How to Use Macro Mode to Take the Best Close-Up Photos

Macro Mode: 9 Tips for Taking the Best Close-Up Photos

Are you wondering how to use macro mode on your DSLR? Read on for the best tips on how to utilize this handy feature during your next shoot.

96% of Americans shop online. Over half complain that the biggest drawback is not being able to touch and feel the product up close.

Macro photography is a great way to display the intimate details of products like watches, rings, or handmade items. This way your consumer gets a better feel of what they’re getting.

Taking photos with macro mode uses a 1:1 ratio or “life-size” image. This means that the subject of the image completely fills the camera sensor. When the photograph is printed, it appears magnified because photos are significantly larger than the sensor.

Keep reading to discover 5 helpful tips for using macro mode.

1. Choosing a Camera and Lens

Most DSLR and mirrorless cameras on the market will do a great job of taking macro photos. DSLRs typically have a faster shutter speed. Mirrorless cameras are great when you want to define what individual areas of your image are in focus. Their electronic viewfinder allows for a faster gauge of sharpness but comes with a time lag. A DSLR’s viewfinder allows you to see the image in real time as the camera sees it.

The best camera for the job will have fast shutter speed, be compatible with macro lenses, and fit your budget. Any camera you choose will also require a tripod to eliminate camera shake when you press the shutter button.

The best lens for the job will have at least a 1:1 life-size ratio. Some only go to 1:2 while others go to 5:1. 1:2 is half life-size while 5:1 will let you the hairs on a spider leg with.

2. Camera Settings for Macro Mode

Macro mode on your camera is usually symbolized by a flower on your camera’s settings. Choose this so your camera knows you will be focusing close to the camera’s lens. This mode will make the camera’s aperture large to keep the subject in focus instead of the background.

The working distance your camera will allow depends on the brand. Some will focus within an inch of the lens while others need an inch or more to focus. Using Manual Mode on your camera (indicated by ‘M’) lets you pick your own f-stop number (aperture).

Always choose a manual focus for your images. With magnified photography, you want a clearly defined point of focus. Auto-focus leaves you with an undesired blurry photograph.

3. Composing the Image

Where you focus the image can change the entire look and feel of it. To show patterns and texture in your image, fill the viewfinder with the subject with no space around it. Pull the focus back to capture the entire subject with contrasting space around it.

The background should not be too busy. Your online business has a short time to make an impression with customers. Inability to connect could lead to epic brand failure.

Use the rule-of-thirds to compose an appealing image. The rule-of-thirds is a rule followed by photographers and artists alike. It separates your image into a grid of 3 intersecting horizontal and vertical lines. Placing your subject on any of the lines or intersecting points creates an appealing photo.

4. Working Distance

Working distance is defined as the space between your camera lens and the subject. The amount of space depends on your camera. If you are too close to your subject, you can cast a shadow over it. Too far, you’ll lose the detail of a macro image.

Six inches from your subject is a good working area. To increase the distance you can be from your subject, invest in a lens with a longer focal length.

5. Lighting

The wrong lighting can ruin even the best photo compositions. Natural light is the best light. Shooting on overcast days are the best because indirect light will brighten your subject without overexposure.

For occasions when natural lighting is not ideal, grab a lighting kit. For macro photography, two lights on tripods with diffuser panels will do. A third light cast on the background can help to separate the subject from it and eliminate shadows. For small items, a light box is ideal.

Be Patient and Have Fun

Macro mode photography is an intimate way of showcasing product detail. It tells a story without ever saying a word. It also takes practice to get right. With just a few pieces of equipment, you can start capturing images around your home.

Invest in high-quality, second-hand cameras and/or lenses if you’re working on a budget. Always use manual focus and exploit your subject’s best features by finding its best point of focus.

Ready to edit those photos? Check out these essential free graphic design resources to expand your brand image.

Austin Terrill

Austin is the founder and CEO of Print Peppermint. He loves art, graphic design, printing, music, recording gear, synthesizers, and ice cream. He lives in Berlin with his wife and two children.

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