro Photography so inspiring and stunning.

According to Wikipedia, macro photography is the art of taking very close photographs of a subject (usually insects) which are five to ten times greater than their real-life counterparts. But that’s just in a nutshell. If you’ve ever been interested in what macro photography really is, this article is for you.

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Macro Photography in Detail

Back in the old days, macro photography was a rare phenomenon and it took a lot of equipment to churn out macro images. Back then, digital cameras didn’t exist and it was almost impossible to photograph the way we do today.

The only way was to shoot with a film camera, which limited the capabilities of shooting subjects smaller than lifesize. Even then, these images were considered macro owing to their 1:1 ratio.

In this modern era however, it’s not that difficult to do macro photography. In fact, there are some point-and-shoot cameras that allow users to take decent close-ups. However, nothing beats the quality of what DSLR offers in the macro photography world. These cameras offer more flexibility, resulting in closer photographs that are just remarkable.

In general, there are two ways to determine the capabilities of a camera in terms of macro photographs which are as follows:

  1. 1:1 ratio - the camera lens is capable of capturing life-sized images. 
  2. 1:2 ratio - the camera lens is capable of capturing half of the life-sized image. 

Macro Photography Basics

Focusing on the subject, is perhaps, the biggest problem a photographer might face during macro photography shoots. He/she either has to use additional equipment in order to retain focus on the subject or just turn macro mode on if the camera has it. Of course, being too close to the subject would also make it impossible to focus on it.

Tip: To see if your camera has a macro mode, look at the mode dial carefully and look for a small flower. If you see one is, you’re good to go and your camera (a point and shoot one) is indeed capable of taking macro shots. 

Checking the Minimum Focusing Distance

Every camera has a minimum focusing distance, which you can see under the camera’s specifications in the user’s manual. This would be helpful if you want to know how close you can get before losing focus of the subject. Today, there are some cameras that are able to get as close as an inch to the object and are still retain focus, which is simply amazing, to say the least.

Technically, macro photography requires the lens to be as close to the subject as possible. This makes traditional cameras lose focus but most DSLR cameras are able to do it. In addition, there are also some ways to hack the camera into taking macro shots. 

The Difference between a DSLR and Compact Camera

You should know that when it comes to taking macro photographs on a DSLR camera, the rules are different than compact ones. Instead of relying on the camera itself, the macro capability depends on the lens. In simple terms, lens that have macro capabilities, make it possible to get much closer to the subject without losing focus.

You can check under the lens specifications so as to whether it’s macro capable or not. If it is, the technical specifications of the lens would clearly indicate how close you can get until the lens starts losing focus. You should also know that professional photographers deem it necessary to take macro shots at a 1:1 ratio because anything less than that is not considered a true macro image. These macro lens are also capable of focusing into infinity, which can be really fun if you’re into taking landscape snaps. 

Which Camera is Better for Macro Photography?

Back in the early 2000s, DSLR cameras were known to be the perfect companions when you wanted to take macro shots. But now, there are some pretty good compact cameras that are able to take excellent macro photos, rivaling the quality of a DSLR camera. However, to be honest, compact cameras don’t have the flexibility that DSLR cameras offer. These point and shoot cameras also don’t have a fully functional manual mode, which is considered very important in macro photography.

Manual mode allows the photographer to take control of the depth of field, exposure, image sharpening and blurring the background if needed. So we’d recommend going for a DSLR camera if you want to make macro photography a daily ritual. But, if you’re not really interested in professional-level photography and just casually want to take a few macro shots now and then, going for a compact camera with macro capabilities is a good choice. 


All in all, macro photography is all about capturing relatively small objects/subjects and revealing a whole new world which the naked eye cannot see.

Today, you might find a plethora of macro photography tips on the internet to better hone your skills. However, one of the best ways to get better at anything is to practice, and then practice some more Happy snapping!