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How-to's

Beginner's Guide to Close-up & Macro Photography

Chuon-Szen Ong (SzennyBoy) on August 27, 2010


Keywords: micro, macro, close, photography, photographic, disciplines, guides, tips, tricks

INTRODUCTION

The objective of this article is to give fellow Nikonians a basic understanding of close-up and macro photography, by highlighting general issues such as equipment used, typical problems one might encounter, things to watch out for and some general guidelines. It will focus on the basics, adding some detailed technical information in the hope you will find it useful. The contents are based on the author’s personal experience in working with close-up and macro photography during the course of his professional work, using Nikon equipment of course.

   

Left to right: F3HP with PB-6 Bellows & 55mm Micro-Nikkor, F5 (DW-31 6x Focusing Finder) with AF 60mm Micro-Nikkor & Close-up Attachment Lenses, F5 with PB-6 Bellows & Reverse-mounted 20mm AIS.

CLOSE UP AND MACRO

There are various definitions used to describe close-up and macro photography. In the context of this article, the term “Close-up” photography will be used for anything up close up to life-size reproductions (i.e. from about 1:10 down to 1:1 magnification ratio) and the term “Macro” ("micro" in Nikon terminology) photography will refer to reproductions beyond life-size reproductions (i.e. from 1:1 up to 22:1 magnification ratio) with the use of cameras,  lenses and associated close-up attachments lenses mounted on them. 

 

 

Note that macro photography is often confused with another form of very high magnification photography. In the scientific world, a further sub-division of macro photography is made for macro work done with the aid of microscopes, called photomicrography. This technique, using instruments such as optical light microscopes and stereomicroscopes with trinocular tubes or complex scanning electron microscopes, is used to achieve very high magnification shots (eg. 40x and higher).

At right, a Photomicrography setup - Nikon D100, with a DR-3 Right-Angle Viewfinder Attachment on a Leica MZ12.5 Stereomicroscope tethered to a Windows-based system running Nikon Capture 3.5 software.

The details of photomicrography will not be dealt with here.

 

MAGNIFICATION/REPRODUCTION RATIOS 

The term magnification or reproduction ratio, such as 1:1 magnification or 1:10 magnification, will crop up with an alarmingly high occurrence within this article. There is no need to be afraid of these numbers (even for those of you who detest mathematics!). This ratio is simply defined as the image-on-film size X to the actual subject size Y and is represented in the form of X:Y. For a magnification ratio of 1:10, the subject size would be ten times larger than the captured image on the actual film or the image on film is a tenth of the actual size. In the case of a 1:1 magnification ratio, the capture image would be the exact size as the actual subject, hence the term life-size. For a larger than life-size magnifications, say 10 times the actual size, the magnification ratio would be 10:1.

(7 Votes)
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Chuon-Szen Ong Chuon-Szen Ong (SzennyBoy)

Awarded for his shared hands-on experience in macro photography within the community forums and the Resources

London, United Kingdom
Normal, 2818 posts

4 comments

Alvaro Correa (Alvacorr) on May 9, 2016

Excellent article

Dr. Patrick Buick (profpb) on April 15, 2015

This seems a bit out-of-date. Stacking, etc...

Steven Clarke (steveclarke007) on February 13, 2015

Awesome article! Any chance it can be updated to D610/D810 systems please?

Narikunni Jayanth (jaydoc40) on June 10, 2013

Is the bellows available in the market ?

G